Monday, December 21, 2009

Baking and...mugs??

For me, growing up, Christmas included LOTS of baking. My mom literally starts in October, makes cookies or dough that she can freeze until closer to Christmas and bakes, and bakes, and bakes. I enjoy baking, but don't particularly relish starting in October. Mom gives most of her cookies away as gifts. I mean, come on folks. In keeping with the "unclutterer" theme from the last post, cookies are an excellent idea. Once you eat them, you no longer have anything to try and store! Really, how many Christmas mugs do you need? That said, since I wanted to make cookies as gifts (and I needed a lot of them for Aaron's sunday school teachers) I had to be a little discerning about what recipes to make. (Because I DIDN'T start in October...) Requirements were: 1. Taste good. 2. Make a lot in one batch. 3. Fairly uncomplicated recipe (read quick)
4. Look pretty without me having to spend hours decorating with icing.

I ended up with these three. Maybe next year I'll add a fourth. These are a little more complicated, but I love that they are red and green. Sound yummy too. I'll let you know. Anyway, these are what made the cut this year. The first two are tried and true favorites from the past year or two, the last a new addition for this year that will DEFINITELY be added to the list of "must bakes" each year.

1. Chocolate caramel cracker bars. Yummy. I love chocolate and caramel, these also have a hint of peanut butter. Can you go wrong with that combination? I submit that you cannot! Best of bake. :) So easy and fool proof. You can get a batch done in 30 minutes!
2. Gingerbread cookies. I scrimp a little on the ginger, too much gives them too much "bite" for me. Now, I know I said "don't spend hours decorating with icing" was a requirement. I get around that by always baking them in snowflake shapes, and decorating is easy with simply white royal icing, as opposed to making it into twenty different colors and spending hours making intricate shapes.
3. Peppermint chocolate kisses. You have no idea how ecstatic I was to find this recipe. I have looked for a peppermint chocolate cookie recipe for the past several years. I've always felt a little let down by peppermint bark (not enough peppermint flavor, chocolate not quite right etc.) and other cookie variations that were too complicated, made too few and took too much time (i.e. peppermint sandwich cookies) or just weren't what I was looking for. These are AMAZING. The peppermint meringue is light and airy, practically melts in your mouth. Add the melted chocolate to the bottom and the crushed peppermint and you have a trifecta of chocolate peppermint goodness. They are adorable as well! Oh, and did I mention that one batch makes about 100 cookies?? Check, check and check!!

Now, I know I ragged on mugs. But, in defense of all mug givers out there, presentation is half the gift. So, I bought some white bakers boxes that were just the right size for what I needed. Aaron worked his photo shop magic and make a cute card. Add a pretty red ribbon and you have a lovely gift!

I know it's a little late...but Christmas caught up with me! I hope you had a good one!

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