Holiday Wrap Up

I can’t believe how quickly Christmas and New Year’s have come and gone! All that preparation and then *poof* into 2011 we go. It is my favorite time of the year so I am always a little sad having to face down the rest of winter and look forward to Winter Break in February!

I made more cookies this year (8 different varieties) than I ever had before. The last week of school was incredibly busy with baking every night and at one point my husband came home to have to step around cookies sheets cooling off on the floor just outside the kitchen in our apartment. All of my recipes this year came from: Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookies magazine, Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours, the Sopranos Family Cookbook (no matter what you think of the show- the book has some GREAT classic Italian recipes), and the King Arthur Flour website where I found some great recipes (and ingredients!)

So where to start? From Martha I made: Chocolate Espresso cookies; Sugar cut outs (I subbed about a teaspoon of fiori di sicilia flavor for some of the vanilla- WOW!!!!!!); White Chocolate Covered Peppermint cookies (think of thin mints covered in white chocolate with peppermint pieces on top); and one of my personal favorites- Cranberry Coins. The cranberry coins were basically ice-box butter cookies with pieces of chopped dried cranberry. I wasn’t sure how they would come out but they were really tasty- and one of the favorites of the recipients of my cookie boxes for Christmas.  But back to my favorite secret ingredient for a minute- fiori di sicilia is a citrus flavoring. I used it for the first time in my cut outs and the aroma is incredible alone. Just a little less than a teaspoon really took this cookies to another level and even after they baked you could still smell the citrus. Just amazing. I want to go make a pound cake just to use it again!

Purchase fiori di sicilia here

Two of my favorite cookies to bake for Christmas from BFMHTY are the World Peace cookies (which I ended up making twice because my husband has very little restraint around them) and the Thumbprints for Us Big Guys. I always make thumbprints for Christmas because it seems like the Christmas thing to do. To be honest? I think they are such a pain. I hate how the jam always sticks to the wax paper. These are the things that drive me nuts 😉 But I do like how much versatility you have with jam flavorings- of course I went for the raspberry/hazelnut option. The rest of my cookies included Pignoli cookies (from the Sopranos) and I learned that these by far are the stickiest cookies in the world! It was my first time making them and I know it made my Mom happy. Next year I’ll add the rainbow layer cookies to my Italian cookie collection. And to wrap things up for good measure I also made a chocolate amaretti torte!

I made these Egg Nog muffins from King Arthur Flour for my husband to bring in to work and they were spectacular! Even if you are not a fan of egg nog you should consider making them. They weren’t overly egg nog-y, if anything they were incredibly moist. I didn’t use the optional egg nog flavoring, just vanilla.

And I think that wraps things up! Wow that was a lot of baking over a few short weeks! Thanks for sticking with me through this recap. Looking forward to all the baking 2011 has in store! Happy New Year!

TWD: White Chocolate Brownies

After much anticipation, Marthe of Culinary Delights finally gave TWD-ers what they’ve waited for for so long- white chocolate brownies!!! DELICIOUS!!!!!! Even though I say this after nearly every recipe, this was outstanding and will be made over and over and over again.

The hardest part of the recipe was the cooking time. I made my brownies without the meringue so that they would last for a few more days. Even so- when the tester said they were done (at almost 40 minutes) after they were completely cooled and out of the pan, you could see the mid-section was undercooked. We ate around the perimeter though and boy oh boy were they delicious. I can’t wait to make them again (and keep them in the oven for an extra 5-10 minutes or so!)

TWD: Quick Classic Berry Tart

This week’s selection was chosen by Cristine of Cooking with Cristine and as always you can find the recipe on her blog!

I made my tart with raspberries and blueberries which were purchased from Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market (helps keep the cost down and they were soooo yummy). I was really excited to have mostly conquered pastry cream… finally!!! Although when I was assembling the tart the cream did remind me a bit of mashed potatoes but it was well hidden by the berries. This recipe was sooo delicious and the tart definitely looked harder to make then it really was (so I will make this over and over again for company to feed my ego) 😉

TWD: Raspberry Blanc-Manger

Yummy!

This week’s selection was chosen by Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy and it is a winner!!!!

I really enjoyed this recipe- it tasted like it was much more complicated to make than it really was. Great flavor from the raspberry coulis also which I think really made the dessert!! I made this the day my Mom came down to visit- I was so happy to give her a homemade dessert 🙂

A slice

I think the hardest part about this recipe was trying to get a few decent pictures! My camera has issues taking pictures of white foods!