Cookies for Santa #3

Week 3 of our recipe helps for Christmas eve .. best cookies to leave for Santa:  iced cookies, but with a twist – instead of a basic sugar cookie, make it chocolate!  We know Santa loves chocolate as much as we do.

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies (Decorated)

350° oven, ungreased baking sheets, 6-8 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 bars (8 oz. box) semi-sweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2-2/3 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • ½ C light or dark corn syrup
  • ¼ C water
  • Decorator icing (colored icing in tubes work well), sugar sprinkles, and candy decorations of your choice.

Instructions:

  1. Microwave baking bars in medium-size bowl on high for 1 minute; stir.  Microwave for additional 10 to 20 second intervals, stirring until smooth; cool to room temperature.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a second medium-size bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in small mixer bowl until creamy; beat in syrup and chocolate.  Alternately beat in flour mixture and water.  Divide and shape into 2 round discs; wrap in plastic wrap; chill just until firm.
  3. Roll each disc 10 1/4-inch thickness between sheets of waxed paper; cut with [cookie cutters (may we suggest something like this)]; place on ungreased baking sheets.  Chill again if dough becomes too soft while you’re rolling and cutting.
  4. Bake for six to eight minutes or until set; let stand for two minutes before removing to wire racks to completely cool.
  5. Decorate with colored icing and candy sprinkles as desired.

C = Cup; T = Tablespoon; t = teaspoon

I don’t think I’ve ever been served a decorated chocolate cookie – and seeing how simple this recipe is, I really wonder why?  Personally, I would flavor my icing – orange, raspberry, peppermint – or sprinkle the icing with crushed candy canes!  Yeah, that would be great!  If you decide to try this one, send us your results – and suggestions for personal flavor flair.  Santa will love them any way you bake them.  Oh – and how about serving them on an awesome Santa plates – it looks .. Scandinavian to me, don’t you agree?  I think it will hold all three dozen cookies you’ve just baked.

Santa Serving Platter

You’ll call 1-800-445-3396, ext. 192, to order this platter – #335-333, $29.99.

Keep the yummy spirit of Christmas alive in the kitchen with us this holiday season!  Back with another cookie recipe soon.

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S. We’re approaching one of our busiest weekends here at the store – this Saturday, we have FOUR signing events – details to come – but we’re looking forward to seeing Ralph McDonald, Karen Didion, Anja from The Christmas Wish storybooks, and the creators of Ginger Cottages.  Do you have plans for November 19th?  We can help…

Cookies for Santa!

I have long been a recipe collector – I don’t bake or cook a lot, but I love collecting and reading recipes.  I’m guessing I am not alone in this pastime.  It paid off this week, when I pulled out a folder to begin my search for a good cookie recipe to share – the first packet I turned to is titled “100 Cookies for Christmas.”  Meant to be!

Remember, when you’re working with chocolate, water is not your friend.  Keep your work area and tools dry, especially when chopping or shaving the chocolate – dry knife and cutting board.

#5 Black Forest Cookies

400° Oven; large cookie sheets, greased; bake 10 to 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 8-oz. package semisweet chocolate squares
  • 1 16-oz. can pitted dark sweet cherries in light syrup
  • 2¼ C all-purpose flour
  • shortening
  • ¾ C sugar
  • ¾ C milk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t almond extract

Instructions

About 3 hours before serving, or up to 3 days ahead:

  1. Grease cookie sheets.  In heavy small saucepan over low heat, heat 2 squares semisweet chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove saucepan from heat.  With knife, coarsely chop 4 squares of chocolate; set aside.
  2. Drain cherries, reserving ¼ C cherry liquid; coarsely chop cherries.  Pat cherries dry with paper towel.
  3. Into large bowl, measure melted chocolate, reserved cherry liquid, flour, ½ C shortening, and remaining ingredients.  With mixer at low speed, beat ingredients until blended, occasionally scraping bowl.  Stir in cherries and chopped chocolate.
  4. Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls, as many as possible, about 2 inches apart, on cookie sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove cookies to wire racks to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. When cookies are cooled, in small saucepan over low heat, heat 1 teaspoon shortening and remaining 2 squares chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  With spoon, drizzle chocolate mixture over cookies.  Let chocolate drizzle dry about 30 minutes or until firm.
  6. Store cookies in tightly covered container in refrigerator to use within three days (as if they will be around that long!).  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Cookies as rich and grand as these deserve an equally fabulous cookie plate – I think they would contrast quite nicely with this fabulous Reindeer Cookie Plate!  You’ll have to call us at 1-800-445-3396, ext. 192, to order item 104490, $29.99.  We’ll be happy to ship one to you for the Big Night!

Reindeer Cookie Plate

General knowledge I have gained about working with chocolate:  do not store it in the refrigerator; room temperature is fine.  White patches, called “bloom,” are generally not a problem – perhaps a little moisture was in the package, but it should not degrade the taste or usefulness of the chocolate.  M&Ms will go stale if left forgotten in the back of a drawer for a year.  Do not let this happen to your M&Ms.

Find more cookie-themed items on our website [here].  Then gather the family together and have a baking night for Santa – guaranteed fun and memory-making, no matter the skill of the chefs or the outcome of your endeavors!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S.  IT’S FINALLY HERE!  Department 56 signing weekend and retirements have been announced!  Come meet Scott Enter, North Pole Village designer, and Bill Sheldon, landscape designer – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 5th.  Door prizes, too!

Two for Tuesday

Christmas ornaments, how much variety there is at Incredible Christmas Place!  We could never limit ourselves to only traditional colors and styles, that would be no fun for you or for us.  We’re always going to show what’s new, different, and fun for your Christmas tree.

My first favorite today is a [taupe fur poinsettia] with gold glitter balls and a touch of gold glitter on the petals.  (I know, the glitter is a surprise…not.  It’s me.)  It’s mounted on a spring with a clip at the end, so easy to clip into your tree for a subtle sparkle.

Taupe Fur & Glitter Poinsettia

In our never-ending quest to offer every [bird ornament] that was ever conceived by a Christmas designer, here’s a cutie!  [Iced white cardinal], sort of bristle-y but with tail feathers, and such a sweet look.  Warning: he’s just a little bit shed-y on everything.  He’s also on a clip, so you can attach him to the perfect branch with ease and convenience.

Iced Cardinal

Here’s a peak at the tree on which we used that taupe poinsettia, our 2016 Misty Lake theme.  I have more pictures coming, because we have the most beautiful ornaments working on this tree, too, along with that amazing, 4′ strand of 480 lights.  You remember that gorgeous bunny, too – see him right there in the middle?  There’s a deer head at the top, if you can distinguish it.  So much going on with this tree!  Do you like a natural look for your Christmas tree?

2016 Christmas Tree - Misty Lake

Take a moment and find two things to love about your Tuesday, too!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S.  Exciting weekend!  It’s finally here, our [Department 56] artist signing weekend.  Saturday, November 5th, from 2 to 5 p.m., both an artist and a village designer will be here, so come and claim your signed house, and take home some new design ideas for your own 2016 village display.

Baking Cookies for Santa!

After today, there are only eight more Fridays before Christmas .. which means it’s past time to get started baking cookies to leave for Santa on Christmas eve, don’t you agree?!  We’re going to share a favorite cookie recipe each Friday until Christmas – and if you have a favorite you’d like to share, get in touch – we’ll be happy to let the world in on your holiday baking success secrets, too!

Yes, I am in the lucky position of sorting through sweet recipes and picking my favorites.  Do you think this is easy?  No.  Each week, I will be #479057 Possible Dreams Santa - Jelly Filledconsidering, contemplating, curating, copying, and collating thoughts about cookies for a day.  Maybe more than a day.  This is a hard, hard thing.  No, really.  Walk in my shoes.  You know, I really need some new shoes.  I think I’d better put that on my list for Santa right now.  Shoes.  And a new mixer.  A red KitchenAid® stand mixer.  Good start.  Now, what was I talking about??

Cookies!  I’m starting with a non-traditional cookie, so you’ll have time to bombard me with your best recipes for next week.  And I like easy in my repertoire, so this one will just get you thinking about sweet treats for Santa, without too much work.  (I literally have no idea how to make donuts, so this [Possible Dreams Santa – Jelly Filled] is for illustration purposes only.  Imagine cookies with me.)

Shared with me by a friend in Indiana many years ago, thank you, Melissa, you know who you are!

First, a quick housekeeping note, I like efficiency and shorthand in my recipes.  I always put oven temperature, pan size, and baking time at the top; for measurements, I use this shorthand:  C = Cup, T = Tablespoon, t = teaspoon.

Magic Cookie Bars

350° oven, 13″ x 9″ pan, 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C margarine/butter
  • 1-1/2 C Graham Cracker crumbs (don’t you love being able to get them pre-smashed these days?  Me, too!)
  • 1 C chopped nuts
  • 1 C shredded coconut
  • 1 C milk chocolate chips
  • 1 C butterscotch chips
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions:

Put margarine in baking pan and place in oven.  Turn oven on to heat.  When margarine has melted, remove from oven and sprinkle with Graham Cracker crumbs.  Spread evenly across bottom of pan as a crust.  Sprinkle crust with chocolate and butterscotch chips, nuts, and coconut (in any order).  Top with sweetened condensed milk.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, watching the sides for burning.  Cool completely and cut into squares.  (or eat straight from the pan, there’s no judgement here.)

You can also use a smaller pan for thicker cookies, and you can substitute crushed pretzels for a savory counterpoint to the sweet toppings.  You can use any topping you like, but keep the volume the same, about four cups of toppings.

Cookies for Santa plateThese cookie bars have never lasted long enough for me to be able to suggest an average shelf life of anything more than, oh, eight to ten hours, sorry.

When you put them out for Santa on Christmas eve, do you have a fun plate for Santa?  [Maybe one like this?]

Plesae don’t forget to leave a few apple slices and carrots for the reindeer, too!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S. Send us a recipe to share – e-mail it to santa@christmasplace.com, and use the message title “cookie recipe for blog.”  We’re looking forward to your creativity – and maybe some of your cookies will show up at the elves’ annual post-Christmas gathering, fingers crossed for it!

A Walk in the Christmas Woods

2016 Christmas Trees

A Walk In The Woods

Silent woods in the midst of a frozen winter landscape, snow over hard ground, frost on snow.  A white deer braves the cold morning – and finds himself dressed in a heavy blanket of frosted evergreens and berries with a red bow tied around his neck.  Sorry, handsome, you came a little too close to a Christmas Place decorator!  “A Walk In The Woods” is just a glorious Christmas tree, loaded with all the icy goodness of the season in red and white.

2016 Christmas Tree Theme A Walk in the Woods

That sleigh – it slays me!  (I crack me up, I really do sometimes!)  We gussied up these fun [skis with poles] with some extra holiday greens and a [red burlap ribbon with grey snowflakes]  (- no picture available).  Here’s another choice I might consider, too, for a different take… [red and black plaid snowflake ribbon].  Don’t forget to grab a few [red birch trees] for your mantle.

Red sleigh with skis and Christmas greens

More fun focal additions for the tree: the [Ho-Ho-Ho Ski Gear set] – includes skis, poles, and the Ho-Ho-Ho message; and for a bright hit of color, the [Let It Snow Shovel] – again, we added a big bow for more wow.

2016 Christmas Tree - A Walk in the Woods

2016 Christmas Tree A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods 2016 Tree & Decorated Reindeer

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

And the final touch – [Snowbound Santa] – dressed in cozy knits and fur, clutching his skis, ready to make his way to the North Pole as preparations for Christmas come to a glorious conclusion. (Wow, even Santa gets photo-bombed – by that cheeky red ornament, of all things!  Oops, do-over time!)

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

2016 A Walk In The Woods Christmas Decorations

Maybe I say this every time I photograph a new tree, but this one is probably my favorite this year!  (Until the next one, I can’t claim otherwise.)

Do you choose a theme and put everything together, or do you hodge-podge it?  Back in a few days with another tree!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S. Something new with Santa this year – we’re inviting guests to bring pets for a special photo day with Santa!  Proceeds from pictures will be donated to the Sevier County Humane Society for their efforts to care for pets awaiting families in our county.  Don’t worry, your pets don’t have to be dressed to have their pictures taken with the Head Elf – but isn’t it just more fun for everyone if they are??

Flyer for Pet Photos with Santa Claus on November 13, 2016

 

Two for Tuesday – Christmas Decorations

I’m thinking it’s a beauty and a cutie, both on one tree in the Christmas Gallery.  Every tree needs both large and small decorations, as well as sizes in between, for balance and a pleasing aspect.

This distressed-finish [red lantern] is a foot tall (without the handle), and can be used indoors or out.  We’ve added a flameless [burgundy Luminara candle] (not included), and a [plaid ribbon] around the top for a splash of polish and elegance.  I’m also kind of mad for [this cardinal ribbon with greetings] and [this cardinal ribbon] in the picture, too!

Red Lantern

Just love this tiny little winter scene of a brown budgie perched outside his snow covered bird house.  A second bird is hidden behind the tree branch, and a heavy winter frost coats the entire ornament. There is a second style for this ornament; [see them both here.]

Bird & Bird House Ornament

Your Christmas tree will be more interesting and pleasing to view if you include ornaments and decorations in multiple sizes – start with the largest items first (three to five as focal points around the tree at different heights), and add more ornaments as you go down in size with each layer of decorations.  That’s how a 12″ lantern and a 3″ birdhouse work in concert to make beautiful music on your tree!  Okay, I don’t know why I went musical just then, but you get the analogy, right?!  It all works harmoniously together.

We hope you’ll share some of your favorite design ideas and elements with us, either by e-mailing santa@christmasplace.com, or come on over and visit [our Facebook page] and share some pictures with us there.

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S. Coming up this weekend, a signing with the creators of the collectible dog breed ornaments, [Joy to the World Collectibles].  If your best friend is an unique breed, come and take a look at these gorgeous glass ornaments – something outstanding for your Christmas tree!

Joy to the World Collectible Dog Breed Ornaments Signing

A Christmas Sleigh in Four Easy Steps

Here at Christmas Place, we are always ready to offer holiday tips to help you create memorable moments to cherish with family and friends.  It’s what we live for!  Here’s a super-simple project – a beautiful candle-and-poinsettia-in-red-sleigh centerpiece for your Christmas table, in just a few easy steps.  I’ll include all the elements, most (but not all*) of them available at the store.

Christmas Sleigh Centerpiece

1.  Assemble your base:

  • Red sleigh (so new, it hasn’t even come over from the warehouse yet, give us a few days)
  • Red candle(s)*
  • Green foam*
  • Green moss*

Mini red sleigh with candles and grass

2:  Next, add:

3.  Mix with:

  • One talented floral designer*
  • Hot glue gun*
  • Wire and chenille stems*

4.  Leave everything alone together for about two hours.  When you return, voilà!

Mini red sleigh with candles and Christmas floral

The perfect centerpiece for Christmas dinner – besides the turkey, the ham, and Mom’s sweet potato casserole (with pecans and marshmallows).

Mini Red Sleigh and Candles Christmas Floral Arrangement

I told you it was super simple!  You will find lots of ideas in our [on-line floral selection at ChristmasPlace.com] to help you create a Christmas masterpiece – or just come by the store, and let us do the work for you.  (We’ll let you take the credit, we don’t mind.)

Come back for more quick and easy holiday projects to help you prepare for the best Christmas 2016 ever!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S.  While you’re planning your trip to pick up supplies for your super-simple centerpiece project, why not come on an event day, meet an artist or author, and take home a signed piece?  It’s a great tradition for those ornaments and collectibles you’d like to hand down for Christmases to come.

List of artist signings and events for oct-nov-dec 2016

Christmas Lights

As we are preparing to install new Christmas lights for Winterfest 2016, we thought a look back at 2015 might be fun!  Wow, thousands of lights adorning every tree and shrub at the store and hotel – it took many thousand man-hours to put everything up .. but we think it was worth it.

The Incredible Christmas Place

 

The Inn at Christmas Place

 

Most of the lights we used are available for purchase at the store, or online at www.christmasplace.com.

The 27th annual Pigeon Forge Winterfest celebration starts with an official lighting ceremony in Patriot Park on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016.  The light displays placed throughout the city will be illuminated at dark; for those who haven’t been before, it’s a beautiful display of lighted Christmas characters lights lining the parkway.  The light show actually begins in Sevierville (lighting on Monday night) and continues all the way to Gatlinburg (lighting on Wednesday night), a wonderful driving trip to make on an early winter’s evening – with a big thermos of hot chocolate to fuel the journey, of course.  The lights will remain on through February 28th, 2017, so you have lots of time to plan a visit to the area.

First comes fall, then comes Winterfest .. and finally it will be time for Christmas!  It’s only 96 days away – that’s 13 Saturdays to go.  Yippee!

Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

My two finds of the week from around the store.  Could you have more fun than sorting through everything at Christmas Place?  I really don’t think so!

Christmas Ornament

I love the ombré look of this mercury glass ornament – although our website photo brings out more blue color than I found in it on the sales floor.  [Item 272129]

Mercury Glass Ball Ornament

Northwoods Santa

If a woodland theme appeals to you for Christmas, this Santa should be part of your collection!  He’s clearly comfortable in the forest, warmly dressed for a winter in the back country.  [Item 261092]

Northwoods Santa

Have you started planning your 2016 Christmas – well, those of you who find the will time to take down your tree after the holidays, of course!?

Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

Woodland Christmas Tree 2016

Another new Christmas tree was completed this week – our Woodland theme tree.  Take a little tour of our Woodland tree and enjoy the natural colors and textures of the forest for your Christmas tree.  A large deer in front, a burlap and natural fiber cabin, and whimsical forest gnomes provide visual focal points amid an overall scheme of forest birds and wildlife, also in natural fibers.  We think you’ll enjoy adding some natural touches to your own holiday displays – and be sure you see the wreaths our floral team created to complement the theme!

Some of the items featured in the tree may be found here:

[Bristle Woodland Animals]     [Bristle Twig Owl]

[Natural Sisal Owl]     [Burlap Bristle Owl]

[Mini Fur Raccoon]     [Deer-Fawn Ornament]

[Reindeer Ornament]     [Vintage Star Ornament]

[Pinecone Branch Ribbon]     [Woodland Theme Collection]

Second Look

Here are a couple of the photos from the video for a closer look.

Burlap cabin and natural fiber owl

Deer carving and Woodland Gnome

Woodland Wreath

We have more trees to go in our annual decorating re-do, so stay tuned and come back for more!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S.  Our Labor Day tent sale is still going strong – new merchandise is being put out every day, as we have room to display – so come on back to the parking lot and see what bargains might be just right for your Christmas decorating dreams!