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Holiday Baking Ideas

12/19/14


What are your plans this weekend?  Frantic holiday shopping?  Cocktail parties?  Baking up a storm? Well I can help you there, with a collection of ideas from my blog.  As far as the shopping... deep breaths, and as far as the cocktail party... a karaoke version of "Santa Baby" only seems like a good idea.  So, from top left moving clockwise... Merry Weekends!

Snowball Cookies

12/18/14


These cookies are a holiday staple, but I had NEVER made them until yesterday.  Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cookies... whatever you call them, it was a travesty that I hadn't baked them before (and the word "travesty" still reminds me of the movie Clueless).  Thankfully, that is all in the past, and now I sit here on my computer while I eat one for breakfast (totally counts as research).  Made up of just five simple ingredients, these cookies are buttery, nutty, sugary balls of goodness.  With butter acting as the star (use the good stuff, like this European kind), I decided to go with a Paula Deen recipe because while she's messed up in her life, the lady knows her booooooter.  I didn't shape the cookies in crescents, however, and went with balls.  Snowballs!  

What do you call them and what's your favorite recipe?     




Research.

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

12/16/14


Let's take a quick break from holiday sweets (whhhyyyyyyy!?) and talk about your crock pot.  This article went around my Facebook feed the other day, and I'm a sucker for anything with the words "you'll never want to live without" in the title.  It's 52 slow cooker recipes - FIFTY TWO!  I plan on trying them all.  And I began the other night with this Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken.  (It was just me eating, by the way, me and my four humongous chicken breasts.)  It's delicious pull-apart sweet and sticky chicken with a hint of spice (I should have added more red pepper flakes but I thought JUST MAYBE my kids would eat something other than mac & cheese that night).  I loved it.  So read that article and tell me what I should make next??  

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

12/15/14


Hello there, how were your weekends?  I was alone with my kids, so it felt approximately 17 days long.  Needless to say, I'm pretty excited to spot that big, yellow school bus this morning!  As I tend to do, I filled some of the time by making sweets.  There was a gingerbread house that turned into gingerbread wall cookies (our home could not stand the test of time).  And there were these Dark Chocolate Peppermint Truffles.  I found the recipe on the back of these Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips and you must, must, must try and find a bag or twelve...


They taste like creamy, white chocolate candy canes.  You could sprinkle them on top of cakes, bake them in cookies or just throw handfuls in your mouth.  OR, you could make these super easy and delicious truffles which make GREAT gifts.  Rich, minty dark chocolate inside a peppermint crunch coating is exactly what you need at the end of the day while you're wrapping presents, trust me.  
That, and a bottle of wine.  



Andes Dark Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
(Makes 2 dozen)

1 cup whipping cream
8 oz. dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa)
1 10 oz. pkg of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips, reserve 1 cup for coating

Place dark chocolate chips and peppermint baking chips (reserving one cup) in a heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil.  Turn off heat, and let sit for a minute.  Then pour half of the cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth.  Pour remaining cream over chocolate and whisk again until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.  When ready to make truffles, remove bowl and let sit on counter for a few minutes.  Take a heaping teaspoon of the chocolate mixture, and roll between your palms (this will be messy), and then roll in reserved peppermint chips.  Let sit on parchment lined baking sheet in the fridge to set.  Place in airtight container to store.

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

12/12/14


To close out my week of sweets, this morning I woke up at the butt crack of dawn to put these Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies in the oven.  I didn't shower like I had planned on, or start addressing our holiday cards, but I baked cookies.  My priorities are all sorts of weird!  However, I think my morning was productive because these, are, DELICIOUS.  I highly recommend them.  I added one egg yolk to the wet ingredients for richness and to add to the chewiness and super crackly crust.  I recommend that as well, because I think the dough would have been crumbly without it.

More bad (but so good) stuff to come next week!  'Tis the season!       

Mini Maple Ginger Cake

12/10/14


(*See below for Giveaway Winner)

The "soup can birthday cake" changed my life when I discovered it almost two years ago (and it was also when I found her blog, drool).  It can elevate any small celebration that otherwise might go unnoticed.  Your kid scores a soccer goal?  Mini cake!  Your husband finally fixes that thing he was supposed to fix for a couple of months?  Mini cake!  You get down to your goal weight?  Mini cake!  (Yeah, you can tell I have issues with dieting.)  The point is, it will take you 5 minutes to bake, and by adding different sweeteners and spices, it can transform to fit any occasion.  This particular cake has maple syrup, molasses and ground ginger, which makes it perfect for a winter-time celebration.  Then cream cheese vanilla bean frosting on top?  JOLLY.  


Mini Maple Ginger Cake
(Makes 1 cake)

Cake:

2 T sugar
1 egg white
2 T melted unsalted butter, cooled
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp molasses
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Line the bottom of a clean soup can with parchment paper, and line the rest with baking spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg white.  Add the melted butter, maple syrup and molasses and whisk until smooth.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt until combined.  Pour into soup can, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool before using a serrated knife to slice into 3 layers.    

Frosting:

2 T unsalted butter, room temp
2 T cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp milk

Whisk all ingredients until smooth.  Spread between cake layers and on top.

*The winner of the Acacia Wood Giveaway is Mia Stizzo!  Please email me (contact info above) 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

12/9/14


I'm all about making little trays of baked goods and treats for random people during the holidays.  Even if you have no idea what sort of likes and dislikes the person may have, it's a gesture that says, "Hey, Nice Lady At The Bagel Shop Where I Spend Way Too Much Money, you're nice, Happy Holidays!"  I tend to make things all December long, storing them in airtight containers in the fridge, so I can pull them out when someone like the Amazon delivery dude comes by (every, single, day).  Fudge is the perfect treat to make... it lasts for a long time and is very rich, therefore you can cut them in teeny, tiny pieces.  This Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge is sooooo good, and topped with sea salt?  I mean, the Amazon delivery dude might fall in love with you.  Which could be a problem, since he's at your house every, single, day.         

Recipe here.

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