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Posts Tagged ‘12wksxmastreats’

What's_Baking_Badge

Ok, so I was terrible with keeping up with the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats this year. Call me lazy if you’d like. I’ve been super busy and frankly, exhausted over the past few (the first trimester does that to me, apparently!). It’s a wonder I’ve been able to get any posts out over the past few months.

Now that the first trimester has past, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things. If you’re still looking for a holiday cookie for a party, some care packages, or just to have around the house, then this week’s post, something “gingerbread,” to satisfy the What’s Baking? theme chosen by Catherine of Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness, will work for you. I’ve never been particularly interested in gingerbread flavored baked goods, but I did have to stop myself from eating these. The flavor was fairly subtle and the cookies were super soft, just the way I like them.

Enjoy!

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from All Recipes via One Little Project At A Time

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¾ c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 c. + 4 Tbs. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • ¼ c. molasses
  • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.Gingerbread Cookies

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 c. sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Lower speed slightly and one at a time, add egg, water, and molasses. Scrape down sides of mixer and add all remaining ingredients (except for the 4 Tbs. sugar), mixing until just combined.

Use a cookie scoop to form 1-inch balls, shaping them between the palms of your hands as needed. Roll in remaining sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are browned slightly. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Unlike some people, I never really had any strong Christmas traditions of watching a particular movie. When my brothers and I were little, we would watch Christmas specials that my mom recorded (on VHS!) – the Smurf’s Christmas Special, Frosty the Snowman… the homemade movie had all of those amazing Coca Cola polar bear commercials (seriously, why did those every go away?).

But at a certain point, we got too old for the Christmas specials. I don’t know when we stopped watching – junior high? High school? It wasn’t until college that those Christmas specials were replaced with a movie. Elf.

I remember coming home from college and talking about the movie. My mom rolled her eyes at me, but my brother jumped right into the conversation about what a great movie it was. Needless to say, Mom had to watch it with us. Several times that Christmas vacation. Thus began my newest Christmas movie tradition.

These cookies are inspired by that movie. For those of you that don’t know the movie, stop reading right now, and check out Netflix, On Demand, whatever. Watch it, and then finish reading this post. You should be picturing the scene where Will Ferrell is making a breakfast of pasta, candy, and maple syrup for his father’s wife. These cookies aren’t as sickly sweet as I imaging that breakfast would have been.Not surprisingly, I felt like I was eating a handful of candy when I ate a cookie.

I can’t wait to turn my Christmas movie tradition into a movie + baking event with my daughter!

Buddy the Elf Cookies

Buddy the Elf Cookies

Adapted from Spoon or Foon

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

Ingredients for the Cookies:

  • 1½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. M&Ms
  • ½ c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 c. Sno-Caps
  • 4 S’mores Pop Tarts, chopped

Ingredients for the Maple Glaze

  • 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper an set aside.2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.Treats

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla, beating until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mixing well and scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and add oats, Sno-Caps, Pop Tarts, M&Ms, and marshmallows. The batter will be very thick. You’ll want to finish stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure the candy is evenly distributed.
Using an ice cream scoop, portion out cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 14-16 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to cool for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack (set on top of a paper bag to minimize the mess) to cool completely.
Make the Glaze. While cookies are baking, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over cooled cookies.
Store in an airtight container.

Welcome to another week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, a weekly blogging event hosted by Meal Planning Magic. If you haven’t been by in the past, you probably don’t know that I love dressing up nuts for a quick, easy, and super tasty snack at parties. It’s become a staple at my annual holiday party. I’ve done Crock-Pot Sugared Nuts and Mixed Spiced Nuts in the past, but I think this recipe is my favorite. I love the sweet vanilla flavor. And it’s done in 30 minutes – a nice little recipe to keep in your back pocket for last minute guests this holiday season.

Vanilla Almonds.

Vanilla Almonds

Adapted from Taste of Home via That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • 1/2 Tbs. vanilla paste (optional)
  • 4 c. unsalted almonds

Preheat oven to 300º. Line two baking sheets with Vanilla Almondsparchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together both sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy, about a minute. Whisk in vanilla and vanilla paste (if using).

Stir in almonds until they’re completely coated. Pour half of sugar mixture over almonds and stir. Pour remaining sugar mixture over almonds and stir until almonds are evenly coated.

Spread almonds in an even layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring the almonds and rotating the pans midway through baking.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on baking sheets before moving to an airtight container.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Welcome to the first in 12 weeks of Christmas treats, a weekly blog hop hosted by Meal Planning Magic. Now I know it’s early to be thinking about Christmas, but the holiday season is a particularly busy one for me and I like to get a jump start on those holiday care packages and the big holiday party that my hubby and I host each year. So I’m already making lists of goodies that I want to make, and trying to pencil in some time to get baking.  This particular bread recipe freezes well without the glaze (and tastes great without it, if you prefer) and will definitely be making an appearance in some of my care packages this December.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Makes 1 standard loaf (or two smaller, half loaves)

Ingredients for the Bread:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for panCranberry Orange Bread
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 c. cranberries, halved
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. finely grated orange zest

Ingredients for the Glaze:

  • 1 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 350F. If using a standard loaf pan, grease the pan with 1 Tbs. softened butter and lightly flour. Same thing for a disposable aluminum pan. (My pans, purchased from Michael’s craft stores, did not need to be greased, so I omitted this step.)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in cranberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and orange zest. Pour mixture, as well as melted butter, over dry ingredients. Gently fold in until no dry ingredients remain.

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes for a standard loaf pan, and 35-45 minutes for a half-loaf.

Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert bread onto a rack to cool completely before adding glaze.

If using disposable liners, cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze, without glaze.

Glaze Bread: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until smooth, adding extra orange juice by the teaspoon, if needed, to thin glaze. Drizzle over loaf. Store at room temperature, covered, for up to 2 days.

If glazing after freezing, allow bread to thaw completely before adding glaze.

Soft PB Cookies

This is the last week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic, and  I hope you found some great inspiration for your own holiday baking. If you missed any 2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.Treatsof my contributions this year or are interested in what I made last year, check out the 12wksxmastreats tag at the bottom of this post (or click here). As usual, you can see what my fellow bloggers made by checking out the linky at the bottom of this post. I hope you enjoyed another year of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!

While I love peanut butter cookies right out of the oven, I could never find a cookie that stayed soft after they cooled. Until this one. I had these cookies for the first time while I was overseas and immediately demanded the recipe (the original source is unknown). The cookie had the same great peanut butter flavor of most peanut butter cookies (you know, the ones with the criss-cross on the top) but stayed soft even after cooling.

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • mini peanut butter cups, quartered (at least 16)

Soft PB CookiesPreheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and peanut butter on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined. Scrape down sides of the bow. Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking soda and salt and beat until thoroughly combined.

Use a cookie scoop to portion out cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. Cookies should be at least 3 inches apart, as the do spread a good bit. Press peanut butter pieces (4-6 pieces per cookie) into dough, pressing down a little to flatten cookie.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until just turning brown around the edges. Center will still be pale and soft. Allow to cool for 1 minute on baking sheets before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.



Pecan Pie Truffles

I never had the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving dessert when I was growing up. To this day, I won’t touch a pumpkin pie. If pecan pie is my only option, I might indulge, but I don’t have the same affinity for it as most people. These pecan pie truffles, however, are another story. You can’t keep me out of my stash of them. I made mine with bourbon so that they would keep at room temperature (I’ll be shipping some to a special someone and serving them at my holiday party this year).

Recipe Substitution: If you don’t want to use bourbon in this recipe, you can use coconut or almond milk. If you do, be sure to refrigerate the truffles until serving.

Pecan Pie Truffles

Adapted from VegNews via Growing Up Veg

Makes 2 dozen truffles

Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 c. finely chopped pecans (more for garnish, if desired)
  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs (~1 sleeve of Keebler graham crackers)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbp. maple syrup
  • 1/3 c. bourbon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 12-18 oz. dark chocolate candy melts

Place graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup, bourbon and vanilla in a food processor. Pulse until well mixed.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon, portion pecan mixture into balls about 1-inch in diameter and place onto prepared baking sheet. Roll each ball between palms to shape slightly.

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Freeze for 2 hours.

Melt candy melts in microwave. Using two forks, dip each truffle in candy melts. Allow excess to drip off before returning to baking sheet to set. Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.

Allow to set in fridge/freezer 2 hours before serving.

Store in an airtight container. Pecan pie truffles are fine at room temperature but I recommend storing them in the freezer if not serving within a few days.



Liquid Thin Mint

I learned to drink alcohol by drinking girly drinks that didn’t taste like alcohol – Smirnoff Ice, Fuzzy Navels…. and this one, I hesitate to call it by the name I knew it for fear that I will offend you. But I’m going to tell you anyway. I knew this drink as a Dirty Girl Scout. You can bet that I got a lot of shocked looks when I recently started talking about this drink again, at work nonetheless. However, one sip of this concoction and I was no longer the lunatic talking about naughty-sounding things, but I was the genius who introduced them to the dangerously good liquid thin mint. I drink this all year long, you can dress it up for the holidays with a peppermint stick or a candy cane.

Liquid Thin Mints

1 oz. peppermint schnapps
4 oz. chocolate milk
candy cane or peppermint stick (optional garnish)

Place 1/2 – 1 cup ice in a cocktail shaker. Add peppermint schnapps and chocolate milk. Shake like crazy.

Pour, enjoy, and try not to get too drunk.

 2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.TreatsCheck out the below links for more contributions to the 12 Weeks of Holiday Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic



Chocolate Fudge

I really enjoy making various candies during the holiday season because they keep so well. I can make the candy in advance and freeze it. I can give it away, and know that the recipients can store it for a while or freeze it if they are experiencing a sugar overload.

Of all the candies I’ve made, fudge (along with bark) ranks up there as one of the easiest and fastest to make. I’ve made chocolate fudge in the past, but this particular recipe highlights dark dark chocolate, one of my favorites. For some extra holiday pizzazz, I filled cookie cutters with fudge and individually packaged the fudge, instead of making a pan and cutting it into square. I’ll be mailing these goodies in holiday care packages and giving them as favors at a holiday party, but if you have kids, this would also make a cute stocking stuffer.

2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.TreatsThanks again to Meal Planning Magic for hosting the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. Head over to her blog, or check out the linky at the bottom of this post, for more ideas for your holiday baking.

Dark Chocolate Fudge

Adapted from Taste & See That the Lord is Good via Chocolate and Carrots

Makes an 8×8 in. pan (or 8-10 2 in. cookie cutters worth)

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz. can condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • sprinkles (optional)

Line an 8×8 inch pan or Pyrex with parchment paper and set aside.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate chips and condensed milk. Stir regularly until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, if desired.

Refrigerate until set.

Remove fudge from pan and cut with a warm knife.Chocolate Fudge

Fudge in Cookie Cutters: Wrap the bottom of each cookie cutter in aluminum oil and set on a baking sheet before filling. Once set, remove the foil and package.

Freeze: To freeze fudge in pan, wrap tightly in saran wrap. To freeze fudge in cookie cutters, wrap or package each cookie cutter individually. Then seal in an airtight container.



Apple Butter

For the first time in several years, I feel like we’ve had fall here in MD. Usually the weather goes straight from keep-your-ac-cranking hot to curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire cold. This year, we actually have had some beautiful fall weather. Sweatshirt weather. Apple picking weather.

While my apple picking buddy is away right now (and missed terribly!), I couldn’t let this year pass without a trip to the farm. My hubby and I took Sophie pumpkin picking for the first time. We had a picnic with some great friends. And I dragged my hubby to the apple orchard, to pick some of the tastiest apples of the year. Seriously. Apple picking apples taste sooo much better than store-bought apples.

I had a lot of plans for those apples, beyond eating. I probably didn’t pick enough. I made Apple Berry and Rosemary Shortbread from Desserts for Breakfast (who takes amazing photos if you haven’t visited her blog). I made a ton of apple sauce for Sophie (she only likes homemade apple sauce, not store bought apple sauce). And finally, I tried my hand at canning for the first time – I made apple butter, my contribution this week for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. While the apple butter is a great contribution to a holiday breakfast table, I’m planning on giving my jars as Christmas gifts to teachers as part of an apple-themed basket along with some apple-scented items from Bath and Body Works.

Notes:

  1. I used Red Delicious apples for this recipe. The original recipe calls for 2 lbs. MacIntosh apples and 2 lbs. Granny Smith apples. However, author Eleanor Topp says that you can use whatever is fresh and local. The different types might “change the texture of the butter slightly, but starting with quality fruit is the most important thing.”
  2. The recipe refers to a “procedure for shorter processing time,” also from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving. Those directions are interspersed in the recipe below, so that you can time everything appropriately.
  3. I did not use any special canning equipment. I used a large stockpot instead of a canner, and regular kitchen tongs instead of canning tongs. The only thing I bought were mason jars.
  4. I found the labels for the jars at Money Saving Mom. Head over there to download your free printable labels.

Apple Butter

Adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving via Epicurious

Makes 7 cups (4 – 8 oz. jars)

Ingredients:Apple Butter

  • 4 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and diced (~10-12 apples)
  • 1 c. apple cider
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice

Get the apple butter started: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine apples and apple cider. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half and apples have started to soften.

Meanwhile, fill a boiling-water canner (or a very large stockpot) with hot water. Bring to a boil. Using tongs, place canning jars in boiling water. Water should come about 2 inches over the jars. Boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. (This step took ~45 minutes for me.)

Continue with the apple butter: Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Increase heat again to medium-high and boil for another 20 minutes or so.

A few minutes before apples are ready, add lids to boiling water and sanitize according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Line a baking sheet with a couple of clean dish towels while you’re waiting.

Finish the Apple Butter & Can: Using an immersion mixer, puree apple butter to desired consistency. Remove jars and lids from canner/stockpot and place on lined baking sheet. Pour apple butter into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch of room to the rim. If needed, remove air bubbles from jar by sliding a clean spatula between glass and food. Add additional apple butter if needed.

2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.Treats

Wipe rim of jar to remove any excess food. Center lid on jar and screw on band until fingertip-tight. Return sealed jars to the canner, adding boiling water if needed to ensure that the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Boil for 5 minutes.

Remove jars and return to lined baking sheet to cool to room temperature, at least 24 hours. Check jar seals – the lids should be turned downwards and should not move. Tighten band (mine came loose even though jar was sealed).

Label and store in a cool, dark place until giving away or enjoying.



Baked Brie with Cranberries

Every November, I stock my freezer with fresh cranberries that begin to appear in the grocery store. Usually, I use them to make a cranberry pear tart, or some muffins, whenever the mood strikes. I tend to forget about this appetizer, which I first had back in college. I wish I had gotten a photo before we dug in. This brie, my contribution to the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic, is a wonderful, seasonal, appetizer for the Thanksgiving of Christmas season.

Make Ahead: The cranberry mixture can be made earlier in the day. Top brie and bake just before serving.

Baked Brie with Cranberries

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. triple sec
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1-8 oz. wheel of brie

Preheat oven to 400F.

2013_12.Weeks.Of.Christmas.Treats

 

In a small saucepan, combine triple sec, brown sugar and cranberries over medium heat. Cool, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst.

Place brie in an oven-safe serving dish. Top with cranberries mixture. Bake until brie has softened, 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot, with fresh bread or crackers.



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Books n’ Cooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. Some links on Books n’ Cooks may be affiliate links – links books and kitchen supplies that I love and would recommend. If you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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