Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Trials & Tribulations of Christmas Baking

Ah, Christmastime.  The perfect time of year to practice being a “Domestic Goddess”.

Decorating and crafting and, of course…baking.

Prior to this year, my “Christmas baking” has basically consisted of melting chocolate, mixing it together with things like nuts or chunks of cookie or peanut butter, then swirling it back together on a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and cooling it to make bark.

Tough stuff.

This year, though, I tried my hand at making some cookies and truffles, too.  I found some recipes on-line that I wanted to try that were different from my mom’s traditional Christmas treats (why attempt to duplicate what she already does so well, right?), bought all the ingredients, and discovered that…well…

They’re not as good as Mom’s.  Of course.

So far, I have made:



egg nog bark



And so far, this is what I’ve learned:

  1. When my mother insists flour should be stored in an air-tight container and not just left in the bag in a cupboard, she isn’t telling lies.  You don’t even want to know how I found that one out… (And fear not.  No cookies fell victim to this faux-pas.  Thank God.  That woulda been gross.)
  2. When buying pistachios for baking, make sure you don’t buy the ones that are salt-and-pepper seasoned.  My Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Bark did fall victim to this faux-pas, and thus, is gross and nobody’s allowed to eat it but me.  (haha!)
  3. When my mother tells me, despite the recipe instructions, that a heaping tablespoon is too big a size for shortbread, I should listen.  The White Chocolate Cranberry shortbread cookies are massive and too rich.  The Toblerone shortbread cookies are smaller, and pressed down with a fork as she told me to do; thus, much more enjoyable.
  4. When my mother tells me the shortbread recipe on the Kraft website sucks and I should just use hers, I should probably obey.  My shortbread pales terribly in comparison to hers.
  5. Crushing candy canes is a little harder than it sounds.  I will probably be finding candy cane smithereens in my kitchen for weeks…

So…yeah.  I’ve had my challenges in the kitchen in the past week.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve learned a lot of valuable tips that they just don’t tell you in the recipes; that apparently only someone as wise as my mother in the kitchen would know.  Or at least someone who bakes more than once or twice a year would know.

And probably the biggest lesson of all?

Listen to Mom.

Now, with all of this baking going on, you should know that Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe album has been in steady rotation at my place.  And originally, I thought “Mistletoe” was my favourite song on the CD.  It’s still a heavy favourite, but my absolute #1 new favourite Christmas song – straight from his CD – is this collaboration with The Band Perry.

LOVE! this song.  Trust me, Bieber haters…give it a chance…you might change your mind! :)

Have you all been busy in the kitchen?  What are your favourite holiday treats to make?  And what’s your favourite Christmas song/album to listen to while working away?

Happy Baking!!!


Linking today’s post up with Impulsive Addict and Shawn for Talk To Us Tuesday!!



VandyJ said...

I spent Sunday making dough and then baking it to make candy cane cookies and spritz cookies. We only have to make chocolate chip for Santa (but we make those Christmas Eve or they'd never last).
I have never tried to crush candy canes, but a tip on that if you try again--put them in a zip top bag and then smash away--but don't seal the bag tight, just a bit to contain the candy but let the air out.

Nicole said...

I always keep my flour in the fridge b/c that's where my mom kept hers. That and sugar too....

Impulsive Addict said...

Ok, so how can you possibly lose weight when you're doing all this baking? I look at a cookie and I gain a pound. You are better than me.

Nicole says to keep flour and sugar in the fridge? I've never heard of doing that before.

Ok, so I'm listening to the Beib while I comment. It's not a bad song. Really, it's not. I think it's cute that you are madly in love with him. =)

Thanks for linking up with us. I'll be trying out the oreo truffles. They are making my mouth water!

Stacie said...

Oh, my heart just warms thinking of my Northern friend baking with the Biebs! I am posting a 2 ingredient fudge recipe this week that will rock your socks! Be on the lookout!

Lisa @ Organized Chaos said...

You are making me hungry! Those look so amazing! I like to cook and bake, but I don't do it very often! I'm going to have to listen to the JB Christmas song. My new fav. album this year is a Very She and Him Christmas!~ Have a Happy Day!
~Lisa @ OC

Chell said...

I LOVE baking and cooking!! I wish I had the time for holiday baking this year :( So many things I want to make!

SJB AKA SUE J-B. said...

Hi, new follower via "Talk to us Tuesday"


Heather's Happenings said...

I have not even begun making cookies yet. I seriously need to get on the ball. Hoping this weekend I can get my bake on.

Emmy said...

Sounds like things I totally would have done. But good for you for making so many different treats! I am impressed

Nancy said...

Your Mom is incredible in the kitchen,makes even better dill pickles than Reg's mom who's were the official "Best". can I have her shortbread recipe, please, and I will do a bakeoff between hers and Reg's mom's.

I make candy cane bark, and crush mine in a ziplock bag for sure, with a meat hammer.

I won a baking contest with my Miniature Fruitcake Ambrosia Muffins. They are to die for, and I make a lower sugar version, so I can have them. Yummy, and I won a $100.00 about 20 years ago with them. My other money winnning recipe is chili bean dip....a must have at family gatherings.

One of the kindest gifts ever was a tray of cookies from your Mom that we had for Christmas Dinner. I made a few of our favorites after when I actually had time.

Are you using Splenda to reduce the sugar content Jill? happy baking.

Oh, I tend to listen to classical but typically don't listen to music as my kitchen is filled with chattering family members.

Lourie said...

Egg nog bark! Wow! And yum! We make butterfingers and peanut butter cups. Plus a whole host of other goodies that are sure to expand my hips, thighs and butt! :)

Connie said...

I think my new fav thing to make is homemade Marshmallows.

I bought Mistletoe because my daughter thinks she likes that boy.

Amber said...

I realized the joy of "sort of" baking during the holidays last year when I gave my aunts and uncles tins of cookies for Christmas and they were super thrilled with them. This year I thought about trying my hand at truffles, but I think I'm going to keep it more simple and do pretzel candy bites. HOWEVER, that Festive Candy Bark looks amazing...I MAY try my hand at that as well. :)

Sounds like you learned the greatest lesson of all. ;)

I'm going to click that YouTube video only because I love me some TBP, but Bieber...yikes.

Shawn said...

Now I need an ice cold galss of milk and one of everything pictured.

Ha, Mom is always right...That's both good and bad for me.

Date Girl said...

Oh holiday baking. How much I love it! Match eats it so fast that I don't usually have enough to share with anyone else though! :-)

I really want to try my hand at making the bark but I'm afraid I'd gain back every pound I lost this year. I also bought a mortar and pestle that would probably attack those candy canes with a vengeance! :-)