2021 is coming to an end with a new year just around the corner, but before we turn the page the holidays are upon us once more. Last December was as strange a holiday season as most of us have ever endured. Traditionally a time of gatherings with friends, dinners with family and houses packed with relatives, the affair was more solitary due to COVID concerns. This year that fear still is very real, yet we are more empowered and prepared to take precautions so the very personal traditions we all have can still continue on unabated.
The holiday season and Christmas have always been a special time of year in our household even long before I had a family of my own back when I attended a Christian school back in India. Beyond the meaning of the season, for me this time of year was always about the treasured time I spent with my mom in the kitchen baking. To this day I can still close my eyes and smell the delicious aromas as we worked side by side baking with love. Out of all of the things we made, I loved the amazing fruitcake mom used to bake (now I know what you’re thinking and I can promise you that homemade brandied fruit cake is a far cry from store bought paperweights). She’d line up in front of me different cherries, dried fruits, soaked lemon and orange rinds and nuts and it was my job to carefully cut them into perfect little cubes. Together we’d work on making it perfect for that special day and while I’m grown now, whenever mom comes to visit I can still goad her into joining me in the kitchen to make it. I’ve shared our favorite recipe for it below!
Another favorite that emerged from our holiday kitchen back in India was a traditional one you may have never heard of, Achu Murukku, which translates to rose cookies. Made with coconut milk, sugar, eggs and surprisingly rice flour, those rose shaped cookies were incredibly delicate with dainty rose petals pressed by a special mold. I can’t recommend trying these cookies with your family at home enough, and I shared our recipe below as well.
Both of these things are for me what the season has always been about: kindness, gifts born from the heart and time spent together with family, friends and coworkers. Amongst all the hustle bustle at our store and with our business, in between the parties, heaps of delicious food, skiing and ice skating I take time to reflect on the year behind to have a clear vision going into the next year.
We’re not quite out of the woods yet, and I think we all know that, but I have faith and believe that we’re at last crawling out of the darkness of 2020. I have a lot to be thankful for: a loving husband, wonderful family, and of course all of you. It’s been productive here for us as we introduced many new products and also will be launching our professional section for salon owners and extensionists next year with it being a big focus of ours. Additionally, next year marks 15 years of business and we intend on celebrating with some more exciting announcements in 2022. Guy and myself are incredibly thankful for your business, promising that the hallmarks that got us to our 15th year of business: quality, integrity and service, will always remain a mantra and promise.
From all of us to you and yours at home, wishing you the happiest of holidays and the merriest Christmas.
Priyanka’s Traditional Family Fruit Cake Recipe
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried blueberries
- 1/2 cup sun dried cherries
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
- Zest of one lemon, chopped coarsely
- Zest of one orange, chopped coarsely
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
- 1 cup gold rum
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 ounces unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks)
- 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
- 4 whole cloves, ground
- 6 allspice berries, ground
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken
- Brandy for basting and/or spritzing
Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and macerate overnight, or microwave for 5 minutes to rehydrate fruit.
Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes. (Batter can be completed up to this point, then covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before completing the cake.) Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Quickly bring batter together with a large wooden spoon, then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then fold in nuts. Spoon into a 10-inch non-stick loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake for another 10 minutes, and check again.
Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack or trivet. Baste or spritz top with brandy and allow to cool completely before turning out from the pan.
When cake is completely cooled, seal in a tight sealing, food safe container. Every 2 to 3 days, feel the cake and if dry, spritz with brandy. The cake's flavor will enhance considerably over the next two weeks. If you decide to give the cake as a gift, be sure to tell the recipient that they are very lucky indeed.
Priyanka’s Mom’s Indian Rose Cookies
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups rice flour (not roasted)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds (optional)
- Oil for deep frying
Break egg into a large bowl. Add sugar. Whisk to combine. Add rice flour, coconut milk, water and sesame seeds (if using). Whisk again to make smooth batter with pouring consistency.
Meanwhile, heat oil for deep frying in a large pan. Place rose cookie mold in oil. When oil is hot, remove mold from oil, and dip in batter. (Dip only halfway into the batter, and make sure the mold is not completely immersed in batter).Remove mold from the batter immediately and dip in hot oil. The oil will start bubbling. Gently shake the mold to release the cookie into the oil.
Work in batches depending on the size of the pan.Remove browned cookies from oil using a slotted spoon and drain on an absorbent towel.
Store cooled cookies in an airtight container for about a month.
Please take a moment to celebrate with our team, and Happy Holidays to you!