A few weeks before Christmas, we got a letter from Kishmish:
Dear, Mommy, and, Papay, What, do you like for Chismis? That you think I can make. Think of something easy that I can make out ov paper like a book or a paper ball I think those are easy. Love, Kishmish xoxo
There are so many things to say about this note! Like: why did the first line get all the punctuation? And: how cute is her spelling? And most of all: Is this not the sweetest sentiment ever?
The girls are 6, and I guess this is the age when they start to care about celebrating things properly, and they are looking ahead to birthdays and holidays and special occasions in a different way than they did before. It’s sweet and new. . . and of course I tend to interpret it as another level of pressure on myself to do the right thing and not screw it up. Because not only were they enthusiastic about giving gifts to Mommy and Papa, they also wanted to make stuff for teachers, grandparents, friends…..
Last year, I was behind the little treat boxes of peppermint bark and chocolate truffles that we gave out. These were a big hit with all recipients, and the girls felt all happy and gift-y giving them out. I was the only one wishing never to come into contact with chocolate again after that experience. What exactly was I thinking? Making peppermint bark involves having two children put candy canes in bags and pound them with mallets, during the course of which someone will definitely pound her own hand at least once. Then you have to melt chocolate to a very particular temperature, pour it onto parchment, keep people’s hands out of it, wait forever for it to cool. . . the whole thing is too much heat and too much waiting for 5-year-olds to handle. And the truffles? I used this smitten kitchen recipe, which was amazing and delicious, but why on Earth did I think it would be kid friendly?! I pictured two five-year-olds siting at our big table, calmly smearing chocolate on their hands, and carefully digging the cocoa-dusted truffles out of the cocoa powder. What actually happened was that, as soon as they got the teeniest amount of chocolate on their hands, they couldn’t stop licking their hands. Which they either continued doing (the melted chocolate is so delicious) or freaked out about (turns out unsweetened cocoa tastes kind of nasty), depending on which stage of the recipe was underway. All the hand-licking drove me bananas, and about three minutes into our little crafting night I shut it down, taking care of everything myself some time in the wee hours of the night
So that was last year. This year, for the cookies we made and gave out, I crushed the candy canes in the blender, made the dough myself, and chilled the dough. The girls were brought in for the gratifying final step of making dough balls and rolling them in powdered sugar. And since these cookies have no eggs, they ate dough while cooking, and it was fine.
They still got to feel like they were in the thick of things, frantically rolling the dough and finishing the last of the Chismis baking.
Can you feel the panic?
Oh, and there were also cookies that involved unwrapping kisses and pressing them down into the dough — very kid-friendly, but I made a mistake with the recipe, so I’ll spare you the trouble.Another smart move (if I do say so!): I saved the packing and card-writing to our ballooning list of teachers, support staff, and friends to the second night. We’re getting to the end of the holiday season, I suppose, but if you are left with a pile of candy canes, these cookies are a good use for them. The candy cane bits make the cookies chewier than the original, and they were a big hit around here.
Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 4 candy canes
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter or equivalent
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons egg replacer mixed with 6 tablespoons water (to replace the 2 eggs in original recipe)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (Note: I also made a batch without the candy canes and with 1/2 tsp orange extract. Delicious.)