Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Baking Up A Storm!

If you haven't already started your Christmas baking, chances are you will be getting to it soon. This past weekend we decided to turn our kitchen into a war zone and take our oven hostage. Here are some pictures highlighting the results, along with the recipes for those of you looking to try something new. All of these are quite simple and for the most part require ingredients found around the house. Enjoy!



* 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
* 2 cups white sugar
* 4 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 5 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.



* 1 egg white
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1 pound preferred nut
* 1 cup white sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.

2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

Note: I chose to make 1 pound of mix nuts, although the original recipe calls for pecans. Any of your favorite nuts will work though!



* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
* 1/2 cup milk
* 3/4 cup peanut butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8x8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

Note: I melted a bag of milk chocolate chips and spread it on top, for the final effect.



* 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 tbsp baking cocoa
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
* 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in
* 1 1/2 tsp hot water
* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
* Sugar for rolling

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa. Set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl cream together the butter and fresh ginger. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add molasses; beat until well combined. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking soda mixture.

3. Stir in remaining half of flour mixture until just mixed. Add chocolate chips and stir until blended. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 4 hour or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

5. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and roll in sugar; place 2-inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until the surfaces crack slightly. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely

Note: Recipe attained from the Gold Mountain Manor Bed & Breakfast in Big Bear, CA.



* 1 box red velvet cake mix
* 1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
* 1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
* Wax paper

1. Bake cake as directed in 13 x 9 pan, cool completely then crumble into pan or large bowl.

2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

3. Freeze mixture for about 20 min. and then roll into quarter size balls by hand or with mini ice cream scooper and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50)

4. Freeze for several hours to harden.

5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.

6. Cover balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Note: Only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot. For more variations, visit

The final verdict? Everything turned out absolutely delicious, but if I had to recommend a particular recipe it would probably be the cake balls because they are so unique and highly customizable. But the addiction factor goes to the sugar coated mixed nuts. They are super easy to make and near impossible to put down, as I'm sure your guests will agree! Do you have a stellar Christmas cookie or candy recipe to recommend? Let us know about it!


Kristin said...

They look divine. I'll have to see about making those cake balls -- I'm sure my family would love them.