Monday, January 09, 2012

8 recipes for holiday baking

I'm back :) To readers old and new, I look forward to popping by your blogs in the next little while to catch up and say hello.

I hope you enjoyed warm hearts, full bellies and plenty of good cheer over the holidays. Thank you so much for your messages of condolence on my last post. They brought us comfort. The holidays were a little bittersweet but we found moments of merriment, and yes, laughter. Experiences like this are a jarring reminder of just how precious life is, and what’s really important in life. There’s even a silver lining in that it helped me bond with B’s extended family as well as some of my own loved ones, whose support has been cherished. You know who you are.

So 2011 was a little bumpy but I think 2012 is going to bring good things. Some of our closest friends are getting married, B and my sister are due to graduate, and I’ve signed up for my first 10km race in the spring. I’ve got some exciting projects coming up at work, including a presentation that will help me meet my commitment to doing one thing per year that scares me. I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest, I usually start off the new year with a hangover and Advil, what does that say? And I find September - harking back to the start of the school year - better-suited to fresh beginnings, but this year felt a little different. One of my resolutions is to sort and organize my recipes. Hopefully I’ll dig up some fun ones to try and showcase on the blog. Did YOU make any resolutions this year?

I took advantage of my blogging break to send my camera for repair. I haven’t received it back yet but I have some unpublished posts I can use in the meantime. First up – Christmas baking. Ideally I would have posted these a few weeks ago but hopefully they’ll inspire you for next year!


 I followed this recipe for these chewy, intensely-flavoured cookies that are best washed down with a tall glass of milk. Instead of dusting the cookies with icing sugar right after baking, I used very finely crushed candy cane. I returned the cookies to the oven for an extra minute to melt the candy cane.
{Peppermint-dusted cocoa wafer cookies}

These pillow-soft cookies elevate basic shortbread to something special, thanks to the standout flavours of cream cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice. I got my recipe online years ago but haven't been able to relocate it for credit. Cream together 3/4 cup softened butter and 3 oz softened cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup icing sugar and beat hard. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 T lemon juice, and 1 1/2 T lemon zest. Gradually mix in 2 cups flour until well-blended. Roll dough into 1 inch balls on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, and place onto a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. (Handle the dough as little as possible). Make an indentation in the dough balls with a fork dipped in icing sugar. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes, or until delicate brown underneath.

{Lemon - cream cheese cookies} 

An exciting addition to my usual Christmas baking repertoire was honeycomb, which tastes like the inside of a Crunchie bar. I was inspired by this recipe, but my version below contains more detailed instructions and an extra ingredient - vanilla bean. Unfortunately my honeycomb didn't aerate as much as the one shown in the link. I  followed the advice of some reviewers and reduced the amount of baking soda - probably by too much (I used 1 tsp in the doubled recipe). Also, I was using an ill-tempered stove burner, which turned off part-way through boiling. 

 Tip: Get everything ready beforehand as some steps must be done quickly.   
Stir 1 cup sugar, 8 T golden corn syrup and the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring the mixture to a boil and continue boiling until it registers 300°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, sift in 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda and whisk. The mixture will foam up very quickly. Immediately pour the mixture onto a piece of baking parchment. Leave until hardened, then chop into pieces.

 {Vanilla bean honeycomb}

This recipe is labour- and time-intensive, but will be appreciated by those familiar with the process. I followed this recipe to make the candied orange and lemon peels. Once the peels were ready, I dipped them in white and milk chocolate chips, melted over a double boiler.
 {Chocolate-dipped candied orange and lemon rinds}

I followed this recipe for these soft and delicate cookies, pleasantly contrasted with a dollop of sticky fig jam. They would be great served with afternoon tea. Rather than spooning the jam onto the cookies, I piped it out of a small Ziploc bag with the corner snipped.
 {Mascarpone cookies with fig jam} 

These cookies, adapted from this recipe, are the most health-friendly of the lot, thanks to ingredients like rolled oats, applesauce, raisins and pecans. Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar. Add 1 cup unsweetened applesauce and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until smooth. Add 3/4 cup raisins and 3/4 cup chopped pecans and stir gently to combine. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a greased baking sheet, spacing cookies approximately 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes.
 {Rustic applesauce-spice cookies with raisins and nuts} 

The marshmallows give this chocolate fudge a smooth texture. Mix 1 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup cream and 2 T butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from heat and add 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 cups of marshmallows (large or small), stirring until smooth. Spread in an 8x8 pan and cool.
{Marshmallow fudge} 

This recipe is classic French Canadian and ideal for those with a serious sweet tooth. It comes courtesy of Chez Cora, a popular chain of breakfast restaurants in the region. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring 3 cups of brown sugar, 2/3 cup butter, and 150 mL heavy cream to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil, stirring, for 5 minutes. If necessary, wipe down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup icing sugar and whip until creamy. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and chill.

 {No picture. Sorry!}


  1. Good recipes. The lemon cream cheese cookies look pleasing.

    Girlie Blog

  2. Hi Kat, glad to see you back and hopefully feeling a bit better. These cookies look so yummy!

  3. Hi Kat! So glad you are back! YAY! Great recipes. All of these cookies look scrumptious!

  4. Welcome back! I've missed your posts! I too hope for a better 2012.
    Your cookies look delicious. I can't believe you bake like that and still stay so slim.

  5. i soooo wish i could reach through my computer & eat these treats right now!


I genuinely enjoy reading everyone's comments. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!