Here I am again, and already it’s a new year! I most definitely should tell you how a real Soviet New Year was celebrated, and is still celebrated nowadays. There are particular ‘ingredients’ and musts for that. Let’s start in this post and continue on in the next ones. First, New Year is more celebrated and anticipated and thought of and cared for than, I guess, any other holiday in Russia (and in USSR). Your b-day is surely important but New Year is just so universal and so fit for all ages and tastes cause you can make it into whatever holiday you want. You can even choose to
NOT celebrate it at all (which will be hard as there are deafening fireworks going on all through the night!), it’s all your choice.
But there’s a certain craze about New Year, perhaps just like around X-mas in Europe and USA, but with no religious touch about it. Yep, X-mas for us is not that essential, it’s up to you whether to celebrate it as a religious holiday, go to a mass, etc., or just as a family reunion day or whatever. And yes, we do celebrate it on the 7th of January, so we do have FIRST New Year and THEN Christmas. All through the Soviet period, starting from the Second World War years, when the state was trying to support the people and keep their spirit up, the New Year’s Eve used to be the only state-permitted happy time-spending for the Soviets. They were allowed to celebrate all night, be light-minded, watch specially created TV shows (something like a concert with a concept, with loads of famous people, like Gagarin or ballerinas, actors, singers) called Goluboy Ogonyok (Blue Light), buy each other presents and decorate houses and themselves… For children that was a time of tangerines, nuts and sweets, for adults salads, vodka and good ol’ songs on TV, for youth music, partying, dancing all night. Well, quite the same as nowadays, you’d say, but with a certain detail here – we speak of a time when there was not much to create that festive thing, and people got rather imaginative, turning their usual clothes into bright outfits, nuts, tangerines and wraps from sweets into wonderful new year tree decorations (funnily enough, the tree was there, in the centre of the holiday, but without any explanation WHY there’s this very tree and what for the star etc etc, well, one would argue that, anyway), and of course dull common ingredients into festive meals. Sure, there was enough vodka and Soviet Champagne (yep, it exists!) to cover all the flaws, but anyway, the holiday was so much awaited that people felt – and still feel – quite devastated after it. I’ll talk about it more later…
But now I will give you a festive recipe – cookies with fresh fruit, which is not that common.
So here are persimmons! I personally don’t like them at all, I mean, when they are fresh. I just don’t get the point of them. But this recipe resulted in some very interestingly flavoured cookies, cause when you eat them, you don’t necessarily understand they’re from persimmon, they’re chewy and soft.
Persimmon Cookies – adapted from www.twopeasandtheirpod.com – will make a batch of chewy, soft cookies with a new twist!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves – we don’t like cloves in my family, so I added some ginger and cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar – I added less
- 1 cup persimmon pulp (from 2-3 persimmons) – I used 1 large fruit, together with its peels
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped walnuts – I used just a bit
- 1 cup raisins – I didn’t use these
- For the orange glaze: – I didn’t do that either
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
Method (I’m copying the original recipe)
Preheat oven to 175 ‘C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in persimmon pulp (I didn’t purée the fruit much, and even used its peels), egg, and vanilla. Slowly add in the flour mixture until everything is combined. Fold in the walnuts, if using, and raisins.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for approximately 12-14 minutes or until cookies are brown around the edges and set. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the orange glaze, in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, orange juice, and zest together. Whisk until smooth. Dip the cookie tops into the glaze and twirl the cookie. Set cookies back on wire rack for glaze to harden.
Result: I think that even without the glaze and raisins, the cookies were quite a success. I also could eat this fruit, although in such a hmmm cooked way=)
Will come back soon, to continue my story-telling about New Year=)