First things first: I’m excited to announce the winner of the YoBlocks giveaway…
Megan! (Whose memorable childhood gift was a music box.)
Congrats, Megan! Contact me here to claim your prize.
Once again, a big thanks to Christine at YoBlocks for offering such a great giveaway to SlowMama this month. Do check out YoBlocks if you haven’t already — they make fabulous holiday gifts. Wouldn’t it be fun to give a block to a child for each day of Hannuakah or the 12 days of Christmas?
My contributors and I are sharing a lot of seasonal tips and gift ideas this month here at SlowMama, and I wanted to mention something I love this time of year: cookie swaps. Have you ever hosted or been to one?
The funny thing is, with the exception of a fabulous chocolate chip cookie (like this one), I’m not much of a cookie person. Perhaps because I try not to eat much sugar — and when I do, I prefer to reach for a chocolate or a piece of pie or a slice of cheesecake. My husband isn’t a cookie man, and as it turns out my new little Habeshas aren’t keen on them either. Nevertheless, I always get a hankering for cookies this time of year. Melt-in-your-mouth shortbreads? Spicy gingerbread men dipped in tea? It brings me right back to Christmases long ago.
And that’s why I love a good cookie swap: First, it’s the best way to sample a wide array of tasty seasonal cookies. Second, a range of pretty cookies is perfect to bring to a hostess, or to serve when people stop by unexpectedly over the next month. Last but not least, what’s cozier than sharing tasty baked goods with fun people over warm drinks at holiday time?
At the last cookie swamp I attended, the hostess served mulled cider and wine, and each guest brought four dozen cookies. Then, we all went home with six of each kind (that’s eight different kinds of cookies, for those of you who stink at math). They weren’t all cookies per se — some were slight variations — but they were all terrific.
For something a little different, I decided to bring Cape Breton Pork Pies. You should have seen the confused faces when I announced them! Cape Breton is the northern part of Nova Scotia — an island joined to the mainland by a causeway, actually — and the natives there have quite a sense of humor. Cape Breton Pork Pies are tiny little tarts filled with a date mixture and topped with icing sugar. Not only are they adorable, they’re always a huge hit.
You don’t need to be from Nova Scotia to make (or munch on) Cape Breton Pork Pies, so as my Advent gift to you, here’s the recipe. The only special thing you’ll need to make them is a mini muffin tin. I have no recollection of where this recipe came from, but no doubt it goes back a while.
Cape Breton Pork Pies
For the tart dough:
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cup flour
- 4 Tbsp icing sugar
For the filling:
- 2 cups chopped dates
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
For the icing:
- 3/4 tsp butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond or maple extract
- 2 1/2 Tbsp cream or milk
First, the tart shells: Mix the flour and icing sugar together, then cut the butter in. Put in the fridge to let harden for 20 minutes. Remove dough, break off into small balls, and press into muffin tin slots to make free-form tart shells. Prick bottoms before placing in the oven. Bake at 425 for 6-8 minutes.
While the dough is hardening, place all ingredients for the filling in a pot on the stove and let simmer until saucy. Let it cool. While it’s cooling, mix all icing ingredients together in a bowl.
When tarts are ready, fill with a tiny spoonful of date mixture, then top with a small dollop of icing. Place in fridge until ready to serve. Yields about a dozen.
Images: Christine Mldac/YoBlocks. Wish I had a pic of the pork pies to show you, but I don’t. Instead, I found these lovely looking frosted snowflakes on Pinterest.