Ready, Set, Celebrate!

Now that Halloween has passed we’ve all inevitably started talking about the holiday season. (Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving a little earlier, so there’s really nothing else to look forward to during the month of November.)

This is the time of year when everyone’s schedules start filling up with celebrations and social events. Unfortunately, each of those events come with its own set of tasks that make people start feeling frantic instead of festive. There’s just so much to do. A friend of mine put it very eloquently: “I love Christmas, but there’s just so much s@&! to do!”

Planning is kind of my thing, so I often share how I organize my holidays on the blog: here’s how I get a head start on Christmas cards, how I plan my gift shopping and my Boxing Day strategy. If you really have the drive to plan far ahead, you may find this post on cleaning up after the holidays useful.

For the past couple of years I’ve carried out the Swedish tradition of baking seven different cookies at Christmas time. Here’s what’s been in my arsenal so far: Traditional Swedish Gingersnaps, Maple Butter Cookies, Jam Slices, Vanilla Horns, Rugulahs, Orange Crunch Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Midnight Mints, Butterscotch Confetti, Date Pecan Bars, Chocolate Roll, Pineapple Log, Marshmallow Roll, Butterscotch Bars etc. (Stay tuned- in the month of December I’ve got seven brand new cookie recipes for you I think you’re going to love.)

I love writing about the holidays and all the kindness it brings out in people, but I realize for some there can be a dark side of the season. A couple of years back I had a very difficult Christmas so I channeled that energy into writing a blog post about being alone during the holidays– and how you’re really not alone if you feel that way. (You may also want to check out this post if you’re feeling down.)

And if that isn’t enough holiday goodies for y’all then you’re in for a treat- for the next six weeks or so I’ll be sharing more of my favourite holiday recipes, some fantastic Christmas gift ideas and some of my secrets for staying sane during this busy time of year.

Don’t worry if even reading this post is giving you the shakes; this holiday season, we’re all in this together!

Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Save us by commenting below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com

Baking with B: 7 Days of Christmas Cookies: Rugulahs

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Are you ready for a cookie challenge? Because let me tell you, these rugalahs are a challenge. My family and I first tried these when we ended up celebrating Hanukkah with some family friends years and years ago. Even after we fell out of touch with them, this rugalah recipe shows up periodically in our Christmas cookie repertoire. I’m not sure if it’s more traditional to make them with the sticky jam filling or the chocolate but I’ve included both here so you can take your pick! Or why not go all out and do both? It is Christmas after all!

Rugalahs (makes 48 pastries)

Pastry:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. butter

8 oz. (240 g) cream cheese

1 egg

 

Chocolate Filling

I c. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 c. granulated sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

 

Jam Filling

1/2 c. raspberry or apricot jam

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (optional)

2 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp cocoa powder

 

Glaze:

1 egg, beaten

1/4 c. granulated sugar

To make pastry: Place flour in a bowl and cut in butter until you achieve a texture of coarse crumbs. (You may want to use a pastry blender if you’re lucky enough to have one!) Stir in cream cheese and egg, just until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto a work surface and knead gently a few times until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to make your cookies, divide dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out until it is about a 1/4″ thick circle (the thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the pastry).

To make the jam filling: Spread 2 tbsp of jam over entire circle. In bowl, combine brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and cocoa. Sprinkle 1/4 of the mixture over the jam.

To make the chocolate filling: Combine chopped chocolate, cocoa in sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 of mixture over each pastry circle.

To roll up the cookies: Cut one pastry circle into 12 wedges; roll up each wedge tightly, starting at the outside wedge. Place on greased baking sheet with tip of crescent on the bottom. Brush with egg, then sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with remaining dough and fillings.

Bake the cookies in a preheated 350F oven for about 30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Remove to rack to cool.

B’s Tip: Pizza cutters aren’t just for pizza! Use to cut the dough into wedges for a sleek line that will ensure the dough doesn’t break the same way a regular knife would. No pizza cutter? Try dipping the knife briefly into cold water or refrigerate it briefly for a smoother cut.

These cookies not only look incredibly complicated and therefore will impress all your friends and family during Christmas, they also look beautiful- like a croissant in cookie form! Reduce the measurements for fillings so you can experiment with the same batch of pastry and figure out which are the ones you like the best.

Go ahead, try them! I dare you. And while you’re in the mood, maybe you could make some of those amazing latkes. If you do that, I just might need your number!

Happy baking!

B

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I’m counting down Christmas by sharing some of my favourite holiday cookie recipes with you! I’ll be posting a different Christmas cookie recipe every day for the next seven days so you can follow along in my family’s baking tradition, and have more cookies to add to your Christmas baking arsenal! For more inspiration, you can check out more of my baking here. For even more recipe inspiration check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.