Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Too bad it doesn't snow in Singapore

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well it should, since tomorrow's Christmas eve! How time flies.

This year, my family's hosting a small gathering tomorrow just to liven up the household and to pump up the Christmas mood. Despite the setting up of a Christmas tree with a miserable number of presents underneath, the Christmas mood is still somewhat lacking. As I walked down Orchard Road yesterday with some of my friends after dinner, the Christmas mood in me started building up. Was it the prettier-than-past-years Christmas decorations? Or the Christmas carols playing in the background? I wasn't sure. One thing's for sure is that Singaporeans don't celebrate Christmas the way the Westerners do.

Gingerbread house at the St. Regis Hotel Singapore

I love having a spread at the table with many friends and relatives to enjoy it with. Better still if they all compliment the food. The centerpiece would be a huge oven-roasted turkey stuffed with gorgeous Christmas stuffing no doubt, flanked by many side dishes such as mashed potatoes, baked/broiled/tossed vegetables, cornbread, ham, minced pies, delicious cranberry sauce, a gravy boat, fruits etc. Oh and let's not forget dessert! Christmas puddings, apple pie, fruit cakes, log cakes, ice cream, Christmas cookies etc. And standing quietly in the corner would be a majestic gingerbread house, complete with gingerbread men and women (:

Okay maybe my head is filled with images from shows such as Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, Joan Cusack's Local Flavours, A Christmas Carol, Jamie cooks Christmas etc. But a girl can wish, can't she?

So anyway, back to my family's Christmas eve dinner. Mom's cooking her famous chicken curry, bee hoon and tossing up some salad. And I'll be in charge of the baking! I baked some Christmas cookies (shortbread) as sort of party favours and decorated them with icing together with my sister this afternoon. They were great fun decorating but were sort of troublesome during the cut-out process. My dough was too sticky even though I added in more flour than the recipe called for in desperate attempts to dry it out. The end product was rather satisfactory if I do say so myself. The cookies had a crumbly-melt-in-your-mouth texture, just the texture I wanted.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies
adapted from
makes 51 odd-shaped cookies (see picture)

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the workplace
1/4 tsp salt
226g unsalted butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

75g (5/8 cup) icing or powdered sugar
1 tbsp hot water
pink food colouring (optional)

1. Whisk the flour with the salt and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Make sure the butter is at room temperature!

3. Add in the sugar and beat until smooth. Then add in the vanilla extract.

4. Gently stir in the flour into the butter mixture.

5. Flatten the dough into a flat round circle and wrap with cling film/plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking/parchment paper.

7. On a lightly floured surface (mine was floured many times) roll out the dough until it is about 2" thick. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters dipped in flour.

8. Place cookies in the refrigerator for about 15min (okay I forgot this step and rushed right into baking them).

9. Bake for about 8-10min or until cookies are lightly browned.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

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