Christmas baking round-up: cookies & bark

Well hello there!  Who else is baking up a storm and simultaneously stuffing their faces with baking all day every day?  I thought so.

Now here's a round-up of my family's tried and true recipes that make up our Christmas baking plates that we gift to friends and family during this time of year.  Usually we'll try one or two new recipes each year, but these classics have stuck around for awhile now. 

This is my first Christmas living on my own, and I definitely didn't do as much baking as other years.  Now, I don't live far from my family (and I WORK on the farm), so I often stumbled upon my mom or sister baking one of these recipes, and it made me feel so nostalgic. Ha!   There's a lot of memories behind each of these recipes, and I hope you enjoy them if you give them a go!

ALSO: Feel free to LAUGH REALLY HARD at some of the photos from several years ago.  Seriously....YIKES!  *I'm looking at you toffee pretzel bark. Ha!!!

Merry baking!

-Kelsey

eggnog cinnamon buns (in under 90 minutes!)

Oh hey there!  Today we're drooling over cinnamon buns.  Eggnog cinnamon buns to be exact!  The best part about them?  They take less than 90 minutes!  Heck yeah!

I don't bake a ton of bread, mostly because I lack the patience it takes.  I'm hoping that this is something I get better at, since my mom makes buns every Saturday, and it is basically heaven.  So, the fact that these cinnamon buns don't take a million years makes me a very happy girl!

Of course, since it's nearly Christmas, I used eggnog in the place of milk in both the dough as well as the glaze.  I'm not even the biggest fan of eggnog, but it's pretty darn delicious when it's baked into bread!


Eggnog Cinnamon Buns

recipe: adapted from GoofyDebbie
yields: 12 cinnamon buns

ingredients:

1/4 cup water

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 

1/4 cup white sugar (1 tablespoon for yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons in the rest of the dough)

3/4 cup eggnog

1/4 cup butter

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

filling:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

 

directions:

In a small bowl, add water, a tablespoon of white sugar, and yeast.  Stir together and set aside to rise.

In a small saucepan, melt together eggnog and butter on a medium heat, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 cups of flour, remaining 3 tablespoons of white sugar, and salt.  Stir in yeast and egg, and mix well.  Add in eggnog and butter mixture.  Add in remaining cup of flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir well until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes until smooth (it's better if you're dough's a little sticky here, rather than adding too much flour).

Cover with a clean, damp cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and soft butter.

Roll dough out into a 9x12 rectangle (*hint: the pan you'll be placing them in is a 9x13 in case you need an idea of measurements).

Spread butter-sugar mixture evenly across the dough.  Then, roll up the long side of the dough as tight as you can.  Pinch the seam where it ends, so that it doesn't come apart.  Use either a serrated knife to cut the roll into 12 even pieces, or you can use a piece of plain floss (slide it under the dough, bring it up, cross over each other, and cut).  

*Hint: I often trim the ends of the roll off and bake it in a mini pan to help the buns stay more even!

Arrange the twelve buns into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover with a clean dish towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 18-20 minutes.  


Eggnog Glaze

recipe: from Moirianne
yields: 1 1/2 cups

ingredients:

2 cups icing sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3 tablespoons eggnog

directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together softened butter, icing sugar, vanilla, and eggnog.  Add eggnog or icing sugar as needed until the desired consistency is reached.

Spread on slightly warm cinnamon buns and serve!


white chocolate cheesecake (with sugared rosemary & cranberries)

Oh hey there!  Today we're talking about cheesecake.  Rich, decadent, (perfect for the holidays...and well, everyday) cheesecake.  It's not something I experiment with often due to it's decadent nature, and priciness of the ingredients (I'm looking at you cream cheese!).

I totally play favourites when making cheesecake, and this mocha cheesecake is what I make 9 times out of 10.  Why mess with perfection?

So, obviously I chose to mess with perfection.  Ha!  And the results were pretty stellar.  The idea of doing a white chocolate cheesecake with sugared cranberries had been rattling around in my mind for a while, and I thought it would be so great for Christmas.  The added rosemary brings a winter-y touch, and it adds a subtle flavour to the cheesecake just from sitting on top!


White Chocolate Cheesecake (with sugared rosemary & cranberries)

yields: one 9-inch diameter cheesecake

ingredients:

Crust: 

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup melted butter


Cheesecake:

2 cups (350 grams) good quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut)

1/2 cup half-and-half cream

3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs
 

For Topping:

whipped cream

white chocolate curls

sugared cranberries 

sugared rosemary

directions

In a medium bowl, mix together graham wafer crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, place chopped up chocolate and the cream.  On medium-low, melt together, stirring often.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, cream together your cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well between each one.  Mix in vanilla and melted white chocolate.

Pour batter over the crust, and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the middle has completely set.  Turn off your oven, crack the door, and let the cheesecake cool for an hour inside (to help avoid cracking).  Remove from oven and cool on counter if your cake is still warm, and then run a knife around the edge of the cake but leave in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before removing from pan and serving.  Serve with whipped cream, chocolate curls, sugared cranberries & sugared rosemary (instructions below)

*There are tons of tips out there on how to keep cheesecakes from cracking, and I haven't figured out the perfect combo for me and my oven/kitchen yet!  Mine cracked in 3 spots, so I just covered it in whipped cream - nobody will know, and it tastes great!


Sugared Cranberries & Rosemary

ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Sugar - for rolling cranberries & rosemary in

cranberries

fresh sprigs of rosemary

 

directions:

In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and water, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Once sugar has completely dissolved, your simple syrup is ready!  Remove from heat and let cool.  Place cranberries and rosemary into the syrup (I just hand dipped the rosemary), and then remove with a strainer.  Spread out on parchment paper, and let them start to dry for about 10-15 minutes.  

*If syrup is pooling under your cranberries or rosemary, just move everything around.  You don't want anything to sit in syrup, just for it to be lightly coated.

In a shallow dish, place more granulated sugar for rolling your cranberries and rosemary in.  Roll until coated (for the rosemary I just gently pressed each side into the sugar and shook off the excess).  Place onto clean parchment, and allow to dry more thoroughly.  These will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple days, and can be refreshed by rolling in a bit of sugar if they get humid at all.


Happy Christmas Baking!

-Kelsey

gingersnaps

December is officially here, and that means all the cozy things!  To me, gingersnaps are a winter cookie.  Something about the warm flavours of ginger and molasses make me want to curl up next to a fire with a plate of these in front of me.  We even had snow yesterday, although most of it is gone already!  (We don't get snow all that often, so that was an exciting/interesting/panic-inducing event for us locals...)

Anyhow, I think they have the best of both worlds, as these cookies are partly soft and chewy, and a little snappy.  The little crackles on top have so much character, and they are the perfect addition to Christmas baking platters.  

Now this is my grandma's recipe, and I might be biased, but no one makes these better than her.  She advises you to make one or two test cookies, and see what happens.  Sometimes they might need a touch more flour, and sometimes they're perfect as is.  If you're like me, I usually don't have the patience, and just plow ahead and hope for the best!  Spoiler alert: they're always delicious.


gingersnaps

recipe from: Grandma Holloway

 ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

granulated sugar - for rolling cookies in

directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy.

Mix in molasses, baking soda and all spices, and mix well.   Add in flour and mix until just combined.

Roll cookies into balls, and then roll in granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes.  They'll puff up and crack a bit on top.  You can always do a test cookie, and see if you need a tad more flour if they're too flat.


Happy cookie baking!

-Kels