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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Cookies for Santa

Illustrator, Robert Sauber's Santa taking a break. Notice the
strategic product placement off to the right.
Hey, Grinch, you're no cookie.
How'd you get in here?
We are fortunate that Santa Claus has a sweet tooth. Otherwise, there would be no need for cookies and milk under the Christmas tree, and in fact, probably no such thing as Christmas cookies. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but for me, one of the highlights of this holiday season, the number one staple on my food pyramid, is the Christmas cookie. In pondering a Christmas topic to write about, I suddenly pounded my forehead with the heel of my hand and muttered, "Of course, why didn't I think of that before? CHRISTMAS COOKIES." So I went in search of some of the most creative, the most artistic, the most exquisitely beautiful examples of this Santa Claus inspired art form I could fine. Here I pay little attention to what went into them and give only passing reference as to how they're made. For our purposes, we're going to assume that ALL Christmas cookies tastes good, that they're good for you, and that, as with most forms of art, taste is subjective and therefore largely pointless to discuss.
Cookies for Santa, Jersey Girl Graphics
Eat'em or hang'em on the tree.
For simplicity's sake, we're going to assume that all cookies this time of the year are baked for the benefit of fueling Santa's arduous, rein-deer-propelled jaunt around the world in twenty-four hours in an effort to reduce the ex-cess inventory of Mattel, Has-bro, Lego, Tyco, Nintendo, Fisher-Price, and Toys-R-Us. However, before you can bribe Santa with your sucrose-laden feast, you need a plate to place them on. Jersey Girl Graphics (above) has just what you need. Or, you can simply attach a ribbon and hang them on the tree as seen with the little jewels at right--no plate re-quired.

The recipe and instructions are listed below.
Use half of an Oreo cookie
as a base.
A few years ago, my wife began baking meringue cookies for our family get-togethers during the holidays. They were a big hit. In researching Santa Claus cookies, I came to realize that this light, airy, sugary substance has been turned to great creative advantage by pastry chefs (amateur and professional) in their pursuit of holiday cookie excellence. I won't say they're easy to make but then again, they're not as hard as they look, especially for anyone with an ounce of cake decorating skill. (The little white Christmas trees (right) uses the same basic meringue recipe...except for the food coloring, of course.) The recipe and especially the all-important instructions are below:
Meringue Christmas Poinsettia Cookies--
Ingredients: (about 25-30 medium-size flowers)
 * 4 large egg whites (no yolks)
 * 3/4 cup sugar (not powdered sugar)
 * pinch of salt
 * 1 1/2 tsp. extract (vanilla, mint, orange, or lemon..etc.)
 * red, green and yellow gel food coloring
 * rainbow luster dust (optional)
 * small brush (optional, used to apply disco dust)
 * 3"x3"parchment squares
* flower petals -tip Wilton #70
* green leafs - tip Wilton #352
* yellow dots - tip Wilton #3
* flower nail (if you don't have a flower nail, you can easily use a stainless steel meat thermometer covered with plastic wrap to protect the surface).
Mix and beat at high speed the first four ingredients for several minutes until stiff, then separate into three unequal masses before adding food coloring. The largest mass should be red, the second largest green, the smallest, yellow.
Piping and Baking:
1. Fit your piping bags with your tips (as indicated above) and fill them with meringue. Preheat the oven to only 180 F (extremely critical).
 2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
 3. Place a dot of meringue onto the flower nail and place a piece of parchment square on top to secure it.
 4. Pipe the first row of 5 petals (as seen above) using red meringue.
 5. Pipe the second row of 5 petals, slightly shorter and offset to the first row
 6. Add green leaves
 7. Add yellow dots
 8. Dip small dry brush into a disco dust and shake of the excess over freshly piped meringues (optional).
 9. Bake for 3 hours (also extremely critical), then turn the oven off and let the cookies cool in the oven.  You are not so much baking the meringue but simply drying it out. Store in an airtight container.
"And all through the house, not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse."
These can also be used to
decorate other Christmas
Perhaps more candy than cookie, the non-stirring rodents (above) are basically one and a quarter marshmallows melted together then with a slender strip of string licorice poked in the rear for a tail. The whole carcass is then dipped into a chocolate coating, and refrigerated to harden. Kids love eating such "gross" stuff. On a more elegant note, though still more candy than cookie, the delicate snowflakes (left) are created by piping fondant onto waxed paper and decorating with a candy silver bead. Just be sure to count the number of snowflake "arms." Those with more than six are in extremely bad taste. Accidents should be eaten as soon as possible.
Merry Christmas from Jim and Sharon Lane
(and Santa).

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