This evening at 5 o’clock, the Blandford Historical Society hosted the annual Christmas Tree lighting as it does each and every year, since it’s our own tree that gets lit and decorated by our directors and we invite the towns people to participate in the tree lighting ceremony complete with Christmas carol singing, cookies and hot chocolate. I have been a co-host of the event for the past two years, it is a fairly easy event to host; you bake cookies, you make hot chocolate and you set up the function room so that it looks merry and festive. This evening because of the beautiful mild weather we had a really good turnout, 36 people all together, for our Historical Society that is a nice number. We’re a very small town.
Since part of my duties included baking cookies; I thought about what type of cookies I wanted to bake for the Society for a few days, I was vacillating between French Lace cookies, these are delicate cookies made with oats, pecans, orange zest, corn syrup and vanilla with chocolate drizzled on top or Palmiers, flaky puff pastry dough with is folded, rolled out and folded again and at the final stage rolled out in sugar, folded and rolled out again in sugar. They are called elephant ears in English because when you fold it in a double fold and then slice them into 1/4 inch slices, the shape that they take after baking, to the French eye looks like a Palm leaf and to the American eye, they look like elephant ears. Mine aren’t as big as the ones you find in the bakeries here, mine are only about 2 inches in length and an 1 1/2 wide.
I have to admit that the choice of cookie wasn’t that hard to make. Last year I had made the French Lace cookies and they were a hit but not in the same way that the Palmiers cookies were when I had made them for the opera last August. These cookies are light, buttery and not too sweet. They aren’t that hard to make, all it requires is patience because you need to roll the dough out to a 17″ by 7″ size, fold it into tri-part envelope, with the seam on your left, then you roll it out once more to a 17″ by 7″ size and then you take each end and fold them towards each other so that the ends meet in the middle and then you fold it like a book and you refrigerate it once more for another hour. You repeat this process once more and then you’re ready to start the sugar part of the process. All this rolling and folding is precisely what makes the cookie so light and buttery flaky.
My society friends and many of the guests all complimented me on the cookies. The kind words and obvious appreciation make all the work very much worthwhile. When I finally get a camera, I’ll be taking pictures once again of my adventures in cooking and baking.
My cookies definitely had a homemade look to them, there wasn’t a uniform look to any of them, I guess that is part of the homemade charm. I tried to get them to caramelize to an even golden color but I still haven’t figured out how to do that. One of these days, I’ll get them to a place where they are prettier, but for now I am happy that they taste good.