Bakefest 2012

I adored Christmas baking time when I was growing up. For me, nothing was as enthralling as pressing the cookie cutters into the dough that my mom so patiently rolled out for me. And that moment when you dropped the food coloring droplets into the frosting and watched it change color? Sheer magic, I swear.

When I got married and really got serious about learning how to cook (Jason was a better cook than I was when we got married!) it didn’t take me long to realize that, while cooking a good meal came naturally, baking was another story. My first year that I tried making gingerbread cookies was mildly disastrous. Baking probably required more precise measuring and timing than cooking, and therefore I got impatient with it.

Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at actually using measuring cups and spoons and setting timers. My baking skills have improved marginally, I’m proud to say. I don’t have a ton of time to bake, and we don’t really like to keep a lot of treats around to munch on, but Christmas is the exception.

This year, I wanted to make an exorbitant amount of goodies, mostly for the purpose of giving them away. So, this past Saturday, I made about 11 dozen cut out cookies to give as gifts to our immediate neighbors:

Jason’s parents happened to be visiting for a few hours and helped with some of the frosting duty, and then he and I finished it up into the night. Since my childhood days of shoveling down sugar cookie dough, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a huge fan of plain old cut out cookies. They’re just too “sweet” tasting for me. I know, isn’t that what a cookie should be? Well, maybe to most people. I prefer a bit more complexity in my desserts. I guess I’m kind of a dessert snob in that sense!

This year, I made three different types of cut out cookies. The recipes can be found below:

Chocolate Cut Out Cookies

Lemon Zest Cut Out Cookies

Spicy  Gingerbread Cookies

For frosting, I did a basic buttercream but colored it with natural ingredients instead of the “magical” food coloring. I made a green frosting with kiwi juice, a pink frosting with raspberries, a brown frosting with cocoa powder and brewed coffee, a yellow frosting with orange and cranberry juice concentrates, and an orange frosting with pumpkin puree. Not only were they pretty to look at, they tasted amazing. None of the flavors were overpowering, but they did subtly taste like whatever I had blended in. My favorites were the cocoa-coffee frosting and the pumpkin. I think using these ingredients for coloring means I’ll need to refrigerate the cookies, but that’s OK. It’s worth the space in my fridge.

On Sunday afternoon, we walked around to our immediate neighbors and gave them goody bags filled with some of the cookies. We got to talk to an awesome couple who lives across the street who just had a baby. We met the Mr. when we first were moving in but it was great to actually have a conversation with them and to meet his Mrs. We exchanged phone numbers, so hopefully we can get together in the future for dinner. We also got to meet another woman and her son that we had yet to introduce ourselves to, and we had fun talking to the neighbors we’re already familiar with. The hours of baking were totally worth it if it means we get to create more community with the people we live nearby.

A couple we knew from our old church came over later that night to make chocolates with us. We got together and did this a couple of years ago and it was fun to renew the tradition this year, in our own home.

We covered many things in chocolate, including (but not limited to): pretzels, rice crispy treats, sea salted caramels, raspberries, marshmallows, pepperjack cheese and potato chips. Some of the not-so-bizarre candies will go to the maintenance staff at my job as Christmas presents. In my opinion, maintenance staffs are typically the hardest working people at an organization AND the most under appreciated. I’m excited to show up at their door bearing gifts.

I also made some truffles (first time trying it!) and was pretty pleased with the result. Nutella truffles rolled in fresh-ground coffee beans, oh my word. I’ll be bringing them, along with most of the remaining chocolates and cookies, to our House Church potluck this week. Whatever is leftover will come along to our family celebrations with us. I mean, aside from the occasional gingerbread or chocolate covered chow mein that Jason and I have been eating for deserts this past week ;).

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2 Responses to “Bakefest 2012”

  1. Deliciously evil cookies and chocolate covered goodies. Cravings growing. Must go in search of sweets! My wife and I usually go all out baking cookies for Christmas – it was something her family has always done. We haven’t yet started this year, but I’m expecting that to come this weekend. Pazelles, gingersnaps, snickerdoodles, hershey kiss cookies, something with chocolate, somethign with a peach or apricot filling, and probably one or two others to round it all out. Let the cookie madness begin.

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