Friday, December 26, 2014

The Day After

Ahhh, yes, it's December 26th, and Christmas is over.  Sigh.  I always feel a bit blue on the day after Christmas.  Maybe it's because the big day has been much anticipated these last few weeks, and there's been so much prepping, planning, wrapping, and baking, and then it's finally Christmas, and then...poof! It's over.  Well, time to plan for Christmas 2015, right?!

Today's post will be about the things I baked for Christmas 2014 and maybe you will want to put these on your list for gift giving for next year.  Or better yet, why not make these now and you can enjoy them as we look forward to celebrating the New Year?

Homemade Granola

This is a recipe I've been making for the last 7 years, maybe.  It's super easy and relatively healthy because there isn't any added oils at all. You just throw some brown sugar, dried fruit, nuts, and oats together, bake it, and voila! The recipe is one I adapted from Alton Brown and the Food Network and you can find it here:

Kipfel (German Crescent Christmas Cookies)

Cookie dough shaped into crescents

Cookies baked and allowed to cool

Shower these babies with powdered sugar!

Oh, this is one of my go-to and favorite recipes for the holidays.  I've been baking and giving these cookies for the past 18 years.  This year I made the dough a few days prior to baking, rolled the dough into logs, and wrapped them in plastic wrap.  You can keep the dough frozen for 6 months!  When I knew I was going to gift the cookies to someone, I simply let the dough thaw out for a few hours and baked them the same day.  This made my baking schedule so much easier and less stressful. It's a win-win!

2 cups unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups (9 ounces) whole almonds
1 tsp salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Beat butter, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until well blended
Combine 1/4 cup flour, almonds and salt in a food processor and grind until almonds are finely chopped.
Add almond mixture and the remaining flour to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly.
(at this point, you can roll the dough into logs and freeze in plastic wrap)
Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, form into a crescent shape.
Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets, spacing evenly.
Bake until golden brown at edges and firm to touch, about 17-20 minutes.
Cool cookies for about 10 minutes on sheets; place cool cookies on a large plate or parchment paper and sprinkle them with powdered sugar.
Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Candy Cane Truffle Brownies

Shhhh...don't tell anyone but I actually used a brownie baking mix for these.  My favorite one is the Truffle Brownie Mix from Trader Joe's.  It tastes just as good, or even better, than homemade, in my opinion.  I got about 12 candy canes, placed them in a large plastic freezer bag, and pounded them with a metal spatula to break up the candy canes into bits and pieces. I stirred in about half the candy cane pieces into the prepared brownie batter, baked it, then once it was out of the oven, while still hot, I poured the other half of the candy canes on top of the brownies, and then let the whole thing cool in the pan.

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