Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Christmas Project 2012

Just as I did last year, I wanted to make up some give-away gifts for Christmas - to teachers, Sunday school teachers, the family Christmas at Grammy's, to the postal carrier, co-workers and etc. I wanted to do something made by hand. Because when you make stuff by hand, people know you care, and you think, "I won't have to spend quite as much money, since I'm putting the effort in," so it always sounds like a great idea to share the love and not break the bank. Twenty trips to JoAnn Fabric later, the budget idea is just about out the window, but the love remains.

Plus, it keeps my kids amused for whole seconds at a time, and hopefully makes some memories. I used the following photo of the girls in their favorite aprons to print out gift tags for the gifts.

My gifts this year were a combo-plate of ginger cookies, Ritz cracker chocolate-covered cookies, and white chocolate snowman pops. I could alter it to suit - the folks at work got a big platter of cookies and snowmen, the girls' primary teachers got all three candies, family got all three, the Sunday school teachers got bags of cookies, etc. I wrote down everything I wanted to give everyone and made a tally. I love lists, so this part was fun. Then I hit the sales at JoAnn for all the cookie bags, platters, ribbon, and lollipop wrappers.

The ginger cookies got the most rave reviews, so I will for sure be making those again next year. I used a vegan recipe from Alicia Silverstone's site that I saw on Pinterest. I quadrupled the recipe, and I think I may need to do even more next year. I pretty much doubled the spices (NOT the ginger, though), including a mulled cider mix they sell at my grocery store that has orange peel, clove and other spices. I ground it in the spice grinder first. I'd say the seasoning was just right - it tastes more bold in the dough, but mellows after baking - so I may add just a touch more next year. I wanted the cookies to be frosted, so I used this vegan royal icing recipe. Instead of soy milk, I used Silk Egg Nog, and I also added a touch of nutmeg. I used holiday cookie cutters that I found at the dollar store, plus a couple others I already had. I made a lot. Of. Cookies.

I didn't fuss too much over the icing - I just snipped a corner of a Ziploc bag, and swirled it over the cooled cookies in the general shape of the cookie. I let them dry out on parchment paper overnight, so that the icing would be nice and dry for packaging.

The girls enjoyed the confectioner's sugar most of all. You gotta love that kids like their sweet stuff as "straight diesel." It's also just fun to play with. I put this picture on the back of our tags, noting that no one licked their fingers until the end, and that we used very clean hands. :)

Next up was the snowman chocolate pop. I made these last year, based on an Ina Garten recipe, and spent a great deal of time trying to arrange the cranberries and cashews so that they didn't resemble faces. This year, I thought, "I'll just make them into faces." I bought half-cashews for smiles, and dried cashews. The only changes I made to Ina's recipe is that I used the JoAnn melts for simplicity, and I put a good sprinkle of kosher salt on each one before they hardened. The nuts, cranberries and white chocolate just cry out for salt. Plus, it makes them look snowier.

I made lots more than this. Lots.

The last item I made (on the third separate day), was the Ritz cracker cookie. I don't think I made enough of these, but dang, I was running out of freezer space! They are a Ritz cracker sandwich, with a very thin layer of chocolate peanut butter (or Nutella) and marshmallow fluff in the middle. You then use melted Hershey bars to dip them in. Don't use anything for these other than Hershey bars, or the texture will be wrong. Don't.

This year, I found sandwich cookie molds at JoAnn, and it simplified the process a bit. I let the girls put candy sprinkles in the bottoms of the molds, then put a bit of melted chocolate in, then the cookie, then more chocolate. I put them in the fridge, but found them to be very difficult to unmold... Popping them in the freezer fixed this. They popped right out, but I did shatter one mold this way. Sounds like a lot of trouble, but I found it easier than hand-dipping each one.

I stored everything in the freezer until needed for bagging and packaging.

I thought I took a picture of all my pretty boxes and bags (the end product), but I guess I didn't. So here's one more of the girls, who used the very last two ginger "Joobies" (named for the combo of the girls' names) to put out on a plate for Santa at Grammy's house (the carrot is for Rudolph). Then they ate them, because they know that fat man is coming either way, and they are so not worried about it.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful pictures. I bet the goodies were delicious! And the aprons are so cute!