Tag Archives: holiday

It takes a certain level of precision to write with icing, I’ve learned, and it’s a level I have definitely not quite reached yet. There’s nothing like the feeling of betrayal that comes from trying to pipe a straight line and then having your hand shake the entire time.  And it’s also really fun to realize that your inability to write in a straight line on regular paper also carries over to cookies. The “merry and bright” cookie has such a slant it’s practically italics! New Year’s resolution: work on my penmanship.

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It was officially Christmas in July a few days ago, and the weather must have gotten the memo, because it was in the 60s and, dare I say it, slightly nippy, here in New York. Naturally, I made a whole slew of festive treats, including these addictive caramels. Thank goodness I had a leftover box of candy canes from last December.

This is what happens when you combine heavy cream and candy canes overnight

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Let’s try to classy up St. Patrick’s Day, shall we? Instead of going crazy with food dye, I used pistachios to get a natural green color and added some Guinness to the batter to really capture the spirit of the holiday.

The result is a rich, chocolate donut that’s moist and cakey, with some crunch and a bit of saltiness from the chopped pistachios. Make these mini so they’re easier to eat when you shove a handful in your mouth in a drunken stupor. And if you want to get drunk off the donuts, increase the amount of Guinness to 1/2 cup in the batter and splash some in the ganache too. And then drink the rest of the six-pack while you wait for these to bake.

Dark chocolate Guinness donuts

Dark chocolate Guinness donuts

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A confession: I’ve never decorated sugar cookies. Like, really, legitimately, beautifully decorated them. As a child, I took canned frosting, slathered it on a cookie baked from store-bought cookie dough, and then threw some sprinkles on them and called it a day. But since I started reading food blogs and once I really got into baking, I knew cookie decorating was definitely on my baking bucket list.

So with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figured this would be the perfect occasion to kill two birds with one stone – finally tackle decorating sugar cookies and also try out that brush embroidery technique everyone’s been going nuts over on Pinterest.

I’m happy to report that 2 days later, logging a total of 12 hours, I have succeeded!

(Note to self: you are not Iron Man, you cannot run before you walk, and in fact should probably crawl first, or even just sit on your ass and think about the idea of movement before even attempting it, so the next time you try some newfangled baking thing, try to plan our your time a little better so you’re not up until 2 a.m. decorating cookies. Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely, yourself.)

Sugar cookies

There’s nothing quite like standing over a cutting board for 6 hours straight, meticulously piping and decorating around 150 cookies.

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For this week’s Muffin Monday, I decided to go with something festive since it’s Mardi Gras on Tuesday, so naturally, King Cake! Now, the last time I had a King Cake was in middle school French class, so my memory of them has more or less disintegrated. According to the internet, they’re basically a giant cinnamon roll sometimes also filled with fruit and cream cheese and then covered in a simple glaze and colored sugar. I remember them being good, but pretty dense and heavy, and I knew that’s not how I wanted this muffin version to be.

I decided to go with a basic muffin batter lightly spiced with cinnamon and then filled with both cream cheese and sauteed apples. Then I topped them off with a simple glaze and yellow, purple, and green sanding sugar.

The end result has all the festiveness and deliciousness of a King Cake but is lighter and won’t weigh you down the way a typical King Cake does. Give up anything else for Lent, just not these muffins.

King Cake muffins

These are really, really pushing the boundaries of what we call “muffins”, but who really cares about semantics anyways?

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I’ve got a new Christmas tradition and it’s this bread. I know everybody loves cinnamon rolls, but just look at this thing, it’s an absolute showstopper!  It’s not much more work to make than cinnamon rolls, either, so if you’re looking to jazz things up next year (or whenever – this bread is so good you won’t want to wait for the holidays to make it), try this tasty wreath instead.

Holiday Bread Wreath

Happy holidays, indeed

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There’s something rather magical about Spritz cookies. They’re from the German word “spritzen,” which literally means “to squirt,” which is exactly how you make these, by squirting the dough through a cookie press. I make these cookies every year around the holidays and it still blows my mind every singe time to see the dough push through the holes in the disc and transform into trees and flowers and other designs.

The dough for these cookies is a simple butter cookie dough, but my favorite recipe adds cream cheese to make them extra tangy and melt-in-your-mouth crumbly.

Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies of all shapes and sizes

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It’s that time of year again! The real start of holiday baking.

I can always tell when the holidays get here based on my contents of my pantry. Today, I counted not one, not two, not even three, but seven – SEVEN – bags of chocolate chips. I know chocolate chip cookies aren’t really a holiday cookie, but they’re one of my favorite cookies to gift because they’re such a classic. Around this time of year, I consider it a pantry staple so I pick up a bag every time I’m at the grocery, which explains how I have a couple pounds of chocolate in my fridge. And of course they’re all different brands – Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, Nestle – and different types of chocolate – milk, dark, semi, and bittersweet. Live like there’s no tomorrow, AM I RIGHT??

Cookie cutters and chocolate chips

You know you’re a baker when you have one drawer full of cookie cutters and another full of chocolate chips

But I digress. Chocolate chip cookies are among my favorite to gift, but gingerbread cookies are probably my favorite to eat this time of year. They’re full of flavor but aren’t too sweet or heavy, so they’re a great light cookie for snacking on.

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Thanksgiving 2012

A small-scale Thanksgiving feast

With just three of us, the holidays were never such huge occasions for my family. Growing up, we already saw each other all the time, so it wasn’t like we were waiting all year to be together again. But since I’ve moved out and only go home once or twice a year, the holidays have become much more meaningful as it’s one of the few times a year I get to spend time with my parents.

This year, my parents came to visit me here in New York, their first visit since they helped me move into my apartment in May 2011. As a thank you to them, I decided to go all out and plan and cook the entire menu myself, and even arranged a pretty legit-looking centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

The best centerpiece is an edible one

I’m a vegetarian and my parents aren’t huge fans of turkey anyways, so the star of the meal was a nut-stuffed squash that magically tasted similar enough to sausage to satisfy even my father’s carnivorous appetite. The menu went like this:

And that’s how you do Thanksgiving for three people.

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