Check out my latest for Advertising Week: A Recipe For Tradition
Any great traditions on your end of the holiday rope?
Traditions make me happy. Really happy. Kid-on-Christmas-morning kind of happy.
I blame my parents entirely for this. Or rather, I thank my parents entirely for this. My childhood was rife with traditions; from Christmas eve’s réveillon to summer’sDarien Lake visits, there was always some grand thing to look forward to.
The former being one of the greatest things any child can experience, in my opinion.
A house filled with family, a huge meal, and a mountain of gifts – but not until after midnight, offering hours of entertainment and playtime while celebrating together. The cousins “played” shuffle board (if you saw it, you’d think the quotation marks were necessary too), the adults prepared dinner, someone corralled the 20-strong group to get to midnight mass, and someone else managed to keep us from peeking under the tree.
In retrospect, it was probably chaos.
But in my mind, it was bliss.
That’s the beauty of great traditions:
Knowing that they’re there and thriving can make you feel a bit better about what happens around you.
As an adult, the holidays are different.
I don’t spend two weeks of school creating a mountain of red and green crafts, to be complimented by the gold and silver crafts I’ll create at Girl Guides. I actually have to go buy gifts, rather than put a bunch of those crafts in a box labelled “Maman et Papa”, oblivious to the fact that I would rue the day I made something silly and my parents kept it (see: unintentionally phallic pop-out card). I have to work until the 23rd to afford putting non-glitter-related gifts into non-shoebox boxes.
But knowing that the family will get together every December 24th to laugh and shout and laugh way louder, to eat and drink, to exchange gifts wrapped with love – that knowledge takes the stress out of what can be a stressful time of year.
It’s a tradition that makes me smile, year after year.
And so I advocate to all:
Build traditions – big or small – and give yourself something to look forward to each year.
A big part of our réveillon was the kind of feast that only a family that really loves you would put the man-hours into preparing. So food would become a part of our tradition, giving certain dishes such nostalgia that I can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I eat them.
One of those dishes is Sucre à la Crème.
It’s kind of like fudge, just better.
With more sugar and less other stuff. And every time I eat it, I just feel right. So I’d like to share with you a couple recipes to try it out for yourself.
Sucre à la Crème
This is the most basic recipe, one which has made many a person laugh and cringe simultaneously.
One time when the recipe didn’t set, we just spread it on toast.
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1. Mix all ingredients in a large, microwave-safe bowl.
2. Cook in microwave at full power for 10 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times.
3. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat the mixture until it thickens, about 4 minutes.
5. Pour into a buttered 8-inch glass baking dish and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into very small squares, enjoy.
Sucre À La Crème with Maldon Salt and Pecans
This recipe is from Chuck Hughes’ Chuckmas special. It’s only slightly more involved (stove instead of microwave) and has maple – which is always a god idea.
Use maple to sweeten your coffee!
Sucre À La Crème with Maldon Salt and Pecans
1 cup 35% cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1. For the sucre à la crème, line a 20-cm (8-inch) square pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil.
2. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients except for the vanilla extract and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Attach a candy thermometer in the center of the pan and simmer over medium heat without stirring until the thermometer reads 114 C (237 F). Add the extract without stirring.
3. Place the pan in a cold water bath. Cool, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 45 C (113 F), about 20 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from water. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until the mixture begins to lighten in color and become creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Please note that if you whip too much, the sugar and cream mixture will harden before you have time to pour it into the pan.
5. Pour immediately into the pan and smooth with a spatula. Garnish with crushed toasted pecans and Maldon salt. Cover with plastic wrap. Let cool for about 1 hour at room temperature or 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from the pan and remove from the plastic wrap. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.