ARE YOU FINDING TIME TO BAKE? Sorry that wasn’t meant to be all caps, but seems appropriate. I have NO time to bake, so instead of making a day of it as I would in the past, I’m making a batch here and there- sometimes while watching a show at night, sometimes whipping up a few in the afternoon or in the morning before breakfast. I have even baked some late at night. To me it’s not a drag as I like this part of Christmas so much. I will do anything to fit it in. Same with cards. Some people can’t be bothered anymore and I get it. I truly enjoy the whole process of writing notes and sealing them up while sipping a cup of tea and listening to holiday tunes.
It helps me a lot to look at each little part of the season as something that makes it fun! Today is wrapping day and my youngest Griffin helps me with that. When he was small he liked wrapping and helping. When I was small my grandmother taught me how to properly wrap and not waste paper and how to make a pretty ribbon, I think mainly to keep me occupied and I did the same with him.
Anyway, about the treats, this is another post that should have been shared earlier. I was beyond crazy a bit, but I love making new discoveries each year and thought I might share though it is late in the season. These are now going to go into the family recipes for holiday baking.
First, the anise cookies are something I came up with as an alternative to biscotti. If you like traditional biscotti you’ll love them. I usually make biscotti to gift at the holidays, but they are a heck of a lot of work with the twice baking, etc and don’t make so much. I was deciding whether to make biscotti or a refrigerator cookie and thought let me see how it is substituting the anise flavoring for the vanilla and add some aniseed plus some chopped pecans.
They came out better than I hoped and even my kids said they had a great taste without being too sweet. I love that they are similar to the biscotti, not so crisp and very simple. These are great with a cup of holiday tea! I gave these in cellophane bags to my tennis friends and also to my neighbors with homemade tags and black twine. I found the string in Switzerland this summer in the cutest shop in Wengen for 8 Swiss francs and I am loving it on all my presents this year.
Anise Refrigerator Cookies
2 sticks butter softened
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 t. anise flavoring
1 t. aniseed
2 1/2 C flour
1 t. salt
1 cup of chopped pecans (walnuts or sliced almonds can also work)
Raw sugar to roll logs in
Mix butter and sugar until fluffy, add in egg and anise flavoring. When mixed, gently add in flour, salt, aniseeds and nuts. On a floured surface lightly knead to combine nuts and seeds and divide into two. Using parchment, roll each into a long log and roll some raw sugar on the outside. Wrap each log and refrigerate an hour or overnight. When ready, slice cookies and bake at 350 for around 12 minutes depending on size of cookies. They should be lightly golden on edges.
The second new treat that I couldn’t resist trying was Two Ingredient Chocolate Bark from Cup of Joe. I shared this earlier this week on the blog’s Facebook page. I love anything that looks fancy and seems easy. The recipe takes less than ten minutes to make and it sets up on the counter in about an hour. It looks beautiful and makes a pretty gift.
The key here is using nice chocolate bars like Ghirardelli and I found white chocolate from Valrhona at Whole Foods. They sell it in bulk chunks off a huge white bar. Make sure you melt bars, not chips which do not temper well. You want your bark to be shiny, so chop it and then alternate a bowl of white and dark 20 seconds at a time in the microwave and slowly stir.
Pour the dark in a big 1/4 inch thick puddle on parchment and drizzle the white over any way you like. I topped mine with hazelnuts and flaky salt, but you can see other variations on her blog. You can get a fancier look if you use a toothpick and swirl the chocolate, which I didn’t do. Fun and easy and is looks very gourmet and tastes amazing. It would also be great with dried fruits, other nuts or chopped candy pieces- whatever you like!