Due to unforseen chaos in our household the week before Christmas, I didn't end up with lots of time to do my annual Christmas cookie baking. I had bought all kinds of fun supplies and didn't end up using any of them. I had also intended to make a really super-awesome gingerbread house from scratch and had lots of stuff for that too and it never happened either. Alas...some years are just like that.
This year I made seven fairly simple treats - a few were old favorites, a couple were new. Here's what I made:
1. Homemade marshmallows with toasted coconut. This is the one treat my husband actually begs me to make every year. If you've never made marshmallows, it's a fun science experiment and they are also incredibly easy and they taste so good.
2. Double-chocolate Sable Cookies. They are chocolate-sandies, basically. They were really easy to make, sadly only made barely two dozen. They tasted great fresh out of the oven, but lost their sandy texture almost instantly. Good flavor but I'd give them a "meh."
3. Russian Tea Cakes. An old stand-by. It sounded good. I was sad it only made about 30 cookies. I must remember to double the recipe next time.
4. Spritz. I always seem to make pink flowers when I make spritz. I love how festive they make a plate of cookies look. This year I meant to make a green-Christmas-tree batch too, but time ran out (or rather, my will ran out). Another classic. I make them every year. I love my battery-powered cookie gun that a friend gave me a few years ago. (psst. I just noticed while searching for the link for the recipe that there is such a thing as eggnog spritz. Intriguing???)
5. Ginger Chewies. I always make at least one ginger-cookie and it is usually a variation of this one. It turned out great. The only change I made was adding lots more ginger (2 heaping teaspoons) and rolling them in turbinado sugar instead of regular white sugar. My only complaint was again: it only made two dozen. I tend to give out lots of holiday cookie plates (this was a weak year for us) so when I bake, I need the recipe to make more like 4 dozen cookies. Remember to double...
6. Toffee Fudge. This year I made two batches of fudge. One batch a little earlier in the month of my Billion Dollar Fudge that I posted on the blog last year. It is so good with the andes mint chips mixed in. I was going to make the same thing the second time around, but my dear four-year-old hates mint (it's "spicy") and begged me to do something different. So, nice mom that I am, I decided to experiment with Heath Toffee chips. I also threw in a bunch of chopped pecans. My review: the texture was great - nice and crunchy. I'd say if you like your fudge more milk-chocolatey-sweet, you'd like this fudge. If you (like me) like it more dark and rich and deep, you'd probably find this one too sweet. Here's the recipe for those who are curious:
Crunchy Toffee Fudge
1/2 cup butter4 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
18 large marshmallows
16 oz. chocolate (your choice: bars, chocolate chips, a combination)
1 package of toffee chips
3/4 cup well-chopped nuts (pecans or almonds preferably)
Butter a 9x13 pan, set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring butter, sugar and milk to a boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for 8 minutes - a good, strong, rolling boil - again, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and marshmallows. Stir until melted.
Add in chocolate and stir until melted. Add half the bag of toffee chips and the nuts and stir just until combined.
Immediately, pour fudge into 9x13 pan, smoothing out evenly and quickly. Pour the rest of the toffee chips evenly over the top, gently press in.
Let cool and set for a few hours, slice into 1" squares. Store in an airtight container.
7. And the baking-experience wouldn't be complete without a small disaster. I also made a batch of those amazing chocolate thumbprints by Martha Stewart (which I made last year) except I decided to fill them with caramel (since I had a lot hanging around) instead of the chocolate ganache. This turned out to be a huge disaster. The caramel was stiff and not soft and chewy making the cookie difficult to actually eat AND when I packed them up into an air-tight container, I stacked them with waxed paper in between thinking the caramel was set (it was set when I touched it). The caramel ended up sticking fiercely to the waxed paper and so I lost all but the top row of cookies. You live and learn.