Christmas baking!

December 28th, 2009

This holiday season inspired me to bake….a lot!

(Photography by Cori Dang)

For our Christmas dinner, I wanted to try making Melting Moments. It’s somewhat similar to Mexican Wedding Cakes/Cookies, except without the nuts and almond flavoring. These melting moments have a very buttery taste (much like shortbread) and melt in your mouth. It melts in your mouth even more if it’s warm. The following day seemed to not be as melty-in-your-mouth, but it was still good and crumbles in your mouth. It’s a very delicate cookie and tastes really good! Recipe is from JoyofBaking.com.

For our Christmas party with friends, I made Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies (which are the best chocolate cookies, IMO) and Ginger cookies. I’ve made the World Peace cookies before, but the Ginger cookies this last party was a hit.  I got the Ginger cookie recipe from allrecipes.com which has over 2 thousand rave reviews. I’ve made this recipe twice now and I prefer to use only 1/8 cup molasses + 1/8 maple syrup (rather than 1/4 cup molasses). It is soft and very delicious. The first time I made this, I had very little molasses so I had to use maple syrup to make up most of the 1/4 cup. That batch tasted like a mix between a ginger cookie and a snickerdoodle, which was YUM!

(Photography by Cori Dang)

For Thanksgiving, I made Chocolate Mint Brownies (which I’ve made countless times this year for various parties) and is always a hit. Parties which included 50+ yr old people, 20-30 yr old friends, and younger — everyone loves them. I try to use higher quality chocolates now (like Scharffen Berger), but it’s SO expensive ($12 for 9 oz bar). I tried using super cheap chocolate (Baker’s) and it wasn’t very good. Even my mom who kept telling me to use cheaper chocolate could tell the difference. Next time I’ll try something in between high quality and nasty Baker’s.

Behind the brownies (in the photo above) are my steamed red bean buns. The first time I made them earlier this year, it turned out amazing. The last few times I made them, I wasn’t too happy with the results. The taste was a little off. I think the main thing is for me to figure out how hot/warm the water should be and if I should try softening the instant yeast with the water first for a few seconds before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. With instant yeast, you don’t need to soften (or “activate”) like dry active yeast. But it just seems like the past few times I could still feel the graininess of the yeast in the finished product. I’ll have to test my theory and I’ll post where I got the recipe.

I bought a mini cheesecake pan and LOVE it! I tried a pumpkin cheesecake recipe and it is fantastic, especially with cinnamon whipped cream. It’s super easy to make too. I unfortunately haven’t taken any pictures of the cheesecakes, but I will the next time I make them. I don’t even like pumpkin pie, but I LOVE this recipe. I did not bake in a water bath like the batter recipe suggests. Although I would have if I baked it in a normal spring-foam pan. I did place a pan filled with water on the rack underneath the rack of the cheesecake pan (to catch anything and was hoping it would reduce the direct heat from the bottom of the oven)
Batter/Filling: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/ginas-pumpkin-cheesecake-recipe/index.html
Crust and Cinnamon Whipped Cream: http://pinchmysalt.com/2006/10/02/mini-pumpkin-cheesecakes/

I have many more recipes that I wanted to try before the end of this year’s holiday, but that’s not going to happen. Hopefully I’ll be able to test them out soon.

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