Happy holidays! In case you’ve been looking for a last minute treat to whip up for Christmas, I thought I’d share this recipe for Gingerbread Men from Taste of Home. I made these with a family friend (and fellow baker) last weekend, along with two other cookie recipes (Chocolate Mint cookies and Peanut Butter Blossoms, for those who are wondering). These, like roll-out sugar cookies, are fun to make and cut, but they’re even more fun to decorate! Let’s just say we got very creative with some of ours; you’ll see what I mean in a moment.
This won’t be a step-by-step recipe, mostly because of the fact that I was in the midst of making two other batches of cookies while assembling these. And maybe because of the fact that I had flour and cocoa and cinnamon ingrained into my hands throughout this process.
Pinwheel cookies are a Christmas classic. This version uses pre-rolled puff pastry as the dough, and seasonal mincemeat as the filling. Much easier than the traditional version with two colours of home-made cookie dough stacked and rolled.
2 tsp (10 mL)granulated sugar
1 pkg (450 g) PC Butter Puff Pastry , thawed
3/4 cup (175 mL) PC Mincemeat
In food processor, purée mincemeat for 15 seconds or until smooth. Set aside.
Unroll one sheet of puff pastry onto counter, leaving it on the parchment paper. Spread with half of the mincemeat, leaving a 1/2-inch (1 cm) border bare on all sides. Using parchment paper to help, roll up jelly-roll fashion into a long tube. Gently press on seam of pastry to seal. Wrap in parchment paper, twirling ends to hold in place. Repeat with remaining pastry and mincemeat. Freeze for 3 hours or until firm.
Arrange oven racks so one is in top third of oven and other in bottom third. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove puff pastry from freezer; let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Pour sugar onto rimmed baking sheet.
Unwrap pastry tubes. Use parchment paper to line two baking sheets. Gently roll pastry tubes in sugar to coat. Using sharp knife, trim ends and discard. Cut into 22 slices, each a scant 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick and place flat on prepared baking sheets. Discard remaining sugar.Place one baking sheet in top third of oven and other in bottom third. Bake for 6 minutes. Switch baking sheets from top to bottom, rotating them from front to back as well when you switch places. Bake for a further 6 to 8 minutes or until puffed and golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.
This fabulously tender shortbread is made in the food processor to ease preparation; be careful though as over processing dough will cause the dough to become greasy and the butter will melt out as they bake.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Ready In: 60 Minutes See more at: President’s Choice
1 pkg (250 g), at room temperature Salted Country Churned Butter
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) All Purpose Flour – Unbleach
1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar
1/4 cup (125 mL) Cornstarch
1 tsp (5 mL)Pure Vanilla
Coloured sugar (optional)
1. Arrange oven racks so one is in top third of oven and other in bottom third. Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In bowl of food processor, place butter, flour, icing sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Process for 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape down side of bowl. Process another 30 seconds or until smooth. Do not over process dough.
3. Drop level tablespoon (15 mL) amounts onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches (5 cm) apart, about 12 cookies per baking sheet. (Alternatively, place dough in piping bag fitted with 1/2-inch (1 cm) plain or star tip and pipe dough into small circles about 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) across. You can leave a hole in centre of circle or not, as you prefer.) Sprinkle with decorative sugar, if using.
4. Place one baking sheet in top third of oven and other in bottom third. Bake for 15 minutes. Switch baking sheets from top to bottom, rotating them from front to back as well when you switch places. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until slightly coloured. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Allow baking sheets to cool for 10 minutes before baking off rest of dough on same parchment paper.
Use red and green coloured sugars on piped dough to make cookies look like mini Christmas wreaths.
Toffee made from saltine crackers. Aka “Christmas Crack” – this stuff disappears!
One sleeve salted Saltine crackers (about 40 crackers)
1 cup dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
1 cup butter (salted or unsalted – go by preference)
2 and ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter, melted
1 cup crushed M&Ms (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Generously spray a half-sheet pan with cooking spray; set aside.
Line saltines in the pan, leaving a little bit of room between each. Over medium heat, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a large sauce pan. As it begins to boil, leave it alone without stirring for 3 minutes. Pour the boiling mixture over the crackers and bake for 5 minutes.
As the toffee bakes, melt the peanut butter. Remove toffee from oven and pour the peanut butter over top, smoothing it in one even layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and return to the oven for 1 minute. Remove from the oven and smooth down the chocolate chips into one melted chocolate layer. Top with crushed M&Ms and sprinkles.
Make room in the freezer and chill the toffee for at least 1 hour OR refrigerate for 2 hours. Once the toffee is set, break into pieces.
Store toffee in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 10 days.
For a festive seasonal twist you could sprinkle crushed candy canes in place of nuts
I know that this recipe sounds a little strange, but I promise you… it is so addicting!
It is so easy to make (simple ingredients and it only takes a couple of minutes) and it is the perfect treat for a holiday party or neighbor gift. People will not believe you when you tell them that it’s made from saltine crackers!
Saltine Cracker English Toffee
Ingredients: 40 salted saltine crackers 1 cup (2 sticks) butter 1 cup brown sugar 2 cups milk chocolate chips (or mint, butterscotch flavor, white chocolate) 1 cup chopped nuts (crush candy canes, or M&M’s, sprinkles…you can use whatever kind you like)
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the saltine crackers evenly on the pan (I put mine really close together so that they were touching). In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for three minutes WITHOUT STIRRING. After three minutes, pour the hot brown sugar mixture evenly over the saltine crackers. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips across the toffee. Let them melt for a couple of minutes and then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly across the toffee (like frosting).
Sprinkle chopped nuts on top of the melted chocolate. Let the toffee and chocolate cool completely (I put mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes to help it set up quickly). Break the toffee into bite-size pieces. To store, keep in an air-tight container for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for a couple of months.
Best served aged, will keep indefinitely if refrigerated, can be frozen.
1 lb. Butter
1 lb. Lard
1 lb. Brown Sugar
12-14 (+/-) Cups Flour
DO NOT MELT ANY INGREDIENTS!!
1. Leave butter and lard out to soften.
2. Mix butter and lard together. Work with fingers adding a cup of flour at a time (up to 7 – 8 cups). Turn out on to table and knead in more flour, as much as you can in 1 hour. This should be crumbly
3. Put in 4 shallow 8″ cake pans and press together 3/4 to 1″ thick. Pierce with fork several times.
4. Bake in moderate oven (325 °F) till golden brown, about 45 min.
5. Top Shelf of oven is best.
Prior to baking, we cut the dough into wedge slices so it would be easier to break into pieces.
Great Grandma always said “Never cut Shortbread, if you cut short bread you cut the short” I have no idea what that means…. but if you cut the dough it is fine, if you cut it afterwards it does not seem as nice.
One of the batches I just made I also mixed in some almond flour (about 2 1/2 cups) in place of the other flour.
A cousin of mine insists it should be unbleached white flour (as they didn’t have all the other types when this was created.)