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Toast the Season: Holiday Traditions

Although all of us at Talisen have different holiday traditions, we share in the spirit of the season together! Whether it is a family trip to a tree farm or a night making our own decorations, everyone celebrates the holiday season in their own way. A large part of that celebration, whether individually or as a team, is giving. At Talisen, it’s important for us to give back to the communities that we are involved in.

This year our donation to Autism Speaks was especially meaningful. In September we completed the build-out of Manhattan Children’s Center, a school specifically for developmentally handicapped children. It was a great accomplishment for us and a cause near and dear to our hearts.

Building on that success, we have once again made a yearly donation to Autism Speaks, an organization that does great work around the country. We are thrilled to contribute to raise awareness and thought about children and adults affected by Autism. Additionally, we have made a donation to another organization that means a great deal to us, the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. With their continued success in advancing the effort to find a cure for Diabetes, we are excited at the opportunity to be able to support the cause. Talisen has had a long history with these two organizations and looks forward to continuing that relationship into the future.

This year, we have also made donations to The Robin Hood Foundation in support of the fight against poverty in New York. Focused on schools, and creating uplifting programs for the youth and parents of New York, we are honored to help in supporting such a wonderful organization. In a similar fashion, Action Against Hunger focuses on ending hunger worldwide by providing those in need with nutrition, hygiene, clean water, and emergency programs. Once again, we are honored to have been in a position to donate to each of these organization in 2015. To a bountiful 2016!

Now we would like to share our holiday customs with you. This season we will be sipping on some tasty homemade Limoncello, and so can you! To please your taste buds even more, we’ve also included a recipe for one of our favorite holiday cookies around the office. Coming from many different traditions we know how to mix it up, and keep it tasty. Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and valuable time with loved ones.


Holiday: French graham cookie

  • 750 ml of 190 proof grain alcohol or the highest proof vodka you can find (the higher the alcohol content, the better the extraction from the peel)
  • 12 organic lemons or oranges
  • Sugar
  • Large Mason jar (1,000ml or more)
  • Coffee filters/cheese cloth
  • Funnel
  • Large capacity measuring cup (something like a 1qt size helps you to mix faster).
  • Scrub the lemons with a potato brush or dish brush while running them under warm water to remove anything that might be on the skin.
  • Using a zester or a vegetable peeler, zest/peel the lemons while being careful to ONLY take the yellow part off the lemon. The white part is bitter and will add an unpleasant characteristic to your Limoncello.
  • Pour the 750 ml into the jar and add the peels. Cover and put in a dark place with an even cool temperature. Every few days go in and lightly shake the jar to stir things up.
  • Filter the alcohol with the coffee filters and/or cheesecloth and take out all the lemon peels or zest.
  • Make the simple syrup with a ratio of 3.5 cups of sugar to 5 cups of water. Put it all in a pot, heat it up and stir it until it suddenly goes clear, then let it cool. It is far better to not put in enough simple syrup than it is to put too much in. You can always add more to cut the proof!
*Note: Play with the ratio of sugar to water.  1:1 yields a sweeter Limoncello while using less sugar will smooth it out. Start off with the 3.5:5 ratio to start with the first time and then experiment.There are all sorts of different recipes on how long you should keep the lemon in the alcohol, some say as long as 40 days and claim that it’s smoother.

Limoncello factories in Italy typically keep the lemons in for four days. However it’s not so much how long the peels stay in the alcohol past the 4 days, but how long the finished product rests.

Use the calculator on limoncelloquest.com to figure out how much simple syrup you need to add to the alcohol to bring the proof down to something you can drink, you’re looking for about 35-37% alcohol.

You can actually make this recipe with just about anything that has a flavor, the key is finding where the flavor resides and steeping that part in the alcohol. Try basil, cucumber, pumpkin, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, cherry, lemon, orange, cantaloupe, and mango.

French Chocolate Graham Cookies

Holiday: French graham cookie

A favorite of our office team, this cookie goes great with some hot chocolate by the fireside!

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted
  • Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in milk. Gradually beat cracker crumbs into creamed mixture. Stir in walnuts and 2 cups chocolate chips.
  • Fill 2-in. foil baking cup liners three-fourths full. Place 1 in. apart in 15x10x1-in. baking pans. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen.
Recipe: foodnetwork.com

When the in-laws are coming for the holiday party and you need some tasty treats to serve, give these recipes a shot. Let us know how it goes on Twitter and LinkedIn. Cheers!