Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweet Dreams

I'm always on the lookout for new recipes or ways to pep up old ones. This week, I found a little of both. In Taste of Home magazine, I found a lovely recipe for anise cookies iced with lemon buttercream. It sounded so warm and inviting that I just had to try it, and it happens that I had the perfect excuse to do so. I wanted to repay the staff at Giorgio's for their kindness to me by dropping of a few homemade treats for Christmas. Alex, in particular needed thanking. He was the perfect recipient for the anise cookies.

The cookies puffed more than I expected, but I decided I liked the pillowy texture. And they smell perfectly of licorice, but only hint at it when you bite into them. The original buttercream recipe didn't have quite enough lemon flavor, and I worried it would be lost on the cookies, so I dosed them with even more extract. I'd have liked to add lemon peel or better yet, candied peel pieces, but didn't have any on hand. Next time, though. For a first time recipe, I was incredibly pleased with this one. I happily delivered several to Alex, marveling at his look of gratitude and surprise. The way I see it, he goes out of his way several times a month for me, so for Christmas, it was my turn.

Not wanting to leave out the rest of the staff, who are also incredibly gracious, I sent along a sampler of candies. Homemade fudge, caramels, and coconut drops made their way into the tin, along with some peppermint meringues. The meringues were a stroke of inspiration. I recently had the idea to crush candy canes and use the bits in an biscotti recipe flavored with eggnog. Then I thought, "Oh...this would make a great topping for meringues and cookies too." So I tried it, and frankly, I think these meringues are my best yet.

The staff was so excited to receive their gift, but also a little blown away by it. I left smiling, knowing I made people feel special who routinely do the same for me. It was worth braving the cold just for the looks on their faces.

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