Twas the week before the week before Christmas, and all through the house everybody was talking about Santa Claus, and what he thinks of little girls who don't keep their rooms picked up. Jennifer and Amanda were worried. They were the two prettiest, most charming little girls in the world, but they were notorious sluggards in the picking-up department.
"Whatever shall we do, Amanda?" asked Jennifer one day, setting her milk glass on the floor and brushing some cookie crumbs out of her lap.
Just then a miraculous vision appeared in their room, right over the pile of Dove Bar sticks. "I'm the Magic Picking-Up-Your-Room Pixie," said the little man with the white beard, "and this is Xmas-Kwik Powder. Sprinkle it over the dust and everything will be as if Santa had just come."
They sprinkled the powder all around the room, and behold--simple carbohydrates everywhere. Jam stains turned into candy apples, dust bunnies became cotton candy, piles of just plain dirt were changed into popcorn balls. The candy wrappers and comic books and broken crayons allturned into different kinds of cookies. The walls themselves changed magically into chewing gum.
Best of all, the crumpled clothes and broken toys flew into the air and began swirling around the center of the room like a whirlwind until they turned into a coconut cake inside a box of blue candy with sugar Santas on it. Just then Harry the Hamster, who'd disappeared in the mess a few days before, showed up again, only now he had turned into a chocolate carousel!
The Magic Picking-Up-Your-Room Pixie smiled benevolently and said: "Through the magic of new, improved Xmas-Kwik, all the empty calories in these goodies are now full. You may eat as much as you want, and every mouthful will be nutritionally balanced."
"Eeoo! Yucko!" said Jennifer and Amanda.
"Ha ha ha! Just kidding!" said the pixie, floating out the window. As he disappeared he called out, "Just remember, don't ride on Mr. Spun Sugar Rocking Horse."
"You mean this guy?" said Amanda, and she walked over and sat down on the rocking horse, because she, for one, wasn't always the most charming little girl in the world.
And then she said, "Uh-oh," because in the twinkling of an eye all the candy changed back into dust and clutter. "Now what are we going to do, Jennifer?" she cried. "The candy is all gone and our room is dirty again."
"Well," said Jennifer, surveying the room and licking her fingers, "it's not as bad as it was."
Delicate candy clay sculptures are a labor of love. An expert in candy clay designs, Susan Holtz, owner and pastry chef of Dessert Design, Sherman Oaks, spends hours creating flowers, orchids and treasure boxes out of a glucose formula. The old-fashioned blue cake box with dancing Santa Clauses that holds Holtz's carrot-pineapple cake on the cover took her 40 hours to make.
Holtz won't give out the candy clay formula--but she has given us the recipe for her carrot cake, one of the bestsellers in her pastry line.
SUSAN HOLTZ'S CARROT CAKE WITH COCONUT SNOW
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted walnuts and almonds (or other mixed nuts)
2 1/2 cups peeled and finely shredded carrots
2 (8-ounce) cans unsweetened crushed pineapple
5 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, optional
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cups sugar
3 cups oil
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (7-ounce) package flake coconut
Thoroughly mix nuts, carrots and undrained pineapple in bowl. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt if using and cinnamon. Beat eggs with sugar and oil in large bowl, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture all at once. Beat until smooth. Fold in nut mixture.
Turn batter into 3 (10x2-inch) greased cake pans lined with parchment paper (fill each pan only a scant 2/3 full, place any extra batter in small baking pan.) Bake at 350 degrees 55 to 60 minutes or until cakes test done when wood pick inserted near center comes out dry. Cool on rack. Fill and ice with Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle all over with flake coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 16 to 20 servings.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 pounds cold cream cheese, cut up
1/2 pound butter, softened
2 1/4 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
Combine cream cheese and butter in bowl. Cream until light and smooth. Add powdered sugar, beat just until fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
There's twice as much peanut butter and half as much flour in this recipe; Rose Levy Beranbaum says that when you bite into the cookies, it's like biting into a peanut butter cup.
PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY JEWELS
(From "Rose's Christmas Cookies" cookbook)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cherry preserves or Milk Chocolate Topping