Ho Ho Ho and Fa la la: Three Spunky Cups of Christmas Tea (+ a holiday blog break)

Merry Merry!

You know what they say: Christmas is for kids. Well, here at Alphabet Soup, we hope to bring out the kid in you.

Look who dropped by for tea: Madeline, Anne Shirley and Eloise! Three spunky girls we all love for their inimitable personalities. They each agreed to share a little something from their stories if we bribed honored them with special treats. We were more than happy to oblige, yet with these three, you just never know.

So here’s to a little magic, some quality kindred spirit time, and lotsa ho ho ho zippity jingle Christmas cheer. Put on a cheery bib and ring when you’re ready to join the fun! 🙂

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🇫🇷 MADELINE’S MADELEINES 🐕

Bonjour, Madeline!

Who can forget your iconic opening rhyme:

In an old house in Paris
That was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls
In two straight lines.
They left the house at half-past nine
in two straight lines, in rain or shine.
The smallest one was MADELINE.

She was happy to tell us about one of her favorite adventures. It took place one Christmas Eve, when everyone (including Miss Clavel) was in bed with miserable colds. It was up to brave Madeline, the only one up and about, to take care of them.

Art by Ludwig Bemelmans.

When a rug merchant knocked at the door, Madeline purchased all twelve of his rugs, a good solution for their “ice-cold in the morning feet.” But the rug merchant soon regretted the sale, for without his rugs he felt very chilly outdoors. Madeline welcomed him back into the house, where she gave him medicine to help him thaw out. 

Wishing to show his gratitude, the rug merchant agreed to help with the dishes.

His magic ring he gave a glance
And went into a special trance –
The dirty dishes washed themselves
And jumped right back upon the shelves.

Then, with a profound abracadabra, the rugs turned into magic carpets, flying all twelve girls home to surprise their parents on Christmas day. 

Madeline and her friends ready for their magic carpet ride!

After hearing this heartwarming story, resident Chef Lapin Rotund presented Madeline with her treat. Chef thought it was very clever making madeleines for a girl named Madeline. Besides, she had always been partial to those exquisite little sponge cakes shaped like shells with their buttery brown ridges on one side, and a cute hump on the other. Were they cookies or were they cakes? She just knew that each was two little bites of heaven.

Oh! J’adore les madeleines! Did you know they were named after me? I am ‘the smallest one,’ just as madeleines are often called ‘petite madeleines.’”

“Good things come in small packages,” observed Mr Cornelius. He had fun saying “Madeline’s madeleines” over and over while pouring the tea. (Not quite as challenging as, “Les macarons de Macron ne sont pas des macaroons,” but still quite a tasty mouthful.)

If you’ve ever researched madeleine recipes online, you know basic ingredients are pretty standard (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon or orange zest (optional), all-purpose flour, salt) – but there are differences of opinion regarding technique. 

Since classic madeleine recipes don’t call for any leavening, rise depends on beating the eggs for about 8 minutes to incorporate lots of air bubbles. Should you chill the dough before baking (how long?); should you chill the madeleine mold pans? Should you butter the pans, or butter and flour them?

This can all be a fussy business, so after studying many different recipes, we took what we considered to be the best advice and adapted accordingly (we especially appreciated the suggestion from several bloggers to add baking powder as a safeguard). Not hard to make, but requires patience and precision.

Happy to say we were very happy with the results. They were light, golden brown and delicious! Chef Lapin was proud of her génoise batter and Mr Cornelius liked learning that madeleines date back to 18th century France (don’t tell Madeline). He has even taken to reciting this passage from Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu:

 … And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.

Now, if only we’d had the rug merchant’s magic ring to help with the dishes. Go ahead and dip a madeleine or two. 🙂

Madeline's Madeleines

  • Servings: 16-18 cakes/cookies
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (+ 2 tablespoons to grease pan)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop in a small pot over medium heat. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together with the wire whisk attachment in the bowl of your stand mixer, or use your hand mixer in a large bowl. Beat approximately 8-9 minutes until the mixture is light yellow in color and thickened with a silky texture. The beater will leave “ribbon trails” when it’s ready. Add the vanilla and lemon zest (if used) toward the end.
  4. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter and gently fold in until just combined. Add the remaining flour in thirds and fold in, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the batter into the melted butter and mix until it is incorporated. Then drizzle this mixture into the rest of the batter against the side of the bowl, gently mixing until combined.
  6. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and chill 30-45 minutes (do not chill for more than an hour).
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Butter the mold pan, making sure the ridges in each well are thoroughly coated. (If you are not using a non-stick pan, then you must also flour your pan. Shake off excess.)
  9. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into each well, then bake for 10-12 minutes. They’re done if they spring back when lightly touched. Tap the cakes out of the pan and cool slightly.
  10. Serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar if desired. These are best eaten fresh from the oven the same day. Store any leftovers in an airtight container and eat within 2 days.
    Tips:
  1. The batter is delicate, so be careful not to overmix.
  2. A non-stick mold pan is best, but if you’re not using one, be sure to butter and flour each well thoroughly to avoid sticking.
  3. Be sure to use room temperature eggs to achieve maximum volume when beating.
~ adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, Preppy Kitchen, et.al, as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup

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⛄️ RASPBERRY TARTS FOR ANNE 🇨🇦

“Which would you rather be if you had the choice – divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?”

Our poetical friend Anne Shirley is back! Fresh from the White Way of Delight and the Lake of Shining Waters, she danced into our kitchen with a basket of homegrown raspberries.

Dazzlingly clever Mr Cornelius thinks Anne is divinely beautiful. (We all agree she’s not angelically good, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Art by David Montle (Anne of Green Gables Christmas Treasury).

Anne couldn’t wait to tell us about her very favorite Christmas at Green Gables. Her beloved teacher Miss Stacy had come up with the brilliant idea of giving a concert to help raise money for a schoolhouse flag. 

Anne and her fellow Avonlea scholars had been practicing choruses and recitations since November, and Diana would be singing a solo. Anne was excited about her two dialogues.

Art by Anna C. Leplar (Anne of Green Gables, 2004).

Unbeknownst to her, Matthew had something else on his mind. When he saw Anne and her school chums practicing “The Fairy Queen” in their sitting room one December evening, he noticed that while the other girls were gaily dressed in blues, pinks, reds, and whites, Anne was in a plain dark dress. This just wasn’t right and he needed to fix it.

He decided to get Anne a pretty new dress for Christmas – one of the latest fashion with big puffed sleeves. Easier said than done for shy Matthew, who was terrified of the clerk at Lawson’s Store. Unable to muster up the courage to ask about a dress, he ended up buying a garden rake and 20 pounds of brown sugar.

Since he couldn’t possibly tell Marilla about his plan (she’d never approve and would spoil the surprise anyway), he turned to Rachel Lynde, who agreed to sew Anne a dress.

Art by David Montle (Anne of Green Gables Christmas Treasury).

On Christmas morning, they awoke to the hushed pristine beauty of newly fallen snow.

‘Merry Christmas, Marilla! Merry Christmas, Matthew! Isn’t it a lovely Christmas? I’m so glad it’s white. Any other kind of Christmas doesn’t seem real, does it? I don’t like green Christmases. They’re not green — they’re just nasty faded browns and grays. What makes people call them green? Why — why — Matthew, is that for me? Oh, Matthew!

Matthew had sheepishly unfolded the dress from its paper swathings and held it out with a deprecatory glance at Marilla, who feigned to be contemptuously filling the teapot, but nevertheless watched the scene out of the corner of her eye with a rather interested air.

Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty it was — a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves — they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon.

‘That’s a Christmas present for you, Anne,’ said Matthew shyly. ‘Why — why– Anne, don’t you like it? Well now — well now.’

For Anne’s eyes had suddenly filled with tears.

‘Like it! Oh, Matthew!’ Anne laid the dress over a chair and clasped her hands. ‘Matthew, it’s perfectly exquisite. Oh, I can never thank you enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a happy dream.’

~ L.M. Montgomery (Chapter XXV, Anne of Green Gables, 1908).

Art by Barbara Massey (Anne of Green Gables Treasury).

But there was more. Diana came by with a gift for Anne from Aunt Josephine: a new pair of dainty kid slippers with beaded toes, satin bows, and glistening buckles. Just what she needed to go with her new dress!

The concert went off swimmingly, with Anne “the bright, particular star of the occasion.” Her puffed sleeves even helped her get over a bout of stage fright. She had to live up to them, after all. 

Art by David Montle (Anne of Green Gables Christmas Treasury).

Anne had a faraway, dreamy look on her face as she told us this story. Kindred spirits all, we sighed right along with her. What a Christmas that must have been!

Meanwhile, our Canadian chef Gosling had been busy whipping up some tarts with the raspberries Anne brought. He found the recipe in The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate Macdonald (L.M. Montgomery’s granddaughter). Anne was delighted, as these reminded her of the tarts she sometimes had at school.

Anne remembers when Diana once brought “three juicy, toothsome raspberry tarts” to share amongst ten girls. How many bites would each girl have?

The little girls of Avonlea School always pooled their lunches, and to eat three raspberry tarts all alone or even to share them only with one’s best chum would have forever and ever branded as ‘awful mean’ the girl who did it. And yet, when the tarts were divided among ten girls you just got enough to tantalize you.

~ L.M. Montgomery (Chapter XV, Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

We’re happy to share these with you now. How many bites will you get out of them?

Tantalizing Raspberry Tarts

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 (l0-oz) package frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, or 2-1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions

    Crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles tiny peas.
  3. Combine egg yolk, water, and lemon juice with a fork.
  4. Sprinkle egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir together with a fork until it forms a ball.
  5. Divide dough into 8-10 even pieces. Press each piece into the bottom and sides of tart tins (or muffin pan), to about 1/8 inch thickness. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Filling:
  7. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small saucepan until smooth. Stir in sugar and raspberries. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Allow mixture to cool.
  8. Spoon filling evenly into tart shells, filling each no more than 2/3 full.
  9. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and cool, in tins, for 15 minutes. Gently remove from tins to cooling racks and cool completely.
Tips: You can use 3-inch tart tins, or a standard muffin pan (which is what we used). Freezing, then grating the butter into the flour mixture will make it easier to incorporate. These brown quickly so keep an eye on them. I baked them for less time than called for (next time I will probably lower the temperature to 400 degrees for initial baking).

~ Adapted from The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate Macdonald and L.M. Montgomery (Race Point/Quarto, 2017), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

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🎄 ELOISE’S RAWTHER CRINKLY PEPPERMINT WHITE CHOCOLATE COOKIES 🐢

Ho Ho Ho and jiggledy ping – Eloise is in the building!

Here’s what she brought

joy

a big voice

peppermint puffs

Here’s what might happen

anything

After skibbling and skiddling and positively sklathing around the kitchen, she settled down just long enough to tell us what she and Nanny do every Christmas Eve at the Plaza.

Art by Hilary Knight (Eloise at Christmastime).

Even when it’s four below and blizzard-y outside, they’re warm and cozy in their suite on the tippy top floor. 

There’s SO much to be done! On with her jingle bells and mistletoe halo, then she’s off to zoom around the entire building to spread Christmas cheer. Holly and berries in all the halls, tassels on the thermostats. Must also write ‘Merry Christmas’ on all the walls for lord’s sake! 😮

Fa la la la fa la la lolly ting tingledy here and there. Blow music of trinkles and drinkles of glass it’s Christmas everywhere

They trim their own tree, set out cookies and fruities and American beauties – oh do, oh do, oh do!

Oh candy the apples
Oh shell the nuts
Oh crackledy crack yum yum
Trink trinkle around the taffy box
Oh yum gulp gulp and yum

Weenie usually helps me
But this year he will not budge
unless he has two of peppermint puffs
and one and a half of fudge

I usually have two of peppermint puffs
and three or four of fudge

Skipperdee dislikes peppermint puffs
and won't even smell the fudge

Then presents for everyone —

I am giving the bellboys earmuffs
The waiters baseball socks
Thomas is getting a vest with a bib
Room service a music box

(If anyone remembers the porter needs suspenders.)

There are stockings to be hung and songs to be sung!

I'm rawther fond of caroling
Fa la on every floor

Fa la la la to catering
Fa la from door to door

We sang Noel for 506
Silent Night for 507

We didn't sing for 509
at the request of 511

Eloise tries to think of a way to stay up hawlf the night, but they’re tired tired tired. Nanny thinks it best to sleep sleep sleep so they can carry on the next day.

Then some of us sort of closed some of our eyes
to have this Christmas dream

of some steaming hot plum pudding
with extra cream cream cream

Of reindeers with sunglasses on
ice-skating on the stars
with mittens on their antlers
and mufflers made in Mars

When they awake Santa has come and gone (they could see “reindeers zimbering through the trees in Central Park”).

But now it’s Christmas!! They sklinkle off to the tree to open all their presents.

Then oh oh oh absolutely oh oh
Oh wrinkles and sklinkles of glee
Oh look oh look oh will you look
at the presents under the tree

Finally, it’s time for Christmas breakfast on Christmas trays.

“Hello, Room Service? Charge it to me,  ELOISE!”

Jingle here, jingle there jingle Christmas everywhere

Ooooooooooooooooooooo! Eloise absolutely loves Christmas!!

Cornelius, his head still spinning from Eloise’s story, asks if she’s ready for her treat.

“Of course of course of course!”

Well, since Eloise did bring along a boatload of peppermints – in the form of puffs and candy canes, the logical thing to do was to make some Peppermint and White Chocolate Cookies. 🙂

Chef Bearjolais whipped up a batch in no time, and quick as a wink, Eloise gobbled up five in a row.

She liked the cookies so much that she invited us all to have tea with her at the Plaza’s Palm Court on Christmas Eve. Rawther splendid!

Here’s what we like

watching you sip and chew

Here’s what you should do

sip and chew

Rawther Crinkly Peppermint White Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 18 cookies
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil (optional)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes + more for dipping

Directions

  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, vanilla and peppermint oil.
  4. Add the flour mixture gradually until it is incorporated.
  5. Stir in the white chocolate chips and crushed candy canes.
  6. Form the cookie dough into balls (you can use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop or roll the balls by hand). Dip each ball into a bowl of crushed candy canes, then place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Chill cookie balls on baking sheet for about 5-10 minutes in the fridge.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned and the middle is a little soft.
  9. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet before removing to avoid breakage.
Tips: If using a cookie scoop, wipe it with a little vegetable oil for easier release of the dough. When you dip the dough balls in the crushed candy canes, try to avoid getting any shards on the bottom of the balls (they’ll melt and result in misshapen cookies).
~ Adapted from Preppy Kitchen, as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

*

🎁 HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 🎅

Wow, are you on a sugar high after feasting on Madeleines, Raspberry Tarts and Peppermint White Chocolate Cookies? *bouncing off walls*

Hope you enjoyed taking tea with these charming girls. Rereading their stories always puts me in a festive mood.

Who do you think you’re most like – Madeline, Anne Shirley or Eloise? I identify most closely with Anne because she loves literature, cultivates her imagination, and cherishes her friends. I wish I was as fearless as Madeline and as exuberant as Eloise. Though precocious and melodramatic, Eloise is generous and has her tender, endearing moments. We do love reading about someone who does things we dare not do. 🙂

Baby Elves made some Whoopie Pies!

Perhaps these characters endure because there’s a bit of each of them in all of us. One thing is certain: they inspire us to keep our hearts open, believe in magic, make time for play, be our best selves and to have fun while doing it.

Here’s what I like

everybody’s a kid at Christmas

Have a very merry, absolutely scrumptious, ting tingledy, crackledy crack holiday and a very happy and healthy new year! See you in January!!

Mr Cornelius impersonating a gingerbread boy.

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The shockingly clever coffee connoisseur Karen Edmisten is hosting the Roundup this week. She’s sharing a beautiful, must-read poem about kindness by Michael Blumenthal. Check it out in addition to the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere. Enjoy!

🎄 O Tidings of Comfort and Joy! ⛄️


*Copyright © 2022 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

34 thoughts on “Ho Ho Ho and Fa la la: Three Spunky Cups of Christmas Tea (+ a holiday blog break)

  1. Thank you for this blog post, Jama. I think I am most like Anne as well, but I agree that there are many layers to a personality! I want to wish you and yours and all fellow readers of your wonderful blog a very blessed Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. See you all in January!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I could spend all day with this post, and I just might do that. 😀 My daughter and I used to make the most luscious Madelines before she had to go gluten-free/dairy-free. You’ve inspired me to go on a hunt for the best GF/DF Madeline recipe. ❤️ Anne’s raspberry tarts! (And, oh, how much do I love Matthew Cuthbert? Let me count the ways.) And Eloise — I’m always exhausted just thinking about you, lol.

    Hmm, which am I most like? Anne-with-an-e, I think. I can relate to her love of Octobers, her reveling in the depths of despair, and her imaginative anticipation of a new day, not to mention the renaming of beautiful things she loves. Yes, count me in with the Annes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to make those peppermint cookies asap! Thanks for the delectable post, Jama. (Like probably most of your readership, I’m most like Anne. I’m not very rowdy or fearless, but I am stubborn, which I guess can make you fearless if you are stubborn enough, haha.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t know you could actually buy crushed candy canes before I made these cookies. It saves some time but crushing your own is a good way to take out your aggressions . . . 😀

      Like

  4. Appreciations for this delicious 😋 post Jama! Please thank Eloise, Anne Shirley, and Madeleine for all they shared, how delightful! Love the “M” ☕️ for Madeleine, and especially those raspberry tarts yum, and all the bears in the magic carpet what fun! Wishing you a Berry Merry Christmas 🎄 and Happy New Year!🎈🎊🎆

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I too am most like Anne, but I love all these characters. Thank you for this delicious holiday post. Wishing you a blessed Christmas and very happy new year.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You. Are. A. Gift, Jama! Thank you for the delight of these three ladies and their delicious delicacies. Team Eloise here…I aspire to exude as much exuberance as I can inflict on the world. 😉
    Sending you my best for a lovely holiday season! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jama, This is an exquisite post! I love it all. I love raspberries so I suppose I like Anne and I love her dress, too! This brought back many memories of my grandmother who sewed all of our clothes when we were young and whom also I enjoyed baking with during the holidays. Thank you and Happy Holidays! ~ Carol ~

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh what fun it is to read
    A Jama holiday post!
    (sung to the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

    I am in awe of all the baking and all the literary paraphernalia (aka toys!) it took to create this master-post-piece! So. Much. Fun. You definitely put the childish glee back into the season for me!! As to which girl I am? A heavy dose of Shirley with a dash of the two others on occasion.

    Happy Happy Holidays, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I am most like Anne, but I enjoy all these characters. I am going to come back to your blog later today to enjoy it again. Thank you for all the joy you bring! (I can’t wait to try making the peppermint cookies!) Happy Holidays, Jama!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a treat this post is, Jama! Madeline was one of the first books I knew off by heart (to the chagrin of my sleepy parents, I was well aware when they tried to skip a page). But the recipe I’m dying to try is from the pepperminty, Christmas-glinty Eloise.

    Liked by 1 person

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