December 10, 2006

The Impending Holidays

The only thing I've heard being discussed since Friday...the holidays.
A mere 5 days until the first night of Hanukkah, 2 weeks until Christmas and New Year's Eve only 3 weeks away. I've got to get the latke ingredients together, bake cookies for friends and neighbors, do up some holiday cards to send, decide if we're hosting a New Year's Eve fĂȘte (and if so, decide on a menu) and buy some gifts for a couple of friend's kids.
And it took me three days just to find the twinkle lights I'd stored last year in a cupboard in where I thought would be an obvious place. It wasn't.

To Do Monday
1) make holiday cards
2) go to la Poste to try to track down a couple of mis-addressed packages from the States (good luck on that one)
3) find out why I was given an extra Carte Vitale. I now have three. I should only have one. (gotta love that French bureaucracy)
4) make these cookies

Peppery Chocolate Cookies

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla and beat on high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto some wax paper and use the paper to shape the dough into a cylinder about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap up tightly, twisting the ends to seal and refrigerate for at least an hour. The dough can also be frozen up to three months.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut chilled dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. If it was previously frozen let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool a bit on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack.
Makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.

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