Share the Love. Share the Joy of Giving
~ Santa Shoebox Project ~
It has been a while since I have had to make a confession. But I can’t write this post without coming clean… I have been called “The Grinch” at Christmas time – often! It’s not that I don’t like Christmas – I do. It’s just that I don’t like Eurocentric Christmas displays with snow and snowmen and the like. We live in Africa. It’s summertime in December as well as summer holidays. It’s the best time of the year. I do not feel like celebrating Christmas with roasting chestnuts (what are those anyway?) and mulled wine. When my children were small I might have also let them know that Father Christmas, or Santa, is just a man dressed up in a suit. I was not popular amongst the parents of my children’s friends. But I also didn’t want my kids to be scared when they should be happy about receiving a gift. So now you know how I got my label as The Grich who stole Christmas.
A devoted Santa fan
In 2010, my daughters’ school encouraged each child to pledge a shoebox gift for a disadvantaged child for the Santa Shoebox Project. The project originated in Cape Town in 2006. Donors pack a decorated shoebox with essential items such as toiletries, stationery, an outfit of clothing, a toy and a sweet treat. In 16 years the number of Santa Shoeboxes donated has reached a total of 1 077 289. The shoeboxes are distributed to more than 1000 recipient facilities each year around South Africa and Namibia. Since our first involvement years ago, we have been pledging shoeboxes almost every year. I enjoy packing and decorating the boxes. This year I have even volunteered to help with the behind-the-scenes organisation in my area. Indeed a devoted Santa fan and no Grinch anymore!
Maybe Christmas …. perhaps … means a little bit more!
I have decided to do some marketing on Melby’s Post for Santa Shoebox Project this year. There are many options for becoming involved. You can pledge a Traditional Shoebox for an individual child, or do a Team pledge with colleagues at work (an excellent team-building project). There are also Virtual Shoeboxes where you donate money and the Santa Shoebox volunteers pack and decorate the boxes. Whichever way you choose, it will make an underprivileged child’s Christmas happier. And if we believe Dr Seuss, your heart might grow a few sizes in the process!
Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies
I have not forgotten that you came to this post looking for a recipe. Last year I found this fantastic recipe and idea from one of my favourite sites Just a Taste. I have previously blogged about their Falafel recipe. It is still one of my favourites. Kelly Senyei, the chef behind the site, posted her recipe for Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies on Instagram (@justataste) last Christmas. She bakes delicious shortbread in round cake tins and cuts the shortbread into wedges instead of blocks. Then she uses green melted chocolate and sprinkles to decorate the wedges to look like Christmas Trees! As we do not get green candy melts in SA and I did not have powdered food colouring to turn the chocolate green, I just used white chocolate. I think my Christmas trees look just as festive as hers! Sometimes it’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit after all.
Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies
- 2 23cm round cake tins
- piping bag or sealable plastic bag
- 1 cup salted butter, at cool room temperature
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 12 ml vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white chocolate
- assorted sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC and grease two round 23cm cake pans. Sprinkle with flour and/or line with baking paper.
- Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing just until combined. Divide the dough evenly between the two greased pans and press it into an even layer. Using a fork, prick the dough all over.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the shortbread is pale golden in the centre and slightly darker around the edges.
- Remove the shortbread from the oven and immediately invert the pans onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, immediately cut each shortbread round into 8 wedges. It is important to cut the shortbread while it's still warm, or it will crumble if you try to cut it after it has cooled. Transfer the shortbread wedges to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or double-boiler, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a piping bag or plastic bag, snip off the tip of the bag and drizzle it onto the cookies in tinsel-like lines. Immediately top the cookies with sprinkles. Serve once the chocolate has set.
- If you want to use green chocolate, melt some white chocolate and add powdered green food colouring. Do not add liquid food colouring (unless it's oil-based) as it could cause the chocolate to clump up.
- If you have another favourite shortbread recipe just use that and follow the instructions for baking and icing your cookies.