Monday, December 29, 2008

Pumpkin Pecan Comfort

Today was just one of those days that started out good, but by the end required the comforting task of baking something sweet and new to restore peace of mind, so I decided to make the very first recipe from my new cookie cookbook: Pumpkin Pecan cookies. They came out soft and cakey and just sweet enough. I didn't make the frosting that's supposed to go on top because I want to take them to work tomorrow, but I don't think they even needed it. All in all, it was a nice recipe that got my mind off of work, which was the whole point.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holiday Cookie Insanity

For the past few years my friends and I have decided that there are too many of us for a gift exchange, so instead of gifts my friend and I take over another friends house (she has a much bigger kitchen then both of us combined) and bake bake bake the whole weekend before Christmas. Usually the number of boxes we need to make is semi-reasonable, but this year I ended up making 40 boxes filled with 7 different kinds of cookies. Originally I wanted to make 10 different kinds, but time and strength simply ran out. We literally worked around the clock both days and when I went to work that Monday after 1 hour of sleep, I felt like a zombie and I vowed never to go that crazy again. This of course lasts only until I catch up on sleep and then plans for next year start swirling in my head like snowflakes in a blizzard. But back to this year. Some of the cookies I had to make because they're family favorites, like sugar cookies, white chocolate cranberry shortbread and toffee. The others were new experiments, like molasses cookies (still not as awesome as my friend's recipe, but I'm getting closer), cannoli cookies, orange spritz cookies, and pecan nougat.

On the same topic, yesterday I got a package from a new friend introduced through BzzAgent, a company that lets members try new products and asks them to spread the buzz. For the holidays they decided to initiate a gift exchange amongst it's members and I got paired up with a girl from Florida that amazingly enough ended up having a lot in common with me. For example, we both love to bake, and as my gift she sent me this book, from which I'll now be baking from all year:

Thank you Erika and Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gluten Free Chocolate Truffle Cake and Thanksgiving

Please excuse the was taken last second as I was boxing up the cake and rushing out the door on my way to work and though it may not look as nice as some of my other cakes here, it smelled divine. It contains about 3 batches of ganache and almost 4 pounds of deep dark chocolate and my favorite honey instead of sugar. It was for a coworker's mother's birthday, which happened to be on Thanksgiving, so before getting the dinner ready (I hosted this year) I did some research, adjusted some recipes, and made this with three layers of gluten free chocolate cake. I was a bit worried since I haven't made too many cakes with such restrictions, but on Monday he told me that one of the people at the party said it was the "best chocolate cake she ever had". I'd say that's gosh darn pretty good :)

As for Thanksgiving...I know it's not cake, or even dessert, but it was by far the most complicated non-pastry I've ever made, and it came out amazing, so I'm writing about it here. I made a Christmas Beast (if you remember the old Grinch cartoon), also known as a Turducken. For those of you who have not heard of this excessive dish, it's a stuffed chicken inside of a stuffed duck inside of a stuffed turkey. Did you catch that? Three birds and three stuffings. Whew! It was time consuming and labor intensive and there was a minor grease fire towards the end, but it was totally worth it! It came out much bigger then I anticipated, very very very moist and it fed three families and a small group of coworkers over the next 5 days. Now I know why turkey is only really made once a year :)