Cookies and Carols 2020: the pandemic edition
Each year around this time we host an open house at Woodsworth House, inviting friends of the Centre to gather for some holiday cheer. We look forward to chatting with new and old members of the CCS community, nibbling snacks, sipping on hot apple cider, and singing Christmas carols and hymns. (Carols are by request, which means we often sing some of the same ones more than once, as new people arrive and request them. I’m looking at you, “No Crowded Eastern Street”!)
This year, of course, we won’t be hosting a gathering. We thought about doing something online, but if you’ve ever tried singing together on Zoom you know that it’s a schmozzle. So instead what we’re doing this year is inviting you, in the safety of your own homes, to imagine that you are hanging out with us, celebrating the season.
For music, the staff of CCS have each suggested two* Christmas songs, from a variety of genres and styles — some traditional, some modern, some religious, some secular, some jazzy, some folky, some poppy — which we have compiled into a playlist (on spotify and youtube). For snacks the staff have offered some of their favourite cookie recipes – the kind of thing they might have brought to an in-person Cookies and Carols.
The CCS Cookies and Carols 2020 (Spotify) – CLICK
The CCS Cookies and Carols 2020 (Youtube) – CLICK
Curious which staff member chose which songs? Me too! In the December 26th Common Threads each staff member will offer a brief comment on their choice and what it means to them. (*Some staff members chose more than two, by the way.)
Are these your favourite Christmas songs? Why not use the comments section to share your favourites into the mix?
Lace Cookies with Chocolate (Marcie)
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon 2% milk
- 1/2 cup ground pecans (can substitute oatmeal for a nut-free version)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Line baking sheet(s) with foil or silicone.
In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk. Cook and stir over medium heat 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in pecans/oatmeal, flour and vanilla.
Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls, 3 in. apart onto lined baking sheets. Bake 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and lacy. Cookies will expand part way through. Watch carefully so as not to burn or undercook.
Cool completely before carefully removing from sheets.In a microwave or double-boiler, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Spread 1 teaspoon melted chocolate on bottoms of half of the cookies; cover with remaining cookies.
Refrigerate 10 minutes or until set. Store between pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container.
Savoury Shortbread (Janet)
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temp (175 ml)
- 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour (425 ml)
- 1/2 tsp. salt (2 ml)
- 1 c. grated Asiago cheese (250 ml)
- 1 Tbl. very finely chopped fresh rosemary (15 ml)
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne, optional – though highly recommended (1 ml)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Beat the butter until light and fluffy in a bowl. Sift together the salt, all-purpose flour, and cayenne in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Add cheese and rosemary and combine just until incorporated.
Break off pieces of dough and shape into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls. Add to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down balls to flatten. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 15 to 30 minutes.
Bake in the centre of the oven until edges are lightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Can be served with a fruit chutney for a flavour sensation! (from foodnetwork.ca)
Vanilla Crescents – Czech Christmas Cookie (Janet)
- 280 g all purpose flour
- 120 g icing sugar
- 120 g. ground walnuts (optional)
- 220 g unsalted butter, at room temp
- 1 egg yolk
Mix together, and let rest in fridge for 1 hour.
Break off pieces of dough and shape into small crescents.
Bake at 330 F for 6-8 minutes.
This recipe is from our favourite potter, Eva Mlcak
These anise flavoured German cookies are traditionally stamped with a wooden mold, cut out, and then dried for a few hours which keeps the decorative shape on top while they bake. Molds can be found on the internet but if you don’t have one you can simply cut the dough into 1.5 X 2 rectangles with a knife or cut out with cookie cutters. Springerle are hard so they are wonderful dipped in a hot beverage.
You can find the recipe at https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/150123/traditional-springerle/
Christmas Crack (Scott)
- 28 to 35 saltine crackers (enough to line your tray)
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (a package) semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a cookie pan with foil. (I spray a bit of baking spray on the foil.) Line up the saltine crackers in a single layer on the bottom.
Cook the brown sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to darken. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the hot brown sugar mixture evenly over the crackers.
Bake in the oven for 5 minutes. The caramel will be hot and bubbly. Take it out and let it cool for a minute until the caramel stops bubbling.
Melt the chocolate and spread evenly over the crackers.
Let the crackers cool to room temperature and then move them to the refrigerator or freezer to cool overnight.
The crackers will form a single sheet once cool. Remove from pan and gently peel the foil away. Cut or break into snack-sized pieces.
Lemon Squares (Michelle)
Preheat oven to 350 F
- 1 cup sifted all purpose flour
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
Add and combine:
- ½ cup melted butter
Press the mixture into an 8×8 greased baking pan and bake 20 minutes.
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 slightly beaten eggs
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp grated lemon peel
- (optional) ½ cup coconut
Pour these ingredients over the baked warm crust and bake 25 minutes. Chill. Before serving, cut into 2-inch squares and sprinkly with confectioner’s sugar. (from Joy of Cooking)