December 2013

Christmas is 9 days away! Are you ready? As promised, I made a candy recipe that performs appropriately at high altitude. My mom’s good friend Cheryl always sends the most delicious chocolate covered toffee around the holidays, and this recipe reminds me of it. It’s buttery, crunchy, chocolaty, and coated in nuts. Highly addictive.  I was expecting the recipe to be much harder than it really was. You cook butter, sugar, water, and salt; add vanilla, and then pour it onto your baking sheet. Let it cool, then cover each side in chocolate and finely chopped pecans. Break it up into pieces and you’ve got a hefty quantity of homemade candy on your hands, perfect for feeding guests or giving away as gifts.  Last night I also baked up some [...]

This time of year there is so much sugar- Christmas cookies, candies, cocktails…that these cupcakes are a refreshing break from all things sweet. They don’t rise too much and are more of a ‘flat topped cupcake’, but their damp, almost black interiors are richly spiced and festive.  Smeared with a ginger-coffee icing, these cupcakes are great for short-notice, informal holiday get-togethers. We like them plain, for breakfast- big surprise there! As the temperatures are finally warming up here from those single digit days we had last week, it’s been nice to actually venture outside. Warm Colorado sunshine streaming in through the windows highlights all the snow laying on the ground outside. It’s been a beautiful time of year.  I just finished a cake this week and enjoyed photographing it with [...]

My, what a busy time of year! I’m sure everyone else feels the same way.  In between wintery wedding cakes, business trips (pictured above is snowy Aspen), Christmas shopping, preparing for our puppy, and other work, it’s been hard fitting in any holiday baking. But the show must go on… Thankfully we have a multi-tasking recipe to work with: brioche. I’m a big fan of brioche. Not only does it taste fantastic- it’s rich, buttery, tender… like the love child that would result from bread + cake. But it has many, many uses.  1. It makes THE BEST french toast ever.  2. Shape dough into balls and bake up into dinner or breakfast rolls.  3. Roll the dough out and use it to make cinnamon rolls or coffeecake. 4. Fry [...]

I can’t stop baking these. I’ve already planned to make them again in 2 1/2 weeks  so we can eat them for breakfast on Christmas morning. They remind me of my days as a student at The French Pastry School, when obviously, pastries were plentiful.  Flaky, tender, and feather-light, homemade ‘quick’ puff pastry serves as the base for these tartlets. Then they’re topped with ripe, yet slightly firm pears, and baked. Golden brown and fresh out of the oven, a lightly spiced powdered sugar glaze is drizzled over the tops, creating warm, sweet, fruity, flaky pastry goodness.  I made this dough and used it over several days. Each morning I’d roll out two or three squares and bake them off so we had fresh pastries with our coffee. Because they’re [...]

A few weeks ago, a High Altitude Bakes baker alerted me of this recipe and I thought they sounded divine. It was too late to include them in this year’s Holiday Cookie Book, so I decided I would make them later on, and of course, post about it.  That time has arrived! We awoke to a very snowy landscape this morning, as we’re currently under a winter storm warning. After trudging out to the car and clearing all that snow off, these cookies really hit the spot.  Rich in molasses flavor and accented with ground cinnamon, ground ginger, AND grated fresh ginger, these cookies also have a subtle note of chocolate from cocoa powder. Every other bite or so you’ll get a chunk of chocolate too. Definitely more of an [...]

A few years ago, I discovered this recipe and haven’t looked back. These yeast rolls are for when you are seeking bread that is tender, soft, and simply white. Not whole grain, crusty or heavy (which can be good, but just not for this instance). Back in elementary school, one Thursday a month we’d have chicken and noodles, served with mashed potatoes and a roll. Those rolls were great! My mom would sometimes join me for lunch and she’d try to come on those days. These rolls remind me a lot of them. They’re pillowy and so soft.  I like to dress them up a little with a honey butter glaze so they have a glossy, shiny look (everyone oohs and aahs when you put them on the table).  If [...]

Well, it’s Thanksgiving round 2 today. This evening we are heading to a friend’s house to celebrate the holiday all over again, and I just finished up this praline pumpkin cheesecake.  I’ve made it once before, and it’s a great make-ahead holiday dessert- you get cheesecake, pumpkin, caramel, pecans, and gingersnaps all in one. For the crust this time, I actually thawed some frozen gingersnap cookie dough leftover from the 2013 Holiday Cookie Book creation, crumbled and baked it, and then ground it up for ‘homemade’ crumbs. Store-bought cookies however, work just as fine.  In addition to pumpkin, sweet potato puree could also be equally substituted.  Now that it’s December, I’d say the holiday baking frenzy has officially began! I hope you all are enjoying your kitchens this time of [...]

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