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Catholic Recipe: Christmas Baking: Almond Macaroon Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated almonds
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour Frosting:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 4 bitter almonds, chopped
  • candied cherry or citron

Details

Yield: 3 dozen

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: • •

Cost: $$$$

For Ages:11+

Origin: Germany, Central Europe

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Also Called: Mandel-Gebaeck

The mood of joy and solemnity of Christmas extended, and quite naturally, its sway over the Christmas fare. Each nation has gradually developed its own customs surrounding the Christmas dinner. The traditional American Christmas meal is English in origin, although the English "Christmas bird" (usually goose or capon) has been supplanted by turkey. In many European countries the main dish is some kind of pork ("boar's head," ham, roast pork) due to the ancient symbolism of pork as a festive meal (see the introduction to the section "On Festive Days").

The old custom also demands that the desserts on Christmas Day be varied, rich, and generally sweeter than usual. In most countries of Europe people still put sweets and candy and cookies on the Christmas tree. These cookies are cut in the form of stars, angels, flowers, and animals. They are eaten by the children during Christmas week. Every nation has its own traditional sweets and pastries.

Another feature of the festive season is the baking of special breads and cakes. This custom derives from the celebration of the winter solstice in pre-Christian times, which was observed as a feast of thanksgiving for the grain harvest. This ancient tradition was continued in the Christian era and is now connected with the celebration of Christmas. In Ireland, this custom even occasioned a special name for the Holy Night: the "Night of Cakes" (Oidhche na ceapairi).

DIRECTIONS

Cream butter, sugar, egg until very light. Add nuts, flour. Knead on. well-floured board. Roll very thin. Cut with round cookie cutter. Place on baking sheet covered with wax paper.

Frosting: Beat eggs, sugar 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, grated nuts. Beat well. Place small mound of mixture on top of each cake. Bake at 350° until frosting is crinkly throughout. Decorate with candied cherry or citron.

Recipe Source: Catholic Cookbook, The by William I. Kaufman, The Citadel Press, New York, 1965