One of the glories of the holiday season is the keeping of tradition. Whether it's unwrapping just-one-and-only-one present on Christmas Eve or setting out single-malt scotch for Santa, we've all got a special thing we do each year without fail.
As a young girl, my mother would take me to the "big city" (a.k.a. Atlanta) to see The Nutcracker at The Fabulous Fox Theatre. I'd dress up in my finest taffeta and velvet, with spiral curls and blush to boot. Afterwards we would sip silky hot chocolate at the fancy hotel across the street and relive our favorite costumes and dances. It was always a toss up between Tea and Mother Ginger. And, goodness how I envied young Clara. I would have done anything to be up on that stage.
Now fast forward twenty years (!?!). Yesterday my mother drove up to the "big city" so we could continue our wonderful Christmas tradition. I donned a sparkly silver dress and high heels, spiral curls and blush, too. After the show we headed across the street, only this time for cocktails instead of cocoa.
The ballet was just as magical as I remembered, if not better. We gushed about the carefully sewn costumes, the craftsmanship of the stage, and the exquisite orchestra music -- things I never noticed as a child. Mother Ginger no longer seemed so enchanting; this time it was the Sugar Plum Fairy who stole my heart.
Not wanting the evening to end, we returned home to bundle up and share a few last laughs. Outside the snow fluttered and the wind blew. We snacked on these addictive Creole Kisses and a mug of hot wassail or two.
It's only a shame the night couldn't last... Until next year, that is. Do you share a special holiday tradition with your loved ones? What is it?
yields 30 to 40 cookies
3 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar, and beat until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Fold in the pecans.
Using a small spring-load ice cream scoop, drop batter into rounded balls onto baking sheet, smoothing and shaping as desired (OR transfer mix into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe "kisses" onto baking sheet). Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Immediately remove kisses to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight containers for up to a week.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)