Sunday, December 20, 2015

"Christmas Around The World" Day--8 Recipe -- “Maple Shortbread Cookie”

"I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month." by Harlan Miller (Better Homes and Gardens)

Welcome to the 8th day of “Christmas Around The World!” For my readers who are new, everyday for the next 12 days, till Christmas Eve, I will post a story of a country of the world and a Santa that goes according to the countries customs and traditions. Besides the World Santa’s, I will also share a holiday treat, a homemade gift idea, or just a favorite recipe that I think goes with that country, all leading up to “Christmas Eve.” This has been an incredible year! I have met many people, learned many new things, but most of all, I want to say thank you to my readers, as we prepare for the most joyous time of the year!

Day # 8, My country today is Canada!

Canada is a very large country and people of many different cultural backgrounds live there. Because of these different cultures there are lots of different Christmas traditions in Canada. Many of the traditions and celebrations come from French, English, Irish, Scottish, Italian, and German influences.

The Eastern Canadian province of Nova Scotia is known all over the world for its fir and pine Christmas Trees, so most families in Canada have a fir or pine Christmas Tree. One Canadian tradition is to send the biggest, best fir tree (grown in Nova Scotia) to Boston, USA because of the assistance given during the disaster, known worldwide, as the Halifax Explosion. This tradition has carried on for many years. Bostonian's always love and appreciate the Nova Scotia Christmas tree. They place this tree in the city and then light it during a ceremony to begin the Christmas season.

Nova Scotia Tree

Mummering is a tradition which mainly takes place in the province of Newfoundland, more commonly in small towns and villages rather than large towns and cities. It's also sometimes called 'Jannying'. People dress up in costumes and knock on someone's door and say in a disguised voice, "Are there any Mummers in the night?" or "Any mummers 'loud in?'", meaning 'are mummers allowed in the house?' Then they sing and dance and have Christmas cake and a cup of something nice before moving on to the next house. In some places, if the host does not guess who the Mummers are, the host must join the Mummers in their merry-making. Going Mummering is a fun Christmas season activity for adults. Mummers usually come out between December 26th and January 6 th. However, some come out only before Christmas Day. In some places Mummering is now banned because people used it as an excuse for begging.

On the south shore of Nova Scotia, over Christmas, there's the tradition of Belsnickeling where people dress up in funny Santa costumes and go from house to house until the home owners guess who you were. It was especially popular in West & East Green Harbor. The Belsnicklers often brought musical instruments and sang. They were served Christmas cake or cookies. This tradition was brought to Nova Scotia by the 1751 Germans immigrants who settled Lunenburg and South shore.

People in Canada send Christmas Cards to their friends and family. In northern Canada, some people plan a Taffy Pull. This is held in honor of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of single women. This party provides an opportunity for single women to meet eligible single men!

Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve. Others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day. Canadian children also believe in Santa Claus. Canadians are especially proud to say that their country is the home of Santa Claus. The Santa Claus Parade in Toronto is one of the oldest and largest Santa parades in the world! It started in 1913 when Santa was pulled through the streets of Toronto. Children along the route followed Santa and marched along with him. It's been taking place for over 100 years and now is a huge event with over 25 animated floats and 2000 people taking part! It's broadcast on TV around the world.

“Sinck Tuck" is a festival started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada. This celebration consists of dancing and gift exchanging. Labrador City in Newfoundland holds a Christmas Light-up Contest each year. People dress the outside of their houses up with lights and often have big ice sculptures in their front gardens! They have no trouble finding enough snow or ice, because Labrador City has about 12-14 Feet of snow every year! Oh My!

Many Canadian families have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season.

Many families of French descent have a huge feast/party on Christmas Eve called a “Réveillon” that lasts well into the early hours of Christmas morning after taking part in Christmas Eve Mass. When people are at Midnight Mass, they hope that “Père Noel” (Santa) will visit their house and leave gifts for children under the tree. The traditional Christmas meal for people in Quebec, is a stew called “ragoût aux pattes de cochons” which is made from pigs feet! However, many people now have a “Tortière,” a meat pie made from venison (or pork or beef).

At the end of the Christmas season, January 6th, people in the province of Quebec have a celebration called "La Fete du Roi" They bake a cake and place a bean in the middle. Whoever is the lucky discoverer of the bean, gets to be the king or queen, according to tradition. Reminds me of New Orleans, La in the USA. 

In Southwestern Nova Scotia, many families eat lobster, a shellfish caught off the shores of Nova Scotia in the North Atlantic Ocean, on Christmas Eve. At Christmas Canadians eat sweets called Barley Candy and Chicken Bones! They are really sweets made by local candy companies. Barley Candy is usually on a stick and is shaped like Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a tree and other symbols of Christmas. Chicken Bones are pink candy that tastes like cinnamon. You melt them in your mouth and once melted, they reveal a creamy milk chocolate center. Sounds yummy to me! 

My recipe for today is a “Maple Shortbread Cookie” Canada, meet your new favorite cookie. We've done our country's iconic flavor justice by adding maple to the flaky cookie dough, then topping them off with a syrupy glaze. Yummy!

Maple Shortbread Cookie

Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Portion size about: 50 cookies

1/2 cup un-salted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp maple extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Maple Glaze:
1/2 cup icing sugar or powdered sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp maple extract

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, or in bowl using wooden spoon, beat together butter, icing sugar and maple extract until fluffy; stir in flour just until combined.

Divide dough in half; shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm but not hard, about 45 minutes.

Working with 1 disc at a time, roll out dough between waxed paper to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch maple leaf–shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Arrange, 1 inch apart, on parchment paper– lined rimless baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 325°F oven until edges are light golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 1 minute; transfer directly to racks to cool completely. (Make- ahead: Store in airtight container for up to 3 days.)

Maple Glaze: In bowl, whisk together icing sugar, maple syrup, and maple extract; gradually whisk in up to 2 tsp water to make thin but spread able glaze. Spread over tops of cookies; let stand until dry, about 20 minutes. (Make-ahead: Layer between waxed paper in airtight container; store for up to 5 days.) Enjoy!

See you on Day # 9...

Till Next Time………………………….

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  1. This recipe of shorbread maple cookies must be really good!So simple as well. Canada has so many different traditions, interesting.

    1. Thanks Alida...
      I have learned so much about many countries doing this research. It really is fun. Shortbread cookies are so good no matter what shape they are in! Hope that your week is a good one! Ciao!
      Dottie :)