Christmas Baking: The Peanut Butter Blossom

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These are the quintessential Christmas cookie. They show up, without fail, at every cookie exchange and on every cookie tray. If there is anyone who tires of these cookies I’d love to find them. Yet another peanut butter cookie I can’t enjoy, but back in the “good old days” I’d gobble them up without abandon. This is your basic peanut butter cookie with a chocolate kiss pressed down into the middle as soon as they come out of the oven. Mmm, Christmas in a cookie!

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Christmas Baking: Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies

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I have made these cookies numerous times over the years and they are one of my favorites because of their light and airy texture. They taste like a buttery shortbread ball with little chocolate chips. You can’t go wrong with this one!

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Christmas Baking: Biscotti – A New Recipe

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Behold the beautiful biscotti that will be gracing my gift tins to family and friends. Now I know that I just posted a biscotti recipe not too long ago (found here), but I wanted to share this one as well because they have somewhat different properties. The previous biscotti recipe produced a soft and tender cookie, which was very good. This recipe, however, mimics what I have grown up to know and love about the biscotti – hard, crunchy, and it withstands multiple dips into a cup of coffee without falling apart. So both of these are good; if you want one that’s a little softer to enjoy eating with your tea I would suggest my previous entry. However, if you’re Italian or a dunker, you’ll want to use this recipe, as I feel it’s much more authentic. Also, the previous recipe made significantly smaller biscotti, whereas these are substantially larger and look like they came from a coffee shop. A little drizzle of chocolate and they were ready for my tins!

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Christmas Baking: Peppermint Bark

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I made peppermint bark for the first time last Christmas and I found it so easy yet such a luxurious-looking treat that I decided I would make it once again for the gifts I am giving to some friends and family. I do not include any peppermint oil or extract in mine, as I like the mint flavor that comes from the crushed candy canes, however you could certainly add it if you want more of a peppermint punch! I’ve also found that trying to actually “cut” the bark doesn’t work so well – a better method is to merely take the tip of a sharp knife and insert it into the bark and apply some pressure, which will start the bark breaking into pieces.

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Christmas Baking: Buckeyes

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My history with peanut butter is a sad and tragic one. I grew up infatuated with peanut butter and would put it on everything and anything imaginable, no doubt eating it in some form everyday. I even had a peanut butter and jelly sleeping bag when I was little. Then about three years ago I started to develop asthma symptoms and when I saw an allergist and had tests done, it turns out I was allergic to peanuts (among a variety of other things). So I have not eaten peanut butter since June of 2004. I don’t have an allergy so severe that I cannot touch it or smell it, since of course I was eating it right up until the day I was tested and I never came close to death. So I live vicariously through Nick, taking in huge whiffs of peanut butter when I open the jar to make him a sandwich and enjoy the mesmerizing smell as I make peanut butter treats for everyone else.

This weekend I got started on my holiday baking and goodies-making and kicked it off with buckeyes. These, along with peanut butter blossoms, are the most requested Christmas treats from Nick and my sister. Of course it’s pure torture for me to smell them and not be able to eat them!

Some tips on making buckeyes:

  • I find it best to mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. It will take some time to all come together and takes a lot of patience and elbow grease!
  • The mixture WILL be pretty dry and crumbly, so when shaping the balls you will need to press the mixture together before rolling it into a ball.
  • In order to avoid the toothpick holes at the top of the peanut butter balls, an alternative would be using something like a dipper for coloring eggs to lower the balls into the chocolate.
  • This recipe yields 7-8 dozen buckeyes.

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Christmas Baking: Chambolot – A Family Recipe

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Chambolot first came into my life about six years ago, during the first New Year holiday I spent with my husband’s (then-boyfriend) family. This dense, lemon-flavored, moist cake sprinkled with chocolate chips is Nick’s favorite Christmas baked good. Not long after that first holiday Nick’s grandma passed away, and I spent at least three holiday seasons trying to recreate the recipe, only to fail each time. This past Thanksgiving, while at my in-laws, I saw Nick’s other grandma and mentioned that I have been trying to make this recipe. Lo and behold, she said that she had her own recipe. A few days after coming home from Thanksgiving I got a card in the mail from her with the recipe. Hallelujah!

Nick ended up helping me finish mixing the dough because it was too much for my trusty KA and my twerpy little arms, and then he moved on to be the official chocolate chip mixer in-er, and roll maker. It was so fun to hang out in the kitchen together! Here are some shots of him in action (which also illustrate how we went about making these!):

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We followed the recipe exactly and after the grand taste testing, Nick confirmed that this was the exact recipe and it tasted perfect. So exciting! This is a great recipe, and if you are inclined to try, I have included the following tips:

  • As I have found with all recipes passed down from Italian grandmas – they make enough to feed the entire town (see evidence below). You may pass out when you read the quantities in the recipe below. I did not scale this down, as I plan on keeping some for ourselves and giving a few each to mine and Nick’s family. So I can’t guarantee you perfect results if it’s scaled, however I would imagine it would be fine.

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  • I know that this recipe calls for margarine and that a lot of people are averse to using it, however having failed at recreating this recipe so many times I decided to stick to the recipe exactly. I’d also been warned by a couple of friends not to mess with the old-world recipes 🙂
  • This dough is pretty soft and sticky – we ended up adding a lot of additional flour and had to generously flour the work surface, our hands, and the dough to work with it, however the texture turned out perfect in the finished product.
  • The best way to shape the logs is to pat out a rough rectangle of a portion of dough, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, press them into the dough, and then knead the dough back together to incorporate the chips and then form into a log.

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