Saturday, December 1, 2012

Springerle, Tom And Jerry Parties, Panettone, Pizzelles, Spritz Cookies - Something I've Been Pondering This Week

A reply by The Silver Bunny to a Christmas based comment: "we do not celebrate Christmas. This is quite a common occurrence in France."  Does this explain why my mother's family celebrated with the Christmas customs and food of so many different countries?  
I actually called my mother to ask if she had any idea why Panettone was included in our holidays, since it seems to be an Italian (or Australian) thing.  My Uncle Emile was married to an Italian, my Aunt Inez, so maybe it started there?  I mostly remember my Aunt Inez at the Christmas Tom and Jerry parties, ladling out the creamy drink - sort of like an Eggnog, from the white ceramic bowl, emblazoned with "Tom and Jerry", matching the small white cups. 
And we always had Springerle, the hard-as-rocks, Anise flavored, rectangular German Cookie with the raised picture design that took a special carved rolling pin to make.  I love these and once I found a source for Anise Oil and the special rolling pin, made them every Christmas.  And ate most of them myself. - not for selfish reason, but because no one else liked them.  Didn't anyone appreciate the fact that they are practically fat free?  Where other cookies had 1 cup butter per batch, these cookies had 1/8th of a cup per batch.
So here's a question: Are you the only one in your family that likes, say something as common as Fruitcake, the Black Jellybean of Christmas?  Or something more obscure, like Pumpkin Spice Caramels?  (Ick!!)           


  1. Hmmm... I think I used to like aniseed as a child but don't go near it now for some reason. It's usually the reverse, finding things I love now that I used to hate. The only Christmas food I remember not liking was my Grandma's fruitcake. It was more useful as a doorstop. And, allowed to sip the mysterious brew, I decided bourbon completely ruined the taste of eggnog.

  2. Oooo, I love Panettone. I had never had it before last year. I usually make my mother's famous White Fruitcake and I will challenge ANYONE that if they don't like fruitcake they will be guaranteed to like mine. It is yummy.

  3. Each year I make the almond crescents, lebkuchen, spritzgeback and several others (wasp nests, chocolate chip, fruitcake, and I might try a new one). Also: stollen, pecan tassies, a cake and a couple of pies. As you know, I love baking!

    My husband and the kids only enjoy lebkuchen and spritz cookies and the rest I eat or give away. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the quick breads I make: pumpkin; cranberry nut and lemon tea breads. My HB eats those sparingly and the kids not at all.

    I guess you can say I do all this baking to satisfy some hidden need to make special things at Christmastime - beyond what one does the rest of the year.

    My panetone like started just a few years ago but now I buy it each year.

    Love the Tom and Jerry party reference!

    So what ARE you baking this year? Pizzelles? I have an electric iron and have tried, but mine always stick and get ruined so I gave up.

  4. Hi Shelley - I love my Eggnog without the Bourbon, too. I can't believe the differences in Fruitcakes. In England, you probably get the ones with the Marzipan layer on top. We used to get those in Canada, since it was just a few hours from Seattle.

  5. Hi Carla - I Googled recipes for White Fruit Cake and they sound delicious! Making any for your party? As if you don't already have enough to do!

  6. Hi Sanda - How did you guess that Pizzelles are my specialty? I have a Teflon coated iron, but have used a plain one, too. Here's what I do - I have a cube of butter and before each cookie, I rub it on the hot surface top and bottom, then put a tablespoon of batter right on top of the butter on the bottom side. I do this for each cookie. If I lived closer, I'd show you in person, since that's the best way. And once you have success with one Pizzelle, the rest come easily. Like with the Spritz, once you get the rhythm of the press going, you can make hundreds of them.
    I love making little Quick Breads. (An expression that my daughter doesn't use - she has always called them Tea Breads, since we had them whenever we had people over for Tea.) Wilton makes papers just like cupcake papers, for those pans that bake several small loaves at once. And then I can give them as gifts or freeze them, so we don't eat too much at once.
    I like baking at Christmas because it feels like I'm baking for a party. Even though I will mail a lot of it away, I still feel like my family and friends are feasting on these treats with me.

  7. When my girls were little I discovered a recipe for Candy Cane Cookies on the back of a bag of flour. I've made them every year now for over 40 years and my daughters expect to recieve a batch yearly. I also make Mexican Wedding Cakes - I like them, guests seem to like them - but my family doesn't like them much at all. Something about the powdered sugar on top.


  8. Hi Darla - I remember those! Or at least I remember the flour bag having a sugar cookie dough that you tinted half red and made these long ropes. Then you twisted one red rope and one white rope into candy cane shapes. Fun. You could use the same dough, flavored with almond extract instead of mint, and shape like little fruits for a Faux Marzipan. Fun!