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Making holiday goodies together makes the season special

by Hope Nealson Western News
| December 18, 2007 11:00 PM

Every year before Christmas as a little girl, I rolled out the Pebernoder - a Danish cookie that has been passed down among the Nealson women - from my grandma to mom to me. Niblets are cut from a snake-like ribbon of dough consisting of lots of butter, cardamom, ginger and white pepper.

"The Danes always have them at Christmas," said grandma Nealson when I asked her about the buttery, slightly spicy recipe for the cookie, which literally means "peppernuts."

I'm not sure if it was the rolling or the nibbling that was more fun, but I do know it's Christmas rituals such as these that make the holidays meaningful.

Whether it's fudge, cookies, or almond roca - here are a few locals' favorite recipes who were willing to share their coveted family recipes.

Sarah Barrick decided to share her Aunt Jean Thomas' recipe for almond roca, printed below.

"My kids ask for this candy every Christmas," she said. "I don't always use almonds; sometimes it's walnut roca or pecan roca. It's always good!"

Another holiday staple that is fun to make with others is the sugar cookie. Pam Moridi makes about five batches of Christmas cookies for the residents at the Libby Care Center to decorate every year.

"I use a basic sugar cookie recipe," she said, which is printed here.

She then makes an icing with powdered sugar, half-and-half and food coloring, which she recommends either drizzling or painting on the cookie with a paintbrush. She also favors sprinkles.

"A fun thing to do is to paint one color on, then drizzle a different color on the cookie. Then, add your sprinkles as desired," she said, adding "This is a messy operation, which makes it a lot more fun for kids, so make sure to wear aprons!"

For Sharon Chumley, her family's favorite treats that have been passed down include "Crazy Coconut Pie" - a hit wherever she takes it.

"It's kind of like a coconut custard, but everyone that has it flips out over it."

Chumley also makes peanut butter fudge, which she graciously shared.

"The peanut butter fudge is at the top of my husband's wish list every year."

And Kathy Jenkins calls these Stained Glass Window cookies pretty as well as yummy. Thanks for the beautifully unique recipe, Kathy!

Stain Glass Window cookies

By Kathy Jenkins

Melt 1 cube of butter with 1 pkg of chocolate chips. When melted, stir in 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Remove from heat and stir in one bag of colored mini marshmallows. Immediately turn out onto a 15-20" baking sheet lined with aluminum foil that is covered with coconut. Shape chocolate mixture into a log, making sure it's covered with coconut all over. Wrap foil tightly around it and stick into the freezer for about an hour, or until set enough to cut into approximately 1/2" pieces.

Sugar Cookies

By Pam Moridi

2/3 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat butter or margarine with white and brown sugars. Add both of the eggs and the vanilla. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) and beat until well mixed. Cover and put in refrigerator for an hour. Roll on a flat, floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes till light golden. Let cool and frost.

Icing for cookies

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 tablespoon of half & half, or more as needed

Add liquid to powdered sugar until the icing drips slowly off a spoon. Then, add 1 drop of food coloring. Don't add more color than that as it will make it taste bitter. Have fun experimenting in mixing the food coloring. Then, if desired, take a paint brush (used only for baking) and paint the icing on.

Crazy Coconut Pie

By Sharon Chumley

2 c milk

3/4 c sugar

1/2 c bisquick

4 eggs

1/4 c melted butter

1 c Baker's coconut

Combine all but coconut in blender. Cover and blend till smooth on low speed. Pour into greased 9" pie pan. Let stand five minutes. Add coconut and stir lightly. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Peanut Butter Fudge

by Sharon Chumley

2 c sugar

2/3 c canned milk

1 c marshmallow creme

1 c crunchy peanut butter

1 t vanilla

Combine sugar and milk in a heavy 2 quart pan. Stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a full boil; continue cooking, without stirring, to 240 degrees, or until mixture forms a fairly firm ball when dropped into cold water. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallow cream and peanut butter, then the vanilla. Continue until well blended. Pour into lightly buttered 8 inch pan. Chill at least 20 minutes before cutting into 1 inch sqares.

Almond Roca

by Sarah Barrick

1 C. real butter

1 C. sugar

1 T. water

1 T. light corn syrup

3/4 C. finely chopped nuts

1 6 oz. pkg. choc. chips

Butter baking sheet. Melt 1 C. butter in 2 qt. saucepan over low heat. Add sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Stir in water and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, to 290 degrees on candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts. Pour onto buttered baking sheet. Spread till 1/4" thick (use buttered spatula as well). As the candy cools, loosen from baking sheet two or three times with buttered spatula. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler (or over water). Spread half over candy; keep other half in boiler. When chocolate on candy is firm and cooled, turn over and spread the second half on the other side. You may garnish with more chopped nuts if you wish. When chocolate is firm and cooled, break candy into pieces and store in air tight container.

Pebernoder

by Lucille Nealson

3 1/2 c flour

1 1/8 c sugar

1 c butter

2 eggs

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t ginger

1/4 cardamom

Mix together and roll into a pencil sized rolls or "snakes," about a foot long, adding a little milk if needed to hold shape of dough (grandma doesn't usually). Cut into no bigger than 1/2 inch pieces. Bake at 350 for around 10 minutes. Watch them, as they cook fast and don't turn color until burnt.