Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Headless chickens

I do not know what the French equivalent of "running around like a chicken with its head cut off " is. Maybe I will found out after I post this.  This is how I feel at this time of year.  Trying to teach a few new concepts (impératif and -re verbs to 7th graders and le partitif to 8th graders) and a few more vocabulary words before exams.  Assemblies, hot lunches, wrapping Christmas gifts for the family we adopted through social services, making up exams and photocopying them, holding review and extra help sessions, dealing with a few inevitable behavior issues, grading quizzes, entering grades... Ouf!  Ça suffit.  That's more than enough.  Makes me tired just typing it.
So what do the tough do when the going gets a little tough?  Why, make cookies, of course.  I came across a recipe for fruitcake cookies on Facebook.  Nevermind that the Ex-Ex hates fruitcake and will not try it in any way, shape or form.  He saw the recipe on the counter and made a face.  I love fruitcake.  I am well aware that this is totally due to the fact that my beloved Papa Bell gave out fruitcakes at Christmas time to his employees at the hosiery mill he owned.  I've written about this before (and I will make David Leibovitz' fruitcake bars.  I've already bought the dates.)
So, I rounded up all the ingredients, even buying my first bottle of sherry in which to soak the fruit.

A little drunken fruitcake, even better.  This recipe takes a little planning ahead since the fruit has to soak overnight and the dough has to stay in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Well worth it, though, if you love fruitcake as much as I do.

Fruitcake Cookies
recipe from Ina Garten and The Food Network
makes 4 dozen cookies

1/2 lb. dried figs
1/4 lb. raisins (I found a mix of raisins and dried cherries)
2 oz. candied cherries, coarsely chopped
2 oz. dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. honey (I still have a little bit of lavender honey left from my last trip to Provence)
2 Tbsp. dry sherry (I doubled this)
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 oz. chopped pecans
Kosher salt
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2. tsp. ground cloves
1/2 c. superfine sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 extra large egg
2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour

Snip off hard stems of figs with scissors or small knife and coarsely chop figs.  In medium bowl, combine raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans and pinch of salt.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, cloves, and sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.  With mixer on low speed, add egg and mix until incorporated.  With mixer still on low, slowly add flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined.  Do not over mix.  (I had to mix it with my hands at this point because it was pretty dry.)  Add fruits and nuts, including any liquid in bowl.
Divide dough in half and place on long edge of 12 x 18 piece of parchment or waxed paper.  Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 inch thick, making 18-inch long roll. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.
Preheat oven to 350˚F.  With a small sharp knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch slices.  Place 1/2-inch apart on parchment paper-lined pans and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.

While mixing and slicing, maybe a little Michael Bublé Christmas music in the background?  Hmmm... I wonder if Michael likes fruitcake?


Bon appétit to headless chickens, fruitcake and Christmas crooners!

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