Triple-Ginger Cookies…They’re GREAT!

I’ve had ginger on the mind lately.  I think all the rain has had this spoiled California girl dreaming of warm sunny places and cool cocktails made of ginger and lime.

With rain in the forecast for tomorrow, that sunny beach I’ve been yearning for will have to wait (and really, we go to the beach sunny or not, it’s just a little harder to enjoy chilly cocktails when fending off chilly wind).  In the meantime, I think I’ve found a rainy-day-inclement-of-weather substitute in this month’s Bon Appetit. The triple-ginger cookie.

As its name suggests, this crispy snap presents a triple threat of ginger in powder, fresh and crystalized forms.  I found the crystalized root at Trader Joes but have also seen it at Whole Foods. Fresh ginger is usually available in the produce section of grocery stores and is easily peeled with a vegetable peeler.

With the exception of the fresh and crystalized gingers, there is a good chance that you already have the remainder of the ingredients in your pantry.  As a note, the recipe calls for a light-colored molasses.  I happened to have dark molasses in the pantry already and so didn’t want to buy a new jar.  So, I used dark.  The results were still delicious.

The recipe says to roll the balled dough in turbinado (or raw sugar).  So I did.

I also happened to have some Swedish pearl sugar on hand that was wanting for an excuse to be used.

So, I used some of that as well.

Of course, in the absence of either, a good roll in regular granulated sugar would work just fine.

In addition to making the house smell nearly as warm and tropical as my beach fantasies, the cookies themselves came out delicious.  Flat and slightly crispy, but also satisfyingly  chewy from the crystalized ginger chunks.  Tasty on their own, they would also make a great base for a key-lime pie crust.

Now if only that cabana boy would come around and refresh my hot cocoa…

Triple Ginger Cookies

Bon Appetit, January 2011


  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1.5 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t ground cloves
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3/4 C solid vegetable shortening
  • .5 C mild-flavored molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t minced peeled fresh ginger
  • .25 C chopped crystallized ginger
  • raw/turbinado sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk together flour, soda and dry spices.  Set aside.  Using an electric or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses, egg and fresh ginger.  Stir in crystallized ginger and dry ingredients.

Fill shallow bowl with sugar.  Shape dough into balls of desired size.  Place on prepared sheets at least two inches apart (cookies will spread quite a bit).  Bake cookies until golden and dry-looking; about 15 minutes.

Note: these cookies will freeze well in an air-tight bag or container.

Christmas Stollen: my first Daring Bakers’ challenge

December was my Daring Bakers’ maiden voyage.  Yes, there was champagne and confetti (though this is the way it always is around my house, so, the part about it being my first challenge was just a coincidence).

The Daring Kitchen is an online community of bloggers who “get together” each month and make a challenging baked good.  It’s very cloak and dagger.  Even though we get the recipe at the beginning of the month, it’s all hush hush until the reveal day when everyone presents the challenge via their blog.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen.  She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

My first thought when the challenge was unveiled was, “kowabunga dude!”  My second: wait…stollen?  What is stollen?  And now I’v revealed that I don’t have a German bone in my body.

Stollen is sort of a fruity desserty holiday bread.  Yes, it’s a bread.

Okay fine. It’s fruit cake.  But not the nasty kind.

The yeast-based dough is slightly sweet, filled with fruit, candied citrus peel, slivered almonds and often, marzipan. And, as soon as I got to the citrus zest on the ingredients list, I was a convert.

Citrus zest and spices are added to a basic egg-based yeast dough recipe.

Then the real fun begins.  What goes in to one’s stollen is quite personal.  A quick peek into my pantry revealed that I happened to have dried cranberries and cherries on hand.  I re-hydrated these in some orange juice.  They were then joined by some candied orange peel I’d made the day before and slivered almonds.

Some time with the dough hook and my little bun was ready to proof over night in the fridge.

A day of grading BUAD-495 final papers and a visit to the dentist later, my dough and I were ready to get boogying.  Out of the fridge and another two hours of proofing yielded an impressive and insanely good-smelling bowl of dough.

Traditional stollen is made in loaf form (it is supposed to look like a swaddled baby Jesus).  However, those Daring Bakers’ are a little on the fancy side, so this recipe had the dough going the distance in the form of a wreath.  After a good-natured punching down, the dough was rolled thin.

And I added a rope of homemade marzipan.  I’m not including a link for the marzipan yet because I’m not entirely confident that I’ve mastered the recipe. More to come on my meanderings with marzipan.

Next, my dough and marzipan got tolled up into a big, fat, heavy log.

To get the log into wreath shape, I lined a baking sheet with parchment and placed a heat-proof bowl in the center. Then, I wrapped the dough log around the bowl, pinching the ends together.  This was followed by some snips to further articulate the wreath-shape.

Some more proofing commenced and then, into the oven until the dough was dark-golden.

But, we’re not done yet.  While still hot, I slathered the bread with alternating layers of melted butter and powdered sugar to form a sort of icing/preserver.  Speaking of preservers, the wreath was easily large enough to be utilized as a life preserver.


I wrapped-up the cooled wreath and let it cure for a couple of days (this was very, very difficult to do).  After the 48-hour waiting period, we had arrived at the moment of truth.

If loving fruitcake is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

TD said it tasted like raisin bread.  However, most raisin bread isn’t  blanketed in a layer of crunchy yet tender icing.  This is not a light bread.  It is an eat a couple of pieces and then climb the Matterhorn sort of bread.  But with some patience, it was really fun to make.  A perfect first challenge for this virgin Daring Baker!


Daring Bakers’ Challenge


  • ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  • 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
  • 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
  • Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  • Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.  Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.  Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

Candied citrus peel

I love oranges.  Navel, blood, tangerines, mandarines, tangelos–love them all. We even used an orange motif (both the fruit and the color)  to tie our wedding together.

Table number: My mom; Photo Credit: Betwixt Studio

So, when a recipe I was making called for candied citrus peel, I jumped at the chance to make my own.  I researched several recipes and finally chose the one below from the Food Network kitchens.

This recipe would work with any thick-skinned citrus fruit. I used some giant–and very juicy navels for this recipe.

The peeling part is easy.  Lop of the top and bottom of the orange. Then, score the peel into quarters and peel (and if you are me, have flashbacks of that one year I played soccer as a child).  I saved the juice from the fruit for another recipe.

Then the peels get cut into strips and blanched three times–Julius Caeser style. The blanching softens up the pith.

Once the peels are blanched, a simple heavy syrup gets made.  And yes, a candy thermometer is used.

When the syrup reaches the correct temp, in go the peels.

Where they simmer for about an hour–or until the peels become transparent.

Then out of the syrup and into the sugar.

Once sufficiently dusted with the sweet stuff, the peels are dried over night on cooling racks.  The final product is sweet and zesty with just a bit of bite.

I will definitely be making these for the holidays next year, dipped in chocolate and wrapped in clear cellophane.  Italy dusted in sugar!

Candied Orange Peel

Food Network Kitchens

  • 6 thick-skinned oranges
  • 4.5 C sugar for extra for rolling
  • 1.5 C water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about .25-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to aboil over high heat. Then pour off the water. Repeat 1 or 2 more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (Test kitchen liked the texture of a 3 time blanch best, it also mellowed the bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (If you took the sugar’s temperature with a candythermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Resist the urge to stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for ice tea.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack, for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.

The Misanthropichostess welcomes you to Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood

Well, really, it’s Mr. Chang’s neighborhood.  As in David Chang of Momofuko Milk Bar (I say that like I’ve been there…which I haven’t).

Several months ago I started “hearing” about something called crack pie.  Further research determined that crack pie is actually a baked good made at Milk Bar that is so good, people willingly pay $40 for it.  If my ninth grade geometry is correct, this means that people are happily shelling out around 30 cents for each cubic inch of a 9 inch pie.  For context, a Marie Calendar’s pie runs about $15 or about 12 cents a cubic inch.  Of course, the price tag is simply an indicator of how good this pie supposedly is.  Pair an addictive substance with an individual’s willingness to pay outrageous prices for it and I get it: Crack Pie.

So of course I had to see what the big deal was.  I had to make some.  In bar form.

Luckily, there are a couple of recipes for the stuff floating around out there.  I settled on one from the Los Angeles Times.

First things first:  a review of the recipe revealed that the pie does not actually contain crack.  This was quite a relief to me as I was planning to bring the bars to work and really didn’t want to have to go through an after-school special type scenario with human resources.  I will warn you though, what this recipe lacks in crack it makes up for in butter.  Nearly a pound of the stuff goes into two pies (or in my case, one 9X13 pan of bars).  By comparison, my favorite super rich brownie recipe only calls for half the butter for the same yield.

Everything starts off innocently enough with an oatmeal cookie base.

For me, there is a certain amount of pleasure in making one giant cookie.

Once cooled, the cookie gets crumbled and has a party with some sugar and of course, more butter.

This is then pressed into your tin or pan of choice and becomes the pie’s crust.

As the crust rests, butter, eight (you read that right) eggs yolks, sugar and another cup of butter come together to make the filling.

And then into the oven.

What comes out is something that now knowing what goes into the recipe, I could never make for someone I liked in good faith.  Elmo talks about sometimes foods.  This is kind of a “once a year and then call your cardiologist” food.  They really are criminally rich and gooey.  There is a good chance that Whitney Houston would in fact, think they are whack.

Though unfortunately named (though maybe more enticing than “heart attack pie”), crack pie is true to its title.  It is verry verry good.  If not, verry verry bad for you.

And maybe, just maybe, while horribly politically incorrect, if Eddie Murphy had ever discussed baked goods in his SNL Mr. Robinson skits, this would have been his weapon of choice.

I’m going to link to the original recipe here instead of listing it because other than making it in bar rather than pie form, I’ve made no changes to the original.

Crack Pie

Freezer snob(less) orange cranberry shortbread

In my holiday baking each year, I try to include a little something for everyone.  There is always the sweet.  And the nutty.  And the chocolatey.  And the simple.  These profiles are easy.  It’s the fruity I struggle with a little.  In years’ past, the jam thumbprint has served me well.  But, as solid as that recipe is, I feel it’s a little played-out.  This year my search for fruity brought me to a simple cranberry-orange shortbread.  Well actually, I decided I wanted to do something with cranberries and orange and then found a recipe to match.

And, it’s a good one.

Here’s why.  You can make the dough, roll it into a log and freeze it for a couple of weeks.  Then when you are ready, all you do is defrost, slice and bake.  Okay, okay, I realize this is not a novel concept.  Yes, I know, there is an entire category of treats called, “Icebox Cookies.”  But, I have to admit, until this year, I was a bit of a freezer snob when it came to baked goods.  I always thought freezing dough—either before or after baking would compromise the taste.  And, for some recipes it does.  So, this was my Betty Crocker modern housewife experiment.  You know what?  It worked.

I made a double batch, rolled out the logs, wrapped each in parchment, wrapped the whole lot in plastic, then freezer bagged everything and into the freezer the dough went.  For a month.

Last weekend, at the very end of my baking, I pulled out the dough and let it defrost while the oven was pre-heating.  Never one to pass up the opportunity to add glitter to a project, I rolled the dough in white sanding sugar first.

Because really, do you know anyone who doesn’t like sparkles?

Then, I sliced them up and into the over they went.

Ten minutes later, I had a light, crumbly, fruity addition to my holiday cookie menagerie.

Their uniform shape and depth would make the orange shortbread cookies an excellent candidate for clear cellophane bags.  You could also make a variation or two and line them up neatly in a cute box.

This recipe is straight out of Southern Living.  The only thing I added was the sanding sugar.  I think those Southern Belles would approve.

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread Cookies

Southern Living, December 2009

Yield: Makes 4 dozen


  • 1  cup  butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1/2  cup  chopped dried cranberries
  • 1  tablespoon  orange zest
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1/2  teaspoon  almond extract
  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • Wax paper


1. Beat 1 cup softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Stir in chopped cranberries, orange zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract until blended.

2. Stir together 2 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt.

3. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

4. Shape shortbread dough into 2 (7-inch) logs. Wrap each log in wax paper, and chill 4 hours, or freeze logs in zip-top plastic freezer bags up to 1 month.

5. Preheat oven to 350°.

6. If frozen, let logs stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Cut each log into 24 slices. Place shortbread slices 1 inch apart on lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

7. Bake shortbread slices at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of slices are golden.

8. Remove shortbread from baking sheets, and place on wire racks; let cool completely (about 20 minutes). Store in airtight containers.

My new hero…at least for today

I’m sorry Michelle Rhee, just for the afternoon, Denise Vivaldo is going to have to be my hero.  If you are a Fan of Cake Wrecks, you’ve already seen this.  If not, the following is my holiday gift to you. Remember, I’ve never, ever claimed to be the bigger, more mature person.  Especially when it comes to Sandra Lee.

Happy Holidays

Though…I will admit…I now might be just a little tiny bit inspired to develop a Festivus Cake.

(insert your favorite nut here) toffee

If, by some remote chance you happen to be my Aunt Kris, please stop reading now.  Every year about this time, TD and I wait in hungry anticipation for a package with a Santa Maria, CA postmark to arrive so that we can demolish the wrapping and dive into the tin of my Aunt Kris’  homemade almond toffee.  More than once TD and I have nearly come to physical blows over the last little crumbly bits stuck to the bottom of the bag (because really, what says holiday season more than boxing for caramelized sugar detritus).

After much begging, cajoling and general harassment from TD,  I’ve finally  figured out how to make it myself.  But, don’t tell my Aunt Kris because while I may have cracked the crackle code, I still prefer hers.

Since the original maker of this crunchy delight is my Aunt Kris and not yours (unless you are my brother), she probably doesn’t send you any.  So, I’ll show you how to make your own.  And, if your name is Kris, perhaps you can start a holiday tradition by sending it to your niece and her husband.

I’m not sure where I found the original recipe but was able to hunt-down a comparable one on Sunset magazine’s website.  Do not be afraid of the candy thermometer.  If you find the need for a thermometer daunting, think of it this way: they sell them in grocery stores.  If normal people weren’t meant to use them, they wouldn’t have them out right next to the bamboo skewers and disposable muffin tins.  Would they?

This recipe starts with a heavy saucepan, said thermometer, sugar, butter and water.  Put items two through four into item number one and turn on the burner to medium.

While the sugar is working on its chemistry, go ahead and toast up some of your favorite nuts.  This year I made separate batches with pecans and almonds.  When the nuts are toasted and cool to the touch, give them a rough chop.  You can do it by hand, but it’s very quick in a food processor or mini-prep.

Now it is time to sit back and watch the pot boil.

And boil.  While you are waiting, make sure your pan and nuts are at the ready (yeah, yeah, that’s what she said).

Once everything is nice and golden brown and the smell nearly drives you mad with its buttery goodness AND the thermometer reads 310, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped nuts using a wooden spoon.  At first, the caramel will be angry but quickly calm down.

Now, take a deep breath and carefully, pour out the caramely, nutty, super-hot liquid into your pan.

Before the next step, the toffee needs a bit of a cooling-off period.  In my case, this means it is time to clean the burner (there may or may have not been a tiny little fire caused but some stray sugar with one of the batches.  But, I’m not talking and you can’t prove anything).

The final step starts with what all good final steps should begin with: chocolate.

Give it a chop and then into a double boiler it goes to slowly melt.  Once your toffee is cool to the touch and your chocolate is melted, spread an even layer of the chocolate over the surface of the toffee.  An off-set spatula works well for the job.  The instructions in the recipe below say to refrigerate at this point but I don’t.  I like to let the chocolate cool at room temperature so that it doesn’t bloom and give me gray chocolate.

With the chocolate set, the  real fun begin as you get to break-up the toffee (I do it by hand but a little hammer could be fun too).  This recipe makes a generous batch–which is genius because I predict only about half of every batch ever gets to its intended destination.

The great thing  about this recipe is that it will last a good month if properly stored.  This means that you can make this well in advance of the holiday push.  Of course, this also means that you will have it around the house…which is probably why my dentist owns my soul.

Nut Toffee

Slightly adapted from Sunset Magazine

Yield: Makes 1 pan (10 by 15 in.); 40 pieces (serving size: one 2- by 2-in. square)


  • 2  cups  pecan halves
  • 3 1/2  cups  sugar
  • 1 1/2  cups  butter
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  tablespoon  vanilla extract
  • 12  ounces  bittersweet chocolate
  • 2  teaspoons  fleur de sel (see Notes) or coarse sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Put nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop roughly. Divide into 2 batches; chop 1 batch finely. Set both batches aside.

2. Put sugar, butter, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. When butter and sugar are melted, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden brown and measures 310° on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla (mixture will bubble up) and finely chopped pecans. Pour into a 10- by 15-in. rimmed baking sheet. Let toffee cool until set, at least 30 minutes.

3. Chop chocolate and melt in a double boiler. Pour over toffee; with a knife or offset spatula, spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate with roughly chopped pecans. Let sit 20 minutes, or until chocolate is cool but still a bit soft. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

4. To remove, gently twist pan to release toffee, then chop or break into chunks. Store in an airtight container.

Scenes from holiday baking

Each year I do a lot of holiday baking.  Planning takes weeks.  There are baking schedules and distribution spreadsheets (why yes, they are color-coded).   There is the search for a novel way to present and package them.  And, there is the purchase of a whole lot of butter.  A lot a lot.  I lost track after 20 lbs. The whole thing takes about two weeks–from the day after Thanksgiving to the second Sunday in December.  And in the end a couple thousand treats are sent as holiday best wishes.

In the week or so to come, I have several new recipes to share. In the meantime, here are some scenes from the last two weeks.

First there are the multi-named Peanut Butter Bonbons.  Even if Alec Baldwin doesn’t make them for you and even if the origins of the recipe are dubious at best, they are a (guilty) pleasure.

And of course, several dozen virgin Rum Butter Nuts (not to worry, the rum was efficiently re-purposed–think fruity flavors and umbrella toothpicks).

What holiday would be complete without Sugar Cookies?

New to the line up (and soon to be shared on this site)  were gingerbread and egg nog macarons.

A simple cranberry orange shortbread.

And (insert your favorite nut here) toffee.

In baking, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

Three hours and many glue dots later, they were packaged and ready to be delivered and shipped far-and-wide.

And now, we can really get this holiday season started!