Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 White House Holiday Craft: Christmas Fruit Wreaths

The First Lady & Chef Comerford display a finished wreath
From the White House to your house:  Executive Chef Cris Comerford's recipe for a festive keepsake is made with  cookie dough, dried fruit and candy...
The White House - Ornamental Christmas wreaths created by Executive Chef Cris Comerford for First Lady Michelle Obama's 'Gather Around' holiday theme are made with a simple flour and salt dough, then decorated with dried berries and apricots, rosemary, red licorice, mini marshmallows, and pretzels.  Mrs. Obama and her chefs made the craft with military kids invited to be the first to view the holiday decor.

Though the wreaths are intended for display rather than eating, even the glue is made of food ingredients, using egg whites and confectioner's sugar.  Kids and adults will love the easy-to-make keepsake.  Any kind of festive candy and dried green herbs can be used.

Chef Comerford and a friend making wreaths
No special equipment is needed, but the recipe calls for a cookie cutter in the shape of a wreath, a pastry bag or squeeze bottle for piping on the egg glue (a plastic sandwich bag will do in a pinch, with one corner cut off), and ribbon for hanging the ornaments.

This year, the White House pastry chefs have also shared the recipe for Springerle cookie ornaments, and there is an edible version of the Springerle cookie recipe, too.   

Another fun fruit-based holiday keepsake from the White House kitchen is the Pomegranate Tree Ornament, created for Mrs. Obama's 2012 celebration.

Check the site sidebar for more recipes.  CLICK HERE for links to all holiday posts.

The decor ingredients and finished wreaths
White House Christmas Fruit Wreaths

Ingredients
Dough:
*4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

*1 Cup Salt


*1 1/2 Cups Warm Water 

Decor: 
*Dried Apricots 

*Rosemary Sprigs 

*Red Licorice Sticks, cut into small pieces

*Pretzel Sticks, cut into small segments

*Freeze-Dried Berries 

*Mini Marshmallows 

Egg White Glue:
*4 Cups Confection's Sugar

*3 Ounces Pasteurized Egg Whites

Method 
1.  Preheat the oven to 300 ̊ F. 

2.  Mix all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl until well incorporated.

3.  Knead for a few minutes until pliable.

4.  Form into a ball and roll with a rolling pin to the desired thickness (a quarter-inch thickness is suggested).

5.  Cut shapes with a cookie cutter and place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. 

6.  Stamp a small hole on the top of each wreath for the ribbon.
 

7.  Bake for about an hour and a half or until it’s dry.
 

8.  Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Egg White Glue
1.  In an electric mixer, slowly mix 4 cups of powdered sugar into 3 ounces of pasteurized egg whites until the mixture is shiny.  Place in a piping bag or a squeeze bottle.

Chef Comerford pipes egg glue onto a wreath
To Assemble
1.  Lay the baked wreath form on a paper plate.

2.  Pipe a ring of egg white glue around the wreath.
 

3.  Decorate with the assortment of fruits and spices. 

4.  Let dry for a couple of hours.
 

5.  Tie the ribbon through the pre-stamped hole.
 

6.  Hang in your favorite spot! 

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*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama