This year’s holiday baking list is long with a capital L.
The past few Decembers I’ve penciled in things I want to make only to have that task followed by the days disappearing and me running out of steam. So I put them off until the next year.
Well, this is the year that I’m making it ALL.
Now, most of these things are traditional recipes and the recipes of others. I checked off rugelach (a lovely apricot pistachio version from Martha Stewart Living) this past weekend. I still have stollen, lebkuchen, Danish butter cookies and panettone to get to.
Since I share mostly original recipes here, that leaves me little to post, besides a few photos. So I still feel like I should come up with at least one new holiday baking recipe to share with you.
This is that recipe. My 2016 holiday cookie.
Any time I get a new ingredient for the kitchen, I always seem to make cookies. Most often chocolate chip cookies.
I think it’s because I want to see how something unfamiliar behaves in something I know well.
Although, saying that cassava flour is unfamiliar isn’t exactly accurate. I became familiar with it when we lived in Brazil. Cassava = mandioca = tapioca.
There we ate farofa, pão de queijo and tapioca com goiabada. All are made with some version of the flour – fine ground, coarse ground, sweet, fermented or sour.
These fig and lavender cookies have a sweet slice of tiger fig tucked inside!
On our road trip in May we stopped by a lavender farm and I brought back a few things to use in the kitchen. Those things included lavender sugar and some culinary lavender.
It only took me a day or so to realize I could have just made my own lavender sugar with the culinary lavender, but that’s okay. I can be a little slow on seeing the obvious.
So a little while back when I had all those figs that the CA Fig Board sent to me, I decided to test out some cookies. Just before I started to make the recipe, I remembered the lavender sugar.
These salted chocolate chip cookies came about for three very different reasons.
The first is that I’m finally back in a kitchen I can call my own. With a nice stove, I might add. For the first time in my adult life, I’m cooking and baking with gas. So I’ve felt a strong need to create in the kitchen, especially to bake, which is something I haven’t been focused on in the recent past.
Next, do you remember that bourbon smoked sea salt I mentioned in my Four Favorites post from April? Well, I had yet to use the salt in a dessert. That is the perfect kind of excuse for baking a batch of cookies in my book.
The third reason is palm shortening. When I started reducing processed foods way back in 2008, I pretty much swore off vegetable shortening. But there were a couple things I missed, and one was the chocolate chip cookies a friend’s mom used to make every Christmas. The secret ingredient was butter flavored vegetable shortening. Now, I didn’t miss those enough to go back to shortening, even during the holidays. I was hardcore on my decision, but I missed them nonetheless.
It’s taken me a while to determine why I enjoy holiday baked goods so much more than those made any other time of year. I can whip out a batch of cookies in March, but they don’t seem as special to me as those I make in December.
You’ll be happy to know that I’ve discovered the secrets. There are two.
Spices and booze.
I’m a fan of seasonal eating. I like asparagus in the spring, berries in the summer and apples in fall. You get the idea.
I always associate seasonal with fresh foods until the holidays come along. When we start creeping up to Thanksgiving and especially when December hits, it’s 100 percent cookie season! Sure I’ll throw some kale and sweet potatoes into my meals for good measure, but cookies and baking take center stage.
Every year it’s a battle between making old favorites or experimenting with new recipes. When you throw an outstanding new cookbook into the mix, the old favorites start to take the back seat.
There are times when nothing will do, but a cookie. No slice of cake or pie, no brownie square or fruit tart; only a cookie.
I appreciate that my sweet tooth is selective, but its picky nature sometimes sends me into the kitchen for some baking when I hadn’t really planned on it. That happened this past week.
Back in May I had the opportunity to attend a food blogger event for the launch of Safeway’s Open Nature Super Premium Ice Cream. This post is a recap of the food and fun that led to the creation of these Smoked Almond, Chocolate Chip and Coconut Cookies!
It’s not everyday that you get invited to taste ice cream. Well, okay. It probably happens a little more often for a food blogger than the average person, but that makes it no less exciting.
Back in May I got invited to hang out with a great group of food bloggers to learn about the launch of Safeway’s Open Nature Super Premium Ice Cream. I’ve been really curious about the Open Nature brand and I was completely sold on checking out Safeway’s commercial kitchen so I took the short drive to Pleasanton for an incredibly fun few days.
I have to be completely honest. You know I make a lot of things. Many things from scratch that most people buy at the store. But after several years of my from-scratch lifestyle there are a few things that I’ve voted best made by the professionals. Ice cream is one of those for me.
These candied ginger and carrot cookies are a twist on a classic oatmeal cookie. They are soft and chewy on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside.
I was recently trying to remember when I first started eating fresh ginger. I can’t pinpoint the day, but I’m certain it had to be while we were living in Brazil.
It was likely with sushi (I don’t think I’d ever eaten sushi until we moved there), but what I really remember are the teas and mulled wines that used slice after slice of fresh ginger root. After discovering those and then learning how to make them, I was sold.
These chocolate cookies are so rich and delicious! Made with almond flour, they also happen to be gluten-free and grain-free, so they are perfect for sharing with friends. You’ll find these cookies and so many more great desserts in the new cookbook Let Them Eat Cake by Gesine Bullock-Prado.
I’ve mentioned many times before that I’m not grain-free, gluten-free, vegan, or most other food labels out there. I also feel incredibly fortunate that I don’t have any food allergies. That being said, the one thing I am when I cook and bake is a bit of a pleaser.
If I invite you over, give you a food gift, or share a potluck with you, I want you to be able to eat. Not eating sounds like no fun at all. So any tool that helps me help more people eat good food, well, I’m all for it.
It’s rare to come across a cookbook that is for everyone. One that you can buy for anyone on your gift list and one that you can use to make sweet treats for anyone you might be eating with. I’ve found it though, and to be honest, I’m pretty blown away by it. It’s downright awesome.