Friday, December 25, 2009

Daring Bakers - Dec. 09 - Gingerbread House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.
Making gingerbread houses from scratch was never my thing. I've always been too lazy and have either bought the kit or used graham crackers. So I was pretty excited about this month's challenge.
Instead of making one big house, I made four small houses so my kids can each decorated their own.
Here's Sage's...
and Emi's...

...and there was dough left over so we made some gingy bears. ^_^

Holiday Goodies

Something about the holidays makes me crave sweets. Is it nature's way to add fat in preparation for winter? ^_^
Peppermint Toffee Bark... saw Almond Roca had one with peppermint candy in it which gave me the idea for this one.
Homemade Caramels dipped in Dark Chocolate...Trader Joe's carry this and for the longest time has been my indulgence every holiday. Unfortunately there isn't a whole lot in there and is always gone way too fast, so I learned to make my own caramel and just dipped them in chocolate. Haven't quite gotten the tempering thing down so it's not the prettiest of things, but still tastes oh-so-good!

Sugar Cookies by the kids... I'm not a fan of rolled cookies so I never make them, but the kids wanted to so it worked out. ^_^

Turkish Delights...bought some rose water just for this. The texture was a little softer than I expected but the kids still loved them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Butter Mint Pillows

I found this recipe for butter mint pillows in the December issue of Woman's Day. It didn't require cooking with a candy thermometer and had just a few ingredients, I just had to try it. It was very easy and tasty too!


(makes 1 lb, about 225 mints)

1 stick (1/2 c.) salted butter, softened
1 box(1lb.) confectioners' (powedered) sugar, plus extra for dusting
2T heavy cream or milk
1 t mint extract
red and green liquid food color

1. In large bowl, beat butter until creamy. With mixer on low, beat in sugar, cream and extract until creamy and smooth.

2. Turn sugar mixture out onto a work surface lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar; knead until smooth and satiny. Divide mixture into thirds: Tint one pastel pink (2 drops red color), one pastel green (2 drops green color) and leave remaining portion white. Cover each portion with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

3. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick foil. Lightly dust work surface with confectioners' sugar. Working with one color at a time, roll out 1/4 cupfuls of the mint mixture, using your fingers, into a 1/2-inch thick rope. Cut rope into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pillows. Transfer mints to prepared baking sheets with a spatula (be careful--mints are soft and will squish easily). Repeat with remaining mint mixture.

4. Let air-dry at room temperature for 1 to 2 days until firm enough to handle. Transfer mints to covered containers.

STORAGE TIP: Store in an airtight container at cool room temperature up to 2 weeks, or keep in refrigerator up to 1 month.