Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holly Jolly Christmas

From the bean of Green Bean

One of my favorite Christmas memories is baking cookies with my mother. I cannot believe how patient she must have been with three of us but every December, she'd flour up the old Hoosier and we'd spend a day or two rolling out cookie dough, scattering flour everywhere and madly pressing her single set of cookie cutters into the dough.

Even though the most memorable baking experiences involved dough and cutters, the most memorable cookies we made were bright green wreaths concocted of marshmallows, corn flakes and red hot candies. They were the star of every cookie plate and quickly devoured with only green tongues to prove that their existence.

I've continued to make the holly wreaths into my adult-hood and I gathered the ingredients this December to share the tradition with my children. As he stirred the sugared mass of marshmallows and butter, my oldest mused "I remember this" and so he does. I believe we made them last year and possibly the year before.

Be warned, there is nothing green about these cookies but the color. I did my best and used organic corn flakes bought in bulk - and hence without the packaging. We substituted Skittles and mini M&Ms for the red hot candies. Both of those were bought in bulk for the gingerbread house project we did at my son's birthday party earlier this month. If I hadn't had them, I would have purchased some fair trade, organic Sunspire M&M knock offs.

As my second contribution to the Farmer Daughter's Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap, here is my mother's recipe for Holly Wreaths:

1/2 cup butter
30 large marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring
3 1/2 cups corn flakes
Red cinnamon candies (or other red candies)

In a large saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows over low hear, stirring constantly (that's where the kids' help comes in handy). Add vanilla and food coloring and stir until blended. Fold in corn flakes. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto waxed paper; shape into 2 inch wreaths. Decorate each with candies. Do not freeze.

These can be very sticky. I don't use shortening or grease - just wash my hands frequently. If your hands are damp, the corn flakes won't stick as much as they are fashioned into wreaths. Once the cookies have sat for an hour or two, they become less sticky.


De in D.C. said...

Ahh, these are my favorites. Try adding 1/2tsp almond extract in addition to the vanilla next time; takes them to a whole new level. I did away with the food coloring and red hots after the first time I made them though. I'd eaten the entire batch myself and had an "interesting" reaction due to all the green dye. I don't even bother making wreathes anymore; just little plops on a silpat.

Joyce said...

I think you're on to something when you take favorite recipes like this and make little modifications to make them, however so slightly, greener. I don't think any of us want to give up all fun treats, but there are usually ways to make those little changes.

When I first got married I got a cookbook called the "The More With Less Cookbook", which took favorite farmstyle recipes and reduced the sugar, just a little, or the salt, or the meat- whatever could be changed to make them slightly healthier without losing the character of the dish. If more people would do this, and then share their results, it could really make a difference in the way people eat.

Heather said...

Apologies for making my first comment a semi-negative one. I've never heard of these, but they sound super-yummy! However, I was excited by your description of 'sunspire' as fair trade. Since I moved to fair trade chocolate I miss not having access to all the normal commercial chocolate things - M&Ms, chocolate bars, chocolate cookies etc. But, looking through Sunspire's website, they don't claim to be fair trade. They're organic, but the chocolate is still presumably traded the normal, un-fair way. Just thought I should mention it, as I think your blog probably reaches a lot of people...

Green Me said...

Heather -- you are still in luck with Sunspire -- just not all of their products. I am not sure if this is a transition thing for them or what, but indeed I have a bag of chocolate chips in my cupboard that are both Sunspire and Fair Trade, while I ate some chocolate covered almonds recently that were not...I think that perhaps only their organic products are currently Fair Trade. On a different note, Fair Trade is not the only indication of fair labor in the chocolate industry. Chocolove for example (based in Boulder) sources their own chocolate directly from small "fair labor" plantations, but has not applied for fair trade certification. Maybe I need to write a blog post (or guest post) on this husband is a bit of a chocolate fiend and I can't exactly claim innocence myself!

And last but not least, thanks for sharing your family recipe! I've never tried these, but I am keeping tabs on recipes my son can help with in a year or two when he is big enough!

Green Bean said...

De: Thank you for the tip. I'll add some almond next time. :)

Joyce: You are so right. I think that this can be said for a lot of life. Adapt, live lighter but you don't have to give up everything - just pay attention.

Heather: Thank you for leaving your first comment here. :) I see Green Me already answered your question. It is a good one and I'd never noticed before. Some Sunspire stuff IS labeled fair trade certified and some is not. I checked out their website and, under the FAQs, it basically says that they follow most fair trade practices but are not certified.

Green Me: Thank you for clearing that up! If you have any interest, we'd love to have you do a eco-chocolate post. :) Email me if you're interested @ greenbeandreamsATgmailDOTcom

Beany said...

Good to know about the M&M substitutes.

Reading this post made me feel old. I know I won't be able to eat more than one of these wreaths before collapsing from a sweetness overload. I can't believe there was a time when I stole candy from the hidden jars at home.

Abbie said...

I remember making these with my mom! Thanks for sharing.

CindyW said...

The cookies look so cool. Never thought about making wreath cookies.

Your boys are so lucky.

Green Bean said...

Beany: Dude! You are old if that would put you on sweet alert. Either that or I'm a major sugar fiend (which is more likely) because I can mow through a whole batch of these suckers.

Abbie: Good to know the recipe has been making the rounds for years. I've never seen anyone make them before.

Cindy: Thank you!

SusanB said...

I make these too -- they are always a hit on a cookie plate -- the only reason I keep green food coloring around


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