Busy Baking

December 23, 2016

I thought I might skip baking this year due to my stupid hip, because maybe I’d have trouble standing for long stints in the kitchen, and who needs more Christmas cookies and candy anyway, and isn’t it time to shake up the traditions a bit, and well, I considered all that, but then thought maybe I’d just do one trial batch of a new cookie, maybe just that, and some Christmas day muffins, but that would be all… and before you knew it, I was baking, and four days later I’d pretty much done the usual amount, even though I’d planned to cut way back on the number of deliveries.

And, having chosen to do it–fought to do it against my own will–I enjoyed it a lot.


Started on Monday with umpteen dozen Snowballs.


Now.. these Snowballs were a new thing, a variation on the butter balls (Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, pecan sandies… all the same) that I make every year. The distinguishing feature of these was chocolate… chocolate chips. And they were o k a y… but not the same. I got complaints, believe it or not. And… I have to agree… they are not the same. Going back to the Silver Palate’s fabulous butterball recipe next year.. not messing with a good thing.

I’ll tell you what I think I’m gonna ditch, though… been thinking about it for awhile… these rocky road things I’ve been doing for about 7-8 years:


I even came up with a funny little twist–adding a marshmallow to the top just for a visual pow–but I’m really unimpressed with them. Been lured by how easy they are to make–seriously.. minutes to assemble and lay out on a tray to harden, after a quick melt of a bag-o-chips and mix of the above ingredients–but, they just aren’t fabulous. Easy, but not something to really luxuriate over.


Buh bye rocky road.

Hello, maybe, chocolate-covered toffee. It doesn’t hold a candle to Denise’s, and isn’t as addicting as Lisa’s peanut brittle–both holiday essentials hereabouts–but it’s easy and kind of no-fail… and I got good reactions to it.

Start by stirring until brown (about 10 minutes) a mixture of sugar, butter and vanilla. Pour that over some nuts (toasted whole almonds, or crushed, or none at all). Then, while still molten hot, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top:


After a couple of minutes, the chocolate is soft, and smooths right over the already hard toffee. Then you can sprinkle some chopped pecans on top:


That sets up, and after about an hour or two, break it up and voila:


After a few days, I’d amassed an impressive quantity of stuff, all ready to pack up for delivery and hostess gifts. (I hate the term, “hostess gift,” …. so sexist fifties.)


Finished the holiday baking spree with a couple dozen muffins–one batch of gingerbread, which I’m insanely in love with, and one batch of lemon poppyseed, which, though incredibly fussy, a la Williams-Sonoma, are incredibly good. I love them both, and even though I’m really the only one around here who likes and eats them, I’m gonna continue making them for the rest of my holiday life.




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