When I was a child, one of my family’s favorite holiday books was Santa Mouse by Michael Brown, about a little mouse who lives in a lonely, empty house wishing for friends, until one Christmas Eve, Santa whisks him away to be his assistant. I always wondered why Santa happened to have a mouse-size Santa suit, boots, and fake beard, but I guess the old guy is magic. The book was reissued in time for my own children to enjoy it, and now at Christmas they also leave out a little cube of cheese, carefully wrapped in foil, for Santa Mouse to nibble on while Santa enjoys his cookies and milk. We like white mice rolled in confectioners’ sugar, but if you prefer dusky mice, roll them in ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder instead.
- Yield: 1 dozen mice
- 12 chocolate sandwich cookies or chocolate wafers
- 6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 24 almond slices
- Red or black string licorice, or licorice twists that you can unwind, such as Twizzlers Pull-n-Peel 12 gold or silver dragées
- Crush the cookies into fine crumbs in a food processor or by placing them in a large, heavy zip-top storage bag and gently beating and rolling them with a rolling pin or bottle.
- Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat it on high for 1 minute, then stir well; if you need more time, heat in 10-second bursts, stirring well after each time.
- Stir in the sour cream and cookie crumbs, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Do not leave the chocolate in the refrigerator indefinitely; it will become too hard.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Butter your hands and roll the chocolate mixture into 12 mouse body shapes almost ovals, tapered to a point at one end (the nose) and rounded at the other (the tail end). Lay the chocolate shapes on the prepared baking sheet.
- Place the confectioners’ sugar on a plate and roll the mice in it to cover them.
- Poke holes just above the tapered nose for eyes (your fingernails are perfect for this), and place 2 almond slices behind them at pert angles for ears. Poke a 2- to 3-inch length of licorice into the rounded end for a tail. Add a dragée for a nose. Refrigerate the mice to keep them firm until you serve them. They’ll keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.