Christmas is a time to gather with friends and family, and to celebrate the abundance of the year. Most of us bake more cookies this time of year. We make chocolates, fudge, or other types of candy for our family gatherings and our Christmas gifts. We bake mincemeat pies and fruitcakes, and maybe even a vintage plum pudding or some sugar plums too!
Which of these desserts do you prefer at Christmastime? You can note up your favourites and also tell me about your family traditions in the comments below.
Most of us today don't do a lot of baking, let alone candy making. But at Christmas, it seems we make an exception. Fudge is a traditional Christmas candy that is fairly simple to make. Whether it's an English butter fudge or the traditional sucre à la crème of French Canadian tradition, families love to make it for holiday parties and Christmas gifts. There are even instant fudge recipes that can be made with little more than a bowl, a spoon, and a microwave.
Homemade chocolates are another popular holiday treat. Truffles of different sorts are easy enough to master. But for a more impressive Christmas gift, try chocolate covered cherries. These take some time to set up, so they are best made at least two weeks in advance.
Fruitcakes have a history that goes back to Roman times, though most of us probably associate them most with Merry Olde England.
I love the very dark fruitcake made with molasses and very dense with fruits and nuts. These cakes tend to be very moist because the fruits are soaked in alcohol, fruit juice, or coffee before the cake is baked. Sometimes there is additional alcohol or coffee added to the batter, and the finished cake may be soaked in alcohol as well.
Cookies are so popular at Christmas that some people start baking their cookies months in advance and freeze them for later. There are even cookie exchange parties where everyone brings a large amount of just one kind of cookie, and goes home with a variety of different cookies.
In our house, creamy shortbread cookies with a candied cherry on top were always the stars of the cookie platter. Sugar cookies with a little orange zest in them were also a staple, as were peanut butter cookies and gingerbread. We also love to buy a tin of Danish butter cookies at Christmastime, although we will eat them any time of the year.
We don't always think of eggnog as a dessert, though it is as sweet and rich as many cakes or other desserts. Some people like to serve their eggnog with a shot of brandy in it. But we're happy to just drink it straight out of the carton - maybe with a pinch of nutmeg!