Despite the residual sniffles, we have recovered enough to do a little Christmas preparations. The kids loved baking, but they like eating the cookies more. Surprise, surprise.
Lots of little hands all over the house, helping with baking, tasting, stirring, cleaning, wrapping and playing. Such a sweet part of Christmas is watching their little faces full of wonder as they hear again and again about baby Jesus being born and the shepherds and wise men coming to see him.
M has become a king for the season - with a sword mind you. Grandma has made him and J royal capes with hoods as gifts. :o)
Something new I tried this year turned out excellently; salted caramel shortbread. I found a recipe for making caramel without corn syrup in Lebanon, but I hadn't had the time or energy to make it. Well, I made it here. And it was worth the wait. MORE than worth it! These little treats are like biting into Christmas! The sweet caramel topping buttery shortbread and all showcased with a dash of sea salt.
As for the rest of us - D, myself and baby - we are quietly thankful for all the blessings we've received throughout this past year and all of our lives. And perhaps that's the best way to describe our Christmas: warm, quiet and thankful.
Christ is born!
SALTED CARAMEL SHORTBREAD
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cup flour
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8" x 8" pan with parchment paper. Whip butter several minutes until white and fluffy. Add sugar, flour and cornstarch. Mix well. Add beaten egg and mix until smooth. Place dough into pan and pat down until smooth and even. Use a fork to poke holes throughout surface. Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden. Don't over bake! Remove from oven and let cool.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup organic honey
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
coarse sea salt
Combine sugar, honey and vanilla in a large pot. Heat on high and let sugar melt and slowly caramelize. (Don't stir.) While sugar is cooking, heat cream slowly, stirring constantly until hot. When sugar reaches a warm caramel colour, whisk in butter in small knobs. Add hot cream, whisking until smooth.
Let this mixture cook, stirring occasionally until it reaches 244 degree F, or soft ball stage. I didn't have a candy thermometer, so I used the later and it came out perfectly: just take a cup of cold water and spoon a drop of the mixture into the cup. If you can shape it into a soft ball with your fingers, it's ready. (Be careful, it reaches the temperature quickly once it starts climbing.)
Quickly pour caramel mixture over the baked shortbread. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let cool completely, then cut into bite-sized squares. Store in airtight container.