Category: gluten-free

Pseudo-Dutch potato salad.

Pseudo-Dutch potato salad recipe.

It just so happens, I am part Dutch. Not Pennsylvania Dutch, just Dutch. From the Netherlands. Land of the wooden shoes. I’m many things actually- but yes, Dutch is one of them. However I’m not a big fan of potato salad (Dutch or otherwise). I come from a family who LOVES all kinds of mayonnaise-dressed carbohydrate salads; macaroni, potato, etc. And coleslaw too. I did not inherit the love.

But ’tis the season to have barbecues, picnics and eat outside in general. And those usually include a type of salad; be it made with lettuces & greens or potatoes, macaroni or eggs.

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Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90′s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970′s/1980′s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

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Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream.

‎”Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” —Voltaire‎

Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey.

One can only imagine what Voltaire would say about this ice cream in particular: a double whammy of both chocolate and chocolate-flavored whiskey from the Kings County Distillery, made for my favorite guy’s 32nd birthday. Yup, that’s right. Jay turns the big 3-2 today! Just so you know- he’s older than I am (by a whopping 2 months & 7 days, but let’s not get into that). See the thing is, usually I ask him what he wants me to bake for him for his birthday (as I do with everyone), then I bake it and give it to him on the actual day. But this year, Jay’s been on tour for over a week and he’s got a show tonight too. So tomorrow is his only day off and then Saturday it’s back to work. I decided to make something that would keep well and only get better with age (like Jay!).

What better than whiskey ice cream?

Chocolate whiskey ice cream. Made with two types of chocolate and chocolate "flavored" whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

I mean, the man’s been on tour for a week drinking probably nothing but bourbon & whiskey. Why not just keep the streak going?

Not to mention the fact that I believe it’s officially ice cream time. Memorial Day is next week, and the weather was a partly cloudy yet humid 75° F when I made this batch. To me, that means it’s the start of ice cream season. The whiskey I used for this is, like I said, from Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY. It has actual bits of dark chocolate floating around in it. It’s pretty strong, in my opinion it’s not a terrific “sipping whiskey,” more so one that’s best suited for mixing or baking. However it also has a strong chocolate aftertaste that makes this ice cream super special. But a regular whiskey or bourbon works just fine, too. And I can just imagine using that cherry bourbon chocolate sauce on this… lawdamercy. But the topping I used was pretty spectacular (keep reading for that).

This should probably be called ‘triple chocolate whiskey’ ice cream since there’s two types of chocolate PLUS chocolate whiskey. Call it whatever you want. Either way, it’s amazing.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream made with two kinds of chocolate PLUS chocolate 'flavored' whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

Triple chocolate ice cream: the creamiest ice cream you'll ever make. Or eat. Made with Kings Co. Distillery's chocolate whiskey.I love the way the light reflected & made a halo around the bowls. Even Mother Nature loves this ice cream!

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE WHISKEY ICE CREAM

Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

  1. Whisk together egg yolks, whiskey and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, whisk together cream, vanilla, chocolate and 1/4 cup of sugar. Simmer over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Temper egg yolk mixture by slowly adding hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, with a ladle, a little at a time. Once egg yolk mixture is thoroughly warmed add to the saucepan with the warm cream mixture. Stir until thickened and remove from the heat.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl over ice. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Spin in an ice cream maker for 25 minutes… it probably won’t get much firmer, but this helps “churn” it. Add to a freezer-safe container & freeze for 12-24 hours so it gets firm.

Peanut butter whipped cream!

For an extra special treat, for my peanut butter lover… I made some peanut butter whipped cream to top it with. I know. I know. Don’t even say anything. There’s nothing you CAN say, it’s ridiculous. If you use a creamy peanut butter, yours will look smoother. Mine was crunchy.

Oh. I almost forgot: there are chocolate sprinkles too. Can’t have a birthday without sprinkles.

PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM (from Yes, I Want Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (chunky peanut butter works also, I used it)
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it’s almost but not quite “stiff.”
  2. Add the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat for another minute & serve.

Triple chocolate WHISKEY ice cream. Two types of chocolate and chocolate whiskey come together to make the creamiest, smoothest, most chocolatey ice cream ever. Oh, and there's peanut butter whipped cream to go with it.

Yeah. Not much to say about that. Well, other than WHOA. This is literally the softest, most creamy ice cream I ever made. It’s super decadent, fudgy & delicious. But it also has a little whiskey bite. Not much, mind you, just enough. However… it melts fast! So be careful. Only take it out right when you’re gonna serve it. It does NOT have to sit out & soften. In my experience, it’s ready to go right out of the freezer. Of course, if you freeze it for weeks, it might get a bit harder, but it still isn’t going to take long to “defrost” enough to serve. I also wouldn’t serve it in cones, it’s far too creamy.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream. Dark chocolate & semisweet chocolate combine with chocolate whiskey to make a smooth, creamy, rich ice cream that you'll LOVE. Add some peanut butter whipped cream & chocolate sprinkles to complete the experience.

On that note I’ll end this by saying…

Happy birthday Jay! And many more…

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream with peanut butter whipped cream!

Psst.. .the tiki mug giveaway is still going strong. You’ve got until May 27th at 11:59 p.m. to enter. So go!

Sources & credits: Arcoroc French made smoky-clear glass bowls; vintage, Le Creuset mini coccottes in “Twilight” (white shown).

That Earl, he really knows how to jam.

Well since Valentine’s Day is over, and we’ve got some time before the all the green starts (although if you go by Pinterest/blogs it’s already starting), that means some time to bake things that aren’t artificially colored. What fun is that, right? Well as much as I do love me some food coloring (and holy balls I really do), I have to say once in a while it is nice to bake something that’s just… whatever color it is. Something basic. Something simple. Something homey & warm & comforting.

Especially when, like last week, New York gets hit with over a foot of snow. Yes, we were spared the worst of it where I am, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

But I do love tea, and I love muffins, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch that I bake a muffin made with tea. I’m not a stranger to using tea in baked goods or jellies, specifically Earl Grey, so it’s not exactly something that’s foreign to me… nonetheless it’s always fun to try a new twist on an old theme. That’s why when I found a recipe for Earl Grey milk jam on Pinterest I had to make it to serve along with some Earl Grey muffins (which are not going to be posted here, because they need a little tweaking).

Side note: this is a short, lazy little post for a lazy little ol’ me. I haven’t been feeling very well lately, I think I’m in need of some more influenza granita. I’m sneezing like crazy!

The milk jam is a very curious thing. It’s like the consistency of dulce de leche, or Nutella, maybe just a bit thinner. It seems to be popular in Japan, although in France they apparently have some version of it as well. It’s excellent on these muffins, but it’s also equally good in tea or coffee. Basically, dulce de leche means “candy of milk” or “milk candy” or even “milk jam”, so it’s not surprising that in some places milk jam is indeed what we think of as a thick caramel sauce, or dulce de leche. But it can be flavored in other ways, not just made into a caramel-flavored substance.

I added more than 5 tablespoons of Earl Grey to mine, which might be why it’s darker.

I’m telling you, a spoonful of this version of it in Earl Grey tea not only sweetens the tea but amps up the Earl Grey flavor in a great way.

EARL GREY MILK JAM (from B for Bonnie)

Ingredients:

  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Earl Grey tea bag, steeped in 5 tablespoons very hot water

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, for 20-25 minutes (you’ll know when it’s ready- it’ll get thick). Remove from heat and stir 3-5 tablespoons Earl Grey tea into it.
  2. Stir for a few minutes to combine. Pour into clean jar, cool and store in the refrigerator.

If you prefer to not use condensed milk, there’s a version at B for Bonnie using heavy cream & milk instead. The jam can also be made with vanilla beans instead of Earl Grey tea for a vanilla milk jam. That would be amazing in coffee, tea, or even over ice cream. For further instructions on that, visit Our Adventures in Japan.

As a matter of fact, it would make an excellent cupcake or cookie filling as well.

My bloody valentine.

Listen, I know I’ve been overloading you with cutesy, Valentine-y stuff lately. I know that. I don’t really care if you like it or not, though, sorry to say. Because I love it. I actually get more pissed at the people who bitch constantly about how much they hate Valentine’s Day than I do about seeing the hearts & candies in the stores starting on New Years Eve. If it really bothers you so much, pretend it doesn’t exist. Go celebrate something else like Chinese New Year or Mardi Gras & stop complaining. Just ignore it. Football bothers me- but I understand there’s some kind of sick obsession with it in this country so I just ignore it. Which is hard, because it’s everywhere, but I manage. If you like it, then good for you. I just don’t, so I spend my winter Sunday’s baking, cooking, blasting punk rock music or watching things like Inglorious Basterds instead of watching grown men in tight pants tackle one another in hopes of not becoming the next paraplegic on the news. I spent Super Bowl Sunday shopping, then eating homemade nachos supreme & watching Downton Abbey. Now, I don’t tell everyone else not to watch it. I don’t constantly spout off about how awful & boring I find it all day, every day. I just get on with my life. Just like the Valentine’s Day haters should do.

However… I do understand that if there was a blog that I read fairly regularly that posted non-stop football crap for a month I’d be tired of it & maybe a little bit turned off.

So today I’m here to make amends. I’m posting something that’s still appropriate, but yet not quite as overtly dyed-pink & cheerful & cheeky as heart cupcakes or rose tarts: blood orange curd. There’s a special place in my heart for blood oranges.

And I’ll tell you why: Blood oranges are like the citrus family’s dark secret; like the black sheep cousin of the Navel orange, you know the one… who hangs out in a dark room, smokes cloves & listens to death metal.

And that’s sorta something I relate to. Not that I’m a black sheep per se, not within my family so much. Yeah, I’m different… but I was always accepted & appreciated. However when you’re the Agnostic punk rock short-haired bleached blonde Catholic school girl who tells your Theology teacher (a nun) that you’re pro-euthanasia & don’t quite understand why women can’t be priests, there is some level of that, somewhere. In my uniform I (sorta) looked like anyone else in school… until after school, or until you looked closely and saw the Sharpie-written lyrics on my blazer, my spike collars and dog collars, safety pins in my ears, my too-many-earrings-according-to-the-student-handbook and numerous band patches & pins on my backpack. And so I relate to that metaphor, and the blood orange. It’s sinister bloody-colored inside is almost concealed by the bright orange skin, it almost tricks you into thinking it’s just like any other orange. Maybe one that’s a bit overripe? And then you slice it- BAM! Deep, dark red flesh and a juice to match. There’s a reason they use a blood orange (not a regular orange) in the opening sequence of Dexter.

They’re right up my alley, truthfully.

And they’re also perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Conveniently, they’re in season right now. And if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a few, well then you better make good use of them. They make beautiful marmalades, gorgeous cupcakes, they’re beautiful when candied. And of course, when made into a curd, it’s a lovely pink color… which is perfect for a Valentine’s Day breakfast. It elevates your average toast to something spectacular. (heart shaped toast or English muffins not required!)

Or use it for dessert. When used as a topping for vanilla or chocolate ice cream- or even yogurt, it’s amazing. Another idea? Make it into a tart. Or using an ice cream maker, swirl it into plain homemade frozen yogurt for blood orange yogurt. It makes an amazing cake or cupcake filling too.

When you’re picking the oranges, be sure to pick ones that aren’t bright orange. The outside color is usually indicative of the color of the flesh & juice, so pick one that has a darker flesh, or even a mottled orangey-red flesh. That way you’re assured a deep burgundy flesh, and juice, and therefore a bright pinky red curd. My oranges were Moro, so they actually have a darker flesh & stronger flavor anyway, but I picked middle of the range ones that weren’t too dark, but weren’t too light. Actually the outer skin of all of mine were bright orange on one side, and a deep red on the other. I could’ve gotten ones that were so dark maroon on the outside they looked almost alien. In retrospect, I should have!

The thing that’s great about this recipe is that it doesn’t use so many egg yolks that you end up with an orange-colored curd. Orange colored curd is great, if it’s plain orange curd. But blood orange curd calls for a reddish color, doesn’t it? At the very least, a pretty rosy pink, like mine. But if you choose darker oranges you can really achieve a really bright pinkish red curd.

Also… listen up. Curd is a terrible word. Let’s be honest. Everyone hates it, from chefs to home cooks to pastry chefs to bloggers. It’s horrible to say, it rhymes with turd and it turns people off completely from trying it. Although, in Southern America they call lemon curd “lemon cheese”… and as far as I’m concerned that’s not much better than curd. But I hope that doesn’t put you off from trying it. It really is something else. But here’s the deal: curd isn’t disgusting. I swear. It’s basically similar to a lemon meringue pie filling, or in this case substitute blood orange for lemon. It’s like a creamy, citrus custard. Like a citrus pudding, kind of.

BLOOD ORANGE CURD (adapted from Local Kitchen who adapted it from Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Makes slightly over 1 cup (8 oz.), it can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium to large blood oranges, scrubbed clean and dried
  • 1 large egg and one large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Zest enough of the oranges so you end up with roughly 1 1/2 teaspoons of finely grated zest. Set aside in a medium bowl.
  2. Juice the blood oranges, making sure to get every last bit out of them! Strain the juice to get out any pulpy bits or miscellaneous sneaky seeds. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, reduce the juice to 1/2 cup and set aside to cool in a measuring cup. Be sure to stir often while it’s reducing to avoid scorching.
  3. Rinse out the saucepan and place the sugar, eggs and salt in it. Whisk them together. Add the butter and slowly whisk in the reduced orange juice.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes together and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (roughly 15-20 minutes for me).
  5. Once thickened, strain the curd into the bowl with the zest in it. Then stir the zest into the curd to incorporate. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the curd into a clean jar. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Here’s a secret: if ALL you’ve got is a 1/2 cup of blood orange juice, you can just use that without the reduction. It’ll still work. It won’t be as concentrated, and the color probably won’t be as amazing… but the basic product will be successful. And best of all? EDIBLE! And some people don’t like zest in their curd. I know this, but the point of the zest is to impart even more flavor & the scent of the fruit to the curd. However if you’re one of those people, I’d add the zest into the mixture while it’s cooking then strain it out. That’s a matter of personal preference, of course.

Some people have trouble with curd. I never have- it’s always come together relatively quickly & easily for me, regardless of  whatever the recipe, or whatever source it’s from. If you have trouble, and it fails, rest assured you are not the first & will not be the last. But also don’t give up! If it scorches or it doesn’t thicken, etc, these are all just steps on a ladder. Learning the way. I know it sucks to waste materials, especially if blood oranges are really hard to find near you. But you’ll get it, I promise. Maybe try it out first with a plain lemon curd; those are cheaper and easier to find.

The recipe above made one cup, or 8 ounces, of curd. You might want to double it if you’re thinking of using it for a cake filling or a large tart filling. But I find one jar is perfect for a slow, sweet, laid-back breakfast.

Enjoy your Valentine’s morning with a little burst of pink sunshine, for you & your bloody valentine. (hey! that rhymed!)

Candy girl.

Did you ever get a craving for candy at like, 3 a.m.?

Sometimes I do. Sometimes I just decide at midnight that I want a piece of candy… and usually I never end up filling that wish, unless I have some in the house or I can convince someone to go get me some. Those are the lazy nights. And then there are other nights, nights when I have baking chocolate, sugar, & all the ingredients necessary to make my own candy… so I do.

I get asked fairly regularly some variation on the following theme: “Giiiiiirl, how do you make all this stuff and not weigh 600 pounds?” or “How do you stay so damn skinny when you bake all of this delicious stuff?!” or “OH MY GOD how can you exist in a home with all of this food & not EAT IT ALL ALL DAY LONG?” No joke, I think I get asked something like that at least once a day. And my answer is, in a word: moderation. All in all, I eat well. Yeah, I eat cake & cookies. And I eat a lot of cheese & carbs, too, as well as drinking an obscene amount of coffee (including lattes) and Coke Zero. And I absolutely love me some good red wine or good beer. However on the other hand I also eat a lot of broccoli, salad, carrots, etc… & I drink a lot of water. I don’t believe in restriction, I don’t believe in denying yourself anything or busting your ass in the gym because you ate three cookies instead of two. I don’t think a life where vegetables are your only food source is much of a life at all… but that’s just me. So yeah, in short, I eat good quality baked goods but I eat far more well balanced food. And as much as I F$#!ING hate him (and I really do) I agree with Anthony Bourdain’s quote: “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

I mean, I’m not making broccoli in the wee hours of the morning. Jay is, not me. I’d eat it, though, if I was hungry. ‘Cause broccoli is friggin’ awesome.

Shit. Sorry. Got distracted. Back to the homemade candy…

Yes, folks, I made some homemade peanut butter cups! I had this massive tub of peanut butter left from those cupcakes… plus I had tons of chocolate left from Christmas. What else is a girl supposed to do!? They’re insanely easy. You can be finished with a batch in a half-hour, no joke. And there are a lot of recipes out there on the web, some more difficult than others, but mine is relatively simple & to the point.

It goes like this:

  1. Melt a bag of milk chocolate chips in a double boiler, or microwave, half of the bag at one time.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together 1 1/2 cups peanut butter, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 3 tablespoons melted (& cooled) unsalted butter and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Make sure it’s thoroughly combined & smooth. Fill a disposable plastic pastry bag with the peanut butter filling & set aside. If, for whatever reason, it’s not thick, add more sugar & peanut butter until it’s thick. You want a thicker consistency than regular peanut butter (so it resists melting in the warm chocolate).
  3. Line mini-muffin pans with mini cupcake liners or spray them well with PAM. Spoon some melted chocolate into the liners or the muffin tins, smoothing it up a little onto the sides with a small spoon or your (clean) finger to create the bottom of a “cup.” Place the tin in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to fully cool & harden.
  4. When it’s hardened, take it out and pipe a decent-sized ball of peanut butter filling into each cup. Once every cup has filling, use the back of a spoon or a finger dipped in water to push the balls of filling down more to make them a bit flatter. Then spoon more melted chocolate on top of each.
  5. Once the entire pan has been filled, tap it gently on the counter until the chocolate smooths out. Then put the pan back into the freezer for another 10 minutes or until hard.
  6. Repeat the process until all the chocolate and all the peanut butter filling is done.

Et voilà! Peanut butter cups. No preservatives, no chemicals, no additives.

Now in theory you could probably just use straight peanut butter instead of making a filling out of it. It would still work. I just think you need a sweeter filling for these, and regular straight peanut butter can be too “dry” or salty. Plus I think it’s just way too soft, and it’d probably melt as soon as the very warm chocolate hit it. But if you like it that way then hey, go for it. I think you could probably use chunky peanut butter as well, you just may need to make larger peanut butter cups (and a larger pastry tip too). Also, if you want to experiment with other nut butters- heh, I said nut butters- then you can probably do that as well. Just take into consideration the consistency of it, as long as it’s thick enough & not liquidy, you’re good. Same goes for chocolate; use dark chocolate or semi-sweet even, if you prefer. I’d actually like to make them with a white chocolate coating next time. And for Valentine’s Day, you could sprinkle some heart-shaped sprinkles on top! Or, make them in those heart-shaped silicone baking cups.

And speaking of peanut butter… I think I kinda wanna read this book!

Naughty, naughty.

;

No idea how this got started, really. But every year since we started “dating” (can it still be called that after 9 years?), my mother or myself or both of us in tandem have bought Jay a little bag or a little tin of coal and put it in his Christmas stocking. It was just an ongoing joke about him being naughty that we both found hilarious, and over the past 8 Christmases, the poor guy ended up with a drawer full of coal because he didn’t want to just toss it. I hated to give up the joke, because it really was funny to see him get halfway through the stocking & pull out ANOTHER container of coal… but I felt bad. That’s a lot of coal. And it really does just end up in the trash.

But it was pretty funny. My poor Jay. Picture it: he’s opening gifts, all happy and excited, and he gets halfway through his stocking and BAM! There it is. Another. Freakin’. Piece. Hilarious. Once I even stuffed the stocking with other random crap like weighed-down tissue paper instead of gifts, leaving just the coal at the bottom! Ohhh, Christmas coal. Providing laughter… and tears… for centuries.

The practice of giving coal to naughty children dates back to one of (at least) five possible origins:

Sicily

One of the many origin stories begins in Italy where they believe in La Befana (a witch who delivers presents) instead of Santa Claus. When Jesus was born, La Befana saw a bright star in the sky and gathered some toys and other presents to give to the baby Jesus, but she couldn’t find the stable. Every year she goes around looking for Jesus and leaves toys for good children, and coal for bad ones. These days, Italians use a candy, called Carbone Dolce, to turn the legend into a joke. The dark, rock-like candy looks exactly like lumps of coal.

Holland

Some people say that the lumps of coal story started in Holland in the 16th century. Before Christmas, children would put their clogs by the fireplace before stockings were used. When a child was bad they got a lump of coal, but if they were good they got a small toy, cookies or candy.

England

In the 19th century, most of Europe was powered by coal, and most household furnaces were coal burning. A pan of hot coals would often be kept under the bed to generate heat in the middle of the night. In England, while the children of rich families got candy and toys in their stockings, those who were poor (believed to have been made poor by God, as punishment for their family’s bad deeds) would get coal, if they were lucky.

The Nobleman

A proud but poor nobleman had three daughters ready to marry. The problem was, he had no dowry to give them. Saint Nicholas secretly gave the family enough money so their daughters could start their lives out with their new husbands. He did this by placing the money in some stockings that were drying by the fireplace. When word spread about this miracle, everyone started hanging their stockings by the fire in hopes that the secret benefactor would visit them. He did visit those houses, but for those who Saint Nicholas knew to be bad, he left them with a lump of coal instead of gold.

Krampusnacht

Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish bad children during the Christmas season, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards nice ones with gifts. Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children in his sack and carry them away to his lair. The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on December 6. In Alpine countries, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus. On the preceding evening, Krampus Night or Krampusnacht, the hairy devil appears on the streets. Sometimes accompanying St. Nicholas and sometimes on his own, Krampus visits homes and businesses.The Saint usually appears in the Eastern Rite vestments of a bishop, and he carries a ceremonial staff. Unlike North American versions of Santa Claus, in these celebrations Saint Nicholas concerns himself only with the good children, while Krampus is responsible for the bad. Nicholas dispenses gifts, while Krampus supplies coal and the ruten bundles. 

-eHow.com

So it’s been around a long time, and a lot of people have been getting a lump or two of coal in their stockings in the last couple of hundred years. But this year, I think Jay will be far more pleased to find a big ol’ jar of it in his stocking. Because this year it’s not real coal, just chocolate cookies that look like coal.

;

What a great offbeat- and a little bit edgy- Christmas cookie idea. You know I have a tendency to lean towards a dark side. And this time of year, there really isn’t a lot of room for that, unless you do the Nightmare Before Christmas angle which is a bit overdone (I love the movie, but seriously…). These cookies, however, have a bit of a sinister twist to ‘em. Especially given the history of the coal, but also because they’re black. You don’t see a lot of black around Christmastime, do you?

What I did was I baked up some dark chocolate cookies, shaped ‘em all rough and then put them in a jar I decorated with a label I designed and topped with a black-painted lid. Super easy. I just took one of my mason jars, glued the two-piece lid together, and painted it black. But you could also use an old, cleaned-out spaghetti sauce jar and paint the lid, or buy a mason jar with a one-piece lid at a craft store. I just made a 2″ x 2″ round label & printed it out, then used Elmer’s glue to attach it to the jar since Elmer’s is water soluble & will come right off. You could also print it out on a self-stick jar label if you’ve got ‘em (Attention fellow geeks: the font I used in the label is called ‘Stamp Act’). You can also download a printable label from eighteen25.blogspot.com if you’re not as savvy with Photoshop as I am.

Another gifting idea for these? Use a little cheesecloth/muslin/burlap bag instead of a jar. There’s a little how-to at chicaandjo.com that can help you out with that. But, you know I love anything in a jar. Especially cookies.

;

And… this little coal concept also takes the edge off taking photos of misshapen dark chocolate cookies. You know, they either look like poop or, well, lumps of coal! Might as well capitalize on it, right? Thanks so much to Make Bake Celebrate for the idea, and to The Salty Spoon for the (adapted) recipe. Also these cookies are gluten-free, so they’re perfect for anyone you may know with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease.

It’s such a cute idea it makes you wonder why you never thought of it yourself. Unless you have.

LUMP OF COAL COOKIES (adapted from The Salty Spoon who adapted it from Bon Appétit, June 2008)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder- preferably dark (I like Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black food coloring (probably less if you’re using Americolor)
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat. If you have more than one cookie sheet, prep another as well. This recipe makes more than a single sheet’s-worth of cookies and will necessitate baking in two batches. If you don’t have two cookies sheets, don’t worry about it – just let the sheet cool down a bit between batches.
  2. Measure 1 cup of the chocolate chips into a glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then zap for another minute while watching closely. When things start to look really shiny, pull it out and stir again until the chips are completely melted. Stir in the black food coloring. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks with an electric (or stand) mixer. Leaving the mixer running on medium, sprinkle in the sugar in three or four additions so you work it in gradually. Crank it up a notch and keep beating until it looks thick and creamy.
  4. In another medium bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. Crank the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients in a few batches until fully incorporated.
  5. Stir in the (now slightly cooled) melted chocolate and the remaining chocolate chips. If the dough seems stiff at this point, proceed to the next step. If not, set it aside for 10 minutes or so – it will continue to gain body as it sets up.
  6. Plop them by the teaspoonful on a prepared cookie sheet, 2″ apart. Bake 10 minutes, until they are puffy and the tops have cracked.
  7. Once you pull them from the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Then, take each cookie and smoosh them into a “coal shape” (basically a rough, uneven, lumpy ball). They might still be hot inside, so put them back on the rack for another 5-10 minutes once they’re shaped.

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DON’T OVER BAKE THESE. If you over bake them, they’ll be too hard once you form them into “coal” and your children will break their tiny little teeth.

I used my hand mixer to make these, from the egg whites all the way through to the final dough, but I will say that most of you should opt for using a stand mixer. The dough gets very stiff when it “sets up.” That means it might be too much for the average hand mixer. My hand mixer- also known as “He Who Must Not Be Named”- happens to be a beast: a KitchenAid digital 9-speed Architect model. But if you’ve got a not-so-powerful one, you might want to just go right for the big guns. I’ve ruined many a hand mixer overestimating it’s power. Learn from me.

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And there you have it. They taste just like brownies, look like lumps of coal, but they’re cookies. Figure that one out, Santa!