Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas baking

This year, I really aimed to not over-do it on Christmas stuff. I didn't want to get stressed out and I really just wanted to savor and enjoy every minute of the Christmas season. So, the week leading up to Christmas, I picked out 4 of my favorite recipes (some new, some old) and only baked those. It was so nice to not have to stress over getting everything done, that I think that's what I am going to do from now on. Who needs stress at Christmas?
Recees Peanut Butter Cups are a big favorite among the boys in my family. . . well. . . maybe me, too. And this recipe just looked like fun to make. Jon actually mentioned that he liked them better than the real thing.

Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2-4 tsp salt. . . to taste (be careful, here. . . you don't want it too salty)
2 bags of milk chocolate chips (I used chocolate bark)

::Beat together the peanut butter, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt until creamy and well combined. Set aside.
::Melt the two bags of chocolate chips in the microwave by microwaving for 30 second intervals and stirring between each heating. Do not over heat!
:: Spoon a small spoonful of the melted chocolate into the bottom of a foil cupcake wrapper. Roll a teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into a ball and flatten into a small disc. Place on top of the melted chocolate. Spoon more melted chocolate over the top and spread a bit to cover the peanut butter. Repeat with the remaining chocolate and peanut butter and allow to harden at room temperature. Remove from the wrappers and enjoy! the directions also mentioned not to put them in the fridge to speed things up. I found that they didn't take too long to set.

Every year, it is tradition to make peanut butter balls. They are just so yummy, that we can't go a Christmas without them. I also made super marshmallowy rice Krispy treats, as requested by my husband. They were so yummy!

I had found this recipe awhile back and thought, it looks so yummy, easy. . . and I had all the ingredients just lying around the house. I was able to make this one a few weeks before, which made things all the more easier.

Pistachio-Cranberry Bark

White Chocolate almond bark
handful of dried cranberries
handful of pistachios

Melt chocolate in microwave at 30 second intervals. Spread over cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle cranberries and pistachios over the top of bark. Press down carefully. Let stand until firm. Break apart.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

One of my biggest cravings lately has been baklava. I made Baklava last January in honor of the olympics and it turned out great (super easy, but LOTS of work). I just didn't want to spend hours on a dessert, so I turned to a more simpler recipe.

Baklava Cups

  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 boxes mini filo shells, 15 shells each
  • 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup honey

  • Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Arrange the pistachios, walnuts, and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Letnuts cool slightly and add to a food processor along with the lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and pulse to combine.

    Place mini fillo shells in wells of 2 mini cupcake pans. Add 1 teaspoon of the nut mixture into each shell. Bake until filling is hot, about 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat add the water, 1/4 cup sugar and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to asimmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour 1 teaspoon syrup into each cup and allow it to soak in, then repeat with another teaspoon. Refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight.

    Source: Sunny Anderson

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