When you’re a bachelor living in the Gulf, it’s astonishing how quickly your friends become your family. And no time is this more acutely felt than during the holidays.
I love the holiday season. LOVE. In bold caps lock. I have come to the habit of putting my Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. But to avoid the Doha crush of holiday parties that begins in a few days all the way through Epiphany, I decided to have friends around for Thanksgiving and to gussy up my flat a.k.a. Santa’s grotto for the event.
I can’t cook for a crowd. But I can certainly bake for one. 550 cookies. 200 cupcakes. 78 guests over nine hours later, and I’d say it was a most exhilarating open house. The roasted turkey and chickens were gone in hours, but the sweets kept emerging to the very end. The menu at TANsgiving 2013:
Mexican Wedding Cakes — my all-time favourite holiday treat, the ground pecans melt in your mouth while the icing sugar leaves a trail of happy on your lips and all over your clothes.
Chocolate Peppermint Brownies — well, served in a hand-held cup. There’s crushed peppermint on top and crushed mint cookies inside.
Cashew Sandies — modified from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe many years ago, I normally make this sandy, crumbly cookie with almonds but tried a new nut this year. Quite enjoyable indeed.
Open-Faced Mince Pie — a taste of Christmas in your hand. Less hassle than individual pies but all the satisfaction intact. I added cranberries to the mince and loved the added tartness.
Pina Colada Cupcakes — banana, pineapple and coconut with an orange cream cheese frosting. That’s four servings of fruit. Bam.
Strawberry Cheesecake — a no-bake version that takes just minutes to prepare, thanks to gelatine and bagfuls of ready hulled strawberries.
Chocolate Cranberry Bars — admittedly, they looked disastrous but tasted a dream. One guest even called it the dessert of the evening. Shocking.
Orange Cranberry Cupcakes — I can’t get enough of these. Classic Christmas combo, in my books. Made a raspberry buttercream to mix things up.
Tipsy Trifle — lots of my friends are Brits, and what’s Christmas without a trifle to make you tipsy. Angel food cake soaked in a triple sec and raspberry coulis with custard, pomegranate and strawberries. Learned a new method of pouring hot jelly (jell-o) onto the cake pieces. VERY fascinating effect. It’s a keeper.
Chocolate Mousse — not the best picture, but a GT signature regardless. I can’t bear the thought of raw eggs, so made a chocolate custard before adding the meringue. All 70 mini pots vanished.
Italian Nut Balls — a staple in the family’s holiday cookie basket, these were filled with a fruits of the forest jam. Finger lickin’ fantastic.
Date Crispies — shredded coconut rolled with dates and rice puffs I got from Nepal. My friend arranged them to look like a Ferrero Rocher advert… quite the hoot.
California Rangers — as a thank you, I sent everyone home with oatmeal and raisin cookies that my family calls California Rangers for some reason. Gotta love tradition.
Happy TANsgiving to you and yours! Hope it was delicious.