Christmas with Gladys
Gladys has been busy whipping up lots of delicious treats for the holidays, and we wanted to share some our favourite recipes for gift giving.
She made marshmallows for the first time, and she's pretty excited about this newly discovered superpower. I must admit, the transformation from blob of gelatinous goo to fluffy cloud of marshmallow is kinda magical ...but every time I lift the whisk from her bowl and she exclaims "Ta da!", I try hard not to roll my eyes.
To make eggnog inspired marshmallows, we followed this step by step guide from the Kitchn, substituting rum for the vanilla, and we added some freshly grated nutmeg. I'm going to serve these homemade marshmallows floating in a big cup of cafe au lait on Christmas morning.
Gladys provided an encore to her marshmallow performance with the creation of a meringue. I added a few drops of peppermint extract and got creative with a paint brush and a piping bag, and we made red and white striped mint kisses.
- 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
- red food colouring
Gladys whipped the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium high speed until soft peaks formed. Then, increased the speed to high, and I added the sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the sugar was incorporated, Gladys continued to whip the meringue for another 4-5 minutes until the mixture was glossy and formed stiff peaks. Finally, I sprinkled the peppermint extract over the egg whites, and Gladys whipped for another second or two.
By painting stripes on the inside of the piping bag with food coloring I was able to create classic candy cane stripes on my kisses. I used a gel coloring to achieve fairly crisp lines, if you use a liquid food coloring, you'll get a softer look.
Pipe the kisses onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment, and bake in a preheated 225F oven for 90 minutes to two hours. The kisses should release easily from the parchment when they are done.
Exhausted from all of the excitement, Gladys retired for the evening.
Time to break out the chocolate. Next, I'm making a couple of 'melt and stir' sort of recipes, which I've dressed up for the holidays.
Dark chocolate salami spiked with Grand Marnier and studded with cranberries, toasted almonds, pistachios, cookie crumbs, and crystallized ginger.
This Italian sweet is a favourite of mine, it's sort of a nutty truffle shaped into a sausage.
Most traditional recipes call for raw eggs, but since I can't guarantee these will be refrigerated, I worked out an alternative approach. The creamy chocolate part of the salami is based an old recipe for foolproof fudge I used to make using sweetened condensed milk and dark chocolate. It couldn't be simpler.
Gather together the following ingredients:
- 400 grams dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 300 ml sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup butter cookies - broken into small bits
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
- finely grated zest of one orange
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt with the condensed milk in a large bowl over simmer water, stirring constantly. Once the chocolate is completely melted, remove from the heat and add all of the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Let mixture cool for 15-20 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Use your hands to form the mixture into log shapes, and roll each salami in sifted icing sugar to coat. You can make them as big or as small as you would like. Chill until firm.
To complete the illusion, use some kitchen twine to tie the chocolate salami the same way you would a roast, like this.
These bite sized truffles filled with white chocolate and pistachios look so festive covered in bright green Matcha tea, they are perfect for the holidays.
To make these yourself, you'll need:
- 400 grams white chocolate coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon Amaretto
- 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios
- 1 tablespoon Matcha tea
- 2 tablespoons icing sugar
Heat cream over medium high heat just until it comes to a boil. Put chocolate pieces in a medium sized bowl and pour hot cream over the chocolate. Stir slowly to combine. Once chocolate is completely melted, add Amaretto and pistachios, stir to combine. Let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 3 hours. Use a melon baller to form truffles and roll each ball in matcha icing sugar mixture to coat.
It's not Christmas without cookies, but it seems Gladys has figured out how to use the remote. She is watching the Kings of Pastry on Netflix, and won't be disturbed. So, I am on my own. Luckily, I have two simple cookie recipes that don't require any heavy duty mixing on my part.
Puff pastry with hazelnuts and Nutella in the shape of angel wings.
These cookies taste like they came from a fancy pastry shop, and take only minutes to prepare. For the recipe and instructions, click here.
Baci di Dama
Italian ladies kisses, Nutella sandwiched between two little gluten-free hazelnut cookies.
These bite-sized Italian cookies are back by poplar demand, I made them for a few friends last Christmas, and everyone wants more, I'm sure glad they're a cinch to make.
For the recipe and instructions, click here.
I must admit, I'm a little worried Gladys may be getting some big ideas watching these master pastry chefs in action. I fear there may be some extraordinary feats of culinary bravery in my future.