Saturday, January 11, 2014

"And so this is Christmas..."

My visual memory of Christmas looks like this:  a tree shimmering with lights and glittering ornaments creating a shining haze in the darkness.  I have lots of other good memories, but this is the thing I need to see every year that says “yes, Christmas is here.”  This image reminds me of the magic and hope that is Christmas.

 I also have specific taste memories for Christmas.  When I was a kid, we had a fruit studded sweet bread that has always stuck in my memory – the bittersweet taste of candied citron and sweet cherries and vanilla icing. 
 When I got married, I tried to re-create that memory for my family – but alas, everyone else declared candied-fruit bread and its even more dreaded cousin, fruitcake, to be “yucky.”  Still, each year I treat myself to a small (or large!) portion of fruit bread or fruitcake.  I like a slice with a cup of tea while I’m wrapping packages or writing Christmas cards. Chai tea has that “holiday spice” taste at this time of year, especially with a shot of rum. This year I scored twice – once with our school bakery’s fruitcake, and once with the Pannetone from Trader Joe’s.  Even my fruitcake-averse husband judged the pannetone as “not bad.”  Very fresh and yeasty with that citron essence that I love.

We have another taste of the holidays at our house, and this is the one that my children will take with them.  Each year, after the presents are opened, I bake a batch of “sticky buns”.  These are the one “required” food for our celebration of Christmas that we cannot do without.  It’s a recipe I got years ago from a friend of a friend, and every time we eat them, we remember her fondly. I’ve adapted the recipe to make it even easier, letting the prepared buns rise in the refrigerator overnight, then letting them warm up on the counter while we open gifts. When that’s done, they (the rolls, not the gifts) go into the oven and fill the house with the sweetness of cinnamon and brown sugar.  This recipe is my holiday gift to everyone. Enjoy!

A real crowd pleaser!

Sticky Buns

Easy and delicious!


package frozen dinner rolls (16 - 18 rolls)
c. butter
c. brown sugar
c. milk
small package vanilla pudding mix (NOT instant)
tsp. cinnamon
c. chopped nuts


Out of the refrigerator
Thaw rolls until soft enough to cut in half. It's easiest if they're still partly frozen. Spread nuts in bottom of greased 9x13 baking pan. Place cut rolls on top of nuts, spacing about 1/4 inch apart. Melt butter, stir in sugar, pudding, milk, and cinnamon. Pour butter mixture over rolls. Cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. Next day,let rolls warm on counter for about 30 minutes, then bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes until browned. Let stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly. Invert onto serving plate and serve.
Ready to serve