My dining room is covered with a thin layer of Pepto-pink sugar. To blame: the cotton candy machine we rented for the sake of making a hundred or so tiny cotton candy sticks for the 200-ish ladies I was in charge of feeding dessert to last night.
The theme was red (cotton candy is a shade of red, right?), which is why my fingernails are a particularly bright shade of fire engine right now. It looks from my vantage point as if my great aunt Noreen is doing the typing for me.
You won’t be surprised to hear I’m recovering from a sugar hangover. I made espresso brownies (baked on a rimmed baking sheet then cut into rounds, stuck on a stick and drizzled with white chocolate-which was really just the glue for sparkly red sugar-of course the cut-outs made for plenty of scraps), mini pavlova, and candy apples.
Operating the cotton candy machine (a dream of mine, really, has become reality for the low, low price of $70, thanks to Radar’s Rentals) was fun, if not a bit of a risk to the digits, but it essentially blows wisps of cotton candy directly into your face, right where your mouth is. And when you’re spinning and pulling out gobs of it at a time, it’s hard to not redirect some of it to your mouth that way either. Because really, it’s hard to not regress to childhood in the presence of a cotton candy machine that you’re the boss of and not attempt to eat it all, or fill the bathtub with it, or pile it all into a mountain and then jump on it as if it were a pillowy cloud of pink leaves.
Instead we filled little bags and wound small puffs around wooden coffee sticks for the cocktail party, made several cones for the neighbourhood kids (and yes, adults) and filled even more Halloween dollar-store bags to hand out next weekend. With the last of the pink sugar we made enough cotton candy to almost fill a garbage bag (can you imagine the cool auntie points I could score with that one?) to somehow put out on the coffee table during the hockey game tomorrow night.
But since cotton candy is pink, chocolate is brown and the pavlova relied on berries for their redness, I needed something more decidedly red that wasn’t as scary to maneuver in stylish evening/business wear as a candy apple. Linzer cookies are irresistibly pretty, and easy to make – all you need is a tiny cookie cutter to make a window to allow the jam to peek out. If you’re not transporting them, it looks nice (and snowy) to sprinkle the windowed cookies with icing sugar first, before placing them on top.
Traditionally Linzer cookies are spread with raspberry jam, but I didn’t have any, and cranberries are everywhere. I threw some in a pot with lots of sugar (to keep it from becoming cranberry sauce) and the juice of an orange, cooked it down and mashed it into jam. You could really use any kind.