Here We Go a Wassailing…

The Monches Artisans Holiday Open House is going great, and I’ve met so many nice people interested in what I have to say about Charles Dickens and in my books!

They are loving the Dickensian treats, so even though I’ve posted some of them before, I thought I’d post the recipes again so they’d be easy to find.



Shrewsbury Cakes

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
extra sugar
Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg, orange peel and vanilla.
Stir in flour and salt to make a stiff dough.
Wrap dough in wax paper. Chill for several hours or overnight.
Roll chilled dough into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in sugar.
Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Flatten the balls gently with bottom of a small glass.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

4 oz (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp powdered ginger

Preheat oven to 350.
Butter & flour loaf pan or 9″ square baking pan.

Cream butter, add sugar, and beat until light.
Add eggs and beat well.
Add boiling water and molasses and blend.
In a seperate bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, and ginger.  Add to the first mixture, and combine thoroughly.
Pour into the pan and bake 35-45 min until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in pan 5-10 min before turning onto a plate.




Mince Pies


Okay, this one was a total cheat on my part. I’d love to try and make my mincemeat by scratch, but haven’t had the chance to try that yet. So instead I used a jar mix. The brand I used was None Such. I used their Brandy and Rum Mincemeat.

So take a mini muffin pan. Use any pie pastry recipe or use those refrigerated roll out pie crusts. Find a smaller circle cookie or biscuit cutter, or you can try a glass that will make circles to fit your mini muffin pan. Grease pans, place a circle of dough in bottom of each cup. Drop in a small spoonful of mincemeat, then cover top with another circle of dough. Here’s the trick. Don’t over fill with the mincemeat! It should look like you don’t really have enough in each cup. The mincemeat will expand when it cooks and it’s super sticky, so if you overfill, they will overflow and all your mince pies will be stuck to the pan when they are done. Also just press the center of the top crust down onto the filling. These are really too small to successfully crimp the edges, although I did give it a bit of try. Cut slits in top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 min. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar once out. I used baker’s super fine sugar, but you can use regular sugar as well. Let cool for just a bit in pan, remove carefully to cool on rack the rest of the way.




Candied Orange Peel


Take 4 large, thick skinned Navel Oranges. With a knife, score the skin into quarters. Peel the skin quarters from the orange. Place the skins in a pot full of water, and boil for 20 min.

Let cool slightly. While still warm, pull one skin at a time from the pot, and scrape all of the white pith of with a knife or spoon. I found a knife worked better, and you have to do so very carefully or the skins will tear. Cut the cleaned skins into strips.

Put 2 cups of sugar, and 1 cup of water in a pot and heat until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. Pour orange strips into pot, and stir until coated. Cover pot and simmer for 45 min.

Once done, take orange strips out of sugar water and spread out on a small grid cooling rack that is set over a cookie sheet to catch the drips. Cool for one hour. then toss strips, a few at a time, in a bowl of additional sugar to coat. Place on wax paper and let sit out overnight to dry.





1 gallon apple cider – I prefer fresh.

4 cups orange juice

1 cup lemon juice

24 whole cloves

8 cinnamon sticks

½ tsp. Ground ginger

½ tsp. Ground nutmeg

Put all ingredients into a large pot, heat up to a boil, then turn down and simmer. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes. You can also leave it in a crock pot overnight. Strain out spices. Can be stored in refrigerator. Serve warm.

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