Oh Christmas Tree

December 22nd, 2015

Christmas Tree Hall

Merry Christmas everyone.  The packages are wrapped, the baking is done and we will be leaving for NC to visit the family tomorrow.  My tree in Florida does not have the precious ornaments that are packed away at the Lake Lure house.  But it does have a few special ornaments that were given to us over the years by Kristen’s family who live and work in the Washington DC area.  Thank you Dave and Darla!

White House overview

Each year the White House Historical Association designs an official Christmas tree ornament to commemorate a moment in history of the yuletide celebrations in the White House.  Pictured above are two of the ornaments.  The Christmas tree ornament from 2008 honors the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.  Inspired by the Harrison family’s Victorian Christmas tree, this 24 karat gold finished ornament interprets the first recorded tree to decorate the White House.  President Harrison doted on his grandchildren and was said to say “We shall have an old-fashioned Christmas Tree for the grandchildren upstairs, and I shall be their Santa Claus myself”.

White House Ornament 2007

The 2007 Christmas tree ornament honors President Grover Cleveland who was the only president to marry in the White House.

White House Ornament 2006

The 2006 White House ornament honors the administration of President Chester A. Arthur.  He brought to the White House a luxurious style that signaled the nation’s return to prosperity after the economic troubles of the late 1870’s.  The design of the ornament is inspired by the period motifs and rich decor of Arthur’s White House, which will be forever distinguished by the early work of famed American artist and decorator Louis Comfort Tiffany.

White House Ornament 2011

The 2011 ornament honors the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.  It reflects the excitement that President Roosevelt and his lively young family brought to life at the White House.  There had been no children living in the White House in years.  With six children that first Christmas was exciting.  The front of this ornament shows the Roosevelt family admiring the Christmas tree.

White Houre Ornament Santa

The other side of the ornament shows Santa and his bag saying “I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year”.

White House Ornament 2010 1

The 2010 ornament honors President William McKinley who was President at the turn of the 20th century.  The nation was in a patriotic mood as the century turned and the ornament depicts members of the United States Marine Band performing on the snow covered North Drive as arriving guests disembark from their carriages.

Christmas Tree Lanai View 2

I wish you a peaceful and joyous Christmas.  Here is a link to The White House Historical Association if you are interested in learning more about the White House Christmas Ornaments.


Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.


Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Printable Recipe

Chorizo, Cheddar and Chive Scones

December 26th, 2013

Chirizo Scones 1


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We have been enjoying our time with the family in North Carolina.  Kristen made a delicious Christmas Day brunch that included these savory Chorizo, Cheddar and Chive Scones.  I have always loved sweet scones, but this savory version is very similar to sausage biscuits and is very festive.  Kristen adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour for Bacon-Cheddar-Chive Scones.  I will give you her recipe here but you can go to their link for the original recipe.

Chirizo Scones 2

I love the way Kristen cut her scones.  Because we were serving children as well as adults, she formed the dough into a rectangular log and then cut wedge shapes from it on an angle.  This made many smaller scones which were perfect for everyone’s appetite.  It also has the advantage of more of the crispy edge surface which I love.

Chirizo Scones 3


Our Christmas breakfast included the scones, scrambled eggs and a tropical salad of pineapple, mango and blueberries with mango bellinis for the adults and mango sparkling water for the children.  These scones will be making a repeat appearance on my New Years’  brunch table.


2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur  Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Perfect Pastry Blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) cold  butter
1 cup (4 ounces) very coarsely grated or  diced cheddar cheese
1/3 cup (about 1/2 ounce) snipped fresh chives, or finely diced scallion tops (the  green part, 3/4 ounce)
1/2 pound chorizo sausage links, casing removed, crumbled, sauteed and drained on paper towels
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) heavy cream or whipping cream, or enough to make the dough cohesive

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

1) Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

2) Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, with some of the butter remaining in larger pieces.

3) Mix in the cheese, chives, and sausage until evenly distributed.

4) Add ¾ cup of the cream, stirring to combine. Try squeezing the dough together; if it’s crumbly and won’t hang together, or if there are crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl, add cream until the dough comes together. Transfer the shaggy dough to a well-floured work surface.

5) Pat the dough into 2 smooth  disks about ¾” thick. Transfer the disks to the prepared baking sheet.

6) Use a knife or bench knife to cut the disks into small wedges, spreading the wedges apart a bit on the pan.

7) Brush the scones with a bit of cream; this will help their crust brown.

8) Bake the scones for 20 to 24 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Printable recipe

Chocolate Salami

October 24th, 2011

I blogged about something similar to this when I was a new blogger.  Here is the link.  I think my photography skills have improved since then.  The recipe has improved too.  Although I liked the original recipe, it was a pain to make the candied citrus rinds.  It made what should have been a quick and easy chocolate confection too time consuming.

Food 52 is having a contest for your favorite Christmas confection.  I immediately thought of this Italian goodie.  The chocolate log is filled with whole almonds, cookie crumbs, dried cranberries and my addition of orange zest and crystallized ginger.  When it is sliced it looks like a salami with it’s marbling of fat.

The chocolate and butter are melted in a double boiler.  The almonds, orange zest, soaked cranberries, cookie crumbs and ginger are added.  It is left to cool and then rolled into a log and refrigerated to harden.  It is easy to slice and serve.  I would love to receive a Christmas tin with this treat inside.  The chocolate is enhanced by the additions and the crystallized ginger gives it an extra pop of flavor.  I think it is worth entering in the contest.


9 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole almonds
zest of one orange
1/3 cup dried cranberries soaked in 1/4 cup water and 2 tbls of Triple Sec for 15 minutes and then drained.
1 cup butter wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 cup crystallized ginger slices, chopped
2 egg yolks, beaten

Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.  When melted add the sugar, almonds, orange zest, drained cranberries, cookie crumbs and crystallized ginger.  Stir and remove from heat.  Cool for a few minutes.  Add the beaten egg yolks and allow to come to room temperature.  Form chocolate mixture into a log,  Smooth the surface to be sure none of the filling is sticking out.  Wrap the log in wax paper and refrigerate until firm.  Take out of fridge and leave at room tempeature for 30 minutes.  Slice and serve.  Chocolate log can be frozen for later use.

Printable recipe

Christmas Cookies

December 11th, 2010

I have been baking cookies this week.  It is not one of my favorite pursuits, but Christmas seems to dictate the practice and I have done it every year for as long as I can remember.  When my Son was young, the baking was always Christmas cutout cookies and decorative icing.  Now, when I bake cookies it is usually on a whim.  The only constants are Scandanavian Tea Cookies ( shortbread crust cookie topped with chocolate and pecans) and the best chocolate chip cookie recipe that I know from Cooks Illustrated.

But these two cookie recipes are new to me and I enjoyed trying them.  The confectioners’s sugar covered snowball cookies are different than the standard pecan flavored wedding cookies.  These are flavored with lemon and coconut.  The recipe was in a Southern Living book that my DIL gave me for Christmas last year.  The Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies were in an old issure of Gourmet magazine.  I like them because they can be prepared ahead of time and the dough logs kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to slice and bake.  I did have trouble with them though.  The dough was very crumbly and they were not easy to slice.  Add a little water to your mixture when you are forming your logs and this should help them stick together.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2Tbsp. grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and extracts, beating well.  Add flour, lemon rind, and salt, beating until combined.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.

Shape dough into generous 1″ balls; place 1″ apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes or until goldern on bottom, but pale on top.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool 5 minutes.

Place 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl, and roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, coating well.  Cool cookies completely on wire racks.  Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again, coating well.  Yield: 2 dozen.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (not dyed)
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries.  Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.  Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends).  Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well.  Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.)  Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets.  Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.  Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.
Printable recipe Lemon-Coconut Snowballs

Printable recipe Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.