Food is Love, Love is Food.

A blog devoted to the connection between meals, memories and the special moments in our lives.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Cookies: Mimi's Meltaway Horns

I have often written about my mother's lack of interest in cooking.  She loves good food and is happy to bring good wine along to a meal that we have cooked at our house.  She is excellent company and is a great help in cleaning up after a good meal, but she has no interest in actually cooking.  She is, however, quite an excellent baker, and makes the best desserts. When we were growing up, she would spend hours and hours baking wonderful Christmas cookies.  She had incredible patience in dealing with two young girls who wanted to get their hands into everything.  She always encouraged us and made the Christmas baking a festive and enjoyable event to which we looked forward.  She made a number of different kinds of cookies.  Back in the days before "cookie swaps"  were popular, my mother would regularly put out a platter of many different kinds of cookies, made all by her (and us).  To this day, I view the baking of the Christmas cookies one of the holiday festivities; it is not just the finished product that is the enjoyable part, but the process of baking the cookies, too.  In fact, that is very much the way my mother always lived her life, and does to this day.  It is not only what we accomplish that should be enjoyable.  It is important to enjoy the process as well, and if you can do it surrounded by those we love, all the better.

So, the holiday baking season is upon us, and my mom's favorite kind of cookie is the one I made first this year.  My sister and I were not terribly fond of them when we were little.  They were not very sweet, and they had nuts:  the kiss of death for young kids.  As an adult now, however, I totally get it.  These have a delicious crust, are light and flaky, subtly sweet.  The star of the show in these cookies is the cinnamon, so buy the best you can, as I did.  I splurged and ordered it from King Arthur Flour, and it was worth every cent.

Mimi's Meltaway Horns

For the crust:
3 cups flour
1/2 lb butter, very cold
1/2 pint sour cream
3 egg yolks
1 package dry yeast

In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, yeast, and butter.  Process on short pulses until the mixture resembles cornmeal.  Add sour cream and egg yolks, and process until well mixed and smooth.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the filling:
3 egg whites, beaten until light and fluffy
2 tbsp good quality cinnamon
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

To prepare the cookies:
Cut the large ball of dough into 4 equal pieces.  Roll each out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg whites on the dough circle.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of the cinnamon sugar mixture, then the chopped nuts.  Cut each circle into 16 wedges, then roll each wedge up starting from the wider end.  Place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  Let cool on wire racks, then sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

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