Friday, January 14, 2011

Nanner, nanner bo bander, fee fie fo-fander, me, my mo-mander...POMAAANDER.

What was that? How very “adolescent” of me? Yeah, I know I am, but what are you?

Okay, so I admit I’m a little slap happy today. See, as I am wont to do every couple of years, I have just given up caffeine. And its beginning to show. Its been a long day at work, and I’ve had a raging headache since last night (caffeine withdrawal induced, no doubt) and now, my friends, I’m starting to show my ass a little.

So, I decided that, considering the “adolescent” mood I appear to be in, I would write up a post about something from my own adolescence. A special little treat I’ve been dying to share with all of you.


So here’s the back-story. When I was in high school, one of my very best friends (Hey, Tara!) used to have us over to her house around the holidays when her mom was making Pomanders, and we’d all lend a hand in rolling the little lovelies up (or at least, that’s how my teenage mind remembers it). Some of you may be thinking about an orange, studded with cloves or something. No, that’s soooo not what we’re talking about here, although they may have been named for their similarity in appearance.

In this case, a Pomander is a holiday cookie, similar in form to a truffle, but made with a base of crushed ‘Nilla Wafers and chopped nuts. It is a fabulous no-bake cookie that is a delectable combination of chocolate and orange, one of my all time favorite pairings.

And so, here we are twenty....ahem...a FEW years later...and I have never made Pomanders since. Until this year. Oh, I’ve had the recipe all along, but for whatever reason, I never made them myself. Probably due in no small part to the fact that this is a much more entertaining project when done with friends.

Speaking of friends.... when I started craving these Pomanders while trying to decide what recipe to pull out for my annual cookie swap, I got on the phone and gave Tara a call. Ironically, she was craving Pomanders as well. After all, it WAS the holidays. And so, we reminisced, and with her on speakerphone, I began rolling. And rolling. And ROLLING. Man that recipe makes a bunch of Pomanders!! It didn’t help that I was making a double batch, since I needed six dozen for a cookie swap at work, and neither Tara or I had any idea how many a batch made.

These are a fabulous cookie for a swap for a couple of reasons.

1. As previously stated, a single batch makes about four dozen cookies. My double batch made almost exactly EIGHT dozen.
2. These are always better if you can let them sit for a few days before you eat them, so they can firm up. Normally you wouldn’t want a cookie getting hard on you, but in this case, it makes them even better.

With Tara’s permission, I am publishing her family’s Pomander recipe, with my notes from this year’s Pomander experience.

Tara’s Pomanders
1 - 12 ounce pkg. chocolate morsels
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. water
5 c. crushed vanilla wafers (about 2 boxes)
2 c. chopped nuts
2 tsp. orange extract

Combine all ingredients except chocolate. Melt morsels in double-boiler. Add to mixture. Mix THOROUGHLY.

Roll into small balls. Roll balls in red or green sprinkles or chocolate parils. Store in airtight cookie tin with wax paper between layers.

Remember, we usually try to let them set a few days to harden a bit (if we can stand to wait that long anyway!)

**NOTES: Tara tells me to chop the nuts in proportion to how finely you have crushed the wafers. For example, since I put my Nilla wafers through the food processor and they were very finely crushed, I should leave my nuts a little rougher to give the cookie more texture. Also, I used walnuts, but I think pecans would be great, too.

I thought I would be smart since I didn’t really have any helpers (except Ty) and shape all the balls first, then start over rolling them in the sugar. In hindsight, I should have rolled them one at a time, so that the Pomander would still be warm and sticky on the outside and the sugars would stick better. So, long story short, do this with a friend. Its better that way anyway.

This is one of the three varieties of cookies that I sent my partner in Steph Chows Cookie Exchange!


Bev said...

I'm not a chocolate/orange fan. Have you ever had these with any other flavor of extract? Are all extracts the same as far as how they blend with other ingredients? I'm thinking almond or mint or anise.

Ty'sMommy said...

Hi Bev! I have never personally tried these with other flavorings, but Tara tells me she has used almond extract in the past, and we don't know if its related, or why it would be this way, but she says they never seem to firm up quite the same way. I would say they SHOULD be interchangeable, I think mint would be lovely.

robbandtara said...

Yes, Bev. As Beth shared, I did try the almond extract with my mother-in-law one year. That batch stayed very soft while the orange batch firmed up nicely right alongside them in the tin! Strange (and sad) but true. They tasted great though, so I say get creative and go for it! (Good call on the mint, Beth... I think that would be amazingly delicious. I bet you could even roll them in crushed peppermint candies too! Mmmmm!)

I just love reading your blog, Beth, and am so honored that my little chocolate balls are worthy fodder for your site. I have wonderful memories of making these as a child... and as a moody teenager alongside my favorite girlfriends who were PMSing and jonesing for a good chocolate fix just as much as I was! It's hard to believe we've got another reunion looming in a few short months, but I'm so looking forward to visiting with you and all our girls! Can't wait until you arrive at the Hotel Toft! :)