Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reindeer Games

It's that time - the most wonderful time of the year, in my books. Time to bring out the cookie cutters and dragees and chocolate and nuts and a host of other goodies and start the Christmas baking. Yesterday was our Christmas Cookie Bakeoff - a little earlier than usual, but still great fun. And, we got lots done.

Winter visitor
And, as if on cue, there was a sprinkling of snow overnight that covered the ground for the first time this season, and light snow fell throughout the day, which only added to the festive spirit; that, and the spontaneous singing of carols throughout the day. It also meant that the birdfeeder did a brisk business.

Jane busy rolling rum butter sandwich cookies
By the time I got to Betty's at 9 a.m. she and Jane were already busy rolling cookies, with pans in  the oven - no sleeping in for these two! Seven of us, along with two little ones, happily launched our Christmas baking season mixing and rolling and embelishing and packing tins.

Linzer hearts - a fave
At the end of it all we had a great selection of 14 different cookies and a batch of white chocolate lemon truffles, for a grand total of 1,114 cookies headed to various freezers. That figure will grow slightly as there are still several truffles to be rolled so I suspect we'll end up around 1,150. That's almost a hundred dozen cookies - not bad at all.

Meghan busy icing cookies
And everything went so smoothly. We figured out that this is either the 19th or 20th year that we've been getting together to bake so we've developed a bit of a rhythm and things run along like a well oiled machine.

Jane and Julia 'working the line'

The lovely Julia with linzer hearts and wreath cookies
We also make a few batches of dough in advance so that it's chilled overnight and ready to roll first thing in the morning, avoiding any down time for the oven. This time we had linzerhearts, cinnamon stars, almond wreaths, chewy chocolate gingerbread and butter rum sandwich cookie doughs all made in advance.

Frances perfects the art of the squeeze bottle

Frosted holly gingerbread

Happy birthday, Steph!
It was a doubly special day as it fell on Stephanie's birthday so we had to celebrate that too. And little Emmy was kind enough to help with blowing out the candles, all bedecked in her trusty chef's hat. Nothing like chocolate cake with buttermilk chocolate frosting if you have to be another year older!

Frosty bling
We always have a tough time getting Jane into the spirit of the season (NOT!) so, in addition to coming with her Christmas apron she was sporting this lovely snowman that Linda gave her for Christmas last year.

Chunky chocolate snowballs ready for the oven
Steph with her favourite ingredient - ready to 'rum'-ba
Chocolate espresso snowballs
Emily and Jen rolling chewy chocolate gingerbread
At the end of the day the kids were keen to go into town for the Santa Claus parade (ours starts just after sunset so there are lots of lights on the floats) and when everyone got back home we enjoyed a tasty lasagne dinner and finished off the birthday cake.

Today the Official Cookie Tester asked the age-old question - do these all have to go to the freezer or are there some that can be eaten now? I used to take a really hard line on this and save it all till at least the week of Christmas but then I realized that I will still do lots of baking before Santa arrives, and he loves them so much that he might as well enjoy them to the fullest. Needless to say, I joined him in a cup of tea....M


Kate said...

For me, too, "it's the most wonderful time of the year". That's a great shot you got of the chickadee - they're my favourite bird. Your cookie bee looks like such fun and I'm drooling over all those goodies. Thanks so much for sharing.

homeschooled said...

Yum, yum, yum.
That all looks so lovely. It is is nice to people getting excited about Christmas!

Anonymous said...

We always have sooo much fun baking and singing Christmas songs.
The best cookies ever!!