One of the things I wanted to do this Christmas season was baking some goodies for our neighbours. Over the last week, I baked some of my favourite holiday treats to put together in a festive, parchment lined tin from Tiger to deliver in the neighbourhood. (See the rest of my Christmas Bucket List here.)
GINGERBREAD: I made some gingerbread (cake) for us to have since it's one of my favorite holiday treats, but I decided to include a few squares in the tin since I had space and we could do with getting rid of some treats around our house. My favorite way to enjoy gingerbread is warm with a side of peppermint ice cream. Peppermint ice cream isn't available here in the UK, which is a shame because it's a Larson family staple at Christmastime!
SUGAR COOKIES: I've been searching for years for a good sugar cookie recipe that will not only taste good, but keep the shape after being baked. Sally's Baking Addiction, my favorite online source for baking recipes, to the rescue! She'll walk you through the recipe and the technique, explaining why each step is important to producing the perfect cut out sugar cookies. I also used the royal icing recipe she included, piping it from a bottle, not a bag. I'm really happy with how they turned out. They kept their shape, I was able to line and then flood the cookies while icing, and the icing hardened so they were stackable and not sticky. The only downside was that I realized I now own just one winter/Christmas cookie cutter: this snowman.
CANDY COATED PRETZELS: If you can boil water, you can make these. I melted a whole bag of Wilton's candy melts in a double boiler, dipped the pretzels, tapped off the excess, and let them dry on parchment paper. I enlisted Luke's help to smash up some candy canes so I could top them off with red sprinkles and bits of peppermint. They turned out delicious! A whole bag of candy melts covered about 80 pretzels.
MOLASSES COOKIES: I made some ginger cookies a few weeks ago around Thanksgiving, but I wanted to try this very similar recipe because I liked the way they spread and flattened a lot better than the other recipe, that stayed fairly rounded on top. After over baking the first 8 cookies by about 1-2 minutes, the rest turned out perfect. They're soft and chewy, but still have a nice "crust" on the outside. I need to do a side-by-side comparison to the ginger cookie recipe because I like the taste better, so I'm wondering how the spices vary.
CARDAMOM SUGAR COOKIES: My sister made these a few years ago, I think for a Christmas cookie exchange party, and I've wanted to make them ever since. I couldn't find any ground cardamom at the shop, so I ended up getting pods--which is fine considering some curry recipes call for cardamom pods--and once again enlisted Luke for his smashing skills. He broke open the pods, separated out the seeds, and then ground them. It took about 15 pods per 1 teaspoon and it wasn't ground as finely as store-bought probably would have been, but apparently grinding your own makes for a better flavor. I adjusted the glaze recipe a bit, using about 1 cup of powdered sugar with the same amount of water to make it stiffer and I just drizzled it on top instead of icing them properly.
I'm always looking to branch out, so if you have any holiday favourites, post a link to the recipe in the comments below! Next year I need to try to master some British holiday treats!