Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Baking with a Canadian Twist

It's December, isn't it? Amazing how that happens.

And since it's December, I'm starting to think about baking. Rebecca is asking for Christmas recipes so I thought this was a good time to post some favourite recipes that I've had since childhood. As I was thinking about it, I realized that it's a good time to showcase some Canadian favourites.

I was shocked to learn a few years ago that my American friends didn't know what butter tarts were. I still don't really understand how someone could not have had butter tarts but thought I would try to rectify this by posting a recipe. A friend and I usually make about 14-16 dozen in a morning to split between our families.

And then there's Nanaimo bars. They are named after a city on Vancouver Island and are very popular. True Confession? I don't really like them. Every once in a while, I have one and I'm reminded of why I don't usually eat them. But millions of Canadians can't be wrong, can they?

My grandfather was British and I think there are other British/Scottish ancestors in my family tree, which perhaps explains why I love fruitcake. I know - everyone loves to hate it. But you haven't tasted my mother's fruitcake! Mmm.... Last year, she brought some to me and this year, we're going to visit them so I don't need to make it again. I have made it but hers is better!

And last, but not least, Rocky Roads. I suspect these aren't completely Canadian. They are a family favourite, though. Mom used to hide them in the freezer. They taste awfully good frozen. So do butter tarts - slightly thawed is great!

Here are the recipes:

Butter Tarts

Some recipes take corn syrup. My preference is to keep it simple with just brown sugar, butter (or margarine) and eggs. Also, instead of mixing raisins or currants with the syrup, simply place 5-6 on the bottom of each shell. That way, each tart has the same amount of fruit and it's not too overwhelming for those who aren't as fond of raisins as others.

1 C. brown sugar
2 T. butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t. vanilla

Mix together (you can soften the butter first) and pour into unbaked tart shells. Bake at 400 for about 12-15 minutes but watch carefully. This is a small batch but it would be good to start with.

Nanaimo Bars
2 squares of Bakers semi-sweet chocolate, melted
combine with1/2 cup softened butter
2TB sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Press into 9" pan and chill

2 TB custard powder with
3 TB milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
Beat until smooth and spread over base. Chill 15 minutes

Melt:4 squares Bakers chocolate with
1TB butter

Spread over custard layer. Chill. Cut into bars.Makes about 3 dozen.

Dark Fruit Cake
(my Aunt Stella's recipe, from an old "Hometown Recipes of Manitowaning" on Manitoulin Island)

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 scant c. white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. raisin
1/2 lb. dates
1/4 lb. mixed peel or fruit
1/4 lb. nuts, almonds & walnuts
Juice & rind of 1 lemon
Juice & rind of 1 orange
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cloves
1 t. soda dissolved in 1/2 c. sour milk
1 1/2 c. unsalted cracker crumbs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt

Cream butter, brown and white sugars together. Then add the rest and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 250. This makes 3 small layers.

Rocky Roads

6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 c. butter

Melt together.

Add 1 egg, beaten & 1 c. icing sugar. Cool slightly. Add 2 c. miniature marshmallows. Line a 9x9 pan with graham crackers. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crackers. Chill and slice into small pieces - these are very rich.



James said...

Thanks for those lovely recipes we always bake at christmas and these should go down a treat.

Wandering Dana said...

Hello! I was delighted to come across your blog! I am about to experience my first Christmas outside of Canada, (I am in Ireland for 4 months) and I was searching for some Canadian Christmas baking recipes to make it feel more like home over the holidays!!! Thank you, Merry Christmas, and God Bless!