A bit of inspiration: pistachio caramels or yema?

I really don’t normally count down to Christmas but I find myself doing just that today.  I stayed home to burn more days (almost down to the wire) given the end of the year.  A week to go before Christmas, and between tomorrow’s half day and the three days between Christmas and New Year next week, I should be good.

I’m not really rushing for anything except that I have to get the gifts for the teachers and the usual people we rely on for services all year.  (My mailman reportedly left an envelope with the neighbor across the courtyard but I have scoured my mail and have not found any amongst my envelopes..)  I’ve spent the morning getting a cup of pistachios ready (all shelled and skinned), but I realize now I’m short on caramel.  (Might be because I’ve dipped into the bag for a piece here and there for dessert.)

It’s a cold and rainy afternoon and I’m trying to decide if it’s worth suiting up to grab more caramel, perhaps some some cellophane to wrap the caramel with (although I have enough parchment paper) and coffee filters.  (Which is actually enough reason to head out but I remember I have one more for tomorrow, so that can technically wait.)  Caramels… hmmmm…

I’ve always loved caramels… makes me miss PomPoms which is no longer being produced but which used to top my list of favorite chocolate treats.  Anyone old enough to remember what they were?  They were caramel rounds wrapped in a thin layer of chocolate that would melt in your mouth as the caramel surfaced.  The latter was just chewy enough to make you enjoy every bit of it.  The thought is making me think about dipping into that half a bag of caramels again.. =(

I haven’t quite gotten to that point where I am raring to make my own caramel (have to get a candy thermometer) so I’m cheating by melting some bagged caramel (of the Kraft variety)  and altering the composition a bit by adding some heavy cream and a touch more butter.  Store bought caramel tends to be very sweet for my taste, but with the saltiness of the nuts I’m adding, I’m thinking that would be a good trade.  (Still thinking.)

I’m also trying to decide if I will make a 3-egg or 5-egg yema recipe.  Between the two, I’m thinking the 5 egg would be less sweeter and thicker.  Decisions, decisions.. whatever comes of it, I know my friend Millie would love to get my end product.  Pistachio yema?  LOL… doesn’t sound quite right.  But I just might.

The tyke is coming home in a few minutes.  He might yet end up making the decision for me depending on what he requests for dinner.  He still asks to sit on my lap but he’s gotten so much heavier the last couple of weeks, and he has also obviously grown taller because it’s no longer that easy seeing beyond his shoulders when we sit in front of the TV.  At 8 1/2, he is already as tall as my stepson was when he was 10.

Well, the yema won out, and the 5-egg yolk recipe seems to be a clear winner.  Just a few tweaks — but consistency and taste were as good as the yema from my favorite Chocfull o’nuts.  More later…

And life goes on.. on a rainy Sunday in NY

It’s almost half past 1pm and I’m finally sitting down to “write”. Not that I’ve been crazy busy this muggy Sunday but I’ve been taking things easy and trying to enjoy Sunday indoors.

My Christmas tree lights are up and half my Christmas ornaments are hanging on one side of the tree. I let Angelo take a stab at hanging them, so they sort of got all bunched up on one side of the tree most accessible to an almost 4-ft tall eight-year-old. The Dad noticed, and I immediately said I will “fix it” when I get the chance to bring the rest of the ornaments down later.

ATC: Mega Christmas ATC Swap - Ang Parol (The Lantern)I have my Christmas card to assemble which was inspired by a Mega Christmas Artist Trading Card swap I did a parol-inspired ATC for (shown on the left). I know most people would ask why I even bother, but the truth is it’s been part of a holiday routine for me for years and years now and I like being able to put out something unique that truly comes from us. We’ve started receiving Christmas cards from the usual friends and I will fix them up on the upper staircase landing in the shape of a Christmas tree as I have done in previous years.

The eggs for my leche flan have arrived, and I’m mulling about doing a sans rival cake to put the egg whites to good use. I had attempted this once before and while baking sans rival can really be quite tedious, the results are well worth the effort. (Plus it saves me from wasting half the egg whites because we can only eat so much “diluted” scrambled eggs at a ratio of one egg to three egg whites.) That would be the easier alternative to macarrons which I can do if I could fetch some almond flour from Whole Foods, perhaps.

One week to Christmas and while I’m keeping things simple, I want to make it no less special since this is the first Christmas we’re spending here in the last three years, having spent Christmas 2010 and 2011 in Manila.  I miss Manila, of course — but it’s time for another New York Christmas.

Angelo is more “aware” of the holidays and is all excited about wrapping the gifts (and I did promise I’d let him help over the weekend), and he’s been bugging me about what I want.  Make up.

We’re thinking of doing new things this Christmas from previous years like maybe doing a Christmas dinner in the city as a family.  Perhaps the start of a new tradition  between the three of us.

My asthma is finally subsiding… and just in the nick of time before I get into the thick of the preparations for Christmas day itself.

The Bryant Park Christmas tree -- the view from 41 storeys up high