I’ve been dealing with my holiday stress with cooking and recently, baking. I wasn’t planning to blog about it, but I’ve been posting pix of my cookie-making adventures on my Instagram, and peeps have been asking, so here goes! First of all, I’m not a fabulous baker. I took pastry in culinary school, but I feel like I’m more of a cook than a baker. I’m not very exact when I cook, and you have to be really exact with pastry. Also, it’s very challenging for me to make my baked goods pretty I typically don’t have a steady hand like that. Usually if I’m baking it’s a rustic bread. (Rustic is code for messy.) The first cookie I made was Chocolate Chip with Candied Bacon. Because bacon. The kids helped me candy the bacon, which I hadn’t done before. The process was so simple, it got my wheels turning about other things I could easily candy. Stay tuned for that. The cookie itself was ok, although I feel like there was too much STUFF and not enough cookie. If I make another round (and I probably will) I will probably keep the 8 slices of bacon and halve the chocolate chips. Check out the recipe I used here.
My kids, prepping the candied bacon. Freshly canned tomato sauce in the background.
Next batch were pfeffernusse. Pfeffernusse are one of my favorite cookies, and the thought of baking them was both exciting and scary. I used Aunt Martha’s recipe, which was comforting, because her recipes are almost always successful. Fun fact: I have a homemade plaque in my dining room that reads WWMD (What Would Martha Do). The pfeffernusse were super-easy to make and spicy and delicious. I guess they are a little biased, but my kids said they liked them better than store-bought. This recipe was a definite WIN! Martha’s Pfeffernusse recipe here.
Finished pfeffernusse ready to devour.
Next were Italian Rainbow Cookies. I decided to give them a go 1) because I love them and 2) because I’m making an Italian feast for Xmas. The recipe I used was Lidia’s- of Lidia’s Italian Restaurant in KC so I figured that was a good start. They were REALLY involved to make (2 days and lots of steps) but they came out delicious. The only thing I would change is that I used full-size sheet pan, not the jelly-roll size the recipe called for. If I had a jelly-roll pan, I feel like I wouldn’t have had to do as much trimming. My son told me they reminded him of Jaffa Cakes, probably because of the jam (which is apricot, not orange like in Jaffa Cakes). This is high praise from him, my kids both get Jaffa Cakes in their stockings each year. Lidia’s Rainbow Cookies recipe here. See photo above.
Today I prepped my last holiday cookie. Almond Biscotti. I have also not made biscotti before, but it was another Martha recipe, so I was pretty confident. But, as I started to make the dough, I got a little worried. There is no butter or oil in the dough. In fact, the only liquid is the eggs and vanilla extract. While the dough tumbled away in my mixer it appeared more than a little DRY. How would I ever roll this into a log?? But fear not- once I added the almonds and started to press the dough together it did stick and make 2 nice logs. (Perhaps the oils in the almonds helped?) Biscotti is baked twice, once in log form, and again sliced into discs. This recipe made a nice crunchy, crumbly biscotti. They were not quite as pretty as the store-bought variety, but had a very good flavor. I had leftover melted chocolate from the rainbow cookies, so I dipped half of each one into the chocolate and chilled it in the fridge. Martha’s Almond Biscotti recipe here.
Finished biscotti are not gorgeous, but had a great flavor.
So I had a lovely Xmas eve photo-op planned for this post. A plate full of my homemade cookies, out on the coffee table for Santa, beautifully lit Xmas tree in the background. My pup, River Song, had other plans. When they were left unattended she gobbled up ALL of Santa’s cookies.