Merry Christmas.  We will start with yesterday, December 24.  Cookies were shared with friends.  Our treat today was a birthday cake for our oldest son who turned 14.  We gave him lots of options of desserts to choose from and he chose a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.  Full disclosure…we cheated and bought a store box cake mix.  I had wanted to make a cake from scratch and while it doesn’t take much longer than using a box mix, by 5:00 when I started baking, it just seemed easier in the midst of Christmas preparations.  Besides, this was our first “cheat” of the season.  We tried the Cake Doctor Devil Food Chocolate Cake mix.  The mix requires eggs, vegetable oil, and sour cream.  The cake was not as moist as we had hoped.  The chocolate was a more “intense” chocolate than a typical cake mix.  The vanilla buttercream frosting recipe came from The Cake Doctor Cookbook.  The frosting is creamy, thick and sweet.  The frosting was my favorite part of the cake.  I do not recommend baking and frosting a cake at the end of a long day.  Our attention to detail was sorely missing.  The cake was lopsided and cake crumbs ruined the smooth texture of the frosting.  Not the prettiest cake we’ve made but we weren’t going for appearance yesterday.  As you can see from Andrew’s expression after finishing his piece, no complaints from the birthday boy.Image

December 25:  Cinnamon Rolls

How many years define a “tradition”?  1? 2? 3?   This is probably the 4th year I have made this recipe for Christmas morning.  I start the recipe and usually let the 2nd rise take place overnight, then assemble into the rectangular shape to slice and rise again in the morning.  Hard to believe these are “light” as they don’t taste light.  They are quintessential cinnamon rolls – sweet, sugary, dense and yummy.  Everything you want after opening some presents and and when you neeed something to go with your 2nd cup of coffee.  Make this your “to go to cinnamon roll recipe” and we promise you won’t be disapointed.  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cinnamon-rolls-10000001924693/

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Reflections:

25 days later what did we accomplish?  We went through over 10 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of sugar, many pounds of butter and countless number of eggs.  We tried 24 recipes and for the most part were pleasantly pleased with our results…it’s very difficult to mess up a cookie recipe (although we did somehow manage to do that with one in particular).  We researched, laughed, washed, stayed up late, baked and delivered.  It was so worth all the work and time.  It made this Christmas season one to remember and one we won’t forget.  I hope that we shared this joy with others – those we know and especially those we don’t.  Would we do this again?  Maybe?  We’ll have to think about that.  Until then, Merry Christmas and we wish you joy from the kitchen!

 

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Day 23: Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Candy Cane Buttercream

Wow, these are good.  Soft chocolate cookies with a pepppermint layer (not too much peppermint taste) buttercream frosting in between.  Yum.  The cookies are soft.   We ommitted the mini-chocolate chips.  We only had the regular size chips and were afraid they would overtake the cookie and frosting.  I am glad we left them out.  The frosting is creamy, buttery and tastes like peppermint.  The peppermint contrasts nicely with the chocolate.  The frosting is a festive, light pink color.  These are pretty cookies that everyone who likes the chocolate and peppermint comination will appreciate.  http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/11/15/chocolate-fudge-cookies-with-candy-cane-buttercream/

Great cookies to celebrate the Christmas season.Image

Day 22: Angel Food cake

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Today was not a cookie day.  Today was a birthday.  My husband’s birthday is today and he does not have a sweet tooth, unlike Emily and myself.  He does not care much for chocolate, can’t stand anything with mint and dislike peanut butter immensely.  As you can see by reading our earlier blog, that has not stopped us from baking chocolate, mint or peanut butter cookies.  But, today is about him.  We made one of his favorite desserts…Angel Food Cake.  We made it homemade from the Cook’s Illustrated Cook Book.  I knew angel food cake required egg whites, but up until this morning had no idea that it takes one dozen egg whites to make an angel food cake.  It also takes alot of whipping with attention to detail so as not to overbeat the eggs.  We added some strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.  The cake came out light, airy and moist.  I think we succeeded.  He proclaimed it “very good” which is a big compliment.

This is her husband editing this….”It was VERY good!”

We have been remiss in sharing where this week’s treats have been given.  After our large service project last weekend, we had many cookies left.  We took them to a Title 1 School for staff.  A smaller plate was taken to my son’s elementary school for the office staff.  South Meck HS staff enjoyed a variety of cookies at their dessert reception. Another plate was brought to a meeting at church and cookies were also given to bus drivers. Emily took the chocolate fudge and peppermint candy cane kisses to school to share with her friends the last day before winter break.  Finally, all the remaining cookies were taken to church to be placed in baskets distributed to families for a holiday dinner. The andes mint cookies and nutella cookies were given to friends.

A note about the Andes Mint Cookies.  We took them to a party last night and got lots of thumbs up for those. I think they went over better than I expected.

Day 21: Andes Mint Cookies

I accidentally bought two boxes of Andes mint chocolate candies this week for a recipe that did not call for them.  Instead, we found some recipes that used the Andes mints in the cookies.  This is one of many recipes.  Basically, these are chocolate cookies with an Andes mint candy melted on top and spread to make a think mint frosting on top.  These were not my favorite cookie from the past 20 days.  I like the chocolate mint flavor of the frosting but the actual cookie lacked taste.  However, Emily disagrees and said she thought it had lots of chocolate taste.  Try it for yourself and see what you think.  http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t–2343/andes-mint-cookies.aspImage

 

Day 20: Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

When we started “researching” the cookies to make for this project, we (okay, I) kept gravitating to nutella cookies.  After looking at a few different recipes, some seeming more work than others, I settled on this one from thenerdswife.com.

The recipe calls to swirl the nutella into the cookie batter before placing the cookie dough on the tray.  Other recipes called for piping nuttela directly onto a cookie sheet than molding the cookie dough around the nutella.  I opted for a combination of these two methods.  I put a mound of dough onto the teaspoon, placed on cookie sheet than put 1/4 – 1/2 tsp in each cookie dough ball and tried to cover up the nutellas as best as possible.  My goal was to get a creamier taste of nutella rather than haveing it spread out all over.  In the end, the nutella is spread throughout but you do get a bite of the creamy hazlenut spread.  The center of the cookie has a slight hazlenut taste but not enough so that you know immediately what is inside, only something chocolatey and creamy.  After a few bites, the hazlenut taste comes through, just a bit.  The cookie is chewy, rich and chocolatey.  A sprinkling of sea salt on top of each cookie would have been a nice addition.  Next time. Imagehttp://thenerdswife.com/tag/nutella

Day 19: Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

image Todays recipe is candy cane kiss cookies. These are sugar cookies with chopped candy cane kisses mixed in, and a candy cane kiss on top. They are a pepper minty twist on peanut butter blossoms. Fist starting this recipe, I was hesitant about using only powdered sugar in the cookies. I mean, I have never seen a cookie recipe that uses powdered sugar rather than granulated or brown sugar. It turned out to be good! The powdered sugar makes the cookies taste more shortbready than like a regular sugar cookie. Also, the recipe said to put the kisses in the cookies right away and then stick them in the fridge. I did not do this and the kisses did not melt. Be careful to not touch the kisses for about an hour or until they harden or the kiss will melt into the cookie. Lastly, the recipe said that you can use peppermint extract to give it a more pepperminty taste. I did not use this and they still had a peppermint flavor due to the chopped up kisses inside. Sorry the picture is a little blurry, but the recipe has one thats better!

http://www.recipegirl.com/2008/08/08/candy-cane-kiss-cookies/

Day 17: Easy Chocolate-Peanut Fudge

This fudge does live up to its name. Its easy, contains chocolate and peanuts, and of course, its fudge. It took me about 15 minutes to get all the ingredients, make it, and put it in the fridge. One thing to remember when making this recipe is to continuously stir the chocolate and condensed milk because it will start to burn if you do not. The fudge is currently in the fridge waiting to be cut tomorrow, so the picture will be added sometime tomorrow. This recipe is so easy and quick there is almost nothing to say!