I have been on my break from school for six days now, but I feel more exhausted than ever. Why, you ask? The 2012 Holiday Baking Extravaganza.
My family hosted the big family Christmas party this year, and I was in charge of desserts. Despite the fact that, by my estimation, I made about as much food as last year, somehow this year it just seemed like so much more – more work, more kitchen mishaps, and more leftovers. We sent family members home with plates of cookies and there’s still a ton left.
So I’m tired and in a sugar coma, but nevertheless I’m pretty proud of this year’s creations. Here’s what we served:
Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I posted this recipe last year – it’s a family favorite, and was clearly the most popular dessert at the party. If there’s one treat I will make every year, it’s this one, hands down.
Salted Caramel Shortbread:
I found this recipe via Erica’s Sweet Tooth. It was pretty simple but I messed it up (I forgot to add the heavy cream initially, and I added it very late in the game – so I think it was too late to save the caramels). The flavors were tasty, but the consistency was off – the caramel came out rock hard, and after sitting out for a day, it only softened slightly. Sadly, you can’t win them all.
Red Velvet Fudge:
This fudge (recipe via I Am Baker) is the one treat on the list that I didn’t make myself. We realized (on Christmas Day) that we only had a meat thermometer on hand, and it wasn’t possible to get a candy thermometer at that point. I knew it would be tricky to get the fudge right without the thermometer and passed the task off to my dad, who’s a much (MUCH) better cook than I. This dessert turned out very well but, like all fudge, is crazy sweet (just a warning, if crazy sweet is not your thing).
Melting Moments and Peppermint Kisses:
Melting Moments are another traditional family favorite (I couldn’t find the exact recipe I used online, but here’s a similar one). Peppermint Kisses (via The Recipe Critic) are a new find, but they turned out really well.
Chocolate & Peppermint Dipped Pretzels:
These pretzels (via Sweet Savory Life) were a delicious snack, and super easy to make. I dipped them in white chocolate and garnished them with either red or green crushed candy canes.
Chocolate Pretzel Bites:
Much like the white chocolate dipped pretzels, these are super easy to make. They also happen to be my sister’s favorite (and another repeat from last year’s baking extravaganza).
Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites:
These Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites (via Created by Diane) were pretty yummy – they reminded me of cinnamon rolls. I overbaked the first batch, which was disastrous (think massively overflowing cream cheese filling), but the second batch was a winner for sure.
Chocolate Peppermint Cake Pops:
Peppermint cake pops were another repeat recipe from last Christmas. My recipe is based on this one from Food Coma, but I cut the frosting in half, only using about 1 cup for the filling – using much more frosting makes them mushy, in my experience.
Mini Peppermint Cheesecakes:
This recipe (via Annie’s Eats) ended up being my favorite dessert of all, as it was both beautiful and extremely tasty. The mini cheesecakes looked intricate yet were relatively simple to make (the chocolate ganache topping was the trickiest part – and did test my patience – but it still turned out fine).