Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wishful Holiday Baking

I love the thought of baking and creating yummy treats to wrap in pretty containers and give away as Christmas gifts. I still remember the trays of goodies that we received from various neighbors when I was growing up--there were certain ones you always looked forward to because the ladies who made them made the same delicacies each year.

My favorite were the iced sugar cookies dotted with red hots, silver balls, and colored sugar--my sister and I would fight over those.Our backdoor neighbor, Mrs. Gray always made those...wonder if I could get her recipe...

Of course gingerbread people were a staple too, and various other traditional cookies like Italian Wedding Cookies, macaroons, and various fruit-filled or studded kinds, (which I of course avoided like the plague).

Up to this point, my holiday baking has consisted of 2 items: chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and sugar cookies. The peanut butter balls I am pretty damn good at, if I do say so myself. My good friend Amy and I have been making these together for years now; they're pretty labor-intensive, but not difficult, and well worth the effort.

image via here

Not to mention making them makes me think of that hilarious SNL sketch where Alec Baldwin Ana Gasteyer, and Molly Shannon talk about "Schweddy Balls."

I tried to take basic sugar cookies with white icing to another level a few years ago when I bought a set of 3-D cookie cutters from Nordic Ware that promised cookies that look like this:

image via here

Now, I know what you may be thinking...I was pretty naive to think my cookies would come out like the picture, but honestly, my naivete when it comes to holiday baking never ceases to amaze even me. Needless to say, my cookies were not picture-perfect...the bell looked a bit like a large be-headed woman in culottes and the reindeer like a rabid downward-facing dog with no front legs...too bad my pride was too hurt to take pictures.

So, I have decided, (naively, I am sure), to venture into new holiday baking territory this year and make the following recipes to wrap up ever so sweetly and pass on to neighbors, friends, and loved ones...beware:

image and recipe via here

The Wednesday Chef, a blog that I read regularly, featured these cookies this week, and I think they look heavenly. And possibly easy enough for me not to ruin.

image via here

Now, I'm sure mine won't look as perfect, but hopefully they will be that soft-bready type of gingerbread...that's my favorite kind.

And, I'm going to continue my tradition of making the peanut butter balls and iced sugar cookies, (although they will be decidedly 2-D; Nordicware cookie cutters be damned).

What are your plans for holiday baking?

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