Join the Canmore Museum in celebrating the holidays with a few of our team’s favourite festive recipes and holiday memories.
from Anna Rebus, Associate Curator – History
Delicious! And a special treat for our family…only served at Christmas.
1/2 cup salted butter
½ cup hard margarine
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup flour
- Whip the margarine, butter and icing sugar together well. You can use all butter for sure, then it is a shortbread for the purist. Once it looks all deliciously creamy, resist from eating it by the spoonful, and get your flour ready.
- Start the mixer and slowly add in the flour, until it has all been added in. Then you can proceed to let your mixer do all the work for you and whip it for 6 minutes. You are wanting lighter than air shortbread here.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough out onto an ungreased baking sheet.
- Top with sprinkles or a piece of Christmas cherry.
- Bake them in a 275 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes; you want to dry out the shortbread in essence, not bake it, thus the low temperature. (If you have a warm kitchen or live in a warm climate, cool the cookies in the fridge then bake. They won’t flatten out).]
from Kevin Meisner, Programs Officer
‘Eggnog’ is one of those few foods that my family and I have tended to only have as Christmas draws closer. It also represents one of the few culinary linkages from my childhood. I have fond childhood memories of my mother making eggnog—the festive season had arrived, with visits from friends and family I only got to see once a year. This was up until I was seven. Past that point, such lavish celebrations faded into the past. It was not until much later in life that my sister and I began doing anything remotely festive again during the holidays. By then, dietary changes excluded drinking eggnog, but there were vegan options. So vegan nog came to be something to be had during the holidays, but not all of them are that good, and there was always a question or two about their ingredients. I thought ‘It couldn’t be that hard to make your own’, so with a little experimentation (actually quite a bit of experimentation), I began to make my own vegan nog during the holidays. I say quite a bit of experimentation because I don’t follow a recipe, and I don’t really try to recreate past drinks. Each time it is a little different (or quite a bit different), and thus was born a new tradition of nog making.
2 cups oat milk*
2 tbsp sweetened condensed coconut milk or oat milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar or 2-4 tbsp of maple syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk: In a large pot on the stove, whisk together all of the ingredients until combined. Vigorously whisk until there are not more clumps of arrowroot starch.
- Heat: Then turn the stovetop heat on to medium-high, and heat the vegan eggnog until right before it boils. You should see a few bubbles appear at the top. Reduce the heat to low, and whisk until it thickens, about 3-4 minutes.
- Cool: Remove the eggnog from the heat and allow the eggnog to cool for 5 minutes. Then carefully pour the eggnog into an airtight glass and store allow the mixture to cool until it’s not warm anymore. Then you can place the eggnog safely in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours.
- Enjoy: Serve with or without alcohol and enjoy!
Oat milk: I recommend oat milk (either homemade or store-bought, such as Forager Project), soymilk (personally recommend Forager project for this!), or coconut milk from the can. The reason being is that you want a very creamy consistency, and you will not get that from the refrigerated section almond and coconut milks. Oat milk, however, is naturally very creamy and thick, which is why you should really try to use it here. For oat milk brands, I recommend Forager Project. Forager Project does contain cashews, though, so if you’re nut free, then you can make your own or use coconut milk- both work wonderfully!
Alcohol options: I personally don’t drink, but if you’d like to make this more like a traditional eggnog, you can add in your preferred alcohol! Many liquors are actually naturally vegan too. You can use bourbon, dark rum, brandy, or cognac.
from Mercedes Cormier, Collections Officer
There hasn’t been a Christmas without butter tarts. We all make a slightly modified version. Some of us get fancy and make our own tart shells, but others will buy pre-made ones. They always taste good no matter what. Then there is the battle over whether or not raisins belong in a butter tart. I am pro raisin but I know there are some raisin haters out there. Haha. Then the level of doneness, some like light golden tarts and others like them “well done”. We all have butter tart opinions and it is a wonderful challenge to see what is most popular for each new Christmas.
Ingredients for the pastry:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup cold lard, cubed (or substitute butter)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for the filling:
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
1 large, room-temperature egg
2 tablespoons very soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
⅓ cup currants, sultana raisins, chopped walnuts or pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- If making your own pastry, roll and cut your pastry into rounds with a 3.5 inch cutter, or the lid of a wide mouth mason jar. Lightly spray 2 12-cup muffin tins with non-stick spray and gently press the shells into the muffin tins
- In a medium size bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup together, then beat in the egg, vanilla, and lemon juice.
- Stir in the raisins
- Spoon filling into each of the shells, filling to 2/3 full
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the muffin tin, then remove and store in an airtight container.
from Sarah Knowles, Membership + Visitor Services Officer
My mom started making this recipe as a teenager and shared this recipe with my sister and me. Every Christmas growing up we would help my mom make these cookies. As much as I insisted on helping to assemble the turtles I wasn’t very good at the fiddly task and as a small child would get bored quickly and abandon the task. I was however always very good at eating them. As I got older I got better at making the cookies and still enjoy making them with my mom every December. This year I am making a special trip to Calgary to make these cookies with my mom and bring a batch to the Museum Member Holiday party.
Ingredients for the filling
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar (I use demerara or dark brown sugar)
½ cup margarine or butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg separated into yolk and egg white
1 ½ cup unbleached flour (or all purpose)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (you will probably need a bit more because of breakage) pecan halves split in half lengthwise
Ingredients for the icing:
1/3 cup dark chocolate
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 cup powdered (icing) sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
- Mix butter and brown sugar well. Add vanilla and egg and egg yolk and mix well again. Add egg
- Mix in flour to egg mixture.
- Form a ball with a tablespoon of mix. Place on pecans arranged to form head, legs and tail on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Press the ball into the pecans.
- Finish for the rest of the turtles.
- Brush balls with lightly beaten egg white.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
- Cool on rack or a cool plate
- Microwave chocolate on low heat, 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.
- Dip turtle tops into melted chocolate mixture and place on parchment paper to cool.
From Ron Ulrich, Executive Officer
These are a family favourite, and my mother would bake several batches of these throughout December and freeze them to bring out during the holiday season. As a teenager, I maybe didn’t appreciate the effort that went into baking these, and the freezer was situated next to my bedroom in the basement. Like any growing teen, I was a bottomless pit and thoughout the month frequented the freezer for a late-night snack. I was definately on the um … naughty list? … that Christmas when one night we had company over and she discovered I had eaten them all. It had become a tradition since then that when I arrived home for the holidays, mom would put out a plate of frozen cookies with a bit of a wry smile, “Cuz I know you like your cookies frozen.”
Ingredients for the cookies
Large bottle of maraschino cherries, drained and air dried, saving the juice in a bowl
1 cup of butter
½ cup of icing sugar
2 cups of sifted flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of almond extract
1 package fine shredded coconut
Ingredients – Icing
1 ½ cups of icing sugar
½ cup cherry juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
- Heat the oven to 300 F.
- Cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks together. Blend in the flour, salt, and the almond flavouring.
- Take a piece of dough in the palm of your hand and insert the cherry, pinch together so the dough covers the entire cherry, 1 inch in size total
- Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake it like shortbread in a 300 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes so lightly browned.
- Roll in the icing and the fine shredded coconut while still hot and place on a piece of wax paper till cool.
GRANDMA AND MOM’S CHERRY BREAD
from Jeanie Gartly, Associate Heritage Planner
Christmas baking traditions remain to be one of my favourites and I couldn’t imagine a Christmas without a platter of my family’s favourites, so the list is long. It all started with my grandma and my mom baking those traditional recipes each year, me learning them all, and now the one who continues the tradition for that platter to enjoy and give away to others. There are many handwritten traditional recipes in my recipe box and it’s always hard to pick one. Each one continues to be baked for as a family members favourite and the memories that brings up to have the variety of Christmas cookies, squares, and breads on a platter that always sits on the table. This one always makes me think of my grandma and my mom. My grandma passed some time ago, yet mom always made it, continues as do I for many years now. It would be missed if not there to be enjoyed with a coffee or tea. It fits the Christmas season for my family when the baked goods come out and as with all my family’s Christmas baking – we only make and enjoy these ones so it’s always hard to contemplate making them all each year.
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1/8 tsp. almond flavouring
½ cup red maraschino cherries (from a jar), cut in half or quarters
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup milk (use some of the cherry juice to make up the ¾ cup milk)
- Cream the butter, sugar, and almond flavouring. Add the chopped cherries and egg.
- Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) twice and add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture.
- Pour the batter in a greased loaf pan.
- Bake in a 325-350 degree oven for 1 hour.
- While still warm brush with butter.
- Let stand for 24 hours before slicing.