Happy holiday (cookie) season, 2018!

Happy Holidays!

Italian butter cookies - always festive and makes me think of the holidays
It's my favorite time of year again!  The best time, when baking takes center stage - our kitchen smells like sugar and spice, and sprinkles go flying everywhere!  No matter how hectic it is, with those long to-do lists, there's a magical quality about spending time making things and doing things for others at this time of year that makes it all worthwhile.  I look forward to gathering and sharing, spending peaceful time with family over platters of cookies and mugs of hot chocolate!
I wanted to dust this blog space with a little holiday cheer right now and what better way than to talk cookies and treats.  We may bake cookies all year round but come December, it is all about cookies.  It's no wonder we love the holidays!  It's especially fun to see all the variety, the colors, the festive decorations, the flavors that come alive during the holidays.  I love it all and while I certainly can't do it all, we have family favorites that we bake and we also try a few new things because there are just so many enticing recipes out there.  


So I hope you're baking and savoring a whole array of festive cookies.  We've been doing our part here so I thought we'd chat about some of the cookies we've been making and gobbling up so far...

I love going to an Italian bakery and seeing platters of butter cookies tied up in ribbon.  The variety and the colors are always so festive and give me all the holiday vibes so I like to make some at this time of year.  I've made this type of Italian butter cookies before but this time, I tried Smitten Kitchen's recipe.  
The dough was quite stiff and my piping tip was a little smaller than it should be but I think we made it work.  I sandwiched a few with strawberry jam and some with chocolate.  Dipping them in chocolate, adding sprinkles, and/or pressing a candied cherry on top of these cookies make for a nice variety.  I served these up at a little pizza party for my son and his cousins recently.  I hope it helped spread a little holiday cheer.  

When it comes to the holidays, I always think peppermint.  It's one of my son's favorite flavors.  A couple of weeks ago, I made one of his favorites, chocolate peppermint browniesThese brownies are moist and fudgy, with a distinct peppermint taste from chopped Andes mints and peppermint extract in the batter.  Drizzled with a little dark chocolate and topped with crushed peppermint candy, they're a great holiday treat.
Staying on the peppermint theme, I tried a chocolate peppermint cutout cookie recipe from Sally's Cookie Addiction.  They were easy to make and reminded me that I should make slice-and-bake cookies more often.  It's nice to have logs of cookie dough stashed in the freezer, as I do now.  
Moving from peppermint to spice...it's not Christmas without these soft & chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies.  They're my personal favorite and so incredibly delicious, filled with holiday spice and anchored with chunks of dark chocolate.  
Speaking of gingerbread, I had a notion to make mini gingerbread houses from scratch last year when I saw this single cookie cutter that cuts out the 6 parts needed to make a mini gingerbread house.  
When I get an idea in my head, it usually has to happen for me to stop thinking about it.  So it was project "mini gingerbread houses" recently at my house.  We only made a few but I baked the gingerbread cookies and whipped up the royal icing.  All things considered, it was a relatively smooth project.  Keeping it on a small scale helped, as does a very helpful husband who takes care of all the constructing!  We managed to rope our 13-year old into the act for a few minutes but truth be told, it turned out to be a very fun husband-wife project!  
We ended up with a few perfectly imperfect mini gingerbread houses.  I had intended to give a few away as gifts but somehow, things never turn out quite as neat (or sturdy) as I envisioned so we've found homes for these little gingerbread houses around our house.  
No matter how messy or rustic, homemade gingerbread houses are so darling.  I'm getting so much joy looking at them everyday!
On the subject of recent cookie-making, these might not be particularly festive but I have to mention the Levain Bakery style cookies I baked recently.  If you've ever been to Levain Bakery, you'll know they are famous for their huge chocolate chip cookies - warm and gooey in the center and chock full of chocolate chips and walnuts or other delicious things.  I tried the copycat recipe from Giada's Italy and was very happy with the result.  In fact, once the sprinkles and decorating sugars get put away, I can't wait to make another batch of these!
The clock is ticking and I still have several more batches of cookies to make! This time of year, I always stock up on almond paste...to make cookies like the pignoli ones pictured below that I whipped up this week.  I will also be making Italian tri-color (or rainbow) cookies later this week - a serious must-have for the holidays at my house!  
Another must-have is the classic sugar cookies - that's on my agenda for next week.  In the meantime, I've just pulled out a couple of small loaves of gingerbread loaf cakes (they also have chocolate chunks in them) from the oven.  I'm done for today but there's lots more baking before the big day!
Happy holidays to you and yours!  May your home be filled with warmth and laughter, and, of course...lots and lots of cookies (like the crackles/crinkles shown below; I often make some version during the Christmas season).  




4 comments:

  1. wow What a wonderful and festive collection of cookies! Happy Cookie Season, Monica :-))

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  2. Those mini gingerbread houses are so cute. You have patience of a saint to decorate those so cute. So many cookies, such much deliciousness.

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    Replies
    1. My husband is the saint. We had a lot of fun. Making a few made it manageable because it does take time and gets messy after a while. But they are so fun to look at. I'd love to make it again and gift some...we'll see if I ever manage that. Happy Holidays!

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