Sunday, December 14, 2008

St. Joseph's Staff

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. We rejoice because the Lord is near!

We continue the focus on main figures of our Advent Wreath for the Christmas Story. Last week we celebrated St. John the Baptist. This week, the rose candle, the focus is on St. Joseph, the foster-father of the Child Jesus.

The food we will use to remember St. Joseph this week is the candy cane, either in a cookie, or the simple candy itself. Part of the pious legend of St. Joseph is that his staff is the one that bloomed with lilies so that everyone knew that he was to be the spouse of our Blessed Virgin Mary. So many nativity scenes have St. Joseph carrying or leaning on the staff, which is also a symbol of authority. Although he was not the father of Jesus, only the foster-father, Jesus and Mary still submitted to him.

In March the Sicilian tradition of St. Joseph's Altar includes Vuccidrato -- Joseph's Staff, bread shaped in the shape of his staff, or other Symbolic Pastries in the shape of a staff. But since Christmas baking is at hand, Candy Cane Staff Cookies will do perfectly to remind us of St. Joseph's fatherly authority, but his always humble submission to God's will.

St. Joseph's Staff -- Candy Cane Cookies
Prep Time: 40 min, Total Time: 6 hours
Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies
Ingredients:1 cup sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened (or half butter, half shortening)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
2 Tablespoons finely crushed peppermint candies
2 Tablespoons sugar

Stir together 1 cup sugar, butter or margarine, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract, and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir red food coloring into 1 half of the dough. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Stir together peppermint candy and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside.

For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. For best results, complete cookies one at a time--if all the dough of one color is shaped first, strips become too dry to twist.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane.
Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Immediately sprinkle candy mixture over cookies. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. (Recipe from Betty Crocker).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. (Phil 4:4,5)
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