Holiday Baking 2019 Recipes

And just like that, the 2019 holiday baking odyssey has come to an end.  As always, it was a hoot and even though in the 11th hour I swore I’d never do it again, I’m already dreaming about what to do for next year.

If you followed along with the 2019 Holiday Baking Analytics, you already know the stats.  I used nearly 80 pounds of sugar, 36 pounds of flour, 29 pounds of butter and 45 pounds of fruits, nuts and other add-ins.  I made nine types of cookies this year yielding 3,761 units.  We mailed 22 boxes and delivered another 30 or so in person.  Folks, my work here is done.

But, just in case you’d like to make your own, I’ve included links to each of the recipes below.

Cheers and happy holidays to all!

Sugar Stars

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut Butter Balls

or as we call them in our house, Schweddy Balls

Triple Gingersnaps

Candied Orange Peel

Almond Butter Crunch

Confettidoodles

Brown Butter Coconut Caramel Crispies

Chocolate Crinkles

Our house looked like a tornado hit it for a day or two.

There was no theme, but I did have a lot of fun with colored duct tape (seriously–get some, it’s a good time).

And a new company for labels, Paper Culture.

I promised we stuffed as much as we could into each box.

Pre-purchasing labels from USPS is the way to go.

As an added bonus, each and every box (and most of the tissue paper) was checked for safety and construction by our quality control crew.

 

Ye Old Chocolate Crinkles

Traditional chocolate crinkle cookies were the second freshman cookie this year.  I wanted something simple and chocolatey to replace the World Peace cookies that have been in rotation for many years.  After searching through what seemed like hundreds of chocolate cookie recipes, the road lead me to this holiday favorite.

As I researched across recipes for the optimal chocolate crinkle, I learned that like rugelach, there really is only one recipe with slight variations.  Nearly all I saw use vegetable oil instead of butter and unsweetened cocoa instead of chocolate.

Again, never to leave well enough alone, my version has the subtle addition of espresso powder.  Because, as I’ve said before, why be normal.

Chocolate Crinkles

Ingredients

  • 1 C (90 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 C (325 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (I like grapeseed)
  • 4 eggs at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C (300 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 C confectioners/powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.
  2. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.
  4. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough into one inch balls.
  8. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Brown Butter Coconut Caramel Cripsies

Because leaving well enough alone is boring, I like to rotate a couple of the cookie selections each year for holiday baking.  This year, one of the new kids is a deeply browned butter, lacy coconut and caramel crispy concoction.

This should not come as a surprise considering my current obsession with caramelized rice crispies.  As you might recall, I employed them in various and delicious ways including a Cracker Jack inspired bar, an extra chocolate chip cookie and some meta rice cripsie (or is it Krispy…or Krispie) treats.

And then there is my absolute favorite cookie discovery of 2019: Browned Butter Coconut Cookies.

I know.  You know.  Where I’m going.

These take some time; the butter needs to brown and cool in advance and the caramel crispies need to be made separately.  BUT, if these flavors are your jam, it’s totally worth it.

Brown Butter Caramel Crispies

For the Caramelized Crispy Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 C crispy rice cereal (have had good results with both regular and brown rice versions)
  • 3 TBS water
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan add sugar.  Then add water and mix until sugar dissolves.  This is the last time you are going to want to touch the mixture until you take it off the heat the first time.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil (don’t stir) and allow to simmer until the syrup just starts to brown.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in cereal (I find a rubber spatula works the best). Gently mix cereal until ever last piece is covered in syrup.  By the time you there, everything will have dried and look like its dusted in snow (and now we know how they make Frosted Flakes).
  5. Return to heat over a medium burned and fold constantly.  The sugar will start to melt and caramelize.  Keep folding until you reach desired depth of caramelization.  I know the version I like is done when the sugar starts to smoke.
  6. Spread cereal on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  7. From here you can store in an airtight container in big hunks.

For the cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 C (180 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 batch caramelized crispy rice (so feel free to eat the other half)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
  2. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
  6. Fold-in caramelized rice crispies.
  7. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper).  Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
  8. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  9. Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking).  Repeat to bake all cookies.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Amish Friendship Bread (Cinnamon Bread)

I’m not very good at predicting what people will eat (because it’s there) versus what people will love.

So, when I made this non-yeasted take on the Amish friendship bread, I wasn’t prepared for the number of recipe requests.

Cinnamony and satisfyingly rich, this quick bread evokes crisp fall mornings.  It is also so simple that I’d be willing to be money that you have all of the ingredients already on-hand.

I happened to have some cinnamon chips on hand and threw in a scant cup.

But you really don’t need them.

One of the very best parts of this bread is the sweet, crunchy crust that forms around the entire loaf–so, it’s best served the day it’s made.  However (and I tested this because I am a dedicated researcher), it’s still pretty stellar the next day.

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Baking

Ingredients

Cinnamon Sugar 

  • 1/2 C (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (grape seed)

Bread

  • 3 3/4 C (18 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 C (21 ounces) sugar
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 C milk
  • 1 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions

  1. For the cinnamon sugar: combine sugar and cinnamon in bowl.  Brush two 8 1/2X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans evenly with oil.  Add 2 TBS cinnamon sugar mixture to each prepared pan and shake and tilt pans until bottoms and sides are evenly coated.  Set aside remaining 1/4 C cinnamon sugar mixture.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until. just combined.  Gently fold-in cinnamon chips if using.
  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on tops of each loaf.
  7. Bake until paring knife inserted in centers of loaves comes out clean (65-75 minutes).
  8. Let bread cool in pans on wire rack for 1 hour.  Run paring knife around edges of pans to thoroughly loosen loaves.  Tilt pan and gently remove bread.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Posession with intent to distribute

Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues.  And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.

It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is.  No, I’m not going to stop baking).

Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have.  It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family.   Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!

My analytics weren’t super awesome this year.  I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place,  I offer a summary:

  • 35 pounds of butter
  • 75 pounds of sugar
  • 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
  • 25 pounds of chocolate
  • 3500 units

And some old fashioned visuals.  You’ll find a  list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.

 

Holiday Baking 2018: The List

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Ginger

Triple Gingersnaps

World Peace Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut butter (schweddy) balls

Almond Butter Crunch

Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)

 

 

Holiday 2017

As I walked into our student store the other day (I work on a college campus), I was  blasted simultaneously by air conditioning (yes!) and Christmas music (whaaat?). Turns out they were having a Christmas in July sale.

If you can believe it, I’ve already begun the pre-planning (otherwise known as daydreaming) phase of my holiday baking.

Which has reminded me that I have a blog.

That hasn’t been updated since December of last year.

I don’t really have an explanation.

But I do have a nice little back log of posts at the ready.

For this post, I present an array of marginally mediocre snaps from our 2017 holidays.

Amazing effort on your first post of 2018 you say.  I don’t disagree.  But anyhow.  Holidays 2017:

There was baking.

And candy making.

And packaging.

And boxing.

About the time all that was done, my family arrived.

So there was more baking.

And some holiday decorations.

And butter trees.

Then there’s this. That’s TD.  In our as-yet-to-be-landscaped side yard. In a cougar ski mask, holiday appropriate t-shirt and thermo BBQing gloves.

Rest assured, he was the only one of us wearing a costume.

 

 

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