Mmmmm. The smells of the holidays. One of my fondest holiday memories was in the kitchen with mom and dad making holiday treats. They ran a small business from home that sold holiday candies, cookies, and anything you could imagine covered in chocolate! Then the pies!
Whether it’s baking with family, loved ones, or even hanging out with friends, baking has a way to soothe the soul. Here are a few of old favorites, including a recipe handed down from a generation and is usually the first to disappear from the cookie tray! Have a happy holiday season and happy baking!
Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 dozen
1 1/2 cups Hazelnuts, toasted (allow to cool)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 c. All-purpose flour
1/2c. unsweetened cocoa powder (do not use dutch-process!)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp grated orange zest
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp hazelnut-flavored liqueur
1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (do not use dutch-process!)
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp hazelnut-flavored liqueur
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a large baking sheet.
In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves until the nuts are finely chopped, then add butter and zest and pulse it until it looks coarse meal with some small butter lumps (no bigger than a corn kernel). Add the juice and liqueur and pulse until dough comes together but still crumbles. Use a tablespoon to measure out the portion and flatten about an inch apart on your baking sheet.
Bake cookies until puffed and slightly cracked (15 MINUTES). Place on rack and allow to cool.
Make icing while cookies cool:
Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth.
Dip the cookie tops into the icing and allow to dry. Placing them on wax paper is best for about an hour to dry.
(Authored by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez in Gourmet – April 2008)
Apple and Maple Bread Pudding
10 to 12 servings
6 large eggs
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1/2 c dark brown sugar (packed)
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp grounf cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 c whole milk
1 c heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp apple brandy
1 1-pound loaf rustic bread with crust trimmed cut into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes (french bread also works)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 lbs granny smith apples (about 5), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices
1/4 c pure maple syrup plus additional for brushing
1/4 c dark brown sugar (packed)
Whisk eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt in large bowl. Add milk, cream, and brandy and whisk until blended. Add bread cubes and submerge into custard. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F, and place rack in bottom of oven. Generously butter a 9×5 inch glass loaf pan (sides should be at least three inches high)..
Melt 3 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple slices and saute until deep golden and starting to soften, stirring and turning frequently (10-12 minutes). Stir in 1/4 cup maple syrup, then brown sugar. Simmer until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to thicken (1 minute). Remove from heat.
Mix half the apples into the custard mixture and then transfer into your prepared buttered pan. Arrange the remaining apples on top as you wish and spoon any remaining syrup from skillet over the apples. Place the pan on a baking sheet to catch any spills from the cooking process.
Bake bread pudding until puffed and cracked on top, apples are a deep golden brown, and the temperature registers at 170-180 degrees F (about an hour and a half). Pudding will rise during cooking but will fall as it it cools. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Brush top of bread pudding with maple syrup and serve.
(Author is Julie Richardson from Bon Appetit – January 2010)