Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Christmas baking galore

Ah, holiday baking. Yes, it's been over a month since Christmas, and yes, my posts have slowed down a bit in that time. But that's because I've been recovering from baking overload.

I spent what felt like EONS baking, baking, baking last month. Several holiday potlucks, a cookie exchange with Mike's co-workers, packages of goodies to our families and treats for our own gathering on Christmas Day.

And you know what? I loved every minute of it. There's something about singing along to The Carpenters Christmas album and mixing up a batch of cookies that gets me in the holiday spirit.

When all was said and done, I made....

Tons and tons of fudge. Some plain, some with walnuts, some with macadamia nuts... but all good.

Cherry Chuckles. These are a favorite, traditional Christmas cookie in my family. Growing up, no one ever wanted to be stuck with the job of chopping up all those candied cherries (and honestly, it's still annoying), but the end result is always worth it.

I made them for the first time on my own last Christmas, our first in Phoenix. This year, I think they were even better. They taste like HOME. (Needless to say, I ate approximately 30 of them.)

Chocolate chip cookies. Again, my family's recipe, and a Christmas must-have:

Other assorted goodies, including macaroons and my usual festive, chocolate-covered pretzel sticks. Plus, a new addition this year: Mike's Nana's famous roll-out cookies.

Most people would call them sugar cookies, but in Mike's family, they're know as roll-outs. And they are beloved. Mike began describing them to me around Thanksgiving, angling for me to get the recipe from his mom and try them out.

My mom-in-law was nice enough to take me through the recipe step-by-step, giving me tons of tips from her experience of many years making them with Nana. She stressed that the cookies were a two-person job (one to roll and cut, one to bake and sprinkle), so my friend Kelly came over one night to help me.

I thought maybe they would need some kind of frosting, but Mike was appalled at the suggestion. Just sprinkles, he said. I could tell this was important to him, so I obliged.

And he was right -- they're delicious! They weren't quite what I was expecting. They're thinner and crispier than most sugar cookies I've had. But they've got such a great light, buttery taste, and they stayed fresh for much longer than the rest of the cookies. Plus, they were a huge hit at our place on Christmas Day.

I will leave you with the image of my kitchen counter, leading up to the big day:

Merry (extremely belated) Christmas!!


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