Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas....In the Kitchen

Hello Sweets,

It's almost Christmas!!!!  Are you as excited as I am?  To be perfectly honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the Christmas season (personal reasons I'd prefer not to get in to), but Nathan has changed all of that for me.  The dynamic of his family, especially around the holidays is a prime example of family love and caring for one another.  Not to mention everything is better when I am with Nathan, lol ya ya I know I'm a mushy girl but hey I wouldn't have it any other way ;)

So today was my last day of baking, for a few days anyways, but I have baked so much in the last two weeks that I have a few recipes to get me through all the Christmas celebrations, plus I will finally get to tell you all about my super cute homemade gifts!  It's been hard to keep these fun gifts from all of you, because they really are very useful and I am extremely confident that everyone that is receiving will be very happy :)  So let me share the two recipes I made last night, because they are to yummy to wait any longer!

Pecan Shortbread (via The Food Network)
1 1/2C butter, room temperature
1C sugar
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp almond extract
3 1/2C all-purpose flour
1/4Tsp salt
1 1/2C pecans, diced into small pieces

1)  Preheat oven to 350F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until just combined.

 2)  Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

3)  In a medium bowl; sift together flour and salt, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture.

4)  Add the pecans and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.  Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

5)  Roll the dough 1/2" thick and cut into 2 1/2" squares with a plain or fluted cutter (or into any shape  you desire).  Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature and serve. 

Okay everyone that was just the first half, now lets get to something a little more on the festive side shall we?

White Chocolate Peppermint Drops (via The Food Network Magazine)
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 3/4C all-purpose flour
1/2Tsp baking powder
1/4Tsp salt
1/2C butter, room temperature
1/3C sugar
1 large egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
4Tsp heavy cream
1-2 drops peppermint extract
1 candy cane or 6 hard peppermint candies, crushed roughly

1)  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place one-third of the white chocolate in a small microwavable bowl; microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring until melted.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. (sorry for the lack of photos)

2)  Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3)  Beat in the melted white chocolate until smooth, then beat in the egg and vanilla.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 2 batches and beat until combined.  Beat in half of the remaining chopped white chocolate. (again, sorry for the lack of photos)

4)  Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and arrange about 2" apart on the prepared baking sheets.

 5)  Bake the cookies, switching the position of the pans halfway through, until the edges are slightly golden, about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack  to cool completely.

6)  Make the glaze:  Microwave the remaining chopped white chocolate (you can use the same bowl as before) in 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted. 

 7)  Stir in the heavy cream, and peppermint extract to taste. 

8)  Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze and return to the rack.  Sprinkle with the crushed candy cane and let set, about 1 hour.

Well I hope you get a chance to try these delicious treats, because you won't regret it :) 

Well our Christmas celebrations start tomorrow, so I will be slightly busy but I will do my best to get some posts out to all of you (although, something tells me I'll need the break lol inside joke).  Merry Christmas faithful readers :)  Until next time..........

Stay sweet,

Jennifer xoxoxo

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