Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Baking

I don't really need all this sugar, but it doesn't feel like Christmas to me until I have spent a day like I did today, doing my holiday baking. The cold, raw wind roared around my yard all day, and I was happy enough to spend time indoors, once I fed the horses and filled the bird feeders.

With Christmas music playing, I first cleaned and organized my kitchen, then began my marathon baking session. I started with a double batch of Zick's Famous Suet Dough, because birds deserve homemade treats, too.

Then, I attempted some English toffee, something my mom makes every year. This made me slightly nervous. While I can bake like crazy, I don't have much luck or experience with making candy. Despite a couple of minor operational errors, it came out well.

When I do a Big Day of baking, I often have two batches of cookies going at the same time. It might look chaotic, but I have a system to keep things organized. I start the butter softening in one bowl, beat the eggs in another, and mix the dry ingredients together in a third container. Here, I have two bowls of cookie dough in progress, peanut butter on the left and something called cocoa cookies on the right.

I like my peanut butter cookies topped with Hershey's Kisses. We call them "Peanut Butter Blossoms" in my family. By the way, I baked for years without a cooling rack, but since I have started using this one, I won't go back.

recipe for these cocoa cookies is from my best friend, Joyce, who I have known for more than 30 years, since we were freshmen in college. She called them "Esther Rich's Cocoa Cookies," but since I don't know who Esther was, I have renamed them "Joyce's Cocoa Cookies." They melt in your mouth.

Scottish Shortbread. I have two basic recipes for shortbread. The one I used today is quite simple - butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and flour. It came with this stoneware baking pan, which imparts a lovely thistle design onto the shortbread.

The cookies and candy are all packed up now. I am fairly sick of sugar, since I consider it my duty to taste every batch that comes out of the oven, and to eat defective cookies. I will take some to work, mail some to a friend, and take some to Mom's for Christmas Day.

Low-carb diet resumes Jan. 1.


Mary said...

Your post made me salivate for "Peanut Butter Blossoms". The holidays will be a challenge until January 1. On January 2 I'll arrive back to work and have my body fat measured for a weight loss (Health Challenge). I'm scared.

Can you bake those mouth watering cookies without eating them hot of the tin? I can't.

holly said...

Ack, I am so jealous. We don't even have our blankin' tree up yet!!! Geez.

Marvin said...

Yummy post!

Julie Zickefoose said...

Oh, I am sooo glad I live a long way away from you when I see a post like this. I am trying not to eat too much sugar and white stuff lately, gotta get it back under control. Blaaa. I admire your mad baking skilz. I used to do that, on a low level. Gorgeous stuff.