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What are you baking these days? December, 2011 [OLD]

Hi all, here we are in major baking territory, with the holidays coming up. Family recipes or new favorites, what's making your family happy these days?

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  1. I had a ball of leftover puff pastry scraps so I made a single turnover for a snack. lol

    1. I am making (in no particular order) Mochi, Challah, Rugelach, Babka, All In One Holiday Bundt and maybe Tiramisu Cake.

      1. I'm planning to make mincemeat tarts, using RLB's recipe for sweetcrust pastry, and mincemeat made by Crosse & Blackwell in Merrye England. Is it heresy to not make my own mincemeat ? It is just chopped dried fruit in rum and brandy. Funny thing is that I like mincemeat tarts but not fruitcake.

        Also in the plans, but not baking as such are marrons glacés.

        1 Reply
        1. re: souschef

          I made those tarts, but using a pate brisee recipe I got off the net. Here's a picture.

        2. New to me--Florentines. The ones I first saw in the Penzey's catalog drew me, but after trying one and tasting, I added a little salt and doubled the flour, then drizzled lightly with melted chocolate rather than frosting with a thick coat. Oh, and I used almonds rather than the walnuts the lady in the catalog did.

          Never having tried them previously, I can't say how they compare to anyone else's, but I ate too many of them yesterday if you want to know how good they were. :) Luckily it made a fairly small batch (29 cookies)...and I'll have more people to share them with soon.


          1. Salted caramel apple pie

            6 Replies
            1. re: hannah

              That sounds delicious - care to share the recipe? Beautiful photos, too!

              1. re: biondanonima

                Salted Caramel Apple Pie

                Preheat oven to 400 degrees

                Double Pie Crust

                3 cups flour

                1 cup (2 sticks cold unsalted butter)

                1 Tbsp sugar

                1 tsp salt

                ½ cup to ¾ cup ice cold water

                Combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor or with pastry tool until it looks like coarse small ball (don’t use your hands will take away from having a flaky crust). Gently fold in water until just holds together. You can cut the dough in half and form into disks in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

                Salted Caramel

                1 cup sugar

                ¼ cup water

                1 cup unsalted butter

                ½ cup heavy cream

                1 vanilla bean slit and add seeds to cream

                1/2 tsp good vanilla extract

                1 ½ tsp salt (sea salt or grey salt a light flaky salt)

                Combine the sugar and water and heat on a temperature until sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved add the butter and let bubble on low. Make sure you’re watching it…if it burns you’ll have to start over. The caramel should bubble on a lower setting until it is a beautiful rich brown color. Remove from heat and pour in the cream making sure you get all the vanilla seeds. If you don’t have or feel like paying for a vanilla bean just use a good vanilla extract (approx 1 tsp). Continue to stir the caramel until it is smooth and stir in the salt. Set aside until ready to use (there should be leftover caramel sauce to have your way with).

                Apple Pie Filling

                8-9 mixed apples such as granny smiths, honeycrisp, macintosh, fuji (any good baking apple will do)

                ¼ cup lemon juice

                1/3 cup sugar

                3 ½ Tbsp flour

                ½ tsp plus a little extra good cinnamon

                ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

                1/8 tsp clove

                1/16 tsp maybe more if you like it ground cardamom

                Peel, core and slice apples thin and immerse in the lemon juice to prevent apples from turning brown. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. Taste apples and adjust spices to your liking.

                To assemble

                Roll out one pie crust for a deep dish pie dish. Place a 1/3 of the apple mixture in the pie crust. Pour some of the caramel sauce in a layer over the apples. Repeat this process two more times. Fold out second pie crust (can be whole or done in a lattice, whichever is your preference). Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar and tiny amount of salt on the top of the crust. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes in the lower half of the oven. Turn over down to 350 and bake for another 30-50 minutes (will depend on your oven). Apples should be bubbly and crust golden and cooked through.

                1. re: hannah

                  Saved! Mmmmm! That looks and sounds so good! Thanks for sharing!

                  1. re: hannah

                    Sounds so good! I will have to try it soon!

                    1. re: hannah

                      it's says 1 cup of butter in the caramel...it should read one 1 stick. Not a good typo

                  2. I made Fine Cooking's Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake for Thanksgiving. It is a lovely, lovely cake. It did have a bit of minutiae involved and I am not a gifted baker, so if I am cooking the main meal, I won't be making it for that event. But if I am tasked with bringing dessert? This is a showstopping winner.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: NanH

                      Thanks, Nan. The cakes just came out of the oven and look and smell wonderful. My nuts didn't coat very well for the topping but still taste great.

                      I was in real need of inspiration for one more dessert, and this seems perfect.

                    2. I've just now decided that I'm going to try my hand at these Italian Layer Cookies:


                      I literally have a 7lb can of almond paste that I need to crack open but these only use, oh...8oz. It's going to be an almond Christmas!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: krisrishere

                        Krisishere, there's a great pignoli cookie recipe on epicurious that happens to use 16 oz of almond paste. They're as close as I can get to N.Y.C. Italian bakery cookies without leaving northern Arizona. I may add them to my baking roster this cold and rainy weekend.


                        1. re: krisrishere

                          You know I often wish you were my neighbor--we would buzz through that can right quick, lady! Can't wait to see what else you come up with. I have a list of almond paste treats (some tried, some to be tried). Find me if you run out of ideas...what am I saying...of course you won't run out of ideas! ;)

                          ETA: This is gonna be a FAB month of baking!!!

                            1. re: krisrishere

                              I have some disappointing marzipan I got at Ikea (not good enough to dip or shape) and was wondering if I could use it (with some almond extract, it's not very flavorful) and reduce the sugar in that recipe. Or maybe there's another recipe it would be okay in?

                              1. re: krisrishere

                                I would never try to dissuade you from having an almond Christmas, but almond paste keeps well for a long time if well-wrapped and stored in the fridge. I have a friend who every year buys a 10-pound slab at cost from his friend who owns a bakery. It gets used in his annual kulich (Russian Easter bread) and straight through the year, including for the masses of Christmas cookies, and is still in good shape.

                                1. re: krisrishere

                                  I have been baking these for 20 years (and eating them close to 40 years) -- they are, hands down, my favorite cookie and the most-requested Christmas cookie I make. My recipe is pretty much the same as the one on SK except mine has 3 sticks of butter and about half the amount of food coloring. They are time consuming and use every bowl and pan in your house, but so worth it.

                                  Some tips for you --
                                  * Make life easy on yourself and use disposable 9x13x1 pans to bake in.
                                  *Heat the preserves in the jar in a microwave (remove the cap, of course) and stir every 15 secs or so. Don't bother to strain it - just pick out the largest, lumpy pieces of fruit as you spread the jam on the layers.
                                  * for folks who don't have 7lbs of almond paste to use :) Solo almond pie filling is much easier to work with than almond paste.

                                  1. re: krisrishere

                                    Saveur's recently published a recipe for these as well. My wife loves these.

                                  2. In the last month or so (not December), I have been baking almond cookies and rugelachs. If you count steaming pastry as "baked goods", then I have also been making a lot of barbecue pork steamed buns. I know, I know, they are not really baked. :)

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      What kinda almond cookies, Chem? Good to see you over here!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        Hmm, how to describe? They are crumby and sandy (texture) cookies with a decent amount of butter. When you touch them, they have a rough and sandy texture. When you bite them, they are crumby (not chewy or bready). When I bake them next time, I will take photos of them. They are probably one of my best received cookies among my coworkers. Whenever I bring them to work to share, they disappear much fast than most others kind of cookies I make.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Are they the almond cookies with almond slices (or a whole almond) pressed into the top that some Chinese restaurants serve at the end of a meal? I love them and used to bake them years ago, if so--from whatever very basic Chinese cookbook I had when I was in college. No clue where that recipe is anymore. I should look. Your description is very tempting if you wouldn't mind sharing your version. Pics are always nice, too.

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            Yes, inspired by the Chinese almond cookies, but mine are more flaky and crumby, and less snappy or crispy in comparison. It used butter instead of lard. I did tried lard, but it didn't turn out as nicely. I am sure lard would work, but I just have to tweak the rest of the ingredients. I promise you that I will bake the almond cookies within two weeks, and I will post both the photos and the recipes together online. It is a promise! :D

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              EXCELLENT--and I will look for my old recipe in the meantime, too. Thanks!

                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                Chemkin my dear, great to see you here. Please share the recipe, they sound fab. I make them with a recipe from "Heritage Baking with the Brass Sisters" (a nice book, btw) that calls for lard. One person who had them said they were just like the ones they used to serve in NYC Chinese restaurants, and my Singaporean Chinese hairdresser said they reminded her of Chinese New Year at home. The holy grail for me in Chinese-American coookies is the walnut ones I used to get in Bay Area shops from Golden Dragon bakery - dense and nutty. This recipe with a cup of walnuts processed into the flour approximates them.

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  kattyeyes and buttertart,

                                                  I just baked my almond cookies. Here are some photos. The last two photos try to illustrate the texture. As you can see, the cookies are not dense and not chewy. They are full of air pockets, and are crispy and flaky.

                                                  2 cups of all purpose flour
                                                  1/2 cup of blanched almonds bits (rough ground almond is ok)
                                                  1 teaspoon of baking powder
                                                  1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

                                                  1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature or melted butter
                                                  1 cup of white sugar
                                                  1 egg
                                                  1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)

                                                  32-48 whole almonds or almond slice
                                                  1 egg yolk
                                                  1 teaspoon of water

                                                  Preheat oven at 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
                                                  Toast the almond bits either in oven or in a skillet, stir occasionally, until fragrant and slightly brown. Cool it. Then grind them in a food processor if not already ground.
                                                  In a bowl, blend flour, ground almond, baking powder, baking soda together.
                                                  In a separate bowl, mix butter with sugar with an electrical mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; mix to combine. Gradually add the dry ingredients, mix on low speed until combined.

                                                  Two optional approaches from there:
                                                  (1) Drop Cookie Approach
                                                  Shape 2 tablespoonful of dough into flatten ball. Repeat and place the cookies on the cookie sheets.
                                                  (2) Icebox Cookie Approach
                                                  Roll dough into a log shape (2.5-2.75 inches diameter) on a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over the dough and put it in refrigerator or freezer until firm (15 minutes in a freezer). Take the cold dough out, slice it at <1/4 inch thick and place the cookie on the cookie sheets.

                                                  Combine egg yolk with water. Brush the egg wash on the cookie and gently press blanched almonds into dough.
                                                  Bake until lightly browned, about 14-15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    NICE!!! Thanks for all the different views. They look delicious! I still have to dig out my old Sunset book to compare notes with you. I sure do love these cookies. Do you ship? JUST KIDDING! And I like the log technique, too. Then again, all kids love log (HA HA HA!):

                                                    I will hafta make some soon. We are big almond lovers here!

                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                      Soft or melted butter? Did you try them both ways, any difference?
                                                      Try browning the butter sometime...:)
                                                      These look great, I will definitely try them. Thanks, friend knife maven and cookie baker!

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        Me or Kattyeyes?

                                                        I use soft butter. I did try both way, and didn't feel a huge difference. You may want to play around the time from 13-15 depending on the oven temperature.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Nah, that was for you buddy, though I know what you mean. I experimented a bit with browned butter in different recipes last year--sometimes it's magical; other times it's not a huge difference, as you said. To paraphrase Mr. Rogers, I like almond cookies just the way they are!

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              LOLOL! We'll leave him out of future almond cookie baking discussions, then. ;)

                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Wow - my almond cookies are mandlebrot (like a jewish biscotti, just gentler).

                                          They are very well loved but yours might give me a run or my money!

                                        3. I just made mini nutella pochette from Melissa D'Arabian's ten dollar dinners program. They are cute little cookes that have been very well received by my extended family. I expect they'll be gone soon.

                                          1. Experimental half-batch of cranberry-orange muffins = NOMMMM!

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                              Now those are 3 pics in a row that tell a delicious tale. Thanks, kittykatty!

                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                  Those look really good! I love that combo of cranberry and orange. :9

                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                    Precious. I too am a fan of this combination and I just made some cranberry streusel bars (twice now) that are AMAZING if you are a fan of cranberry in desserts!

                                                    1. re: peppermint_sky

                                                      Thank you. I absolutely am a fan if you have a moment and would like to share your cranberry streusel bars!

                                                  2. We're having our annual Christmas Desserts and Cocktails party on Saturday so I have been baking all week. This is what I'm making/already made:

                                                    Pumpkin Pie cake pops

                                                    Oreo cake pops

                                                    Brown Sugar Cookies (my favorite of the bunch - used an Epicurious recipe)

                                                    Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

                                                    Choco-lava cookies (my 4 year old's favorite - crispy outside, chewy like brownies inside)

                                                    Nutella cookies

                                                    Mocha ganache cups

                                                    mini pumpkin gingerbread muffins

                                                    butter spritzes

                                                    blackberry thumbprints

                                                    peppermint brownie bites

                                                    chocolate and white chocolate covered pretzel rods

                                                    s'mores snack mix (strictly speaking not really baking but good for munching on!)
                                                    Oh and I just made a Clementine Cake too - that's really my favorite this time of year.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: momnivore

                                                      Where's the choco-lava cookie recipe from, if I may ask?

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        I made this one from food.com - my dough was really sticky and tough to work with but the end results were delicious. http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolava-...

                                                        1. re: momnivore

                                                          Ah, OK, I was wondering, too--same as buttertart. They're similar to chocolate crinkles (at least in appearance). Recipe is not totally dissimilar, either, though mine does not call for brown sugar. I was thinking of something with a lava center!

                                                          1. re: momnivore

                                                            That Chocolava recipe is a favorite in our house too. It's from Julie Van Rosendaal's "One Smart Cookie." I find mixing it in a food processor then using a spatula to get the last of it incorporated works. I use a cookie scoop to portion out the dough then roll them in the powdered sugar. They're sticky but not so sticky that the dough is unworkable. I just might have to make a batch tonight-my oldest is having a sleepover. :)

                                                        2. re: momnivore

                                                          So the dessert party was a success (everything but the nutella cookies - tasted good but had a weird consistency) and now I get to make my coworkers happy with a sampling tray of left overs :)

                                                          1. re: momnivore


                                                            Is this the recipe that you used for the brown sugar cookies?


                                                            And could I get the recipe for the clementine cake, please?

                                                            1. re: peppermint_sky

                                                              Yup - that's the brown sugar cookie recipe. I really liked them - they had a little bit of spice to make them feel Christmas-y but not too much to make them feel like gingerbread or spice cookies or anything like that.
                                                              As for the Clementine Cake, here is my recipe which is an adoption of Nigella Lawson's (which can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ni...


                                                              Almond Clementine Cake
                                                              • 4 to 5 clementines (about 1 pound total weight) (I’ve also made this with blood oranges which is lovely but they have seeds which can be a pain to deal with)
                                                              • 6 eggs
                                                              • 1 1/4 cups sugar
                                                              • 2 and 1/3 cups almond flour
                                                              • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
                                                              • 1 teaspoon almond extract
                                                              • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                              • 1 orange flavored chocolate bar (optional) (Lindts makes an orange/almond chocolate bar which I think worked great)
                                                              Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
                                                              Using a fork, prick each clementine 3-4 times and then place them in a microwave safe dish and cover. Microwave for approximately 8 minutes – the fruit should be really soft and fragrant.
                                                              [OR Put the clementines (peels on) in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours and then drain. I’ve done it both ways – and prefer the microwave]
                                                              When cool, cut each clementine in half and check for seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor.
                                                              Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
                                                              Beat the eggs.
                                                              Add the sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract, almond flour, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
                                                              Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover the cake with foil after about 30 minutes to stop the top from burning.
                                                              Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. While it’s still hot, shave the chocolate onto the top of the cake so it melts all over.
                                                              When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan. I think this is better a day after it's made, and keeps well for a full week easy.

                                                          2. Just made my first batch of oreo truffles. As always when I try to dip things in chocolate, I ending going through every bowl and spatula in the apartment, and smearing chocolate everywhere. Just hope that my book club likes it..

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rstuart

                                                              Sounds like they'd be fools not to!

                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                Well, they were very restrained.. I ate more than anyone else!

                                                            2. Not really baking, but I made avalanche bars (rice krispie treats made with white chocolate, pb, mini choc chips and mini marshmallows.) They're sooo good ... must get them out of the house!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                NOM!!! I know that feeling all too well! ;)

                                                              2. I'm making bagels today! Mostly out of boredom. LOL.

                                                                1. I made a semolina, olive and rosemary focaccia this afternoon. Pretty tasty.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: BabsW

                                                                    NICE! What's in the bowl next to it, as it looks perfect for dipping? Oil? Soup? Either way, looks great!

                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                      Thanks! You got it, it's a rosemary-infused warm olive oil for dipping the bread. :9

                                                                  2. I made the pumpkin chocolate chip bread from the king Arthur flour book, added a streusel on top. It's so good and stayed moist for a week.

                                                                    1. I have oatmeal cookie dough sitting on the counter, need to get it made into cookies (or shelved in the fridge), and intend to make bread tomorrow. Maybe something breakfasty like bran muffins too.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Oh yum! Straight up oatmeal, or have you included goodies of the chocolate/candy/coconut sort? What's your recipe of choice? I can't break away from Nanny's/Quaker's (not vanishing), but I'm always curious. >>^..^<<

                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                          I used Alice Medrich's recipe from the most recent cookie book and browned the butter, baybee! The Beast said they were great (unsolicited). Hadn't seen this until now - http://pastrychefbaking.blogspot.com/... - mine look the same except for the fruit. Used 1/2 tsp less cinnamon and no dried fruit.

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            HOO-AHH on the browned butter! Those look great! Yeah, no fruit in ours either EVAH!

                                                                      2. I baked cornbread with sage leaves and feta today, from the current Cookbook of the Month, 150 Best American recipes. It's a straightforward buttermilk cornbread with crumbled feta mixed in, that's baked in a glass pie plate that is buttered heavily, with sage leaves pressed into the butter, and you invert it onto a plate and reveal them. It's got a light texture and is delicious.

                                                                        The recipe is at the link below; the only changes I made were to add 1/2 tsp. baking soda, as suggested by the authors of the book I was working from, and to use equal amounts of cornmeal and flour (so 2 T. more cornmeal, 2 T. less flour than recipe specifies).


                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          That is picture-perfect, Caitlin. Love it!

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            Must make that, the feta idea is great. What type of sage is that?

                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                              I'm afraid I don't know the particular variety, with those long, thin leaves - it's just what I picked up at the farmers' market.

                                                                          2. This week I made pineapple upside down cake using smitten kitchen's recipe. I used fresh pineapple and I have a feeling it would have been fantastic, however, I did not butter the pan! The directions omitted this step but as an experienced baker I feel that I should have known better. A lot of the pineapples stuck to the pan but I am hoping that next time I make it this will not happen. I also made eggnog bread pudding using the epi recipe for black and white chocolate bread pudding with Irish cream sauce recipe. I halved the recipe and used 1/2 cream 1/2 eggnog in replace of all of the cream. Also used eggnog in place of the Irish cream in the sauce. My family gobbled it up and I think there might be about a sliver left. I am seriously contemplating making this for guests, it is that good! Btw I am thinking of making stollen for Christmas because of my German heritage. I have looked it up on chowhound but am wounding if anyone has had any recent experience making it. Thank you in advance for your reply!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                I loved the response on a thread here that said someone's German mother bought the Leibniz or whatever brand at Costco and rewrapped them in plastic wrap and tinfoil to give away. Heheheh. That's what I'll make this year instead of fruitcake, I'm awash in it and so is my MIL.

                                                                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                  Thank you very much Chocolatechipkt for the recipe! And Buttertart I had read that post earlier about rewrapping the stollen and giving it as gifts and could not stop laughing myself. After looking at some of the recipes I almost thought about doing it too. lol But the challenge of making it has piqued my interest to a point where I have got to try at least once.

                                                                                2. re: Redstickchef

                                                                                  I would have gobbled that eggnog bread pudding, too. Sounds FANTASTIC!

                                                                                3. I'd planned on trying my hand at vanilla bean scones this morning, but what actually came off the baking sheet is something I am calling a vanilla bean shortcake for 2 reasons:

                                                                                  First, I think my baking soda and baking powder have fallen flat. I got nowhere near the rise I'd anticipated and secondly, stupid me baked before imbibing coffee and FORGOT TO ADD THE SUGAR to the dough.


                                                                                  At any rate, a vanilla bean glaze sweetened things up and these little shortcake thingies were pretty good with the long-awaited cup of coffee.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: BabsW

                                                                                    Great pic of the glazing in process! I do smart things like that first thing in the morning, too, if it makes ya feel any better. ;)

                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                      Thanks! I had fun with the action shots lol

                                                                                      It's nice to know that I'm in good company. :D

                                                                                  2. My son has been very unenthusiastic about breakfast these days, but he complains about how hungry he gets in school since he eats breakfast before 7:30AM and doesn't have a break until 1PM. That's tough for a growing teenaged boy! In order to tempt him, I made my usual apple cake, except that this time, I decided to sprinkle some caramel chips I got from Kingarthurflour.com over the apple layers. It smells and looks fantastic, so I think that breakfast tomorrow (and dessert tonight) will be a happy occasion!

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                      If he's not interested, I'd like his portion, please.

                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                        There's plenty for everyone! In fact, I'm sending my husband to work today with some for his partner. It's too big even for a teenaged boy!

                                                                                    2. I made Ina Garten's Lemon Cake:
                                                                                      And the verdict from my son was, "The best lemon pound cake you've ever made, Mom." Now, I'm not sure it's a pound cake, but I baked it in two loaf pans, as recommended, and it looks like one. Very light and super lemony was the consensus. An excellent recipe!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                        I like that recipe too. :)

                                                                                        Have you tried her lemon yogurt cake? http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

                                                                                      2. I've made Martha Stewarts Babka which came out delighful and will be making Saveur's Rugelach recipe soon as well as Pizza Patate, Olive Oil and Orange Bundt, Dorie's All In one Holiday Bundt and some mexican wedding cookies.

                                                                                        1. I made some chocolate chip cookies from America's Test Kitchen (can't wait to make their lemon bars.) I also made a quick pumpkin pie that was really good.

                                                                                          1. I made apple cider muffins for a colleague's retirement breakfast yesterday.. and will be making cranberry cream cheese pound cake for my office potluck tonight. This time of year I feel like I'm baking every night after work!

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: rstuart

                                                                                              Both sound delicious! Would you mind sharing the cranberry cream cheese pound cake recipe?

                                                                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                Sure! The cake recipe comes from my aunt via my mother.. no idea where it originally came from. I find that it's a real crowd pleaser, and it makes a lot..
                                                                                                1 1/2 Cup softened butter
                                                                                                1 8oz pkg cream cheese
                                                                                                3 Cups sugar
                                                                                                6 eggs
                                                                                                3 Cups cake flour (sifted)
                                                                                                2 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                3 cups frozen cranberries
                                                                                                -cream butter and sugar in mixer. gradually add sugar until mixture is light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour. mixing well. Add vanilla ( batter will be fairly thick..)
                                                                                                Dredge cranberries in 2 tbs flour, mix into batter. Pour batter into well greased tube or bundt pan that has been dusted with sugar, and bake at 325 for at least 1.5 hours (I find it often takes up to 2 hrs). Test with skewer to see if it's done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove tube section (if using tube pan) and let cool completely before removing from pan.
                                                                                                Makes a large cake; will serve 16 to 20...

                                                                                                1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                  Mmmm! Clipped! Thank you for sharing!

                                                                                                    1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                      rstuart this pound cake sounds fabulous-Is the cream cheese added with the butter?

                                                                                                      1. re: maplesugar

                                                                                                        Ooops.. yes! That detail would have helped!

                                                                                                      2. re: rstuart

                                                                                                        I fixed the typo about when to add the cream cheese:
                                                                                                        Sure! The cake recipe comes from my aunt via my mother.. no idea where it originally came from. I find that it's a real crowd pleaser, and it makes a lot..
                                                                                                        1 1/2 Cup softened butter
                                                                                                        1 8oz pkg cream cheese
                                                                                                        3 Cups sugar
                                                                                                        6 eggs
                                                                                                        3 Cups cake flour (sifted)
                                                                                                        2 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                        3 cups frozen cranberries
                                                                                                        -cream butter and cream cheese in mixer. gradually add sugar until mixture is light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour. mixing well. Add vanilla ( batter will be fairly thick..)
                                                                                                        Dredge cranberries in 2 tbs flour, mix into batter. Pour batter into well greased tube or bundt pan that has been dusted with sugar, and bake at 325 for at least 1.5 hours (I find it often takes up to 2 hrs). Test with skewer to see if it's done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove tube section (if using tube pan) and let cool completely before removing from pan.
                                                                                                        Makes a large cake; will serve 16 to 20...

                                                                                                  1. Not a lot of dough (pun intended!) to bake a lot, but I still made buttercup squash galettes and orange crackled cookies these days. I thought these would make fine gift for a friend who loves baked goods.

                                                                                                    1. Tonight I baked a batch of peanut butter oatmeal biscuits for the granddog.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                        Talk about a lucky dog! :) That's quite adorable.

                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                          I hope the pooch agrees. I'm not much of a baker, and this was a low-risk venture. :)

                                                                                                      2. Today: King Arthur's 1 2 3 4 Peanut Butter Cookies. (Needed something glutenfree for friend). Added chocolate chips to tops. Yum! Also, GF Rice Krispie Treats

                                                                                                        Yesterday: 2 Buttermilk yeast loaves. 1 with fresh Asiago chunks. 2 with a Pesto Swirl with fresh Asiago chunks. (I'd made these for first time on Saturday & 1st loaf didn't make it off the cooling rack! Decided to try some pesto the next time. Yum!)

                                                                                                        Last week: Biscuits and Gravy for first time, Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Challah. I usually turn it into a tea ring or cinnamon swirl bread, but I just baked up 2 loaves because I had to take a mini-adventure. I've been baking up a storm since it finally cooled off in Texas.

                                                                                                        This Sunday we're baking poundcake and NinjaBreadMen for a party. And, Grandma's dinner rolls. And a million other things. :)

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Eileeeen

                                                                                                          I made the plum almond cake from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries (COTM a couple of months ago). It's made with almond meal and flour and butter and eggs. It gets sort of crispy around the edges (almost like a cookie) but the inside is moist . For the past couple of years I've been addicted to cakes using nut meal (mostly almond). The plums I got at the local farmer's market were hard as rocks and pretty tart. It is, after all, way after their prime season. I had some plum jam I made from a friend's plum tree and drizzled that over the plums just before baking. Really good!

                                                                                                          I have this outlet for my baking mania - I make a cake, we have a piece each and then my husband takes it to work the next day so we don't pig out.

                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                            With you on the almond meal! Have you tried shortbread with it, too? It's a big favorite from my kitchen. And I've halved the recipe so I don't have a whole honking pan of it to tempt me. :)

                                                                                                        2. Made some napoleons yesterday. Had made puff pastry dough a couple of days before when I had a conference call, and time to kill... I mean, time to listen with free hands. Was incredibly happy when my pastry "puffed," as I am always grateful when I haven't over-worked it, and the result is as the name promises. Creme Patissiere and Fondant topping both good. Only thing that truly displeased me was my ability to cut proper lines. One end of my (prior to cutting) napoleon strip was like the leaning tower of pastry. oh well, tasted good.

                                                                                                          Finally got to use up the random flavored marshmallows I've picked up over time at the 99 cent store. Used em to make variations on rice krispie treats for my holiday troops care packages.

                                                                                                          1. (almost) no knead bread :) -- my first time with this. A smashing success. Good for packing on a few extra pounds before the holidays, ha. I kneaded 15 times and baked in the LC.

                                                                                                            Cranberry streusel bars. Delightful. I have made two batches of these and add touches of citrus. Refreshing filling with a very buttery shortbread.

                                                                                                            Dark chocolate tart with oatmeal crust and (tart) cranberry topping. This was my Thanksgiving dessert (inspired by ghg, thank you). I used a tart recipe from epi and ghg's crust and cranberry, and I can highly recommend it as a stunning dessert if anyone is looking for ideas for December gatherings. Absolutely gorgeous and decadent.


                                                                                                            Old-fashioned oatmeal cookies.

                                                                                                            1. Alright I made All-In-One Holiday Bundt courtesy of Dorie and some Babka. Needless to say, I need to work on my icings.

                                                                                                              1. It's all begun, y'all. So far I've mixed up double batches of ginger spice cookies and reverse chocolate chip cookies and a batch of caramelitas. Still to go tonight: pb oatmeal dog bones and triple pb m&m cookies. More this weekend ...

                                                                                                                I keep finding new cookie recipes I want to try--and I don't mean later. I'm trying to not go overboard, but it's hard! :)

                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                  Just my own twisted mind at work, but when I had a dog, I loved to bake her dog biscuits in regular cookie shapes and make the dog bone shapes for people cookies--particularly gingerbread! Fun! :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                    LOL! I was just trying to decide what shape to make the dog bones--I do have a paw print, but it's not here atm. I've got pretty much every other shape under the sun, though. Crab? Lobster? Moose? Christmas tree? simple hearts? The real requirement is that it's not too big, b/c then she just buries them (in plain sight) and barks at them.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                      I love this! Hearts or trees, probably...crab, lobster and moose have too many easily breakable "parts" to snap off as your dog makes off with them. Your last sentence is hysterical!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                        I had to laugh and remember this thread at my friend's house on Saturday. She had made a big plate of sugar cookies in the shape of trees and snowmen and...right, dog bones. Guess which ones left the plate the fastest? EVERYONE wanted the dog bones! Funny. :)

                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                          LOL, that's great. I ended up making dog paws (see below), because when I finally baked them, I wasn't at home and the paw was all I had with me.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                      How'd your dog bones turn out? The grandpup loves the ones I made for her, but they're so hard, she has a hard time biting into them. Once we break them up into bite-size morsels, she loves them.

                                                                                                                      Ya know... suddenly I'm remembering why I stopped making people cookies, too... :-)

                                                                                                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                        By "people cookies" do you mean gingerbread men ? :-)

                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                          <LAUGH> No, I meant cookies intended for people -- as opposed to cookies intended for pooches. Animals seem to be more appreciative of my baked goods than people are.

                                                                                                                        2. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                          The dog bones are great! (well, according to the dog) The first few disappeared quickly and she followed me around looking for more, but the last one I gave her was a bit thicker (see the above comment), and she worried over it all day, wondering where to hide it. I use the recipe from KAF -- it's flour, oatmeal, dried milk powder, peanut butter, parsley, and eggs.

                                                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                            Meant to add this pic: hidden in plain sight. :)

                                                                                                                            1. Wednesday I had a holiday party to go to so I made tartlets filled with apple, bacon, brie and golden raisins. OK, so I cheated and cut rounds out of store-bought pie dough, but they were a big hit. Next time, the combination will be pear, blue cheese and walnuts.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                                Both varieties sound great to me! Nice combos!

                                                                                                                              2. Made peppermint oreo truffles and cranberry bliss bars for a friend's birthday..

                                                                                                                                1. Today is day 2 in baking hell. I love baking, but I always go over board! Yesterday I made homemade gumdrops and lollipops. Between today and tomorrow I will make: Italian Almond Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, good ol' Chocolate Chip Cookies, Italian 7 Layer Cookies and Hershey's Pretzels Candies....oh, and Chex Mix but that doesn't really count. Ugh, what did I get myself into?? :) I'll post pictures later!

                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: krisrishere

                                                                                                                                    LOL, I do the same thing! Can't wait to see your pics!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                      I love those crazy big baking days! Exhausting, though.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                        Luckily little to nothing will be leftover - most of it goes into cookie tins for my husbands employees. Here's a picture of the gumdrops:

                                                                                                                                    2. re: krisrishere

                                                                                                                                      My Christmas cookie tins and the beginning of my Italian 7 Layer Cookies! 7 hours of baking today and i'm beat!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: krisrishere

                                                                                                                                        Mmmmm! Do you ship? :) I love the beginning of your layer cookies photo--you've got the Italian flag goin' on! What flavor gumdrops and lollies did you make? P.S. I finally picked up bitter almond yesterday at Sundial Gardens. I can now think about making those almond clouds we talked about! :)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                          Here's the final cookie - love them! I made peppermint gumdrops and peppermint, orange and cinnamon roll flavored suckers. Oo, can't wait to see those clouds ;)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: krisrishere

                                                                                                                                                Those are amazing. I have never even seen those cookies as homemade. I am impressed. Are the layers different flavors?
                                                                                                                                                I also have been baking too much. I have relatives over for "one last hurrah" on Thursday before everyone goes back home, and I meant to make 1 dessert. So far I have made 4! Unfortunately, I have yet to make any savory dishes, so I guess they just get dessert!

                                                                                                                                        2. Made Iced Pumpkin Cookies this afternoon. Subbed baked butternut squash for the pumpkin -- very very nice. These we make every Christmas, haven't tired of them yet.

                                                                                                                                          1. I'm making a pear/cranberry crisp for a christmas party potluck tomorrow. Smells good!!

                                                                                                                                            1. I made the fig cake using almonds instead of hazelnuts as the person for whom it was destined is allergic to hazelnuts. Everything went well until I went to transfer the cake to a cake board after I glazed it; the cake almost broke (a problem that Cynsa had). Fortunately I was using a 3-inch wide pancake turner to do the transfer, aided by an offset spatula, and was able to do it without mishap, apart from a slightly rippled surface.

                                                                                                                                              I have made that cake at least 50 times before, and this was the first time that happened. I never imagined that subbing almonds for hazelnuts would cause such a problem.

                                                                                                                                              Buttertart, I'm amazed that (considering that this is December) the post count on this thread is so low.

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                Today was a Christmas cookie bonanza at my house. Snickerdoodles, molasses, peanut butter cup and sugar cookies. All turned out beautifully... Packaged them in clear cello bags tied with ribbon. Will be delivering to neighbors and friends in the morning:)

                                                                                                                                                1. re: laytonj1

                                                                                                                                                  How does one go about becoming one of your neighbours? All MY neighbours give me is a warm handshake; I prefer baked goods.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                  I was sorting through CH recipes today and saw your cake, must make it again. It is odd about the almonds, perhaps their oil content is lower?
                                                                                                                                                  Had thought the same thing - maybe people are busy baking or posting on Christmas cookie threads or others?

                                                                                                                                                3. Ok I'm done with the holiday baking ...
                                                                                                                                                  -almond buttercrunch (x3)
                                                                                                                                                  -ginger spice cookies (x2)
                                                                                                                                                  -reverse choc chip cookies (x2)
                                                                                                                                                  -triple pb cookies (x2)
                                                                                                                                                  -choc dipped coconut macaroons (x2)
                                                                                                                                                  -caramelitas (salty caramel oat bars)
                                                                                                                                                  -avalanche bars (x2)
                                                                                                                                                  -pb dog bones

                                                                                                                                                  All I have to do now is a birthday cake and figure out something festive for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                    Lasagna and a six-inch choc raspberry cake. Both will taste good, but I should have stayed out of the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                      Someone should have taken YOU out to dinner after all you made!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                        They really should have! But they were all out of town, and there was a birthday yesterday, with a busy week ahead, so ...

                                                                                                                                                  2. Not baking, but made these last night. You can find the recipe by googling it, they are delicious, easy and impressive I think for the Holiday Season.


                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                                                      Spiced pumpkin cake, Italian ground almond cake, and I am sending my guests home christmas day with caramel salted peanut apples.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                                                        Those are ADORABLE - I'm definitely bookmarking this!

                                                                                                                                                        1. Ricotta cookies, with almond icing, peanut blossoms (peanut butter Hershey's kiss cookies) and chocolate chips.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Gribee (Lebanese pistachio shortbread) and Hasselnuss Spritzgebãck (hazelnut cookies - very buttery and very fragile).

                                                                                                                                                            1. Last night/this morning I baked double batches of both Cranberry Mandarin White Chocolate cookies, and World Peave/Korova cookies. Christmas baking exchange at the office today.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I made the Brandied Apricot Cakes fom "Cocolat" (in 2 Bundt pans), and once again parts of the tops of both cakes did not want to say goodbye to the pan (they got stuck).

                                                                                                                                                                I did my usual lots of butter and some flour thing, which works for all other cakes in these pans all the time,, but only sometimes for this darn cake. I was wondering if it has anything to do with the cooling time before it is turned out. Medrich says about 10 minutes; I went for 15.

                                                                                                                                                                It was delicious warm, but I wish I could sort out this problem once and for all. Maybe time to try Wilton's spray; Medrich specifies Pam (no flour), but I'm skeptical.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                  Get the Wilton stuff that comes in a bottle, if they had greased Pooh Bear up with that stuff he'd have been out of the hunny tree posthaste.

                                                                                                                                                                2. On the weekend, I made apricot-almond bars, a three-layer affair with a buttery pastry base, spread with a filling of simmered dried apricots and a topping made from almond paste, butter, sugar, eggs. I thought they were very good, and they went fast and got compliments at the thing I took them to. Base a bit crumbly, but otherwise no complaints.

                                                                                                                                                                  Also baked mini loaves of a David Lebovitz recipe for a chocolate cake stuffed with rum-soaked dried cherries, toasted nuts, and chocolate chips, then doused with rum while warm. Unfortunately, all but one stuck badly, despite liberal use of baking spray. The recipe is for a bundt pan, which probably would've been a disaster. Parchment next time. It tastes wonderful, but isn't exactly gift-worthy with chunks missing (I did send off the intact one, to good reception). I'm thinking of trying to repurpose it and make rum balls, if I can find the time.

                                                                                                                                                                  Today I baked those brown butter dream cookies for the weekend, and have a pan of caramels setting up, which I'll have to cut and wrap tomorrow. Not really looking forward to that part, just takes me a long time. And if I make the planned chocolate caramels, more to cut and wrap.

                                                                                                                                                                  16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                    Why type of baking spray did you use?

                                                                                                                                                                    Those rum balls sound like they'd be great.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                      It's the oil + flour spray, right now I have Spectrum brand, but have also used Baker's Joy and Pam for Baking. Usually works great, especially on something as simple as a loaf pan!

                                                                                                                                                                      I gather one can make a knockoff of the Wilton stuff mentioned above by combining equal parts shortening, veg oil, and flour.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                      So, I chopped up the four mini loaf cakes (which had been in the freezer), then pulsed them to crumbs in the food processor, drizzled in a bit of the syrup from a jar of stem ginger in syrup (for the sticky factor) and more Myers rum, pulsed again, and rolled the results in one-inch balls, which I then rolled in cocoa powder. Result: six dozen chocolate rum balls.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, they do sound super. I find, though, that anything rolled in cocoa powder makes me cough....and I'm not allergic to cocoa or chocolate.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                            Do you have a similar reaction to things rolled in powdered sugar? These needed to be rolled in something to finish so they wouldn't be sticky, and with the cocoa, they ended up resembling truffles which may have confounded some expectations! They turned out really well, I thought. I did ignore the Julia Child dictum to never tell guests that what you're serving wasn't exactly what you'd intended when I explained how they came about to one of the recipients (a professional chef, no less). Hey, he asked about the execution, and I was honest.

                                                                                                                                                                            Pictured here along with the chocolate and plain caramels.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                              Very nice, Caitlin. Candy is fun to make, I finally broke down and made our family recipe for peanut brittle this year.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                You wrapped your caramels so perfectly, Caitlin. Is that commercial wax paper you used?

                                                                                                                                                                                I attempted "soft caramels" yesterday for the first time--seems I overcooked them. But not before UNDERcooking them the first round and then putting 'em back on the stove. ARGH. My fault--not the recipe's. Are yours soft? What recipe did you use?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                  Believe me, I'm not being modest when I say I really did not wrap most them perfectly (and it takes me forever, anyway!). This is the first time I've used wax paper to wrap, and it's pretty forgiving (and doesn't stick); previously, I'd only used the colored foil candy wrappers. This is what I used, cut in half crosswise, because I like the caramels bite-sized (I bought at a local cake/candy supply shop): https://www.lorannoils.com/p-8675-twi...

                                                                                                                                                                                  I used the recipe in How to Cook Everything, which I guess is a bit of a cheat because you don't caramelize the sugar separately to begin with, you just throw everything in the pot and cook away (which also means no crystalization worries). So it doesn't have an extra-deep caramelization, but everyone enjoys them I think especially because they *are* nice and soft and kind of melt in your mouth. The chocolate variation isn't quite so soft, but still nice. And, you know, chocolate.

                                                                                                                                                                                  This is the recipe: http://books.google.com/books?id=e9F8...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you--I had read about that kind of wax paper. Nice! Mine are bite-sized, too, just not as perfect. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                    The recipe I used is very similar to Bittman's, but white AND brown sugar, more corn syrup...then I added salt and bourbon. Not that you could taste the bourbon anymore after I had to reheat them. Base recipe here, 'cept I used better butter--Vermont Creamery cultured. YUM!

                                                                                                                                                                                    Baking soda--INTERESTING, who knew? Did you add it? I swear, I don't think I cooked mine more than 245 degrees F. Maybe I'm being hard on myself. I thought the caramels would be soft enough to mold with your thumb or finger so I could make turtles. Mine are NOT.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                      I did not add baking soda, as I was going for soft rather than chewy, though that would be interesting to try sometime. I did use Lyle's golden syrup in place of corn syrup this time, which I think contributed to the flavor. After setting overnight, they were firm enough to cut, but definitely soft enough to mold with your fingers.

                                                                                                                                                                                      By the way, I always line the pan with foil (using the trick of molding it over the upside-down pan first) and brush the foil with oil. I'm way too paranoid to trust just buttering the pan, but the foil makes it super easy, anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah, is THAT the foil trick?! Smart! Mine didn't stick to the pan--buttered it for round one, then washed and buttered again for round two. I like being able to lift (whatever) out of the pan and cut on a flat surface rather than the pan, so I must remember this trick! Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, I do parchment slings for just about all bar cookies/casual cakes these days, for that reason. With the foil here, you can just flip the whole slab of caramel out onto a plastic cutting board, peel off the foil, and cut them up. Works very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                            I use a silicone baking pan for caramels (and some bar cookies) for the same reason. I don't even need to butter the pan, and the whole slab just pops right out! I don't use the silicone pan for much, but for caramels, it's brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll have to keep that in mind. These caramels set up in a 9-inch-square pan, but I do have an 8-inch-square silicone pan that I received as a gift, but don't tend to use because I'm not a fan of its performance in baking. This would be a good use for it, and thicker caramels would be fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I do have a similar reaction to things rolled in powdered sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I made the almond pistachio biscotti again, and shipped them to Toronto, to a friend whose birthday is right after Christmas.

                                                                                                                                                                          Since my friend likes the taste if orange, I added some by zesting two orange skins into threads, blanching the threads, chopping them, and macerating them in Grand Marnier. Unfortunately you could not taste orange in the final product. What do y'all think? Would the taste be more pronounced if I used candied orange peel?

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                            I think either chopped candied orange peel or finely grated (i.e., microplaned), unblanched zest would give a more pronounced flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                              I blanched the zest to get rid of the bitter flavour, but you're right, I shouldn't have.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Not really a big baker but made these Chocolate-Espresso snowballs from Food & Wine, December 2011:


                                                                                                                                                                            I used Drost (not Hershey's).

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                                                                                                                                              Not really baking this, but it's a Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Cake for Christmas Eve. It's a take off on Carvel with oreo cookie crust in the middle layer with Ande's Christmas Mints and crushed candy cane layers too.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I have a gingerbread layer cake in the oven now, with added cranberries and crystallized ginger. Cream cheese frosting to come later.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. been playing with cardamom... it's just so warm.
                                                                                                                                                                                Browned Butter Cardamom Shortbread topped with a thin sweetened ricotta layer and streusel
                                                                                                                                                                                Cardamom Panna Cotta
                                                                                                                                                                                Filo and Puff Pastry Stuffed (i had both to use and play with) with a Stewed Dried Apricot Cardamom Mixture
                                                                                                                                                                                and of course... more speculaas

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                  Can you give me some more information on that shortbread? I once made a lavender shortbread and I was thinking about trying that again -- I think it would be lovely with the sweetened ricotta. Delicate.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: peppermint_sky

                                                                                                                                                                                    i basically did the following:
                                                                                                                                                                                    8 oz/225 g unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                    70 g superfine sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                    50 g dark brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                    1/4 tsp salt
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 tsp cardamom
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 egg yolk
                                                                                                                                                                                    20 g white rice flour
                                                                                                                                                                                    20 g cornstarch
                                                                                                                                                                                    260 g all-purpose flour (next time i'm going to do 200g AP and 60 g almond flour)

                                                                                                                                                                                    brown butter and let cool til starting to firm. mix sugars and butter; add in yolk and vanilla. mix dry separately and combine with wet. press into desired pan/shape. bake at 300. (i baked for 10 minutes just to let it set a bit, then added my ricotta batter and streusel and finished baking.)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm baking a cheesecake for "Christmas" dinner, because we didn't get to have it yesterday. My grandfather is in the ICU and my dad moved to China, so we spent time visiting them at the hospital and via skype, so Christmas dinner is tonight, with a baked chicken, potatoes, rolls, and cheesecake with a gingerbread crust (just a crisp cookie dough baked in the bottom of the pan before adding the custard) and caramel sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sarahjay

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry to hear about your family woes, hope cooking and baking helped.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Made gingerbread pear cake for Christmas dinner.. to go along with my mother's lemon budino (sure I found the recipe here) and cinnamon ice cream (from the perfect Scoop). As there were only 6 of us, we felt that 2 desserts was enough (along with the requisite tray of dainties)...
                                                                                                                                                                                      I won't be baking for a while!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I made eggnog bread pudding with french bread, Ricotta cheesecake using a parchment sling instead of a springform pan, so I had no water seepage from the water bath, thumbprint butter cookies with peach jam, and Maple molasses pecan pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Both Mme Souschef and I are down with the 'flu, involving severe coughing (no Christmas for us), so I just made crème caramel (two lovely big soufflé dishes of the stuff, flavored with Grand Marnier). There's nothing like a silky smooth spoonful of CC to soothe a sore throat. But, I have to wait till tomorrow as I have to cool and chill them :(

                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. a spoonful of grated ginger with honey and lemon
                                                                                                                                                                                            2. steep slices of fresh ginger with sprig of fresh rosemary in hot water, drink copious amounts

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hope you and Mme Souschef are feeling much better - soon!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks Cynsa! Shortly before reading your post I made us a honey/lemon/hot water concoction, and we both enjoyed it. I will try your ginger brews; ginger is supposed to be great for the body.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The crème caramel was wonderful for breakfast; just what the doctor ordered for a ragged throat.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I must say I have not yet got the hang of caramel - when I think it's perfect it's sometimes too light and sometimes too dark in the final dessert. I know you are supposed to test it with a drop on a white surface, but I always think I have it right without doing that.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Here are my rolls and pie from Christmas - the rolls were from extra Parker House dough I froze at Thanksgiving, I was pleased that they rose as well as they did. The pie is Marion Cunningham's Golden Pecan Pie from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book, with walnuts, the butter browned, the grated rind of a lemon and a tb or so of the lemon juice added. Rather good.
                                                                                                                                                                                            PS tip - if you use a Microplane to zest a lemon, turn it over on a cup or bowl and squeeze the fruit over it - you catch the seeds that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                                                His mom makes the best soft dinner rolls ever. I like to approximate them for meals of this sort.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Trying to decide what to bring to a NYE party a friend is having.. thinking of trying the Bon Appetit Butterscotch Blondie bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel.. or the brownies with pretzel crust that were also posted to that discussion. Or maybe the ginger crunch bars I didn't have time to make for Christmas.. or Dorie Greenspan's mint browines with the York peppermint patties I picked up at a Boxing day sale. Thought I was baked out; obviously it only took a few days of not baking for me to miss it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rstuart


                                                                                                                                                                                                Coincidentally, I just made chocolate mint brownies this week for the first time. I may try Dorie's recipe next. I was trying to find the peppermint patties on sale Dec 26 too, but I ended up with junior mints. In the recipe I used, the candy forms a layer between two layers of brownie. So I poured half the batter, then a layer of the junior mints, then topped with the rest of the batter. Dorie's method of mixing the candies into the batter sounds good too. Are her brrrr-ownies fudgy or cakey? I am hoping for fudgy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I made these, meh:


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: peppermint_sky

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Really, meh? With a half a pound of chocolate? Wow, I guess I will stick to my go-tos...though I thank you for bringing the idea of After Eights to my attention. That's a great idea! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Meh because I just enjoy my favorite recipe more. I am going to try my old favorite with the junior mints -- both ways (1batch sandwiched between layers of batter, and another mixed into the batter).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: peppermint_sky

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm the same way with the Ghirardelli recipe from the canister with my own twists on it. Junior Mints are like childhood in a box. That's a yummy idea, too! Those and Raisinets were my favorite big boxes to get at the movies. :) Good luck--I'm sure your next batch will be much betta!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Not sure if that recipe is cakey or fudgy; I ended up making the pretzel crust brownies, which I'm still on the fence about; I'll see what everyone else thinks. I also made sweet and spicy pecans from Brown Eyed Baker.. may still make ginger crunch bars...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made brownies with peppermint patties once and DID NOT like them - too toothpasty. Even though I love chocolate and mint together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: peppermint_sky

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Reporting back in on the junior mint brownies -- Now I keep running back to the fridge for more. Apparently these improve with age -- on the 3rd day they started to taste delicious. I can see what buttertart means about toothpaste. I couldn't place it but the day I made these and the 2nd day they tasted -- almost sharp, with the mintiness? I think they have mellowed out. I will probably make them again, perhaps using less junior mints. I will say that I brought them to an event and someone stopped the function so that he could praise the brownies publicly! So that is an endorsement. They tasted sweeter the first day, too, and I don't like overly sweet (maybe I would reduce the sugar next time).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hmm.. this is all very useful information! Public praise is always good. Think that I will try the Dorie Greenspan recipe sometime this month.. and I will report back, of course.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was a bit worried about the toothpaste factor myself!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would definitely, definitely chill prior to serving, if possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My last baking for the year (geez, where did this year go?): An orange marmalade almond cake for a big family gathering the other day (I did a recipe and a half in a 10-inch springform, to serve nine), without the orange glaze this time and instead served with bittersweet chocolate sauce, which was naturally a fab combination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    And today I'm making Dorie Greenspan's All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake - which is pumpkin spice with apples, cranberries, and pecans, and I think I'll throw in some chopped candied ginger, as well - to take to a New Year's Day party. I haven't decided yet whether I'll do the optional maple glaze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Had a piece of the all-in-one baked by a friend and it really is very good. Hers was unglazed. (Maple as a fall/winter flavor is a beef of mine - coming from maple syrup country, it was the first sign of spring!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's a good recipe.. I made it for Thanksgiving a few years ago (sans pecans, of course).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made the glaze because I thought maple would marry well with the other things in the cake, but there's not much glaze so its flavor was a bit lost among everything else going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made various small tweaks to the recipe. Used 1 stick of butter, instead of 1 1/4, and whacked in a bit more butternut squash puree (used in place of pumpkin), added cloves, used equal amounts of brown and white sugar, and 1 1/3 cups total, not 1 1/2, added around half again as many cranberries because there was no point in not using up all I had in the freezer, added chopped candied ginger. Really nice flavors, very moist, and somewhat crumbly when I sliced it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is there nutmeg in the recipe? I think it would go well in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, the recipe has cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and I added a bit of clove.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. There's a lovely batch of kolache dough on its second rise, half of which will be cherry-filled and half of which will be wrapped around smoked cheddar-jalapeno sausage, hill country-style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                            They both came out really well, for the first time with a new recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/825973
                                                                                                                                                                                                          New one, wrongly titled 2011...too much party last night. Hope the mods will correct it for me.