Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Holiday baking - a retrospective

I did a ton of holiday baking this year.  A ton.  So I thought I'd share all my projects with you & recipes.  Overall, I'm pleased with how everything turned out.  However, I don't think I'll do so many baked good gifts next year.  I usually wait until the last minute to make sure everything is as fresh as possible, but that meant that I was in the kitchen baking all day on Christmas.  Literally, all day!

This year, I gave a few batches of my favorite new recipe, homemade granola.  I never thought of giving granola as a gift, but then I saw this post on SouleMama's blog & it seemed like a great idea!  I discovered this recipe sometime this Fall & eat a bowl of granola with wild blueberries & almond milk for breakfast almost every day.  It is sooo good!  Here's the link to the recipe - thanks, Martha!  I omit the dried blueberries & add wild blueberries instead.  I also add a handful of chopped walnuts.  It's so good & pretty healthy, too!

Another great idea courtesy of SouleMama is the peppermint bark we made.  Here is the link to her blog post about the peppermint bark.  This recipe is so great - and so easy to gobble up!  I had to try very hard to forget all about the peppermint bark sitting in the fridge.  In fact, my daughter's teacher e-mailed me the day we gave her some peppermint bark & fudge in a tin for a teacher's gift & said she NEEDS (her caps, not mine) that recipe!  Here is the original recipe, in case you don't go through SouleMama's blog to get it.  One thing about it: I found the easiest way to crush the peppermints (pulverize, actually) is to use a big 'ol hammer from DH's collection.  I think it worked better than the can crusher.  Anyway, here's a pic:

Yes, you heard me mention fudge.  I made a few different batches of one of our favorite fudge recipes & put it in tins with the peppermint bark.  This is a marshmallow fudge, so it's pretty hard to mess up.  I like traditional fudge a bit better, but I hate all the frantic stirring & I always botch it anyway!  I got my recipe from Martha Stewart, & it goes fast!  See......

And finally, I made peanut brittle.  This recipe is finicky - when it turns out, it's irresistible, but when it doesn't, it's just meh.  I've made this quite a bit & I think the amount of stirring you do has something to do with the final outcome.  I've also read that you shouldn't make candy on a humid day!  I still haven't figured out all the perfect conditions for this brittle, but even when I get a meh batch, it's still good.  Buttery & sweet with a touch of salty.  Yum!

In addition to making these goodies for pre-Christmas gifts (teacher gifts, neighbor gifts, my Aunts & cousin we visited with at a family party), I also made all these recipes on Christmas day, in addition to breakfast for everyone, pumpkin pie, homemade whipped cream & mashed potatoes.....and cheesecake.  It was brutal!  Maybe next year's gifts will be knitterly - at least then, I can be off my feet while I do the last minute gift-crunch!

Did you do a lot of baking this holiday season?  How did everything turn out?

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