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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Christmas Leftovers

Before I get a rash of panicked e-mails, pointing out to me that Christmas was, in fact, four months ago, and that I may be endangering my household by feeding them whatever it is I've found at the back of my fridge, don't worry. It's not turkey or stuffing or evil stuffing made inside turkey that is sure to kill you because is harbours salmonella or E. coli or something else.

And it's not fruitcake.  With God as my witness, it's not fruitcake.

It's glace cherries. I firmly believe that glace cherries are half the reason that fruitcake lasts as long as it does. These things never go bad. They may not be good, but they never go bad.

And right now, they are using up space in my second fridge.  So they need to go.

When my mother and I used to go to market, there was always a bakery inside that sold some of the most amazing cookies.  The 'fruit cookies' were one of my two favourites and I would always beg my mother to buy them.  Turns out they were an ice box cookie.

This is the recipe.  Ice box cookies harken back to the days of drop in company.  The block of ice that kept the new fangled refrigerator cold would keep these cookies in a semi-prepared state and enable the hostess to prepare them with only a few moments notice.  No bagged cookies here, folks.

Sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla into the bowl.  Please note, egg and vanilla were absent for this class photo.

Beat them all together until the mixture turns light yellow and everything is well incorporated.

Put all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and give them a gentle wisk.  Back in the day of housedresses and heels, you would have probably used a sifter for this purpose.

With the mixer running, gently and gradually add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Now, for the cherries.  Depending on what type you've purchase and have hanging around, you may or may not need to chop them up.  I usually take the middle of the road approach and buy the mixed, whole and broken, cherries.  If you have broken or chopped cherries, you are already ahead of the game.

Since my goal here was to use up the cherries on hand, I probably used more cherries than the recipe technically called for.

Everybody, in the pool!

Avoid the serious temptation to just eat the entire bowl right now.

For once, a well floured surface is not a requirement.  Looks like I have one anyways.

Take the dough and divide it onto three pieces of wax paper or parchment or plastic wrap, like so.  Form it into an approximately 8" long log.  If you wanted a bigger diameter cookie, make a shorter log.

Wrap the paper or plastic tightly around the log, kind of like rolling sushi.  I've never actually rolled sushi, but I've seen it done on TV.

Twist the ends up like a giant Tootsie roll and you're pretty much set for now.

Put them all in a resealable bag.  I keep mine in the freezer.  The recipe says these will last in the fridge for 3 days or 3 weeks in the freezer.  I'd bet that, well packaged, they'd last longer in the freezer.

When you bring a log out of the freezer, let it rest on the counter for 10 minutes or so to thaw a little and make unwrapping and slicing easier.  Slice them about 1/4" thick and lay them out on parchment or a greased cookie sheet.  They won't spread or rise, so they can sit a little closer together than a regular drop cookie.

These bake up really fast - about 10 minutes in a 375 F oven.  You'll know they are done when they no longer look wet and the edges are slightly brown.

Let them cool entirely before placing them in an airtight container.  Theoretically, they will last five days like that.  You can also freeze them at this point.  Because they are so thin, make sure they are tightly packed in a sturdy container so they don't break.

I have also seen chopped nuts added to these.  Adjust the amount of cherries/nuts to total no more than one cup. 

This recipe makes a whomp load of cookies. One log yielded 30 cookies.  Definitely a recipe to keep on hand for unexpected guests, trips down memory lane, or to clean up the Christmas leftovers. 1. 2.
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