Christmas Baking 2017

Another Advent and Christmastide has come and gone all too quickly. As always, we enjoyed baking (and eating) a lot of treats along the way!

We didn’t make quite as many cookies this year, but we made all of our favorite kinds…thumbprints in two flavors (raspberry and apricot), chocolate peppermint crunch (those are the ones we didn’t make as many of…I only made about half of what we usually bake), sugar, and gingerbread:

Of course we had lussekattes on Santa Lucia Day!

Cherry coffee cake for Christmas Day morning:

I’ve made Oreo truffles in the past, but I’ve never made an Oreo truffle Christmas tree…pretty and delicious!

I baked three different cakes in about two weeks’ time. Chocolate for Jesus’ birthday, a more formal tuxedo cake for New Year’s, and a Guinness cake for Ryan’s Epiphany birthday:

It’s become a tradition for me to make baklava for Epiphany, too:

And one new recipe for a savory baked good…cheese thumbprints with pineapple jalapeño jelly. That recipe is definitely a keeper!

I’m always amazed by how many baking staples I go through at this time of year, and the kitchen is always busy, and smells kind of like a bakery for weeks on end. I will admit to looking forward to a break from various doughs and batters, though!

Chickadee Thursday

We’re finally getting around to baking the Christmas gingerbread and sugar cookies! Chickadee loves using her little rolling-pin to help me with the dough!

Tasty Tuesday–Nutella Pie

Just when you think I’ve run out of new pies to try!

Last year, I found a recipe for a Nutella pie, and Turkey immediately decided he wanted it to be “his” Thanksgiving pie. He liked it so much, he decided he wants it again this year, and I don’t blame him…it’s delicious. Of course, I’ve made my own little tweaks in the meantime, so here is my updated recipe!

For the filling:

  • Pre-made Oreo pie crust
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Beat cream cheese, Nutella, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. In another bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form; fold into Nutella mixture. Add to crust and chill for 30 minutes.

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

In small saucepan, bring the cream, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand five minutes. Stir until smooth; cool to spreading consistency. Spread over pie; sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts. Chill for at least one hour.

Tasty Tuesday–Funfetti!

You know it’s a HOLIDAY at our house when Pillsbury Funfetti cupcakes arrive on the scene. Even though I do a lot of our baking from scratch, there’s something special about a Funfetti cake with brightly colored frosting and more Funfetti sprinkled on top! I think we’ve now tried all the seasonal varieties…Valentine’s, Spring, Halloween, Stars & Stripes, and the ubiquitous Holiday.

In addition to the seasonal varieties, I’ve made at least one of the other colorful varieties. What I’m really waiting for, though, is the day when they might make “Lucky” Funfetti with bright green frosting and shamrock sprinkles!

Tasty Tuesday–Apples!

The apple dessert contest on Sunday had me thinking…how many apple recipes have I shared over the years? There are actually more than I remembered, and they’re not all desserts…I even have a main course on the list!

How do you like to use apples in your cooking and baking?

The 9th Annual Apple Dessert Contest

At the end of August, I saw a contest that STL Today (the online home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) was running. They were looking for apple recipes in two categories–pies, and other desserts. I entered a recipe in each category, and promptly forgot about it.

Then while Ryan was out-of-town, I received a phone call telling me that my apple-pumpkin bread had been chosen as a finalist in the dessert category! I was shocked, if only because I had put the contest out of my head, and also excited. Today was the big day (the contest was part of the St. Louis Builders Home and Remodeling Show), so after smelling the bread all throughout church, Sunday school, and choir rehearsal (I kept it with me all morning, because it was just too hot to risk leaving it in the car!), we headed west to the lovely Convention Center in St. Charles.

Now, I make this bread at least once a year in the fall, every year. I have done so for at least a decade. But I was really nervous about baking it yesterday, and I was worried that it was underdone and overdone, all at the same time. I also fussed over the presentation, until I came up with this (which I think looked pretty nice!):

If making the bread wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, waiting through the judging process was a nightmare!

But I had the best cheering section there (thank you family, for making me laugh when I felt like I was going to be sick!), and they were just as excited as I was when I placed second!

Even without the prizes (which were a wonderful surprise!), this was a fun thing to do. One thing you have to say about me…I’m always putting myself out there, and sometimes, like today, it pays off pretty well!

The Cinco de Mayo Feast

This year, I made our family’s favorite fish tacos for our Cinco de Mayo feast. I also made Horchata for the first time (which the children really liked, even though I was afraid they’d think it was too different), and a chocoflan for dessert. Of course, there were also margaritas for those of us old enough to drink!