In my family, I became the one in our generation to carry on the family recipes. Whether it was my dad’s Hungarian heritage or just things my mum made for us as kids, I was the one poking his nose at the kitchen counter or stove top to learn. This Christmas, being the first Christmas without both of my parents, it became especially poignant that I continue the Christmas baking. It filled a small portion of a rather vacuous void left by the recent passing of my mum. These are two of the recipes we had at Christmas.
Peanut Butter Fingers
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups icing (powdered) sugar
2 cups Rice Krispies, crushed slightly
500g (1 lb) dark chocolate
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter with an electric hand mixer until smooth and combined. Gradually mix in the icing sugar until it is thick and combined. Stir in the Rice Krispies with a wooden spoon, then allow to set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Form into 4-6 cm (2-3″) long finger shapes and set them on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Return this sheet to the fridge for a further 2 hours or to the freezer for another hour until very firm.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave until fully melted. Using a fork, dip each finger in melted chocolate and set on the wax paper lined baking sheet again. Return to the fridge or freezer once more to set completely. Makes about 2-3 dozen fingers, depending on the size you make them.
Kifli (Hungarian Walnut Cresent Pastries)
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
2-1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup white sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3-1/2 cup water (enough to hold the filling together like the consistency of fine, chunky peanut butter)
To prepare the dough, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to a large bowl. Whisk together to combine.
Gradually work in the softened butter with your fingers until the dry ingredients are like coarse crumbs. Whisk in the eggs and milk, stirring to form a soft dough. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface and knead until a soft dough is achieved, free of any stickiness. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. In the meantime, prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling, add the walnuts, sugar and lemon zest to a food processor (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your processor). Pulse until very fine crumbs form. Add 1/3 cup of water and pulse 4 or 5 times to bring the mixture together. If some of the mixture remains loose from the rest of the mixture, add another few tablespoons of water and pulse again a few times until a relatively smooth, homogenous mixture comes together. There should be a little bit of texture remaining in the filling. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and split into 6 equal portions. Form one portion into a flattened disk. Sprinkle the work surface lightly with flour, as well as the disk of dough. Roll out to a diameter of roughly 9 inches. The dough should be about 1/8” thick. Cut into 8 equal wedges with a knife. At the base of each wedge at 1 tsp of prepared walnut filling. Roll the dough over the filling from the base to the tip of the wedge of dough. Pinch all the seams closed and bend into a crescent shape. Place on the prepared baking sheets.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling. You can place them fairly close together on the baking sheet because they do not expand too much while baking. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the bottom.
To serve, toss the cooled kiflis in a bag of powdered (icing) sugar until they are completely coated.
I’ve also started to do gingerbread men. I use someone else’s recipe besides the one we had growing up. I gave some to my mum before she passed away and she approved of it. The recipe can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipes/recipe.html?dishid=4826