This sure is one unusual holiday season, to put it mildly! So many things are different this year, and as we stay cautious during these times, I'm thankful for the holiday season. Frankly, it's a welcome distraction, and keeping busy making Christmas cookies and treats is a tradition that I'm happy (and grateful) to keep up with.
So despite everything, our kitchen is humming along and I've been busy making some of our favorite Christmas cookies. My love of almond paste is well documented and it's surely the time of year for a batch of chewy, fragrant cherry almond macaroons.
There's no neglecting peppermint this time of year. My son is a big fan of all things chocolate-and-peppermint so we've been enjoying these peppermint brownies....
and a batch of chocolate cookies with peppermint chunks. I use this recipe but instead of white chocolate chunks, I substitute peppermint chunks along with semisweet chocolate chunks. A touch of peppermint extract in the chocolate cookie dough adds plenty of cool holiday flavor.
Naturally, we're all about "sugar, spice, and everything nice" during the holidays season. Personally, I crave the combination of gingerbread and chocolate. It's become the taste of the holiday season for me. So to kick things off, I made a loaf of chocolate gingerbread loaf. It's chock full of gingerbread flavors (from fresh and dried ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves), made sweet and moist from dark brown sugar and molasses, and studded with chocolate flavor with a little cocoa powder as well as chocolate chunks that somehow turn into bits of fudgy pudding baked in the cake.soft & chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies. I'm savoring them as we speak!
Thus far, I've also whipped up a batch of hazelnut biscotti to share with my sister. This year, family gatherings and holiday parties have been shelved but I'm still planning to share a little bit of sweetness in the form of homemade treats with my family.
It also means I'm still making and decorating classic sugar cookies. They are a big part of the holidays and a favorite with the younger ones in our extended family. I'm packing some up and sharing with the loved ones I'm often thinking about.
And speaking of classic, I think of simple butter cookies during this time of year. I recently made vanilla bean sables; since they are long gone, I might well make another version before the holiday season wraps up.
There's still plenty of cooking, baking, and holiday-making left to do! Despite everything, it's good to keep some sense of normalcy with these rituals.