Christmas Baking

Happy 12-12-12! It only happens once a lifetime”. What will you be doing to celebrate? I will be eating of these sweet treats I made the past weekend.

Last Saturday was a “toasty” day over at my house. There was no need for heater. The oven was warm the entire day. The house was filled with laughter of good friends. Hands were roasting from rolling and pipping cookies.

Holiday baking was never a tradition when I grew up because my mom doesn’t bake. This year, I am beginning this holiday festive custom in our household.

I invited a few girlfriends over for some holiday baking. We pumped out batches and batches of sweet treats. But somehow not much were left by the end of the day (sampling was a must I believe). Well, still enough to last us till Christmas Day.

Since I am new to this, I started with some simple ones and those that we like to have around the cookie jars.

The remaining pecans, which I bought for Apple Pomegranate Fall Salad, added great texture to the butter ball cookies. W loves peppermint candy canes around this time of the year. He said it doesn’t feel like Christmas if there is no chocolate and peppermint. So, here they are.

2012 Christmas Baking-1
2012 Christmas Baking-9
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2012 Christmas Baking-15

Pecan Balls

Yield: 30 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 oz.)
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla until smooth.
In a bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and beat on low speed to mix, then on medium speed until well blended. Stir in pecans.
Preheat the oven at 300F.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into no more than 1″ balls and place them about 1″ apart (since they will rise).
Bake until cookies are pale golden brown, about 25 minutes. If baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Let cookies stand on sheets until cool enough to handle.
Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a bowl. Gently turn cool cookies, a few at a time, in powdered sugar to coat. Set cookies on racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Sandwich with Candy Canes

Yields 40 cookies, 20 sandwiches
Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 tsp peppermint extract
3 cups powdered sugar
Chocolate Sandwiches
10 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups crushed candy canes (garnish. NOTE: Beware it will clumps together if candy canes are powdery.)
Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling
In a bowl on a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed. Sift in the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Put in the fridge until ready to use.
Chocolate Sandwiches with Candy Canes
Put chocolates and butter in a medium metal bowl and set bowl over a pan filled with 1″ of simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until melted, then remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Whisk in eggs and sugar, mixing until combined. Then add flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk till all well combined. Chill dough, covered, until firm, about 2 hours.
Let dough sit at room temperature 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 1 tbsp. portions of dough, rolling each into a ball, and put onto sheets 1″ apart. Using the palm of your hand, press dough balls into rounds, about 1/3″ thick.
Bake cookies until they no longer look wet on top, about 8 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets.
Spread 1 heaping tsp. peppermint icing onto the flat side of 1 cookie. Top with flat side of a second cookie to form a sandwich, pressing together to squeeze filling to the edge. Sprinkle edge of cookie in candy canes. Repeat with remaining cookies.
Make ahead: Batter up to 1 day; baked cookies up to 2 days, airtight.
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16 Responses to Christmas Baking

  1. rimassolosailingaroundtheworldm says:

    Looks to me very tasty,feels Christmas soon. Happy Holiday!

  2. Hi Irene! I love this post! Your joy can be felt through the sharing of delicious recipes, beautiful pictures, wonderful friendships and holiday traditions! Thank you! 🙂

    • Irene says:

      Thanks, Callie! I tried to make the holiday as joyous as could be to create some delicious memories while we are in the moment. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all. And just grateful for being able to do that.

  3. sooooo pretty!
    especially the chocolate peppermint cream cheese sandwiches with candy canes!! 🙂

    I think it’s so much more festive in the US! in BA people don’t bake that much! but at least I get inspired by your photos!

    • Irene says:

      Thanks, Sweetie! It’s the first Christmas that I actually baked. I hope to keep doing it every year from now on. It warms up the house so much from the cold weather 🙂

  4. gotasté says:

    these look so good. i can almost feel the fun you are having on that day. as though i was there at the gathering. love it!

  5. 12/12/12! Happy something!

  6. Leah says:

    These look great! I love the tradition of baking with your girlfriends!

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