Holiday Treats

Greetings lovely people!

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

Vacation is finally here and I’m excited to catch you all up on what’s been happening in our kitchen these past few weeks. It has deliciously involved a lot of flour, sugar and butter — there are certain things that cannot be compromised in my mind — like frosted sugar cookies, right? These are one of the things that I LOVED when I was a kid and love to this day, except now I get to make them with my little gal.

I made (and continue to make) a lot of different things but here are a few highlights:

attachment_id=1835#main” rel=”attachment wp-att-1835″>Nancy's Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars Nancy’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Snowballs

Snowballs

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

We also made French Chocolate Bark, courtesy of Ina Garten which is incredibly easy and gluten-free. For those that particularly need heart healthy treats (like my grandfather) we made heart-healthy banana bread. We also made dark chocolate cranberry cookies and Martha Stewart’s gluten-free hazelnut shortbread.

I committed to sending holiday cookie packages to family members around the country and have been a baking fool. I haven’t done that before in such volume and learned a few things along the way, like if you ship cookies frozen you can get away with sending them on 3-day freight. I think a lot of people know to do this but it didn’t occur to me. At least I’ve made a new friend at the fed ex office.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday celebration and a safe and healthy new year. Sending you all virtual hugs. Recipes below!

IMG_6339

Sugar Cut Outs with Buttercream Frosting

(Cookie Dough)
5 C all-purpose flour
1 C butter (2 sticks)
2 C sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 ½ tsp baking soda dissolved in tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness (or desired.) Bake 7-9 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Cori Grimes — thanks Cori!

(Buttercream Frosting)
4 C confectioners sugar
½ C unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ C cream or milk
optional: ¼ c cocoa powder for chocolate buttercream

Using an electric mixer (preferably stand mixer) cream the butter. Add vanilla, milk and sugar. Mix for about 5 minutes until frosting has lightened up and filled out a bit.
Separate into small bowls and color with food coloring. There are natural gel versions available at Sur la Table and Whole Foods.

Nancy’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
(Shortbread Base)
½ C softened butter (1 stick)
¼ C granulated sugar
1 C all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, stir in flour until combined. Press dough on the bottom of a 9X9 (square) baking dish for about 15-20 minutes, or until very pale brown.

(topping and filling)
1/c can sweetened condensed milk
½ c butter (1 stick)
½ C brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
4-6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Pour caramel over the baked shortbread base and allow to cool and set.

Put 4 oz of chocolate chips into a bowl. Put into the microwave for 30 seconds, remove and then stir. Repeat this until chocolate is smooth and melted. Pour over the caramel and allow to cool and set.
(This would also be good with dark chocolate and finished with sea salt!)

Thanks Nancy and Carrie!

Martha Stewart’s Snowballs
1 C Pecan Halves
1 C all-purpose flour
¼ C granulated sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 C confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse pecans, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add butter and pulse just until dough forms. Shape dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pinch tablespoons of dough and roll into balls. Place on parchment lines baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then place them on a wire rack to completely.
Roll cookies in confectioners sugar, tapping off excess. Cookies can be stored in air tight containers up to 1 week.

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