Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 11, Dec. 21

Usually I try to have a loose plan of what I'll make during the CSB session, so I can have the freedom to change my mind if inspiration should strike. From the onset, however, I knew I had to make Christmas cookies for the pickup before December 25th! Cookies are classic, and just about every family has favorite recipes and memories from childhood of rolling out or swiping a bite of cookie dough.

We always made the classics. I'm sure my mother made other varieties too, but what I remember the most are sugar cookies (and lots of frosting and sprinkles), spritz, and gingerbread men. My younger sister introduced me to neapolitan cookies about two years ago, made from a recipe her new mother-in-law had given her, and shipped all the way from New York to my doorstep. They were moist, cakey, and...wonderful. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Assorted Christmas Cookies:

~Gingerbread Men
~Mocha-Orange Pinwheels
~Chocolate-Peppermint Pinwheels
~Sugar Cookie Cutouts (small have royal icing, large have whiskey buttercream frosting)
~Toasted Hazelnut Horns
~Nutmeg Cookie Pretzels
~Maple Sugar Shortbread Wedges
~Coconut Pyramids (macaroons)
~Neapolitan Cookies
~Meringue Santa Hats
~Granola Jumbles
~Lemon Wreaths
Should you belong to a small family, or find that you'd like to save some of these cookies for later, unfrosted varieties will freeze well. The Granola Jumbles should be refrigerated if they're not eaten right away (not for safety, just because they'll get soft and come apart easily).

*I should make a note on the colors and sprinkles I used. I am always conscious of artificial...anything, and do believe it compromises the end result in most cases. I strongly believe in natural flavorings and colors whenever possible, especially for health reasons. Christmastime, however, I bend the rule a bit. I have experimented with numerous brands of natural colors, and have found that only yellow and pink are consistent quality-wise (but they're more Easter-y than Christmas-y). The blue/purple is more a blue-gray, and the green I was able to locate is more of a non appetizing pea soup color. They are expensive, recipes take much more color than artificial varieties, and the color changes or fades even more when baked! So, I let the issue slide a bit, falling back on moderation. Rest assured that I always read labels, and, in the case of sprinkles especially, try to seek out brands that don't use hydrogenated oils and such. If you're still concerned about eating anything with artificial colors, please know that the white sprinkles and any pastel colors are all-natural!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Ideas and Flavors!

More examples of some of my yummy treats:

Baby shower treats!  Two tiered strawberry cake,
strawberry poppyseed cupcakes, meringue tarts with lime curd,
cherry and blueberry mini melts.

Chocolate Cupcake with American Buttercream and Marshmallow Fondant flower with edible sparkly luster dust.

Turkey placemarker sugar cookies.

8" 4 layer Chocolate Saffron Cake with Candied Orange Peel and Shaved Dark Chocolate.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie.

9" Tiramisu-Inspired 3 layer cake (Yellow Cake with Kahlua Syrup, Mascarpone Whipped Filling, Cappuccino French Buttercream, Dark Chocolate Ganache).

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with American Buttercream and handmade Marshmallow Fondant decorations.

4 layer 9" Tender White Cake filled with Raspberry Creme Fraiche Mousse, and iced with French Buttercream. Handmade Marshmallow Fondant decorations with edible sparkly luster dust.

Meringue tarts with fresh lemon
curd and organic berries.