Let’s talk about Christmas movies.
I assume that most folks have a list of movies they like to watch each holiday season. I tend to like my holiday movies to lean toward funny, rather than heartwarming, since I spend much of the holiday season crying through Christmas commercials (has anyone seen the one where the mailman gets a box of chocolates from the little kid? Sobs.).
Please forgive me as I reveal myself to truly be a child of the 90s and early 2000s (how do we refer to that decade? Is there a technical term I never learned?) with my list of movies I must watch each Christmas:
- Love Actually– Obviously, this is a combination of the world’s best things: Great Britain’s finest (Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, and pre-famous Martin Freeman and Chiwetel Ejiofor); a pre-Mad Men January Jones (seriously, this is just turning into a list of the cast, so I’ll stop); a child dressed as an octopus for the Christmas pageant; a million intermingling love stories; and lines that I will quote for the rest of my life (“There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?”).
- The entire Harry Potter Series– I know these aren’t technically Christmas movies, but Christmas does occur in each film. And I always associate them with the season, probably because the movies were generally released around Christmas. Each year, my 3 best pals (one of whom is now my husband- look at that!) and I would marathon the movies and then go see the new one in theaters. Eric and I have carried on this tradition each December with an 8-movie marathon and lots of muddy buddies to go along with it. (We accidentally started this marathon at Halloween this year. Our bad.)
- Elf– Find one person who doesn’t love this movie. Will Ferrell, no one has ever played an elf with your enthusiasm.
- The Santa Clause– I remember being convinced that this was the proof of Santa’s existence. Santa stops coming to your house once one person in the home doesn’t believe? Totally makes sense. Also, Tim Allen is the best, and we seem to find a way to fit “Topo Gigio!” into everyday conversation a few times a year.
- I’ll Be Home for Christmas– I see you, JTT, and I’m still crushing on you 17 years later (how was 1998 that long ago?). “Desert, Santa, buzzard, tumbleweed” remains the most confusing voicemail left in a Christmas film.
A lot of my favorite Christmas movies from childhood only live on in my parents’ VHS library in Michigan (The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc.), so we make do with the few DVDs we have, and the bounty of Netflix ABC Family specials. Any Christmas movies you all would recommend?
Okay, onto the cookies.
For some reason, pecan sandies sounded really interesting to me this year. I have no idea why, as I don’t think I’d ever eaten a pecan sandy before this week, nor do I think I’d ever seen them in real life. I assumed they were called sandies because of the brown color of the cookie (but I suppose all cookies are some shade of brown…), but it appears “sandy” might refer to the texture of the dough? It felt quite a bit like wet sand, but the good news is, wet sand has nothing to do with the taste! They are kind of nutty and subtly sweet, like something you’d want to pair with a warm cup of coffee or tea.
Eric said he preferred the cookies plain, but I dipped them half in chocolate, and then sprinkled some with toffee bits, and some with sea salt. Basically, your options are endless. But these cookies got good reviews at Eric’s office, including, “This is Christmas in my mouth.” So take that as you please.
These cookies are slightly time consuming, only because browning butter always takes longer than I think it will (I also move like a snail in the kitchen), and you need some time to let the chocolate set on the cookies before you can actually move them around. But as far as active time and actual baking skill goes, you’ve got this.
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup small pecan pieces
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 ounces dark chocolate
- toffee chips or sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat liner.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Allow the butter to gently boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is very fragrant and golden. Stir in the pecan pieces (the butter will foam up like crazy), and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the butter mixture to a large mixing bowl to cool. (I put the mixing bowl in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.)
- Once the butter is cool, stir in the powdered sugar, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons cream, vanilla, and salt. Mix until fully incorporated. Mix in the flour until fully incorporated. If the mixture is really crumbly, mix in another tablespoon of cream (I didn't need it). It should be a sandy consistency, but shouldn't feel really wet.
- Roll the dough into approximately 30 small balls. (I recommend making all the balls at the same time, as the dough tends to dry out as it sits on the counter.) Flatten each ball slightly, as the cookies don't really spread in the oven.
- Bake 10-13 minutes, or until the cookies have just browned. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies cool, melt your dark chocolate. Dip cooled cookies halfway in dark chocolate (or drizzle with chocolate) and sprinkle with toffee bits or sea salt. Allow the chocolate to dry and harden before storing or transporting the cookies.
For more cookies from the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies archives, check out these links:
2014, Day 2: Nilla-oons
2013, Day 2: Eggnog Cranberry Cheesecake Bars
2012, Day 2: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
2011, Day 2: Ginger Snaps (and a giant baking fail)
2010, Day 2: Garam Masala Chocolate Gingerbread