I come from a very small family. My extended family lives almost exclusively overseas or on the other side of the continent. This means that our family Christmas traditions aren’t very old. The good thing about this is that our traditions are still young enough for them to evolve, without feeling like a betrayal of the old established ways and Christmas day is generally relaxed. Additional benefits to small family Christmases are:
- Not having to forgo drink because you have to drive to another relatives house;
- Not having to visit people you don’t want to see;
- Only a few well thought out presents to buy;
- Spending the day in shorts, t-shirt and no shoes;
- Being able to break out the good sparkling red without fear of the obnoxious drunken in-laws drinking it all.
While I am the first to sing the benefits of a Christmas without extended family, I do love tradition and larger families seem to have more traditions because of the intergenerational nature of the family unit. Grandparents are keepers of old recipes and family comes together for the making of pudding and the decorating of trees. Considering I am a person who hates feeling like I may be missing out on the good parts of anything….I am happy to avoid the leering drunken uncle and the revolting wild children running through your house… I feel it essential that our little family has its own traditions and I will not hear of them being in any way departed from. In fact I can become borderline hysterical at the thought of one of our traditional dishes not being served. After all I generally only get these dishes once a year! 😦 Christmas is simply not Christmas without Dad putting on Handel’s Messiah in the morning while we drink Black Velvets followed by a late lunch including Mutti’s potato salad, Cold turkey and Cranberry pie and Tipsy pudding, an aptly named dessert if ever there was one.
These biscuits entered my repertoire about 10 years ago. I now make them every Christmas. No amount of begging and pleading for them at any other time of year will break my resolve in maintaining these as a Christmas only treat. It is the Christmas only nature of these biscuits that render them, in my opinion a Christmas tradition. This biscuit recipe was adopted from a cook book put out by my high school. Parents and ex students contributed to the book and there are many great family recipes contained within its covers. The biscuits claim to be Irish Christmas biscuits. I certainly don’t have anything like them in my Irish family and I can’t see anything distinctly Irish about them, but I am happy to claim them as food that is representative of one half of my ethnic background. They are delightfully crunchy thanks to a combination of corn flakes and nuts, and the cinnamon lends a real Christmas flavour. They have become an anticipated baked treat for the festive season.
Do you have any recipe that only gets made at Christmas? Do you have big or small family Christmases?
Irish Christmas Biscuits
From a recipe by Anne Withnell
- 180 gms butter
- 60 gms caster sugar
- 240 gms plain flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 30 gms of cornflake crumbs
- 60 gms of mixed nuts
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- icing sugar to coat
1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
2. Add flour, cinnamon cornflake crumbs, nuts and vanilla and mix together with a wooden spoon.
3. Divide into small balls, about a teaspoon of dough for each ball and place on a baking tray. Press slightly to flatten.
4. Bake in oven on 180 degrees for 25 mins or until starting to turn golden.
5. Cool and dust in icing sugar.