Holiday Baking Madness!

10 Jan

Hey everyone! Wanted to share some of the sweet treats I made last month for the holidays. With extra time on my hands, I wanted to take full advantage of my kitchen and bake up some homemade gifts to give out and bring to holiday dinners. I spent a lot of time looking at magazine and cookbook recipes and calling family members for recipes. In addition to the baking I did at home, I spent an afternoon at my grandmother’s house baking with her too!

Nana and I baked up a storm in her kitchen

Nana had already made quite a few cookies the week before, but we made some together for both of us to share. She gives out a lot of cookie boxes around the holidays piled high with delicious fruit-filled cookies, pizzelle, an frosted anise cookies. The day we baked together we did three different cookies – two biscotti and a lace cookie. One kind of biscotti had lemon and orange zest in the almond dough and the other also included chocolate and dried cherries. Both were delicious.

Two kinds of biscotti

Next up, Almond Oat Lace Cookies, which are from Bon Appetit. I actually made these for my friend Cari’s cookie swap a week earlier and wanted to try them again. Once the cookies are cooled they are delicious brushed with dark chocolate.

Here are the cookies cooling on parchment. You can really see the lacy texture here.

I was really ambitious one day and did the next three things: Anise Pizzelle, Peppermint Meringues, and Cherry-Pistachio Nougat. Everyone in my family makes pizzelle for Christmas. They can be made with different extracts (vanilla, anise, almond) and are sometimes dusted with confectioner’s sugar once cooled. You need a special press to make them – it kind of looks like a waffle maker. I got mine as a Christmas gift from my dad last year – such a great gift. They are pretty easy to make too.

Lots of pizzelle - they look like snowflakes.

The Peppermint Meringues were really easy to make as well and this was another recipe I got from Bon Appetit. It’s basically sugar and egg white whipped into a meringue which is piped and then baked at a low temperature. These had a red swirl to them which were perfectly festive for Christmas.

I liked how these came out and may try different flavorings next time.

The Cherry-Pistachio Nougat were another relatively easy recipe to make (again from Bon Appetit). Next time I make them, I’ll take the recipe’s recommendation to use edible rice/wafer paper on the top and bottom of the nougat to hold everything together. I had to put the nougat into paper cups because they were so sticky. I love the combination of cherry and pistachio and used orange blossom honey in the nougat which gave it great flavor also.

These nougat may not have looked perfect, but it tasted great.

Last, but certainly NOT least, I made Italian rainbow cookies. These really deserve a post of their own, which I’ll do shortly because it is quite the process to make them, but totally worth it. They are Jason’s absolute favorite “cookie,” though they’re more cakey than cookie-like. I really enjoyed making them and am pretty sure they were the overall favorite of everything in my dessert containers. They may be a Harty holiday staple from now on. Rainbow cookies are made up of three layers of almond cake with raspberry jam in between, all covered in melted chocolate. OMG is right!

What's not to love?! Almond cake, raspberry, chocolate - a killer combination.

Now that my baking extravaganza was complete, I wanted to find a decorative way to package everything up for gifting. I found awesome tags on etsy and the rest of my supplies at Michaels. I filled each “take-out” container with an assortment of cookies, wrapped them in holiday ribbon and bells and attached a tag to each. I fell in love with the packaging and couldn’t wait to give them away!

An assortment of delicious confections!

Here's one of the containers all wrapped up and ready to go.

Here's one with a tag that had a space for writing. So cute!

Our dining room table was full of red and silver containers - I made approx 20 containers of sweets!

It was so much fun to make and give edible gifts this year. I’d love to do it every year. If you live near us or saw me around the holidays, hopefully you got some and I’d love any feedback! If you has questions about any of these recipes, give me a shout. And in case you’re not done looking at pictures, here’s a picture I have to share. I didn’t actually make the cookies below (Dad and Barb did), but thought it was worth sharing anyway. How happy does Collin look?! Happy baking!

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One Response to “Holiday Baking Madness!”

  1. Michaela January 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    yum – do you have extra for your FRIEND??? ;)

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