A few days ago I was reading a discussion about the unpleasantness of being stuck in the traffic or in a crowded mall for Christmas shopping.
Suddenly, I realized that it’s been so long I haven’t had this problem, that I had forgotten it even exists.
I actually love making and receiving gifts, but I can’t stand the anxiety caused by gift shopping.
As a consequence I avoid last minute shopping and instead I buy serendipitously at any time of the year.
I always favor something made by a talented artisan or something old and quirky. OK, may be not as quirky as the nativity scene made inside an old TV in the image above. How do they even think of making something like that?
Edible gifts are always a favorite. Throughout the season I stock a closet with small jars of preserves or homemade liqueurs for presents. I make liqueurs with almost anything, fennel flowers, sour cherries, rose petals. A small jar of pickled squash or homemade jam (try the unsual persimmon) is always a pleaser and even a packet of dehydrated figs from our garden.
In a month, I will process about 30 kg (65 lbs) oranges which I order to support a tiny organic farm in Sicily. The fragrant oranges will be transformed into marmalade, candied peel and arancello. Then, I will take some rest until the arrival of the elderflowers.
This way I always have something in the house which I truly like to share with others.
And of course, during this time of the year I bake to my heart content. The olive and wine ciambelline have become a classic and so the almond biscotti with figs but I am always testing new recipes or perfecting old ones.
These bottom-of-the-box cookies have passed the test as they solve 2 problems quite brilliantly. The first one is how to upcycle the large amounts of nearly finished cereals which populate my breakfast food drawer.
The second probelm was my fixation for chocolate cookies which are light and flavorful at the same time. As an added bonus, these ones are so incredibly simple and can be added for variety to other – more decadent -treats.
I find that this recipe works well if you know the weight of your ingredients. Leftover cereals come in different shapes and combinations of ingredients so it’s impossible to estimate the volume necessary to obtain the right texture. For these cereal cookies I use leftover plain cereals, such as corn, wheat or rice flakes.
- 150 g (5 oz) each breakfast cereal, flour, fridge-cold butter, sugar
- 2 heaped tablespoons dark cocoa powder, best quality
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon spice of your choice (e.g. cinnamon)
- peel of one orange
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
Blend all ingredients in a food processor, roll the resulting dough into a 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick square, then cut into round cookies.
Bake at 180 °C (350°F) for 20-25 min, until dry on both sides but not colored.