Sixth Day: Peppermint forest + Pink Cloud cookies

You’ve probably seen that one super-cute peppermint wreath floating around Pinterest.  I love the simplicity of it and that you only need glue, peppermints, and a wreath form.  I had planned to make one, from this pin, but then I watch “Elf”.  I’ve said before that if you haven’t seen that movie, you most definitely should.  It’s one of my favorites.  So, I was listening to the description in the movie about the candy-cane forests and I thought to myself…I think I need one of those. I need a candy-cane forest.

Right away, I put my little elves to work on the unwrapping of the peppermints.  It’s a GREAT job for kids, it only costs you a few peppermints in the process (snitchers).  We kind-of made it a race where I glued them while they unwrapped them.  You add some Christmas music and it was pretty fun.  You just buy a foam tree from a floral supply place or a craft store (San Diego, you can find these at Michael’s), you glue them on with a hot glue gun, and wait for it to dry.  The only tricks I learned were to start at the bottom and always keep a portion in the back that is your “sloppy” side.  The shapes just can’t meet up every time so I think  it’s a good idea to leave yourself some room to mess up on that back portion so you aren’t using a pill divider to slice your peppermints to fit.  I’m sure there are people who do that, but I’m not that crazy.  I’m sure you could paint the tree the correct color so it doesn’t look “off” but this is only 1/12 Pinterest projects.

Peppermints are special in my family because they are the heart and soul of the best Christmas cookie on the planet, The Pink Cloud.   We have been making this cookie for as long as I can remember.  Apparently my Grandma found it in a magazine a long time ago and we’ve been making it ever since.  I can’t remember it not being here. In fact, it is a requirement for tree decorating.  My mom always made decorating the tree into a little party.  There was always Babybel cheese with crackers, salami, eggnog (which I found out as an adult my mom never liked), and definitely Pink Cloud cookies.  I faintly remember that ball of cheese that’s rolled in nuts, but I could be wrong.  There has been stress, time crunches, a lack of ingredients, sickness, and tears, but nothing has kept us from our Pink Clouds for the process of decorating.  There would be an empty tree all year if there were no Pink Clouds.   I may or may not be leaving the recipe below, you’ll have to keep reading to see if it’s there at the end!

Here is our tree hunting for 2011.  We never leave our personalities behind in this family:

We all agreed on the one to the right of us.  It’s nice when it works out that way.  I feel terrible, though, that for the first time ever in his life, our dog was forgotten.  Poor guy has been in every Christmas tree photo for his 8 Christmases.  Sorry, Leonard.  We still love you.

Back to those cookies…I’ll give you the original recipe, but my sister and I don’t actually use the cookie dough part anymore.  I gave up shortening and try to stick with butter, but it does make THE best pink cloud cookie :).  You can basically use any sugar cookie recipe to suit your tastes.  This year, I tried Alton Brown’s recipe and didn’t really love how it worked out.  His cookies are really great, just not paired with the meringue in this recipe.  They were a little too crispy.  I must admit I really miss the old cookie dough/meringue combo.  Maybe my Mom will make them.  Are you listening to me, Mom?

Pink Cloud Cookies

cookie dough:

3/4 c. sugar

2/3 c. shortening

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. milk

2 eggs yolks

2 1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

peppermint merinque:

2 egg whites

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. white vinegar

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips ( I usually sub 60% cocoa here)

1 c. coarsely crushed peppermints (not candy canes!)**

In a large bowl, combine the cookie dough ingredients.  Blend well with a mixer.  Chill while making the meringue.

Beat egg whites in a bowl with salt till soft mounds form. Gradually add sugar.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold in the remaining ingredients.  Shape dough into balls (small walnut size-this is no joke!).  Place on a ungreased sheet.  Flatten with the bottom of a glass, dipped in water and sugar (alternating water then sugar between cookie squashing to help the dough not to stick to the glass).  Top each cookie with a rounded T. of meringue.  Bake for 20 minutes at 325 or until the sugar cookie is just barely golden.

**To crush the peppermints, I put mine in an old but sturdy pillowcase and hammer away.  I put my crushed pile through my colander to make sure I don’t have huge pieces.  If I had a sturdy canvas bag that didn’t “leak” fabric, I would use a canvas bag like my mom has.

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