Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hot December

It’s not easy for me to write about Christmas. Because making all those heartwarming recipes; having a hot-chocolate or nibbling on  some Lebkuchen doesn't really match the weather outside that is  warm, humid and sunny! It's 28°C outside and almost everyone is wearing t-shirts! I am aware that half the globe has seasons opposed to mine and that a lot of countries have their summer time now, but I don’t live there! It should be colder by now so I can enjoy sitting on the couch, snuggle in my lovely Christmas-y blanket, sip hot cocoa in my Christmas-y cup and eat my chocolate Santa while gazing at our lovely decorated tree, even if it’s mere plastic! Damn global warming!

“Will it ever snow?” asked my son the other day, same question I asked several times when I was a kid. But that is never likely to happen. Yes we have hail storms once or twice a year, but they melt as soon as they touch the ground. I remember when I was a kid (probably 4th grade) I had invited a school friend over and we were talking about how lovely snow is; that we got a lot of white sheets, cut them all into small squares & threw them out of the window. They covered the pavement in a beautiful white mosaic art, which was soon followed by a loud “what did you do?” scream from my mum. Wasn't very pretty either when our neighbours were annoyed at us for littering our street…

Years later when I grew up, I still wanted to fulfill my dream of seeing snow; being there when building tops are covered in white, walking down the streets while flurries fall down on me, yet every attempt failed. The 2 or 3 days preceding my arrival, there would be a heat wave that causes the snow to melt away, the sun comes out and it suddenly has warmed up. Yes, 3 attempts failed! New York during Christmas last year: the temperature rose to 14°C in the morning and it was sunny that I no longer needed thermal garments and the down jacket was too warm to wear. Vienna a few years ago during the early week of February, which is like the coldest time of the year, still about 12°C and sunny as well... Not only did it not snow both in Vienna and NY but it didn't even rain. Of course I got to see snow on mountain tops, had a chance to hold it in my hand, make a snowball and throw it, but it’s not the same experience. And no, please don’t invite me over just so I can clear your skies J

New York City 
New York City

Nevertheless I am not giving up on my dream yet. Next time I will choose wisely, I’ll forget about Europe and go straight to the source of unlimited snow: Canada. It snows there as early as November and keeps this way up until April. And if that doesn't work out... no, no, no, I won't even think of this...

So every year we put our tree on, light it every night till January 8th to celebrate Coptic Christmas, bake cookies & cakes, place gifts under the tree, and open one door of the Advents calendar every morning. 

This years’ baking started earlier than usual. My first recipe is a traditional cinnamon cookie sandwiched with apricot jam. We usually make these cookies for Bairam, our feast holiday right after Ramadan and they are an adapted version from sugar cookies. The ingredients might differ from a recipe to another, but I find this one to work out best. The cookies are not too sweet which works fine with the jam.
My son wanted different shapes this time and we decided to cover those in coloured sugar icing and sprinkles.

Cinnamon Cookies with apricot jam filling

(makes about 20 medium sandwiched cookies)
380 g all purpose flour
225 g unsalted butter, room temperature
200 g granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp ground cinnamon (more or less depending on your preference)
½ tsp ground cloves (could substitute those with cardamon)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

100 g apricot jam or any kind you prefer
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda. In the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Now the traditional way of doing this is to remove one half of the chilled dough and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 cm. Cut out two different shapes in equal amounts, one using a normal round cookie cutter and the other could be any shape you like as long as it has a hole in it. Because those two will be sandwiched together using apricot jam and it's always nice to have a peak at what's inside the cookie.

However this time I used the tips offered by Nancy Bagett from Kitchenlane on the best and easiest way to roll out cookie dough. And it worked perfectly, it couldn't have been easier or yield better results than this. Check out her link to know the different tips available.

Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Once they have cooled, spread ½ tsp jam on the round whole cookie and sandwich the top cookie with it. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Alternatively cookies can be frosted using sugar icing or with powdered sugar & a stencil. 


  1. I am like you. Growing up in Florida, I am fascinated by snow and since living in Europe I pray and pray for a cold snowy holiday season every year. Of course, we live in the most temperate region of France and barely get a flurry, even those crazy years when the south is covered in white. Sad. But at least it gets cold... and I love the Christmassy cookies (love cinnamon). I may try these!

    1. It's because of all those american movies that I fancy a snowy Christmas:) I had some as a kid growing up in Germany but I can't remember that. Imagine my jealousy when Meeta said the other day they had snow in Weimar already :)

  2. I agree, also for me cold weather, snow and early nights belong to Christmas. I love your anecdote how you tried to make snow yourself. I better don't tell you that it was snowing a little today in Zurich ...

  3. Oh Alexandra it snowed already, enjoy it:) Je suis jalouse!