This is it – the big holiday baking weekend. I spent some time over the last couple of weeks deciding what to make. It’s always a balancing act. I don’t want to let go of my tried-and-true Christmas favorites, but every year I find more and more recipes I want to attempt…. That’s a problem unto itself, really, because since I’m making most of these goodies to give as gifts I need sweets that I KNOW will deliver. And, unfortunately, this year I just didn’t have the time to test a bevy of cookie and candy recipes.
So, I’ve settled on a combination of the classic and the au courant:
Chocolate Peanut Butter squares – These little beauties are so outrageously delicious that I’m actually a bit of an addict. My mom made them when I was a kid, and with only five ingredients and no baking there’s no way I could strike them from my list.
Pumpkin Bread – Another childhood recipe that has stood the test of time (although I usually cut the amount of sugar the recipe calls for). This is a pumpkin quick bread studded with nuts, raisins, and coconut. Timeless – and for a reason.
Maple Nut Granola – A new one! Some of my friends don’t like getting cookies for the holidays (I know, I can’t fathom that either), so I’m going to make a big batch of granola, a moderately healthy alternative. I tested this recipe from Gourmet last weekend, using maple syrup instead of honey and switching up some of the dried fruit. I loved the cardamom flavor and the sesame seeds, but I think I will tweak the recipe a bit more, borrowing here and there from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.
Chocolate Pistachio Cookies – Finally, the real gamble. I’ve been holding onto this recipe (which I can’t seem to find on-line), also from Gourmet magazine, for these shortbread-like cookies for a few years. I’ve never tried them, but I am so confident in their deliciousness that I went to New York Cake and Baking today to buy beautiful little cellophane bags to stack them in. Fingers crossed…
A note on New York Cake and Baking Distributors – I visited this store for the first time today and immediately fell in love. The shelves on the walls are lined with cake, muffin, and bread tins of every shape and size (crosses, hearts, dogs, cartoon characters, etc.). Tables in the middle of the store are packed with nifty gadgets and tools (tiny rolling pins, small Microplane graters, Silpats, and pastry tips), plus rows and rows of sanding sugar, sprinkles and other edible decorations. And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. This store is just one more reason to love living in the Big Apple.