Christmas Baking

Christmas has come and gone and of course, there was excessive amounts of baking. This year I made 7 different types of cookies.

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1. Peppermint Oreo Truffles
2. Caramel Stuffed Soft Gingerbread Cookies
3. Triple White Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms
4. Eggnog Cookies
5. Chocolate Chunk Peppermint Pudding Cookies
6. Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
7. Chocolate and Maraschino Cherry Shortbread Cookies

This were the most successful batch of Christmas cookies I have ever made, every recipe was good! The easiest were the peppermint oreo truffles and my favourite were the lemon ricotta cookies with lemon glaze.

Part of my New Year’s Resolution is to bake cookies more often to try out new recipes and techniques – why save it only for the holidays?

Happy munching!

Eggnog Fudge

Eggnog-fudgePhoto credit: Skip to My Lou

I have never been into eggnog. It was always in the house around the holidays but it was primarily enjoyed by Theresa and JDL. This year, I stumbled across this recipe and thought, “Hey, let’s give it a try.”

Turns out, I am falling in love with eggnog! I sampled the new Natrel eggnog (delicious, but only available at Costco), finally tried the Starbucks eggnog latte (for years I have exclusive had the white chocolate peppermint mocha at Christmas time) and I made this fudge.

This fudge is delicious as fudge, but not as eggnog fudge. There is too much white chocolate that it completely overpowers the eggnog and the nutmeg. I am currently on the look out for other eggnog/Christmas fudges (and other eggnog treats!) – if you have a favourite, pass it along!

Recipe is below the cut – Happy munching!

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Cranberry Cherry Pie

IMG_4844I am addicted to making pies. I don’t bake anything else. And I think I am getting better. It has become a standing thing that whenever we get together with our friends Al and Jamie, I bake a pie. They never ask, and I never actually tell them, I just show up with a new flavour pie in my hands. Please, if you secretly hate it, I will stop.

Last time we got together with them I made a Cranberry Cherry pie (from Better Homes and Gardens). This was a new recipe that I was trying out and it came with its own pitfalls and challenges. I did my first lattice top which I think turned out pretty nicely and it was my first time using frozen fruit for a pie. When using frozen fruits for a pie I would suggest letting the fruit completely thaw and drain, to help limit the amount of liquid in your pie. Besides the excessive amount of liquid in the pie, the flavour of the filling was sweet with a slight tartness from both the cranberries and the cherries. There was a bit of citrus from the orange zest which complimented the zing of the ginger; but since I don’t love ginger, I would not use this next time. If you do want to use ginger, I would suggest not using candied ginger because it doesn’t melt or become part of the flavour. It stays whole and very distinct.

I liked the combination of cranberries and cherries but because the filling was so liquid I don’t know if I would attempt this again or just fault the recipe. Also, there are too many types of pie in the world to make the same recipes twice!

Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

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White Chocolate and Nutmeg Bars

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

As the days get shorter, and the weather gets cooler, it’s starting to feel a little more like Christmas. I know, I know: it’s the start of November, there is no snow, and it’s over a month away. BUT as a crafter and a baker, you need to start thinking about Christmas. Christmas is a month long event. Between parties, decorating, baking and shopping you need to start thinking about these things!

I made these white chocolate and nutmeg bars for Thanksgiving but the flavours are perfect for the holiday season too! The bars have a beautiful colour to them – the warmth of the brown, dotted with fresh, plump, red cranberries and drizzled with white chocolate, it looks like a winter landscape.

I love the combination of cranberries and nutmeg. The fruity, tartness from the cranberries, softened by the warmth and spice of the nutmeg make these the perfect treat to enjoy with a warm cup of tea or hot chocolate.

I will definitely be making these again for Christmas and I think you should too! Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

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Cream Cheese Swirl Pumpkin Bars

Another way to use pumpkin – make cream cheese swirl pumpkin bars!

Photo Credit: Kitchen Meets Girls

But don’t actually because I didn’t love these. They were extremely moist, like when you spill milk on your dessert plate. There was too much pumpkin in these bars. The cream cheese swirls added to the extreme moisture of the bars and made it that you had to put the bars in the fridge. I don’t like putting desserts in the fridge – it makes me forget about them and they inevitably end up with a “fridge” taste to them.

There was a nice blend of spices that made you feel warm and cosy, a little bite of fall. These spices highlighted the fruity, harvest taste of the pumpkin. Because of the sweetness from the pumpkin I don’t think the chocolate chips were necessary to make these bars complete. There is already a heavy, sweetness from the pumpkin; the chocolate puts that sweetness over the top.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

For my birthday, I baked myself Martha Stewart’s Pumpkin Brown-Butter cupcakes.  I don’t think it’s sad or depressing to bake for your own birthday for a number of reasons:

  1. On my actual birthday, GC mustarded up the courage to attempt his first apple pie (which was delicious and a success!)
  2. I love to bake. And I bake well.
  3. I tell people I am baking for my own birthday. It is more of a statement then a question or an offer and it has come to be the norm

IMG_4805Since we munched hard on these cupcakes at my birthday, you don’t get a photo of what I actually made – just a photo of my Martha Stewart Cupcakes book.

These cupcakes were delicious. The cake was light and airy, with the perfect bit of seasonal spice. The pumpkin flavouring wasn’t overwhelming to the point where you feel dejected to have another pumpkin treat on your October birthday.

But what really made these cupcakes was the icing. This is one of the best icings ever. It is extremely easy to make and has such a rich, powerful flavor the perfectly tops off your cupcake. The cupcakes dip beautifully into the icing and harden with a seamless coating that can make anyone like a pro. I am going to scour my cookbooks for more recipes that include this icing. There is a pumpkin cookie (also by Martha Stewart) topped with this icing that I am aching to try.

Although it is after Halloween, don’t feel like you can’t cook and bake with pumpkin! Recipe is below the cut, and happy munching!

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Apple Cranberry Hand Pies

Fall is the season of pies. There is just something comforting and cozy about smelling butter, discount cinnamon and harvest fruits oozing out of the oven and into the rest of the house.  Although apple and pumpkin are classic fall pies I am trying to experiment with new flavor profiles and combinations this fall. I am looking forward to baking with pears, salve a fruit I don’t give enough credit to for its flavor and versatility and pumpkin, a vegetable that is only used in October and November and therefore does not get enough time to shine.

My first pies of the season were apple cranberry hand pies. Hand pies are a trend I like, but I actually prefer a slice of pie. Hand pies are more convenient to eat but are more time consuming and tedious to make. You also do not get as much filling and cannot easily eat the pie with ice cream.

photoA few weeks ago I picked up this handy hand pie mold from Loblaws for $5.00. I picked it up in the hopes that this mold would ease the process of making hand pies. The one pictured is actually from Williams-Sonoma and therefore probably unnecessarily expensive and not worth it. However, for $5.00 – how can you say no?

I promptly threw out the recipe with the box and had to scour the internet for an alternative recipe, which lead me to Williams-Sonoma’s apple cranberry recipe and photo of the device.

IMG_4578Apple cranberry is a type of pie I had never had before but it is delicious and I recommend everyone try it/make it. The cranberry tartness rounds out the sweetness from the apples and brown sugar. The cranberry works with the spiciness of the cinnamon and nutmeg in a different way than the apple does, bringing together a new type of flavor from the apples and cranberry. It’s a new spin on a classic fall pie.

Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

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We’re Getting Married!!!!!!!!

The past month and a half has been insane! On August 22nd GC and I got engaged. He asked with Scrabble:

IMG_4402And we asked (some) our bridal party with a peach pie:

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We will be getting married on October 11th, prescription 2014. The next year is going to be filled with flowers, troche dresses but most importantly, menus and wedding cakes! Stay tuned for tasty updates!

Happy munching!

 

 

First Day of Fall

Fall is my favourite season. There are so many amazing reasons to love it: sweater weather, ask beautiful foliage, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, pies and oh, my birthday. With the start of a new season comes a new list of fall food inspired activities.

1. Visit an apple orchard
2. Bake fall pies; apple and pumpkin specifically
3. Make apple cider
4. Try a new fall-inspired sangria
5. Make soups (especially lots of butternut squash!)
6. Visit a pumpkin patch
7. Make a Thanksgiving feast, even on a small scale
8. Try a new chili recipe
9. Make a spooky treat for Halloween
10. Go for a fall hike
11. Make homemade trail mix and granola
12. Finally (actually!) use my ice cream maker
13. Cozy up with a good book and a cup of tea
14. Sip on homemade hot chocolate
15. Use pumpkin in an unconventional way
16. Hop on the donut bandwagon and make homemade donuts with fall flavours
17. Snack on apples with homemade caramel dip
18. Celebrate Ocktoberfest with fall brews
19. And homemade pretzels and specialty mustards
20. Make caramel apples – sticks and all!
21. Visit a fall fair
22. Create a fall centerpiece – possibly as a test for the wedding!
23. Decorate or carve a pumpkin
24. Get lost in a corn maze
25. Toast pumpkin seeds

Happy first day of fall and happy munching!