Holiday Baking: Part 2

So much for posting at least once a week. Ha. I don’t bake every week anyway. I can’t because I’d eat it all and then I’d have to get my own show on TLC. It all just sounds like so much work.

So, here we are. January 11th and the Christmas goodies are long gone. On the bright side, I get to relive them here.

Firstly, a good friend hosted her 2nd Annual Cookie Exchange a few days before Christmas. This was my first time participating and I thought I should go for something fairly easy. In other words, I didn’t want to embarrass myself with my terrible decorating skills. So I started browsing recipes and the words”no mixer needed” caught my eye on these Chocolate Truffle Cookies. A ton of chocolate and no mixer needed?! I was sold.

Because I was so busy working and getting ready for Christmas that week I decided to make the cookie dough on Sunday, bake it on Tuesday and the Cookie Exchange was set for Wednesday. The dough needs to be refrigerated so I figured this was perfect. I’d leave it in the fridge for a couple of days until I could bake it on Tuesday. This was not my best idea. It was very easy to mix, but when I took the dough out of the fridge after work on Tuesday it was hard as a rock. A ROCK. I shared my dilemma with Boy, who was hanging around my house hoping for a spare cookie or nine. I thwacked a spoon against the dough to demonstrate and I could see the fear in his eyes. Would there be any cookies at all?!

So I let the dough sit for a while and prayed it would thaw. I didn’t want to be the person who brings store-bought cookies to a cookie exchange. I mean, I’m a baker, for the the love cake! I’d feel like a fraud! Plus, I’m a terrible liar and knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with it. I also didn’t want to back out of the Cookie Exchange at the last minute. There were 7 other people confirmed and they were expecting 7 dozen cookies. I wasn’t going to be the one to mess that up.

Luckily it began to soften. I dug in with a spoon and tried to force it out of the bowl, flinging dough all over the kitchen. My dogs enjoyed this part very much. Once I got about a dozen cookies worth out of the bowl, I set it on the warm stove top to help the dough thaw faster. I made the first dozen and they looked really good. I didn’t want to taste one because I was worried I wouldn’t have the 7 dozen needed for the exchange. But since they looked decent, I kept going and got a system down pretty quickly. Scoop, bake, cool, package. There was just one more small problem: the dough in the bottom of the bowl started to melt from being on the hot stove. Why? Why do I do these things?! I salvaged what I could and the 7 dozen were ready in a flash. There were even some left over for Boy and Mama Bear.

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When I finally got to taste one… wow. They were so rich and gooey right out of the oven. Amazing. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t love them later on. There’s a lot of cocoa and unsweetened chocolate that gives them a dark chocolate taste. Which is the only kind of chocolate I don’t do. But you know I still ate some.

Here are all of the cookies from the cookie exchange. Chocolate chip and M&M and earthquake cookies, oh my. It was pretty cool to come home with all of these different kinds of cookies. And the Cookie Exchange itself was a lot of fun, too. There were snacks and wine and I got to meet a few new people. I can’t wait to do it again next year (with dough that isn’t like concrete).

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The cookies were all but gone by Christmas Eve but I did manage to save a dozen Chocolate Truffle Cookies to take to my aunt’s that night. Which Mama Bear promptly threw into a baggie and took home.

For dessert on Christmas I made a (double) batch of Life Changing Brownies. I won’t bore you with the details since I’ve already written a post about them. However, I will say this: they are amazing every time.

Then I made the white cake I had been craving. As much as I love (as in, have feelings for) chocolate, white cake is my favorite. It took years of extensive research to come to this conclusion. I’d always assumed that chocolate cake was my favorite just because I loved chocolate. But a few years ago I started to realize… could I possibly like white cake more than chocolate?! I was probably in denial for a while after that but I’m now capable of admitting it. Yes, white cake is my favorite. Light and fluffy traditional white (none of that almond garbage) with light and fluffy buttercream frosting. This is what I consider “birthday cake” and it’s what I’ll be asking my family to get for my birthday this year. There will probably be a few tantrums on their part but they’ll just have to accept it.

Anyway, I used Add a Pinch’s Best White Cake Recipe Ever. I’d made it once before and knew of it’s gloriousness. And as before, I ate spoonfuls of the batter. Hrm. The recipe calls for whole eggs as opposed to egg whites, giving it a slightly yellow color. If you’d like a stark white cake (I do), just use the whites. I’m not sure how it effects the taste because so far I’ve only made it with whole eggs. I wasn’t worried about it this time either way because I was going to be dying the batter. I used Wilton’s Gel Icing Color, one of my favorite things ever.

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I used i am baker’s Perfect Crusting Buttercream. I loved it on the cupcakes I made a few weeks ago and thought it would go great with white cake. For once, I was correct. This buttercream is pretty light and fluffy and comes close to the “birthday cake” frosting that I love so much. I doubled the recipe and hoped it would be enough for 3 layers and a design.

The idea for the design came from i am baker’s Rock Candy Christmas Cake. But instead of rock candy, I was just going to make little red and green rosettes up the side and spiraled on the top. I thought it would look so pretty against the white frosting.

You guessed it. These things never work out how I plan them. I used the pastry bag technique to frost the cake but when I tried to spread the frosting with the spatula, millions of red and green crumbs filled the snow white frosting. Ughhhhhhh… I considered making it a crumb coat but it was too late. I had used so much frosting, thinking this was going to be the one and only layer, that it was too thick to be a crumb coat. I would have had to try to scrape some of it off and make more. Again, why? Why do I do these things?! So I went to Plan B and covered the entire cake in (messy) white rosettes.

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You can see some of the red crumbs poking through but I still think it turned out kind of pretty. Have a mentioned that I love a stark white cake?

The thing was so heavy though. I’m guessing about 8 pounds. There was SO MUCH frosting on it. When I woke up on Christmas morning one side of the frosting had fallen off the cake, like a wall of frosting that just couldn’t take it any more. I just stuck it right back on and kept going. On the way to Cousin’s house it slid inside the box and the wall fell again. So I stuck it back on again. I wished I’d had some frosting leftover to use as paste. But we don’t discriminate against baked goods so it doesn’t really matter what it looked like. And it did look pretty cool when I cut it.

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My horrendous photography doesn’t do it justice.

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Even I couldn’t eat all that delicious white frosting. And I just now realized that this slice of cake looks like a face with a mullet made of frosting.

Last but not least, I made these Bacon Bombs. I was so exhausted from all the baking that I didn’t make them until the day after Christmas. It was worth the wait. In my delirium I also failed to take photos but trust me, they were delicious. Ever since then I’ve been thinking of all the different variations I can do, like pepperoni and mozzarella. Hamburger and cheddar. Chicken and any kind of cheese. And now I’m wonder if this would work with Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits instead of regular biscuits… Too much cheese? No way.

Needless to say, I ate entirely too much. Totally worth it. And just for fun here’s a photo of Murphy Bittle all tuckered out on Christmas Day. Because cute.

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Happy New Year!

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