One last Christmas-related post

Ok. It’s January 3rd. 2012 has officially begun. And I have one more thing to say about Christmas.

Sooooo. You might have noticed my absence the last few weeks, Dear Internet, which was due to my overwhelming schedule. Especially my overwhelming baking schedule. So Imma gonna talk at you about my heaps o cookies!!!

I decided to take the bulk of the week before x-mas off in order to do all that x-mas baking. Cause I wasn’t going to not do my massive x-mas bake-a-thon. No sirree!!

The three days before Christmas I baked 10 kinds of baked good. Ten batches of sweets. !!!!!!!! Cause I’m nuts. I was even planning on down-sizing my baking this year. Apparently not. Also, though I have no photographic evidence currently, I made Christmas cakes with my mom this year. But, like, weeks before Christmas. So for some reason I keep forgetting about them. . .

Let’s get to the crazy then, shall we?

In no particular order:

1) Gingerbread!

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A traditional and perennial favourite!

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2) Traditional shortbread

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With a twist, of course. I used dark brown sugar in this one. Cause it tastes even more awesome. And I used the shortbread mold my dad picked up (sooooooo much easier than rolling out and cutting cookies). Though next time I won’t make such huge bricks of shortbread

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3) Nutmeg Maple Butter cookies (from, where else?, Smitten Kitchen – a new favourite)

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Like, a week before I start my baking I have to come across this post on my most favouritest of blogs. AND I HAD TO HAVE IT!! The Christmas cookie fever was officially upon me. And damn, but these are stupidly tasty cookies. I know everyone hearts the pants off the apple pie cookies from the same (AWESOME) blog, but these are my absolute favourites!!

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4) Toblerone shortbread

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Do I need to justify this for you, Dear Internet? Or can we all just agree that this is necessary?

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Awwwwwww yiiiiiiissssssssssss.

5) Ginger shortbread

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Cause I lurve the ginger. Also, it’s a stupidly simple recipe (from this book) from Donna Hay, the Australian answer to Martha. Definitely recommend this one. And you can flavour it whichever way you like best.

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6) Apple pie cookies

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These were such a hit from my fearless leader’s birthday party, that they had to make a near-immediate reprise. Super-fiddly to make, but oh so worth it!!

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7) Honey Lavender shortbread

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I don’t remember exactly where I got the idea for honey shortbread, but I just had to have some for x-mas! And let me tell you, substituting honey for sugar makes shortbread mighty fine. And lavender? Why not?? It’s floral fragrance works very well with honey. Definitely adding this to the repertoire!

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8) Spitzbuben

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These are straight from my childhood. My mom used to make them, before I stopped letting her do the baking. . . And they’re from her childhood in Germany. It means, from what I understand, “naughty boys”, and they’re delicious sandwich cookies made with lemony shortbready dough and raspberry jam. And you poke out three holes on top to make a screaming face-looking arrangement. Like only the Germans would come up with. Though, what do you expect from a culture that came up with “schadenfreude”?? More awesomeness, that’s what!!

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<eeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!!> and soooooo tasty!

9) Rugalach

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These are from Bonnie Stern‘s Cuisinart cookbook, sadly out of print (or maybe her second Cuisinart cookbook? I forget which. Are there even two of them???). If you’re not Canadian, you probably don’t know who she is, but she was pretty big in the Toronto food scene at least. These have a flaky cream cheese-based dough, tart jam, and a cinnamon/hazelnut/cocoa/brown sugar filling that literally makes the best cinnamon toast EVAR. Cause there are always leftovers. . . And only partly because I make too much in the first place in order to ensure leftovers. Only partly.

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And last, but not least,
10) Mincemeat Tarts

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I make my own mincemeat (of course), from a recipe handed down through my paternal grandmother’s family (I think. It’s definitely from the English side of my family tree), full of raisins, and currents (which technically are just a different kind of raisin. Weird), apple, spices, and, well, beef suet. Not my favourite, but it gets the job done. I make a pâte brisée for the dough (with butter, of course), which is easy to make and work with. And they is tasty. I ran out of mincemeat this Christmas, so next time around I have to make a new batch :D. Some of which I’ve promised to a friend of mine. Can’t wait! I love using the meat grinder!!

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Aside from the massive amount of tasty treats, it was a lovely lovely Christmas this year (despite some minor issues I won’t discuss here) full of family and friends and goodwill towards my fellow man, some of which was contributed to a last-minute getaway to a cottage nicely north of the city. And I hope you had a lovely time too, Dear Internet. Happy New Year!!

Let’s see what 2012 has to dump on our heads. . .

Baking, with some photos!

—UPDATE!!!!—
I have now switched to WordPress! Wheee!!!! Let’s see if this works a bit better for me and my multifarious photo postings. . .
—End Update—
My last baked treat for the bachelorette tomorrow night are the carrot cake cupcakes from . . . Ok. If you don’t know where I got this recipe before clicking the link, you haven’t been keeping up with this blog at all. I’ll give you a hint though – it rhymes with “blitzen mitchum”. And they’re suuuuuuuper tasty!
Strangely enough, I doubled the spice (which is why my dough turned out so much less orange than the original). There’s never enough spiciness for me. Except the nutmeg, which I used very sparingly. That is a very unforgiving spice – too much and you have soap-flavoured everything. Which I don’t like all that much, for some reason.
I haven’t frosted the cupcakes yet (as they’re still warm, the cold room isn’t cold enough at this time of year to set the frosting, the icing needs to chill more, and I’m going to do that tomorrow anyway so they’re perfect for the party. I might even take them over unfrosted and then do it there), so you’ll have to wait for a photo of the final version 😉   I can’t wait to frost them though, the cake is very earnest and healthful (especially since I added a zucchini and an apple, and reduced the sugar in them to 1.5 cups from 2), so it’ll be a great contrast to the cream cheesey/maple (and veeeeery rich) frosting.
But here are a bunch o photos of me making the cupcakes and frosting:
I was going to upload the photos for another Newfoundland post. But the photo uploader is being an asshole, and I really don’t want to learn a new step by having all my photos hosted on another site (à la Flixster or Photobucket). . . I am more seriously considering migrating this blog to WordPress. . . I don’t know if you’ll notice the occasional horizontal photo that would actually look better in vertical. Stupid uploader.
We’ll see.
Are you as frustrated as me today, Dear Internet?

This week, in baking. . . part 1

Hello, The Internet!
I said that I’d be posting some more this weekend, and here’s one of them. Let’s see if I can get all of the posts I wanted up by the end of the weekend – but I’m pretty sure that I’ll only get two of the four done by the end of this weekend. I’m working this weekend, and for some reason that takes up a lot of time that I could be spending blogging. Ah well. You’ll get them when you get them.
Let’s look at the making of. . . Thick, chewy granola bars!! I, of course made a few alterations, as well as two – that’s right, two – different flavours. One used dried cherries and blueberries, maple syrup, white chocolate chips, and apple butter. And the other used the same dried fruit, buckwheat honey, hazelnut butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
mmmmm apple butter. . .
mmmmmm hazlenut butter. . .
My only excuse is that I had to try apple butter but I wasn’t sure it would work out using that instead of a nut butter. The irony being that the apple butter granola bars ended up working out better than the hazelnut butter ones – though that might have been also due to not cooking them quite long enough to set fully (see note below) . . . Live and learn. I’ll just have to make several more batches of granola bars to see how different flavours and ingredients work. It’s a hard knock life, isn’t it?
Now, a string of photos of creating the bars!
gathering ingredients and preparing the tins
mixing dry ingredients
 Just a quick note – I used a bit less than half a cup of dark brown sugar, instead of the 1/2-3/4 of a cup of white sugar. I dislike overly sweet anythings, and dark brown sugar has so much more character than white that I thought I could get away with less than the required amount of sugar. And the bars were still a little bit too sweet. Though, if I made the bars without chocolate, the amount of sweetness probably would have been perfect.
measuring out the tasties
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon?? Hah! That’s a
heaping teaspoon for you
mixing the yumbly stuffs together
pouring out some buckwheat honey
action shot! whisking the wet ingredients
adding the hazelnut butter
squooshing it all into the pan
ready to bake (über-blurry. . . wheee)
I tried something arty. Didn’t work
Baked!
A second note – notice the closer square is less evenly golden-brown? The tin I used was slightly smaller than the other, and so the squares were a bit thicker than the first batch. My inner-expert-baker was having a nap and this didn’t occur to me as an issue until I was starting to cut the squares. . .
listen to the original recipe – use a
serrated, not sharp, knife
They weren’t the prettiest bars – I should have waited to cut them until after they were thoroughly cooled. But they were certainly tasty. After giving some to my friend, and some to the boyfriend, we have very little left today, only a few days after they were made.

Yup. Two left. Oh wait, I ate one. . . So just one left now.
And I have lists of ideas for other flavour combinations. I can’t wait! Two more baking projects to share with you, Dear Internet, coming up in the near future. I hope you’re having a phenomenal weekend!