Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Alternative to Fruitcake: Little Drunken Fruit Cookies


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One nightmare holiday so long ago it makes my brain hurt thinking about it – when rotary dial phones were still alive and pay phones were the equal of calling someone on the fly, we thought making homemade fruit cakes would be a great idea for holiday gifts.  Right after Thanksgiving we bought all the ingredients.  That we had to have an adult buy the booze for us since we were not yet 21 years old didn’t even make us flinch.  And yes, these were the ancient days when 18 was still a child according to the law.   I think this might be the only time the in-laws went out and bought liquor for us on purpose.

We chopped and soaked and baked loaf after loaf of fruitcake and drowned them in cheap brandy and rum, wrapping them in towels and sealing them in plastic bags.  Every few days from Thanksgiving to right before Christmas we would pour more Brandy and Rum over them wrapping them back up in their liquor soaked towels to cure some more.  I bet our place stank like a pub by then, but we were immune and no doubt a bit snockered on the fumes.

Finally, the holiday arrived and we gifted everyone we knew with a loaf of homemade fruitcake loaf.   Oddly, some of those people no longer send us holiday cards – we’ve lost touch.  I never braved constructing a fruitcake again.  That is, until now.   Thumbing through some Ina Garten TiVo episodes of Barefoot Contessa, I almost deleted this episode, but thankfully stayed tuned.  I’m glad I did because everyone at her fabulous party seemed to be devouring these little goodies.  Perhaps soused little fruit cookies were the ticket so I studied the recipe and modified it to be gluten free and slightly more drunken. Continue reading

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Cookie Couture to the Rescue


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It was nearing the end of the baking marathon.  I’d been anticipating making my all time favorite cookie, Snowflake Bakery-like butter cookies pressed into shapes and dipped in chocolate with holiday sprinkles.  Along with Half Moons, these were another favorite cookie when I was a little girl and Snowflake Bakery was my Mecca.

As I stuffed the dough into the press the mechanism stalled and cracked.  The very Grinchy cookie press  pushed out half formed cookies and then just snapped, spraying plastic shards all over the kitchen.

Never one to leave any cookie dough to wallow without purpose, I chilled the remaining dough until it could be cut into slices with fluted edges.  Baked and cooled, dipped in tempered chocolate and dusted with holiday sprinkles, they still looked a little like bakery cookies – if your bakery was maybe located on Sesame Street and supplied by Easy Bake Oven Elves.

But it didn’t matter.  They tasted like a holiday cookie should – over the top good. Continue reading

A Merry Holiday Multiple Personality Gluten-Free Butter Cookie


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Right now there are four kinds of cookie dough chilling in the refrigerator and some will be relegated to the deep freeze so that we can enjoy holiday treats well past Christmas.  In February when the skies are gray and the ground is soaked with endless rain, there is nothing like the smell of gingerbread boys baking up in the oven to warm the soul.

All this annual cookie lollapalooza-ing began because this little Jewish kid got a taste of the holiday tree trimming and brightly sparkled cookies one Christmas when she was 5 years old.  And though I didn’t get a stocking filled with treats that year although I begged, I did add a festive and cookie filled Christmas, sans the religious part, to my things-I–will-do–when-I-am-all-grown-up list I kept in my kidlet head.  The list was varied; I never did get to fly on a spaceship with Major West from Lost in Space, but I eventually did get to make all the holiday cookies I wanted.

From the first year we lived on our own, I happily embraced the other festive holiday tradition aside from latkes and made more Christmas cookies than the bakery down the street.  Even having to live gluten free didn’t stop me. Continue reading

Homemade Gluten Free Peppermint Oreos – Got Milk?


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When we were small kids, the only chocolate sandwich cookie to grace our house was the trashier and cheap cousin of the Oreo called Hydrox.   If Wiki is to be believed (and we all know how that works) Hydrox was named for some itty bitty atomic elements.  Marketed long before Oreo hit the stage, Hydrox was a kosher little cookie from the very beginning.  Poor little Oreo got its start using bacon, um pig lard as an ingredient.  Oreo quickly switched to vegetable shortening and then the younger, newly successful kosher cousin took over the market share and never looked back.

Eventually we switched allegiance from Hydrox to the swanky cousin, Oreo.  Ripping open the bag as soon as we got from the market to our car, we’d twist open the little lids and scrape off the creamy center with our teeth.  By the time we got home, our lips and chins were littered with dark crumbs.  If there were any spare cookies in the bag we’d finish them up by dipping the chocolate cookie into a tall glass of cold milk.

Sadly, from the moment we were gluten free, the Oreo became history.  Visitation happened only in a supervised grocery store setting where they were safely wrapped in cellophane and monitored by store cameras.  I’d visit the adorable little Oreo in the cookie aisle, but they never came home with me again. Continue reading

A Very Gluten Free Holiday: Mexican Wedding Cookies


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I met my first rum ball when I was five-years-old.  If the excellently dressed Mrs. Henley had not rapped her white-gloved-manicured-hand upon our front door each holiday season, I might not have known about the existence of bedazzled and festive cookies that were created just for Christmas.  I assumed she wore a couture apron over the Chanel and her stylish kitten heeled boots while creating these very home-made treats.

She began with a dozen rum balls in a tiny box and when she learned that my idiot brothers inhaled them before they ever reached the kitchen –  hoping for a little boozy buzz – she started bringing a larger and more diverse tin of goodies.

There were little tiny treats dressed in white sugary snow, festively decorated sugar cookies and several well dressed ginger people undoubtedly attired in couture icing.  In our house devoid of any Christmas cheer, primarily because we were Jewish, and slightly because my folks were a bit grinchy, the tin was my taste of Christmas-future.

During the holidays I am still  a sucker for anything shiny, glittery and edible.  Yet, until I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant, I pretended that none of those goodies made me sick.  I just went with the fantasy that I’d merely overindulged and carried around a Costco sized supply of stomach ache remedies.

That terrible holiday the year I was diagnosed I did without, but over these past five years I’ve begun to master the art of turning out respectable gluten free goodies and never looked back.  The holiday season is once again filled with shiny, glittery and edible stuff. Continue reading