by The TEC Editing Team
Published at 2016-12-21
We at TEC have launched a new event this Holiday Season. Instead of going out for lunch or dinner, we decided we would enjoy a full week of delicious baked goods, wines, eggnog with liqueurs, and hot toddies. We are calling this festive fair, The Week of Indulgences. In this blog, we share with you our buffet of delectable treats.
Indulgences, as it turns out, became extremely popular during the Reformation when, in 1517, Pope Leo X offered indulgences to those who gave alms to help rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. As many readers will know, an indulgence was a document issued to an individual that would reduce the amount of punishment one had to undergo for sins they may have committed. It could also help reduce the time a deceased loved one had to spend in purgatory. It is said that the Gutenberg printing press produced more indulgences than it did Bibles to meet the demand! We found this connection to Gutenberg and the early world of publishing an inspiring connection to our holiday feast.
To help celebrate our Week of Indulgences at The Editing Company, I brought in a bottle of Baileys Original Irish Cream. Whether your favourite bar is down the road or in your living room, it should definitely be stocked with Baileys. Baileys Original Irish Cream was first produced in 1974, and, as its name implies, was the first and only Irish cream liqueur on the market. The Baileys website offers a wide variety of Baileys-based recipes to try, but noticeably absent is the TEC Toddy, so I've outlined its recipe below.
For the last maybe … 12 years or so, I've been known to get a little over-the-top with Christmas baking. In high school, I would make giant batches of cookies and squares and tarts, and give plates or tins of them away as gifts. As the years passed and my social circle got bigger, I found myself having to make more and more cookies. Hundreds of cookies! Eventually, one holiday season a few years ago, I decided it was too much to deal with – now, I only bring one or two plates to families (like my fiancé's, or to my own family parties). This year, however, my fiancé's family party was unexpectedly cancelled last minute, leaving me with what I have termed the Tower of Cookies (all boxed up in Tupperware, they really do create quite a tower). So I was delighted to bring some in to the TEC office for our Week of Indulgences! The recipe I always think is the most festive is my dad's recipe for spicy ginger raisin crinkles – not only do they taste festive, with cinnamon, clove, and molasses, they make the house smell wonderfully fragrant while baking (they even scented the office with clove for a couple of days).
Unfortunately, while I can't give you my dad's secret recipe, I can point you towards a solid alternative! This Crosby's Molasses ginger cookie recipe gives you three alternatives for the spice cookie base – you can add chocolate chips (which I thought was a bit odd, but you do you!), candied ginger, or leave the cookies plain. I would point out that instead of ginger, you could of course add raisins (classic), or even a favourite type of nut could work. To finish the cookies before you bake them, you roll them in sugar – the recipe calls for granulated sugar, but I would suggest trying turbinado sugar (#8 on this list of sugars) instead for extra crunch!
What is sufganiyah, you might be asking? It is the plural of sufganiyot, which is a most delicious jelly doughnut made especially for Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. I brought three different sufganiyah to our Week of Indulgences: caramel, raspberry, and prune. And no, I did not make them. I bought them at our world-famous Harbord Bakery. For a little musical accompaniment, take a listen to "The Sufganiyot Song" on YouTube.
I "baked" some no-bake gluten-free holiday treats – coconut snowballs and peanut butter chocolate oat squares. The coconut snowballs are made almost entirely of coconut and maple syrup, with a white chocolate coating. The ingredients of the peanut butter chocolate oat squares are as simple as the name implies, with some added nuts for crunch. No-bake treats are a good option for the holidays if you don't have lots of time to bake – all you need to do is combine the ingredients and then set them in the fridge to harden. They're also a great option if you or your guests need to eat gluten-free, since most no-bake treats don't contain any flour. Just make sure that if you're using oats that they're certified gluten-free!
As the late English comedian Les Dawson once said, "Families are like fudge – mostly sweet, with few nuts." Turns out our little TEC family is no different. Wait, strike that! Our little TEC holiday buffet is no different.
There were already enough sweets lined up to send us all into sugar shock, so I brought nuts instead: cashews and almonds. Apparently, eating one handful of cashews a day dramatically improves mental health, and eating two handfuls of cashews is the therapeutic equivalent of taking a prescription dose of Prozac. Whether these claims are true or not (we haven't tested their validity), there's definitely something special about cashews. When Raymond Chandler wrote, "She was the kind of girl who'd eat all your cashews and leave you with nothing but peanuts and filberts," you can bet he didn't mean it as a compliment.
As for the almonds, rest assured I brought sweet ones, not the bitter kind, which can be deadly because of their cyanide content. So you have to wonder what Jodi Picoult was getting at when she described a character in her novel The Storyteller like this: "If words had flavors, hers would be bitter almonds and coffee grounds." FYI, if you're still looking for a present for a hard-to-shop-for person, some online sites offer T-shirts and sweatshirts with that quotation.
To celebrate Solstice – the beginning of winter and the beginning of days growing longer – our bookkeeper Denise brought us a delicious box of cream-filled cannoli. Dare we say how good they taste with Baileys and eggnog?
Bon appetit! And from all of us here at The Editing Company – eat, drink, and enjoy the holidays! Wishing you all best for the New Year!