Tuesday, December 11, 2012

25 Days of Cookies (um... sweets): Day 9 Ho Ho Hos

Around Christmas everyone loves sweets, but I am continuously on the search for sweets that are good but not overly trite and Christmassy. Thus, I find myself in a play on words, HO... HO... HO... Everyone loves little Debbie. What is not to love, sweet treats perfectly wrapped in cellophane and always waiting on you adoringly for your snack time. So here is my easier more natural version of these little delights. Three components, cake, icing, ganache. Ganache, a fancy way to say chocolate and cream melted together to make a delish topping, more sophisticated than frosting but just as delicious.

Chocolate Cup Cake
1 stick of butter melted
3/4 cups of self rising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa, dutch or best available I love Valrhona
7 tablespoons of sugar
2 large eggs
A splash of vanilla
A splash of milk


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or any way you find it easiest.
3. In a food processor add all the ingredients.
4. Fill a muffin tin with liners and half full with the batter
5. Bake for 20 minutes
6. Let cool on a wire rack

Chocolate Ganache


8 ounces of best quality chocolate
1 cup of cream


1. Heat cream on low fire, until just before simmer point.
2. Pour in chopped chocolate and stir until creamy
3. Dip cooled cupcakes face first into vat of deliciousness
4. Dip head face first into vat of deliciousness (optional)

Vanilla Icing


1 cup of powdered sugar
1 stick of softened butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla


1. Cream together in standing mixer or with a very strong arm
2. Fill a pastry bag with a star tip
3. Impale the cooled cupcake in the top center and fill until the cupcake begins to bulge
4. Leave with beautiful star tip

Viola! Perfect, natural ho-ho's. Perfect for Christmas... and one jolly red-suited man known for saying Ho Ho Ho and having a notorious sweet tooth...

Monday, December 10, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 8 Speculaas

December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. We made Speculaas a classic European cookie made in St. Nick's honor. These cookies are delicious, cake like, soft, and spicy. And yes, even toddler-friendly. They look rustic and beautiful and because of the lemon they are bright and balanced. I hope you will give them a try, they are delicious. 

I love the idea of celebrating Saints days. I think it is a wonderful way to take some of the materialism out of Christmas and focus on the promises and goodness of the season. We are celebrating sharing... i.e. generosity. In honor of St. Nicholas who was so generous he gave everything he had to those less fortunate. 

What you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
Grated rind of 1 lemon

sugar or sliced almonds 

What you do: 

1. Using your electric mixer whip together the butter and sugar so it is light and fluffy. 
2. Add the egg and lemon zest. 
3. Mix together all of the dry ingredients including the flour and the spices. 
4. Add the dry mix to the wet mix until combined. 
5. Take the dough and cover in cling wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10. 
6. Preheat your over to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
7. Make 1 inch balls of dough and place 2 inches apart on the parchment. Roll each ball in sugar and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. You can if so inclined add three almond slices on to each cookie. This represents the trinity and hope, peace, and love. You can also use a cookie stamp if you have them, which is wear the name of the cookie comes from. :)  
8. Bake for in the middle rack for 10 minutes. 

As always, much love, many blessings, Happy Baking! Happy St. Nick's Day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 7 Sprinkle Rolls

Aren't these super cute... I found the idea on Pinterest. I think if I was going to do this again, I would not roll the dough so thin... But they taste delicious and they like all refrigerator cookies are quick to make and cut... not cookie cutters required.


5 cups of flour
5 cups of sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of baking soda
2 Tablespoons of cream cheese
red food coloring
Christmas nonpareils


1. Mix all of the ingredients in your standing mixer, it is a lot to do by hand.
2. Once mixed together separate into two discs, and wrap in cling plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day, or in the freezer up to a month.
3. When ready, roll out half the dough, use flour on a board and rolling pin to get the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Use some red food coloring to color the other half of dough and roll on top of the other non-colored dough.
5. Gently lift the dough and create pinwheels by rolling the dough up.
6. Pour nonpareils on to a plate and roll your log in the sprinkles pressing lightly so they stick.
7. Roll in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.
8. Preheat your oven to  350 degrees F.
9. Prepare to baking sheets with parchment paper.
10. Take out the chilled logs and unwrap. Using a sharp knife cut 1/2 cookies and place face up on a cookie sheet covered in paper.
11. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden. Let cool and ice as desired.

Happy Christmas! Much love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 6 Peanut Butter Blossoms

These are an American tradition. They are much loved by my good friend Amanda and my husband. This is my version which is easier and simplified slightly.

What you need:
12 Hershey kisses unwrapped
1 cup of peanut butter (not the natural or organic stuff, we need full on Americana in all its processed glory)
1 cup of sugar
1 egg

What you do:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix the peanut butter, egg, and sugar in a bowl.
3. Dollop out teaspoon sized semi circles on to a parchment lined baking sheet
4. Bake for 10 minutes they will be soft
5. Press a Hershey kiss in the center of each cookie while they are still warm.
6. Allow to cool... and enjoy with a nice glass of milk

For other variations you can roll the cookies in colored sprinkles to add a little more holiday sparkle.

Happy Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings and happy baking.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 5 Christmas Pretzel Bites... Take 2

This is a Take 2 recipe, i.e. I did this the first time for Halloween with candy corn and while tasty it really did not turn out that well. I feel like the chocolate was slightly singed. And it is no fun to open  100 chocolate kisses by yourself. That being said, my partner in crime, Leslie is going to help open them with me. This would be a fantastic use of child labor if your kids are a little older than mine, and you are happy to pay the tax of them eating a few kisses.

We are going to change up a couple of things... 1) we are using hugs not kisses, I'm told that is easier. 2) I will not be stressed up at 4 am while making them, which will make it easier on me. Party planning lovely, but work is involved. 3) we will be using Christmas M&Ms so they will be more uniform in shape.

Here is what you need:

1 bag of the square bite sized pretzels I've heard them called waffle pattern
1 bag of Hershey's Hugs
1 bag of Christmas M&Ms

Here is what you:

1. Unwrap a bag of Hershey Hugs (preferably with a friend and wine) My mother always said a burden shared is half a burden thus the friend.
2. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F
3. Using a rimmed baking sheet also called a jelly roll pan. I lined it with parchment paper just to be safe, although I am not sure you really need it.  Lay out as many pretzel bites as you can without them overlapping.
4. Top each pretzel with the Hershey Hug.
5. Place in the oven for 4 minutes.
6. Working quickly, press one M&M down into the chocolate.
7. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.

Hooray for pop-able, Christmas treats!

Happy Christmas. As always, many blessings, much love, and Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 4 Oatmeal Raisin

Hi Everybody, I hope you are having an absolutely magical Christmas season. While this is not necessarily a traditional holiday cookie, it is a classic, and my favorite. My sister in law Melina, make these not with raisins but with a tropical dried fruit medley and they are to die for. I have a one-year old who will be eating these, but if they are only for adults by all means, please soak the raisins in rum. Enjoy! Remember the holidays are a time to be happy not stressed, you can't get to everything, so just relax and smile. No one will know what you didn't do if you don't tell them.

Here is what you need:
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter soft
1 egg
2 cups of oatmeal old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of raisins (I like golden raisins also called sultanas)

Here is what you do:
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients, I just throw them all in there... please its December, I got stuff to do.
3. Using a tablespoon or a ice cream scooper, dollop out the batter on to the parchment paper.
4. Bake for 18 minutes.


Happy Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings, and Happy Baking!

Monday, December 3, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 3 Best Brownies

This is the best brownie recipe I have found. They taste delicious  and there is frosting... bonus. But really why they are good, is they are easy to make and relatively inexpensive. Some brownie recipes take 6 eggs, a pound of chocolate, and three sticks of butter... good golly ms. molly... that is like a $28 dollar for brownies. These taste excellent and have much more modest ingredients. 

I made these for Freddy's class... we will see how they liked it. Because they are toddlers I always cut treats ahead of time and place in single cupcake wrappers to make things easier on the teachers... I mean really 8 one year-olds they have enough. 

What you need:
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/3 cup of cocoa powder unsweetened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
frosting recipe below
sprinkles for decoration

What I did: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Mixed all of the ingredients in my standing mixer
3. Greased an 8 by 8 inch square baking dish. I poured the mixture in and baked for 30 minutes approximately. But please use the toothpick test at about 25 minutes. 
4. Once cool you can decorate as you please. A drizzle of melted chocolate or use the frosting recipe below. 

Frosting for brownies: 

1 cup of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of soft butter
1 Tablespoon of corn syrup 
3 Tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 or 2 teaspoons of milk 

Whip all the ingredients in your mixing bowl and then slather on brownies... or fingers... all are tasty. 

Happy Christmas! As always, many blessings, much love, and happy baking.