Puttin’ suckers in fear

Photo circa 2014.

Don’t call it a comeback (but it really is)
I’ve been here for years (just haven’t had a kitchen)
I’m rocking my peers (with baked goods that is)
Puttin’ suckers in fear (literally, no sugar source is safe)

Song credit: Mama Said Knock You Out, L.L. Cool J.

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, after a three year hiatus, I officially kicked off my 2017 holiday baking.  If you follow me on Instagram (@tmhostess), you’ve already been harassed by the crappy instastories and mediocre ‘grams. I’ve even got a hashtag going: #misanthropichostessholidaybaking2017. #worsthashtagever.

While I plan to keep most of the visuals on Instagram, I thought it would be fun to include Holiday Baking 2017 analytics.  And of course, a contest.

First the analytics.  I’ve created a separate page on this site with a live feed of my baking analytics.  That’s right, real time baking data on:

  • Running total of units in-production and completed
  • Running total, pounds of butter used
  • Running total, pounds of sugar used
  • Running total, pounds of chocolate used
  • Running total, pounds of nuts used

To follow along at home, go here:

2017 Holiday Baking Analytics

Each Tuesday I’ll upload some photos and remind you of where to go to see the latest stats (because I’m a data pimp).

A box (or extra box) of goodies goes to the person who can get closest to the sum below without going over:

  • Total pounds (lbs) of: butter + sugar + nuts + chocolate

If you want to play along, cast your vote via comment to this post no later than midnight, November 9th.

Here we go, here we go, here we go again…

Spec-uuuuuuuuu-los

You know, like those old Yahoo commercials.

It also works if you try saying it in the same tone as Joey from Friends’ “How you doin’?”

And just like that, it’s time to start testing holiday recipes.

I’m planning a couple of new tricks this year in addition to some old favorites.  Dorie Greenspan’s speculoos buttons may  just make the cut.  This recipe graced the cover of Bon Appetit during the holiday season 2012.  However, it’s taken me nearly a year to get back to it.

But, a recent, coolish Southern California Sunday had me pulling out the recipe and checking my sanding sugar supplies.

The speculoos “buttons” are a variation on the thinner-crisper original speculoos cookies that appear in Dr. Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  While the thicker version feel more gingerbread than speculoos, the spice mixture is right on the mark in “holidayness.”  The original recipe includes a glaze but I’ve left it off here because I thought the color of the cookies was so pretty.

And, I don’t even know what to make of all that crazy business over the speculoos butter at Trader Joes.  So, I’m not even going to go there.

Speculoos Buttons

adapted ever so slightly from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe as appeared in Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sanding or other decorative sugar

Directions

  1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add both sugars and molasses; continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix to blend well.
  4. Scrape dough from bowl and divide in half. Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log.
  5. Fill a shallow dish or 1/4 sheet baking pan with sanding sugar (1/2 C should do it for you).  One-at-a-time, place dough log into pan and roll back and forth until the log is covered in sugar.
  6. Wrap logs tightly in plastic or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Dough can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep frozen.
  7. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  8. Bake 2 sheets of cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm, 11-13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with third sheet of cookies

Scenes from holiday baking #2

We are in the thick of things boys and girls.  In the last week much has happened.

These:

Became these:

And this:

Turned into this:

As we roll into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I’ve got one more candy and two more batches of cut-out cookies to make and will then move on to the more delicate items and detail work.

Ann, Amber, Nancy and Jeanette, here is your current butter poundage:

8.82 lbs

And we’re not even close to being done…

Holiday Treat Round-Up

I wasn’t kidding when I said planning for holiday baking begins months in advance.  I try out recipes, consider themes and attempt to devise a combination of different flavors and textures that will include a little something for every taste.  I am also a great appreciator of holiday baking lists; a conisuer of cookie compendiums, if you will.  So, I thought I’d make some lists of my own.

Last year about this time, I wrote a post about planning.  This might be a good place to begin if you are considering a little  seasonal creativity.  There are lots of ways to categorize treats and I’m sure, over the years, I’ll try them all (because you know you’ll get at least one “clip show” post this time each year).  This time around, I’m hitting you straight on and categorizing by preparation: roll and cut cookies, cut-out cookies, drop cookies, bars, candy and fancy treats.

Roll and Cut Cookies

These are the secret weapon of the entertainer and grateful guest.  It’s easy to make up several batches of dough, wrap them tightly and then freeze.  To bake, just slice and turn on the oven.  The roll and cut method also works beautifully with texture-dependent cookies like sables and shortbread.  The minimal kneading and manipulate really helps maintain this important cookie component.

Chocolate Cayenne Cookies

Dirty Chai Shortbread

Orange Cranberry Shortbread

World Peace Cookies (chocolate sables)

Sables

Cut-Out Cookies

If cookies had enemies, cut-out cookies and roll and cut cookies would be bitter rivals.  The opposite of delicate, the two recipes below can take a rolling-out and then probably another.

THE Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Roll-Out Cookies

and just for good measure, these aren’t cookies, but are solid, especially when gifted with a bottle of wine.

Cheese Crackers

Drop Cookies

Go on, I know you want to.  Okay, I’ll do it with you. Ready? And…drop it like it’s hot, drop it like it’s hot.  The drop cookie is a classic and has so many possibilities.  Here are a few of my festive-worthy favorites (even if some actually get a little flattened after they drop).

Triple Ginger Cookie

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

 Nutella Cookies

Blueberries and Cream Cookies (I bet these would be excellent with dried cranberries or currants)

Brown Sugar Crinkles (do not underestimate these simple cookies)

Bars

I love the bar cookie.  In fact, I have a great business idea if anyone has some capital they’d like to put up.  I especially love bars during the holidays–the all-in-one-pan delivery makes it easy to cut, pack and give.  If you are feeling particularly fancy, they’re even more special nestled in the little wrappers.  I’m limiting my list below to five that don’t have toppings for packaging ease, but for more, go here.

TMH Brownies

Bella Bars

Hazelnut Caramel Chocolate Bars

Candied Orange Peel and Almond Blondies

Caramel Crunch Bars

Candy

Candy is a whole world I’ve just started to explore.  Including  one or two types has the dual advantage of variety and the potential for a more shelf-stable treat.

Candied Citrus Peel

Honeycomb

Marshmallows

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bon Bons (Schweady Balls)

Fancy Treats

Not to say that the goodies listed above aren’t give-worthy.  Because, they are.  But, sometimes you just need a little somethin’ somethin.’  Whether its the execution or the ingredients, this final list should fit-the-bill.

Glittery Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Rum Butter Nuts

French Macarons

Florentines

Confetti Cookies

Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?

Try here for more: Misanthropic Hostess Recipes Index