With our prized baked goods in hand, we shuffled quietly onto the darkened stage with nary a ghost light to illuminate our way. Once the theater lights clicked on, we placed our contributions on a makeshift banquet table, ready to share the stories of our families’ holiday goodies with our friends and colleagues.
And so began our first annual MCA Holiday Bake-Off. Below you will find some of our favorite stories and recipes from the event.
World Peace Cookies
Submitted by our Special and Rental Events Coordinator Chaz Hearne
This is my wife Jackie and I's first Christmas as a married couple, so we don't have a holiday baking tradition yet. Traditions must begin somewhere, however, and this year seems most fitting to begin baking World Peace Cookies.
World Peace Cookies image
Brandy Snaps (for beginners)
Submitted by our Editor Sheila Majumdar
Brandy snaps image
1 ½ c Flour, sifted
1 c Brown sugar, firmly packed
Pinch of salt
½ c Dark molasses
2 tsp Powdered ginger
2 tbs Brandy
1 tsp Nutmeg
¾ c Melted butter
Two medium bowls
Large wooden spoon
Measuring cup and spoons
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Also, measure out all of the ingredients before you begin. You’re an adult; now start acting like one.
2. Sift flour into large bowl; mix in salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
3. In a separate bowl combine melted butter, sugar, molasses, and two tablespoons of brandy—NOT the half cup you set aside for the recipe you (optimistically) plan on starting in a couple hours.
4. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients to form a goopy (totally normal) batter.
5. Realize you never buttered the baking sheet.
a. Take a moment to marvel at the layers of carbon you have let accumulate on it over the years.
b. Search your kitchen frantically for parchment paper, to no avail.
c. Google “baking + aluminum foil = good?”
6. Resign yourself to buttering the pan. Now’s a good time to preheat the oven to 350°F, if—like me—you forgot to earlier.
7. Drop teaspoon-sized blobs onto the lightly buttered cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between each. (Seriously. Don’t skimp on the separation. You’ve been warned.)
8. Bake cookies for 10–15 minutes. They should come out bubbling!
9. Cool the cookies until they can be handled. While warm, roll each around the handle of a wooden mixing spoon to form “cigarettes.” Cookies can also be shaped into cones, which—for the more dexterous of us out there—may be filled with a mixture of whipped cream and chopped candied ginger just before serving.
Pro tip: Reheat cookies in low-temperature oven if they harden before you are able to roll them.
10. Repeat steps 7–9 until the batter is used up or you scrape the remainder into the trash in an all-consuming rage—whichever comes first.
11. Cool cookies completely and store in an airtight container.
Should make about 4 dozen cookies
(Realistically, 10 will turn out looking and tasting good enough to share with your friends and family.)
Final Tip: Keep a log of the adjustments you make and the end result of each batch. This will be useful for discouraging your future self from attempting to make these again. Happy holidays!
Broken brandy snaps
Submitted by our Director of Human Resources Amy Buczko
Amy’s Applesauce image
on Amy’s Applesauce
While this recipe originated with Martha Stewart, it’s come to be known as “Amy’s Applesauce” within my family. I started making it for Thanksgiving dinner about 20 years ago, using an old food processor that my aunt gifted me when I moved into my first apartment. Everyone gobbled it up (bad pun intended) so I started making it for Christmas get-togethers. After a few years, I felt like trying something different and made a pear-spiked applesauce. A bad move that I still have not heard the end of, as in: “remember that time you made the different applesauce & no one ate it?”
Over the years, I’ve shared the recipe with nearly every female relative in my family. When my cousin made it for the first time, I walked her through it via a 30-minute phone conversation. And when anyone gets married—male or female—one of their wedding gifts is this recipe. But the best part: I still use that old food processor from my aunt to make this applesauce. I like to think that’s also part of the reason why it’s such a beloved dish in my family. Well, that and the brandy in it!
Submitted by our Director of Visitor Services Pat Fraser
Butter-Nut Balls image
about the balls
Although Pat couldn't make it to the bake-off, she made sure to send along a large Tupperware of her holiday balls as well as copies of her handwritten recipe for everybody to take home.
Submitted by our Director of Convergent Programming Claire Ruud
2 c milk
1 c butter
1 tsp salt
1/2–1 c sugar to taste
1/2 c warm water
2 packs dry yeast
8 1/2 c flour
2 tbsp cardamom
2 c candied fruit
Heat milk, melt butter, add salt and sugar. Let cool to warm, add all other ingredients. Knead 200 times. Allow to rise, covered, until doubled. Punch down and separate into three bread pans. Allow to rise until doubled. Bake at 375°F, 40–50 minutes.
Jule Kage image
My Norwegian family makes this bread from a recipe passed down from my great-grandmother. Pretty tasty as toast with lots of butter in the morning.