Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Baking

Sugar Cookies
Oh, how I love my holiday baking :) I think I was about 10 when my grandmother gave me her Christmas cookie cutters...and I think I've made sugar cookies every year since then. It just doesn't seem like Christmas until I'm creaming shortening and sugar, smelling orange peel and vanilla, and getting colored sugar everywhere.

As the years have gone by, of course, I've expanded...Pfefferneusse were added first - a traditional German cookie, the name translates to "pepper nuts" - and yes, there is pepper in the dough ! The smell of these...molasses, butter, another of my Christmas must-haves.

Pepper Nuts, anyone ?
Viennese Christmas Snowflakes were added a few years ago - Mark is nuts about anything raspberry, and these nutty, buttery cookies are the perfect vehicle for raspberry nirvana

A much-requested guest the past few years is the Godiva Tiramisu - or, as one of my favorite foodie friends calls it, the Goddamn Godiva Tiramisu. What makes it "Godiva" is that I use Godiva liqueur instead of the traditional Marsala or rum...and boy, does that make it. This, really, is a culinary orgasm.

will post a pic tomorrow after we cut into it...
If I have time, I try and make homemade truffles as well...and I did this year. Flavored with The Knot (a delicious caramel sort of whiskey liqueur....makes the best Irish Coffee ever !), these truffles are definitely a win :

And finally, a newcomer to the Christmas Eve festivities...this year I decided to make a Buche de Noel. (the traditional French "Yule Log"). After the rousing success of Michelle's Mousse Cake, I really wanted to make something similar for Christmas, and I knew the Buche was made of similar stuffs. Didn't fool around - went straight to Martha Stewart  - but made marzipan mushrooms instead of the traditional meringue (I am not a meringue fan), and used bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet (we love dark chocolate around these parts).  I also didn't cut off the ends to make knots - didn't really see the point, and mine came out plenty log-like as you can see :

really, it's marzipan !

The components of this recipe all taste fantastic...but I don't know that the cake "rolled" as well as it should have. Maybe I just need to practice more....I like the idea of that :).

Here are the rest of the recipes and/or links....Happy Holidays everyone !!

Sugar Cookies

2/3 c shortening
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t orange peel
2 c flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 -4 t milk

With an electric beater, cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg, vanilla and orange peel, and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add to shortening mixture, and add milk as needed to make a workable dough. Chill for one hour.

Roll out 1/8 inch thick, cut out and place on cookie sheets and decorate as desired. Bake in a 375 oven for 8 - 10 minutes, or until just starting to brown the tiniest bit on the edges. Cool on racks.


1/2 c (1 stick) butter
3/4 c molasses
2 eggs, beaten
4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/8 t ground black pepper

Combine molasses and butter in a small saucepan, and heat until butter melts. Let cool a bit, then add eggs and mix well.

Sift together remaining ingredients, and stir in molasses mixture - will make a fairly stiff dough. Let the dough chill at least two hours.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 oven 12 - 14 minutes, until starting to brown. Roll immediately in powdered sugar, and cool on racks. These actually improve after a day or two, though they're great anytime !

Viennese Snowflakes

These are a Silver Palate recipe, which you can find here. The only changes I make are to cut them into the shapes you see in the picture, which is (I think) a flower shaped cutter. The dough falls apart really easily, and I kept losing points off the tree branches - rounder works better. I also use jam with seeds, as that's Mark's preferred type.

Irish Knot Truffles

This was a great find from Canadian Living, of all places...though they called them "Scotch on the Rocks Truffle Cups". I had to use my beloved Knot, of course :) They are much easier than the rolled truffles and just as good !

Godiva Tiramisu

7 oz Godiva Liqueur, divided
3/4 c strong black coffee or espresso
24 - 30 ladyfingers (depends on size - the crunchy ones, not soft)
1 1/2 lbs mascarpone cheese
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup plus 2 T confectioner's sugar
4 oz dark chocolate, grated

Mix 4 oz of the Godiva with the coffee. Dip ladyfingers quickly into this mixture, and lay in baking or casserole dish. Beat together the mascarpone, egg yolks, 2/3 cup of sugar and remaining Godiva until smooth. Whip egg whites (with clean beaters) and remaining sugar until stiff, and fold into the cheese mixture. Spread cheese mixture over the ladyfingers, sprinkle with chocolate and refrigerate overnight.

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