Sunday, December 20, 2009

Global Christmas Baking

The kids and I always spend a day making gingerbread cookies before Christmas. Shortbread and a white chocolate, candy cane treat are also favorites. Shortbread is easy, no problem finding the ingredients. But nowhere have I seen candy canes or smarties in Bangalore. White chocolate can be found but is very expensive. I haven't seen brown sugar but others have found it. Mollases? Not sure about that one. In other words I would have to hunt all over town for these things.

So when Michael went to Boston one week and Singapore the next, there was one strange list of items to get. But success! He found the candy canes in Boston and smarties at the airport in London. In Singapore he picked up the white chocolate, brown sugar and mollases.

The kids finished school on Thursday and we started baking on Friday. I don't have my usual gingerbread recipe so I chose one off the internet. The dough turned out bland and crumbly so then I went to another recipe and added eggs, more butter and spices. Left it in the fridge to harden overnight.

I also didn't bring my cookie cutters so Craig made some paper cutouts of gingerbread men, a candy cane and a christmas tree. I roled out half the dough and tried cutting out some festive shapes. Far too time comsuming so switched to simple round cookie cutters.

The cookies came out of my "easy bake oven" looking sad and bland. Added more spices to the rest of the dough and continued on, rather frustrated. Meanwhile Alanna made the shortbread which turned out pretty good. Then we made the candy which you can't really go wrong with unless you burn the chocolate while trying to melt it, "Mom is it supposed to turn brown?"  Luckily we had enough chocolate to make a second batch.

We figured we could salvage the gingerbread cookies by decorating them with lots of icing and smarties. The icing was pretty liquidy even after all the icing sugar was used up. So I just kind of drizzled it over the cookies and Alanna applied the smarties. It looked like a couple of three years olds had made the cookies.

I got the kitchen cleaned up just in time as we were having two couples and their children over for dinner. Even though I wasn't thrilled with how the baking turned out I served them anyway. The candy was a hit - neither the Danes, nor the Americans had tried that before. And to my surprise none of them new what smarties were. Apparently in the States, smarties are sour candies. Everyone liked the shortbread (Mom's recipe) and in fact, everything was eaten.


  1. Nancy,

    You were sitting in the land that created molasses & brown sugar! It is called CANE JAGGERY!! Infintely better than the bottled Grandma X molasses or the packaged brown sugar which is merely white sugar with molasses added back in!!

    I wish someone had introduced you to the exquisite golden syrups and the solid sugars of the Sugar Date Palm: so much more flavorful than Maple Syrup or Maple sugar.

    I am shocked that you "ran" out of butter! I cannot imagine that you were introduced to what Indians eat, namely the fresh churned butter abundantly available in Blore, if you know how to communicate with Indians!!

    Next, there is the very famous NILGIRI DAIRY, whose butter & ghee are ALWAYS available, if you know to ask!

    Then, AMUL, and several other MILK COOPERATIVE BUTTERS will ALWAYS be available, ALWAYS!

    I feel a bit worried that you might have excessively constrained yourself in the "expatriate" circuit and had foregone much of the INDIAN experience you sought.

    E.g. none of your restaurant recommendations illustrate your familiarity with some of the landmark Indian icons: Mavalli Tiffin Room, Vidyarthi Bhavan, Brahmin Cafe, Gopika, and so many others. This is NOT a criticisn. It is just that the chosen orbit disallowed you from experiencing a true Indian experience, versus a highly sanitized one!!

    Great blog!

  2. You can find smarties at the store Nature's basket , kormangla


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