Christmas Cookie Countdown – Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundlandWell, the Christmas music is playing, I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea by my side so I’m ready to start giving you some of my favourite holiday cookies.  I’m starting off with a drop cookie.  Drop cookies are one of the easiest cookie to make.  Cookies like my molasses drop cookie or chocolate chip are examples of a wonderfully easy cookie.  You just scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet and bake.   You can be more precise with a cookie scoop so they all look the same and bake evenly.  I like using a scoop for that reason.  And it’s a little faster than using spoons.  Not to worry though, if you don’t have a cookie scoop, just use you tablespoons and you’ll be fine.

sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holidayWhile most wouldn’t think about using sour cream in a cookie, it works really well.  It gives in a nice creamy texture with a hint of sourness.  And this cookie keeps well too.  You can make some and freeze them for the holidays and they’ll stay soft (after thawing, of course) and won’t crumble.  Perfect for your holiday get-togethers when you have to bring a housewarming gift.

First preheat your oven to 375F.  Now cream the butter.  You’ll want to get your butter nice and fluffy, so whip the butter for at least a minute.  Remember to have the butter at room temperature first.  It will make this step so much easier to do.  Add the sour cream to the mixture.  You’ll want to use full fat sour cream for this recipe.  It adds to the creaminess of the cookie.  Don’t worry about the fat content.  It’s not like you’re going to eat a dozen of them while watching a Christmas movie because you got home late and skipped supper.  No, nothing like that ever happened.  Ahem.

After you blended the sour cream and butter, add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Put your mixer on low and slowly add the dry to the wet batter.  Mix until clear.  That means you shouldn’t see any specks of flour in the batter.  Fold in the raisins.

Scoop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets leaving about an inch between each scoop.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  The cookies will have a slight colour so don’t be tempted to keep them in longer.  They will continue to cook as they sit on the cookie sheet.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday

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Sour Cream Raisin Cookies
sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter on medium until fluffy. Add sour cream. Blend well.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs to butter/sour cream mixture. Mix on medium until well combined.
  4. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend together with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Slowly fold in raisins to batter.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between scoops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set.
  7. Let cool on pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe Notes

Currants or Craisins can be substituted for the fruit.

Always have your ingredients at room temperature for baking unless specified.

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Screech Pecan Tart

tart, pecan, nuts, screech, rum, pastry, crust, newfoundland

This is the week that most of us will be courting our sweetheart with flowers, chocolate, or a lavish dinner.  If you haven’t remembered that holiday here’s a quick easy tart to help you get back in the good books.  This tart contains a little bit of Newfoundland dark rum for flavour.

Newfoundlanders have been drinking rum as long as they have been trading with the British.  They traded with Jamaica and other islands for sugar, molasses, and rum.  I did a post about the history of molasses and the sugar trade, and you can read about it here.

Long before any Canadian liquor board was created, the Jamaican rum that was eventually to be known as Screech was a mainstay of the traditional Newfoundland diet.  At this time, salt fish was being shipped to the West Indies in exchange for rum. This resulted in fish becoming the national dish for Jamaicans and rum becoming the traditional drink for Newfoundlanders.

Not being overly concerned with alcohol content, the early fishermen tended to drink the rum at incredibly high strength with no attempt made to temper the taste.  When the government took control of the alcohol trade in the early 20th century they put the rum in a sophisticated, unlabeled bottle and fortunately did not alter the rum itself.

This delightful product may have continued indefinitely as a nameless rum except for the influx of American servicemen to Newfoundland during World War II. As the story goes, a visiting American WWII serviceman downed the rum in one quick toss. His howls of distress caused a bystander to rush to his aid, roaring “What the cripes was that ungodly screech?” The taciturn Newf simply replied, “The screech?” ‘Tis the rum, me son.” As word of the incident spread more soldiers began trying this mysterious rum, adopting it as their favorite. Thus a legend was born.

This dessert contains a little bit of the drink, but not enough to make you howl in distress.  It’s quick to make, and looks grand on the plate; like you spent hours.

You’ll first need a pre-made frozen pie pastry from the store.  Get the kind which is rolled into a tube, instead of the one that comes with a foil pan.  You won’t need the pan and the rolled pastry is easier to manipulate.  Place the thawed pastry into a 9″ tart pan.  Get the pan which has a removable bottom.  It will make removing the tart so much easier after it’s baked.  Press the pastry to the sides of the greased pan and trim off any excess over the edge of the pan.  Place the pan on a lined cookie sheet and set that aside.

Preheat your oven to 350F.  In a large bowl whip your eggs, brown sugar, and melted butter.  The sugar shouldn’t have any lumps.  If they do, crush them down with your whisk.  Add the clear syrup and rum.  Whisk until combined.   Pour the mixture into the tart pan.  Place the pecan halves into the slurry in any design you like.  You can leave a little space between the nuts so you can see the batter in between. Carefully carry your tart pan to the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes.  Check the tart after 45 minutes to see if the pecans are getting too brown.  If so, cover with foil and continue baking.

Remove tart from the oven.  The filling should be a bit wobbly but it will set once it cools.  While still warm sprinkle the tart with a couple more tablespoons of Screech.  Let cool on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.  Serve with a nice whipped cream or your favourite ice cream.

pecan tart with screech dark rum

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Pecan Tart with Screech Dark Rum
This pecan tart fortified with Newfoundland Screech Dark Rum will get you hot under the collar in more ways than one!
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45-60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45-60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Take pastry out of the freezer to thaw about 30 minutes before you make the dessert. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Press the thawed pastry into a greased 9" tart pan. This pan should have removable bottom. Press the pastry up the sides of the pan evenly and remove any excess. Place the tart pan on a lined cookie sheet. This will make transferring it to the oven easier and catch any spills.
  3. In a large bowl whip the eggs, brown sugar, and melted butter. Add the corn syrup and rum. Transfer the mixture to the tart pan. Add the pecans in a nice pattern in the filling. Place in the middle rack in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. Check after 45 minutes and cover the tart with foil if the pecans are too dark.
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 tbsp. of rum and then let cool. Carefully remove the tart from the pan and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Recipe Notes

You may use any dark or spiced rum if you don't have Screech.  I was not endorsed or compensated by the makers of Screech for this post.

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Steamed Carrot Raisin Pudding

dessert, carrot, raisin, pudding, sauce,
Carrot Raisin Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce

Steamed puddings have been around for centuries.  Early puddings used to be cooked in animal intestines — as haggis still is. This wasn’t overly convenient. The intestines were only available when an animal was slaughtered, and required a good deal of work to clean them before they could be used.

Cloths for boiling puddings weren’t thought up until the early 1600s. Pudding cloths were lined with suet and flour, the mixture was poured into this, the cloth was tied up and then boiled under water for hours. When it was boiled in a cloth, it came out sphere shaped. With the advent of the cloth technique, Steamed Pudding making in England started to take off.  In Newfoundland, a steamed pudding, such as Figgy Duff, usually comes as part of Jiggs dinner.  Jiggs dinner is a boiled dinner done on Sundays with salt beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and turnips.  All are boiled together in a large pot, as well as the dessert in a pudding bag.

Steamed dessert puddings that rose (such as Christmas or Plum pudding, or Sponge puddings), would not have been possible before the invention of baking powder (in America, in the mid-nineteenth century.)

While it may seem like a lot of work, steamed puddings are relatively easy to prepare and cook.  You just need something to cook the pudding in, usually a large pot and something to hold the pudding.  You can use a pudding bag, an old (clean) coffee tin, or a pudding mould.  Pudding bags and molds can be found at home and decor stores, or you could click on the ad at the bottom of my post.  (Subtle as a lead pipe, I am.)

This steamed carrot pudding is a great way to hide a little more veg into your meals.  It’s a sweet pudding, and should be served with a sauce.  The easiest way is just to buy the caramel, chocolate, or custard sauces available at the supermarket.  I will tell you how to make a homemade sauce, so stay tuned for that.

For your pudding, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl.  Add the raisins and currants and toss them with the flour mixture.  Make sure they are coated with flour.  It will evenly distribute the fruit throughout the dessert.

In another bowl with your hand mixer on medium, cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the beaten egg to the creamed sugar.  With your mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until the batter becomes too stiff to mix.  Fold in the remaining flour/fruit.

Stir in the grated carrot, potato, and bread crumbs.  The batter will be thick.  Stecarrot, dessert, raisin, pudding, sauceamed puddings typically don’t have much flour because you don’t want the dessert to be too gummy.  Place the batter into a greased pudding mould.  If you do not have a mould, then use steam-proof container and cover with aluminum foil.  Secure the foil with an elastic so no water can get in or out.  Place the mould into a large pot and pour water so it reaches at least half way up the sides.  Bring the water to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer.  Steam the pudding for 2 1/2 hours, then uncover and place in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.  This will just firm up the crust.

Serve with your favorite sauce.


Print Recipe
Steamed Carrot Raisin Pudding
Small steamed puddings make a great hostess gift.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 3/4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Flour mixture
Cream mixture
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 3/4 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Flour mixture
Cream mixture
Instructions
  1. For the flour mixture combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl. Add the raisins and currants. Toss to coat. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and brown sugar with you mixer on medium speed. Add the beaten egg. Stir in the grated carrot, grated potato, and bread crumbs.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mixing by hand if the batter becomes too thick for the electric mixer.
  4. Pour the batter into a greased pudding mould and lightly press the batter down to make a flat layer. Cover and place in a large pot. Fill the pot with water so the water comes at least halfway up the sides of the mould. The mould should not touch the bottom of the pan, so you may have to use a small can or trivet. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer. Steam for 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Keep an eye on the water level, just in case the water level gets too low. Just add a little more hot water if necessary. Once steamed remove the lid and place in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favourite sauce.
Recipe Notes

If you prefer individual puddings, divide the pudding batter among greased custard cups or ramekins, filling about 3/4 full.  Cover with aluminum foil and steam for about an hour.  Serve warm with sauce.

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Cranberry Almond Loaf

When we were kids my brother and I would go cross country skiing with my father.  There were many places outside town where we lived.  One could drive about 15 minutes outside town, park the car on the side of the highway, and just go.  Of course, you would look for snowmobile tracks or something similar to help you along.

One weekend afternoon we set out.  It was a beautiful clear winter day.  Not too cold that you’d freeze your face off after ten minutes, but cold enough that you’d have to wear a toque and mitts.  We parked the car by the side of the highway and set off into the woods.  Dad was smart enough to park where he knew there would be a small pond, now completely frozen over.  We were skiing through the trees and came to the edge.  The sky opens up and I looked across the pond to the other side.  I can see the trees on the other side and we start.  The pond was a nice flat surface and we crossed it quickly. Cross country skiing is a great winter sport.  Easy to pick up, you don’t really need that much skill and it’s a small investment in the skis and boots.

We got a good rhythm going and quickly made it across the pond to the other side.  Dad had found a small break in the trees and we cleared a spot to have a little rest and a bite of lunch.  We made a small fire and Dad pulled out some sandwiches.   After a few minutes of rest we set off again back to the car.

This cranberry almond loaf would be great as a treat for that little break.  It’s filled with tart dried cranberries, crunchy almonds and the zest of orange.  A perfect blend for a winter afternoon.

In a large bowl combine the cereal and milk and let sit for about five minutes. Since this is going to all be mixed together I use my stand mixer to soak the cereal, but any large bowl will do.  In another bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  To the cereal, add the beaten egg, oil, and orange zest.  I like to use a micro plane for zesting instead of my peeler.  It gives it a better, finer zest.  If you don’t have a micro plane, then peel off small pieces of the orange peel, but don’t get the white part underneath.  It’s too bitter.  Chop the peel finely and throw into the cereal mixture.  Slowly mix in the flour mixture into the cereal.  If you’re using your stand mixer, add the flour on the low setting.  If mixing by hand, gently fold in the flour mix.  Finally add the cranberries.  The cereal already has cranberries in it, but I like a bit more fruit.  You can leave them out if you like if you think there’s enough already.

Preheat your oven to 350F and pour the batter into a greased 9X5 loaf pan.  I use a silicon liner for my pans.  It’s makes the loaves so much easier to come out and it’s a lot less messy.  Bake for 50 minutes until done.  Use the toothpick method to test for doneness.  Let the loaf rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Print Recipe
Cranberry Almond Loaf
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
slices
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In large bowl, or stand mixer, combine cereal and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the cereal. Add beaten egg, oil, and rind. Mix well on low. Add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Until you cannot see the flour anymore. Fold in optional dried cranberries.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Pour batter in greased, or silicon lined, 9X5 loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes until done. Test with toothpick. Let rest in pan 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack.
Recipe Notes

Post Cereal has not endorsed or compensated me in any way for this post.  All opinions are my own.  All photos are property of Gutfounded unless stated differently.

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Twelfth Buns

And so it ends, Christmastide.  The twelfth night, or Epiphany, has passed and we’re going back to our daily lives.  The kids are back in school, and most of us are back to work.  I just wanted to get one last Christmas post in before the season is over.   Here’s a clip from This Hour has 22 Minutes about mummering:

As I said before Old Christmas day was a big thing in Newfoundland, more so for my parents and grandparents than now, but there are still traditions of mummering and celebrating throughout the province.  Depending on what part of the province you were from sometimes it was called mummering and sometimes called Janneying. The term “mummer” was derived from the fact that those who were mumming remained silent (mum) to prevent those for whom they performed from guessing their identities. The origin of the word “janneying” is uncertain, but some believe it was derived from “jannies,” referring to young boys who disguised themselves to perform mischief during the Christmas season. It’s also thought as another form of Johnnies, a common name for young boys.

I was reading an account about Old Christmas day and there was a mention of Twelfth buns.  This is taken from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English: “Those twelve nights [of Christmas] we’d be at it, and the last night we[‘d] make a pan of sweet buns, twelfth buns, and give ’em to the people. Every house we’d go to we’d give ’em a bun for Twelfth Night.”

I was talking with my father the other night and he remembers going Janneying when he was a boy. Like mummering, the group would go in the house, play a bit, stay for some cake and then move on.  Here’s a great recount of those times taken from the Southwest Arm Historical Society: “Where we lived in St. Jones, Christmas was good because we’d be Jannying for the twelve days of Christmas. We’d go to people’s door and knock. When they come out you’d say, “Any Jannies ‘lowed in?” They’d say come on in now. They’d try to guess who we were. Then they’d give you a piece of cake and a drop of syrup. Sometimes the people would want you to dance.

On Old Christmas night, we’d go around to the different houses. Around 11:00 pm a number of young people would get together and make an old twelve cake. Everyone would bring something to put in the cake like figs, fat pork, berries and whatever you could get. When it was baked, we’d all share. Somebody would bring partridge berries and we’d steep it in the kettle and remove the berries and drink the juice. This was how we made berry ocky.”

So I got to searching about buns, and cakes.  Unlike now sweet bread was considered a treat.  Sugar and raisins were not something you would throw into bread; too expensive.  Bread usually was the plain white loaf, made into the three bun loaves, used for everyday meals.  Sweet breads were for special occasions like the holidays.  Breads such as raisin loaf were only made a few times a year.

A sweet bread is an enhanced dough, usually with eggs and sugar.  Then you can augment the dough by added ingredients like fruit or nuts.  My grandmother’s cinnamon raisin bread is always a big hit when we go visit.  I like it toasted with a slathering of butter. This recipe I have is done in the bread mixer, so I can mix it and walk away and do other things while the bread is proofing (like write blog posts).

This recipe makes a two pound loaf and will be separated into twelve buns.  In the bread maker place the following ingredients in this order:

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup raisins

Put machine on dough cycle and mix.  I like to have my water a little warm, just to give the yeast a bit of a head start.  The trick is that if you can leave your finger in the water for five seconds comfortably then it’s warm enough.  Longer than that the water is too cool.

Once the cycle is complete remove dough and shape into twelve buns.  I noticed the buns were about 80 grams each.  I measure them because I like to have all the buns about the same size, but you can eyeball it too. Place the buns in a greased 9X13 pan and leave to rise again in a warm place.  About 30-40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350F and once risen again, bake for 25 minutes.  Let cool on the rack for 20 minutes.  Enjoy with a nice warm cup of tea or coffee, and a little bit of butter.

Print Recipe
Cinnamon Raisin Buns
This raisin bun is perfect for a sweet treat in the afternoon.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
buns
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
buns
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Measure all ingredients into baking pan in the order given. Insert pan into the oven chamber. Select "Dough" cycle.
  2. When dough is done in bread machine, remove from pan and shape into twelve equal sized balls. Place into a greased 9X13 pan. Let rise in a warm space for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Place pan in oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops of the buns are a golden brown. Once done remove from oven and brush with melted butter (optional). Let cool for 20 minutes on rack.
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