Nov 20, 2011

The Weekend. Christmas Baking. Spendy Bath Oil.

Well, hellooooooo....

I'm back.  Earlier than anticipated.  Those Apple Genius persons do live up to their name.  My old/new macbook has been cleaned and it looks like new in a pristine vintage kind of way.  It is also running faster than it did before the data transfer took place.  I'm now using the old/new one because I know where everything is on it and the new/old (old on account of all the data that got transferred by the Apple Genius crew) one is packed up for duty free.

It's been a lovely weekend.  Nothing too exciting but Mr SSG and I cleared a backlog of errands and chores.  It really nearly is the end of the year, isn't it? I'm usually just shocked that the year has gone by so quickly but this year, I'm welcoming it with open arms.  It's been quite a year and I am looking forward to the Christmas / New Year slow down and a chance to escape for a few days.

The 2012 Leunig Calendar came with Saturday's SMH and with it comes hope for a year with more ups than downs, more laughter than tears, more happy anticipation than the more familiar dread.  I guess only time and God can deliver on this.

My copy is officially ready for use after being flattened overnight under a few of my favourite cook books.

I've only got 13 more sleeps until I fly out to Dubai (at the crack of dawn on a Saturday so perhaps that will be 12 sleeps if I pull an all nighter on Friday) and I'm just about packed.  Chanel No 5 bath oil.  What more does a girl need?  Even if you're not Marilyn Monroe, this bath oil is meant to be a fragrance, bath oil and body moisturizer all in one.  Unfortunately, I think it's a limited edition for the festive season so get yours while you can.  Supplies were running low at Myer in the city this weekend.

Ryan Gosling keeping on and looking fine after that shock loss to Bradley Cooper. 
Today has been nothing but humid.  With added sultry thanks to this article in the Sunday supplement.  Mr SSG and I both had a read of the article  squizz and I have come to the conclusion that the picture certainly does no harm to my relationship.  I like getting to the heart of the big issues on Sunday mornings.

Even the instructions have a festive feel....

I think I'm getting into my Yuletide groove.  It all started when I started to defrost our fridge and freezer this morning.  Yes, my unit is so ancient that I still actually have to do this once a year.  I usually time it for around Christmas, just before the big holiday grocery shop (which will mostly be at Costco this year).  There's something about seeing all that ice and hearing blocks of it melt and plink off the freezer shelves that makes me think of snow and obviously (for a person raised in the southern hemisphere!?!) Christmas.

Brad from Kitchenware Direct gifted me this Kuhn Rikon cookie press set - (the retail price on the site is $34.95 with RRP being $48.95).

The plates for the press are stainless steel.  The flat plates in the photo below are for making various kinds of Spritz Cookies, as the Americans call them.  The batter for cookies made using a press are meant to be thicker and stiffer to allow for the cookie to keep its shape as the dough gets squeezed through the plate.

There are also several fine nozzles for icing included in the set.

I was pretty impressed with the quality of the set.  It comes in a sturdy plastic container and the press itself is of solid construction.  The instructions are clear and there is the handy reference for the kind of look each plate is meant to create.  I say meant because it's one thing to have a great cookie press but quite another to have a recipe that works for a cookie press.  It may have been the heat and humidity today but the cream cheese spritz cookie recipe I used today didn't spritz like it should.  I converted the measurements to metric as accurately as I could so I don't think there was an error in the proportions of ingredients.

Anyway, moving right along.  May I present an SSG Christmas Baking Misadventure (that actually turned out all right in the end).

The recipe requires 225g butter, an egg yolk, a cup of sugar, 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (I used plain) and 85g of cream cheese.  I got clever with the cream cheese and got these mini tubs which are 40g each.  I never get through whole blocks of cream cheese unless I'm making a cheesecake.

For flavour you also need 1/4 teaspoon of a flavoured essence of your choice (I used lemon) and a teaspoon of vanilla.

My penguin and Santa salt and pepper shakers.
Because we're baking in the American style, 1/4 teaspoon of salt is also needed plus Fox News on pay television.  It's my Christmas thing, having Fox News on in the background as I go about baking and wrapping gifts.  The ladies of the network have taken to Christmas with great gusto already, they were all wearing lots of red in their outfits and impressive volume at the roots in the hair department.  I'm convinced that a set of Cloud 9 hot curlers will deliver the same results on my hair.  I just need to find an Australian online store which has them in stock at the moment.

The butter and cream cheese are creamed together until light and fluffy.  The cream cheese tubs were a snap to use.  Then the flour, sugar, essences and egg yolk were added.  Mix until a firm dough forms.

I used chopped glace cherries for decorations.  Well, the ones I didn't eat out of the packet, that is.

Now, the tricky bit.  The dough is meant to be rolled into a sausage shape and fed into the cookie press.  Then, all you have to do is place the base of the press on an ungreased cookie tray and pull the trigger.  Which I did, several times.  However, my dough stubbornly refused to perform.  It came out through the plate in ribbons which refused to 'drop' on the tray.

Resisting the urge to make a tray full of cookie ribbons, I had one of those a-ha moments.  I'd pop the dough in the freezer for a bit to see if hardening it up would make my dough spritz.  So I wrapped my dough in glad wrap, left it to chill while I chilled out with a large mocha from the shops up the road.

Nope. The coffee helped me but the freezer did not do anything for the spritz-ability of my dough.  I was still getting stringy dough out of the press.

It was time to change tack.  As luck would have it, I had these Christmas cookie cutters in the bits and bobs section under the kitchen sink.  I bought them 2 years ago from the Donna Hay General Store in Woollahra and erm haven't used them.  Ever.

Until today, that is.  They worked a treat.

Pretty soon I had trays and trays full of peace doves and snow flakes.

Over cherry jazzled cookies.
 I got a bit carried away with the decorating.  There is such a thing as c-jazzler overload.  Even at Christmas.

I baked the cookies at 170C for 20 minutes, until the edges were a little brown and left them on their trays to cool completely.  They may not have spritzed properly but the cookies tasted lovely.  The lemon of the cookies went well with the glace cherries.  I'm freezing the batch for a Christmas morning tea in a couple of weeks.  Apparently they can keep for up to 4 months in the freezer.

It might have been a bit of a baking misadventure but my batch of cookies made me dust off my Christmas decorations and give SSG Manor a little festive cheer.  The Christmas / Kim Kardashian issue of Shop 'Til You Drop also found its way to the coffee table (via the servo where they were offering cut price Kit Kat Chunkies with every magazine purchased).

It's going to be a very relaxed evening with my magazine and  bit of chocolate.  Have a lovely evening and here's to a good week for all of us.

Thanks again to Brad from Kitchenware Direct for sponsoring this post.


  1. What a delightful post, SSG, reading it made me smile:) Happy to hear that your Mac is up and running;) Thanks for the tip on the Chanel bath oil, and for making me want to start on my Christmas baking!

  2. I think we all need a Brad in our lives to gift us fabulous kitchenware!

    I had the strangest dream last night SSG. I was at the beach and a gold Mitsubishi topless convertible with the number plate SSG pulled into the car park. And out you hopped! I introduced myself to you and we went off for lunch and shopping. Haha that's what happens to me after a few days without internet.

    TDM xx

  3. I watched The Notebook again in honor of the Sunday Lufe article. Ryan Gosling really is all that. And a bit. Bradley Cooper ain't a patch on Ryan.

    I ate too much Ben and Jerry's New York super fudge sumthin ice cream tonight. Delicious. Your cookies look great. We have a similar cookie press contraption that I've belonged to Mr K's mother. We have struggled to find a really good recipe too.

    K xx

  4. That bath oils sounds delightful! Bit jealous of your upcoming trip to Dubai but you deserve it...enjoy.

  5. I started my Christmas baking today as well. It's always good to try out new recipes in November. I have a cookie press as well, and I never actually knew the resulting cookies had a special name! I used mine primarily for shortbread and always had good results, maybe give that a shot?

  6. i refuse the blv that xmas is so soon. wahhhh.

    need to start planning stuff but im still jet lagged.


  7. The Christmas cookies are so cute! We had a bit of an early Christmas BBQ with friends this weekend to avoid the holiday rush, so my tree and decorations have been up for over a week!

    I think I need more tinsel though. You can never get too much tinsel!

    I adore Christmas! :)

  8. Nanne: thank you :-) Hope you enjoy the bath oil too. I will post a review after Dubai.

    TDM: I love it!!! I hope we shopped and ate well in the dream.

    K: I have not even seen The Notebook once. Will line it up for Christmas, I think.

    MissPiggy: LOVING the Babylon series something chronic.

    Kelly: thank you. You are definitely on to something. Will give shortbread a try with my press.

    SheWoreItWell: I peaked too soon. I don't think I'll get any more done until the 3 days before Christmas now.

    xoCATxo: agree about tinsel. I need to dig mine out from the box in the spare room.

    SSG xxx

  9. Mum has a cookie press, I don't think we have ever used it for cookies, but using the piping attachments makes a pretty excellent piping bag.

  10. The mac is back, excellent! Those cookies look devine and I think I use the same "weight" to flatten, at least the Bill book.

  11. The end results of the cookie baking looked fantastic. I am not very good at making things look decorative when I bake so probably would have failed the spritzing too.

    Just love The Distressed Mother's dream.... I see you as more of a BMW girl though.


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