Saturday, 3 December 2011

Christmas Cinnamon Cookies/Les Sables a Cannelle pour Noel

Last night we went to the annual Christmas fare held at Liliana's school. It is a small affair held in the Mairie [Village Hall] next to the school. To get it a perspective one must understand that the school 'Ecole Broussy Le Grand' has three classrooms and each class has 2 year groups in it and Liliana's class has a roll call of 18! Her teacher M'sieur Satola is a young energetic fabulously organised chap who Liliana adores. She has been lucky to have him for the last two years and as she is such a great bright wee student all is well!
Handcrafted brooch...lovely on a winter coat!
So into the hall we go and immediately head to the bar and order a 'blida' or coupe of Champagne for €2.50 of the funniest thing about living in Champagne is at that EVERY school function, no matter the time of day, they serve complaints of course!  
A group gathers around choosing their Christmas trees from the pile near the stage, parents stand around sipping Champagne and sharing stories and groups of young boys run around sweating and excited...the usual Xmas fair carry on...

On the tables flanking the halls manned by the class teachers are all manner of handcrafted goodies created by the children to sell on to their parents...a few euros here and there to help fund the school coffers. A simple idea that works well the world over. Kids had made large reindeer shaped Advent calenders bedecked with little matchboxes, each with a number and a sweetie inside...shoe boxes have been made into mini galleries with a Christmas scene inside sealed in with plastic film and decorated with sweets....Liliana made a fabulous Reindeer decoration to hang on the tree...she carries its fragile figure safely home....cute!
Liliana's class table was also covered with cellophane bags of homemade cookies and sweets tied up with pretty ribbons...€2.00 a bag...
We made these cookies with the children in class earlier in the week and had a great deal of fun, and made a huge amount of mess, in the process...
The cookie making event was organised within an inch of its self by M'sieur Satola with all the participating parents issued with a list of tools to bring and when we arrived at school all the ingredients were neatly laid out in the front of the class. Tables cleared and cleaned, hands scrubbed and were allocated a recipe and 3 kids each!
Our 'sables' were spiced with cinnamon...others vanilla and the mothers that got the task of melting chocolate, adding cornflakes and then getting the children to put them into tiny bright coloured paper cases really had there work cut out...the coconut mixed with sweetened condensed milk proposed a similar challenge.

We had fun rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies with cutters...great hands on learning for the children...measuring, mixing and making...and then proudly taking them home as a gift for family and friends...and making some money for the school en route!

So here it is...the recipe...a fun holiday activity with the it Xmas, Halloween or a special birthday...


500 grams flour
120 grams icing sugar
60 grams unrefined raw sugar
2 sachets [tbsps] of vanilla sugar
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
pinch of salt
300 grams of sotfened butter
2 eggs

1. Put the flour into a large bowl and add the icing sugar, raw sugar and vanilla sugar and mix.
2. Add the cinnamon and salt and stir in.
3. Now the messy bit...mix in the softened butter...the kids did this by hand but a mixer would mean less mess!
4. Add the eggs and mix to a dough.
5. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin flouring your working surface well.
6. Using cookie cutters cut the dough into seasonal shapes and then remove 'cookies' and place onto a
baking try lined with baking paper. Take care not to make them too thin.
7. Continue till you have used up all of the dough and then bake the biscuits in the oven heated to 180 degrees for 12 them so they do not go too brown...
8. Leave to cool and then you can ice the biscuits or leave them plain.

Variation: Vanilla Sables: Replace the cinnamon with 3 teaspoons of good vanilla essence. You can also use larger cookie cutters then use a straw to create a hole at the top prior to baking and then thread coloured ribbons through the hole and hang them on the Christmas tree...
PS. I did not manage to get the recipe for the sweet balls but gather it was as simple as below...
Mixing sweetened condensed milk + loads of coconut then form into small balls and roll in more coconut. I sampled these and they were delicious!
Melt chocolate and mix in cornflakes stirring till covered in chocolate. Spoon teaspoon lots of the mixture into small paper cases and leave to set...adds a little colour and variety to the bag...

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