Christmas this year was special :)
Le Kismis Residence did a lot of baking this year, including lemon cookies, minced pies and champagne truffles!
Lemon cookies were a new addition this year and is a change to the usual pistachio cookies my mom used to make for Swirl Gelateria back then. The dough is so versatile and all we did was to add tons of almonds and a splash (literally a splash!) of lemon essence – this gave the cookies a real lemony kick! *imagining the intense lemony smell filling the entire house!*
cookie lesson #1: slice and bake cookies need not always be sliced and baked! i’m pretty sure bakers conceptualized this idea for convenience and to satisfy our 24/7 need for delicious cookies but depending on how thick you roll your dough, which is extremely hard to estimate, they always don’t turn out the same! for subsequent batches, i decided to use a round cookie cutter in hopes of getting the cookies to be of the exact same size. do remember though, some slice and bake cookies might be too soft and still require some time in the fridge. i found it useful to roll them out first before putting them in the fridge so that you can just cut the shapes out immediately.
cookie lesson #2: cookies need not always be baked till brown! i find cookies extremely appealing when they are pale. think of walker’s shortbread cookies and you’ll know what i mean :)
I think we did about… 500-600 cookies this year (!), mainly because Jane was involved in Project GOD (Give One Dollar) at our church and they were having a bake sale. Also, Jon and I decided to give a box of lemon cookies to each of our colleagues. I love giving homemade items since I really enjoy going through the whole process of figuring out who to give to, what to bake, what to package them in, etc. This year, I decided to go ALL OUT in wanting everything to be handmade, including the boxes. The handmade-obsessed me even wanted to make the paper I used for the tags using a paper-making set I got in Taiwan at the paper-making museum. But yes, i restrained. Not because I felt it was too overboard, but because the frame i had for the paper is postcard size and if I were to make tags, I would have to cut the paper up which will destroy all the wonderful frays/little-things-sticking-out-on-the-sides that come with handmade paper!
box: handmade using A’zone 200 gsm paper. Prior to this, I bought Martha Stewart’s box from Shermay’s Cooking School (6 for $15+ i think. Super ex!), opened it up and followed the shape and size of it. I was waiting for my brother to bring home my scoring board at that time so I used my dad’s letter opener to score it instead. For the oval, I used a Uchida oval puncher (its a good puncher for thick paper but pretty terrible for thinner paper. maybe its just mine but it does not cut well on the right side of the oval) and covered the oval with old school OHP paper.
tape: bought from eslite bookstore in taipei. super <3 that store. most stuff are imported from US and Europe so it is quite expensive.
brown string: bought from bear ma ma diy store in taipei. i highly recommend this store! the stuff there are super cheap and they have so many small and fun knick knacks. especially recommend for people who like making key chains. All thanks to Jon for braving the strong wind, heavy traffic, and rain also i think (lol) to get me to that place!
tag: bought the paper booklet from paper market. words are created using a typewriter i bought from the Fremont Sunday Market in Seattle *memories*
The boxes took a really long time to make since they were not like the normal base and lid paper boxes and are actually foldable. Hence, for Jon’s colleagues, we decided that we will make a different kind of box using Martha Stewart’s scoring board. It made the job much much easier! The boxes didn’t look as impressive as the previous one tho.
box, tape, brown string: same as above
tag: from the same paper booklet as above but i decided to cut the paper in circles instead using ek success’s circle cutter.
Minced pies this year was… HIGH SPEED. The past few years, it took us quite a bit of time to get things going and would take us days to get all the minced pies out since they require many steps to make. This year, my mom made the dough before hand which turned out perfect. She also made the mince herself, including the candied orange peel! I got the organic oranges (6 for $10+) from NTUC and my mom followed David Lebovitz’s recipe. The mince turned out to be super fragrant… don’t think we will ever buy mince from outside again. I was responsible for the dough… rolled it out and cut out the base and leaves. Jess was in charge of making the balls (typically Jane’s job, and according to Jess, is the most brainless activity ever) and the montage. My mom and Michelle was in charge of the montage as well. We usually make the holly leaves using a scalloped shape cookie cutter but this year, we decided that we will go a little more professional and I got the PME holly leaf cutter. I was not too excited about the fact that it is veined, but wanted it more for the shape. Little did i know that the veins did come out pretty well too!
fun fact! chocolate truffles are called truffles due to their resemblence to the truffle fungus and just like how the truffle fungus is precious, chocolatiers only use their best chocolate for chocolate truffles. and, correct me if i’m wrong – historically, champagne truffles are not made using champagne (as in the sparkling wine) but made using cognac. they got the name, “champagne truffles” because of the region where the cognac comes from, which should not be confused with the sparkling wine champagne. and while i was doing some research on this, i found a link to directory of horses and one of the horse’s name is “champagne truffle” – how nice!