...or at least what Christmas would look like if it exploded in my kitchen! I make such a mess when I'm baking. This picture doesn't even show the half of it, or the flour all over my floor! It's so much fun though, except when I knock over an almost full bottle of vanilla and it spills all over my recipe...
I started off the night making peppermint bark using this recipe from http://www.recipegirl.com/. I didn't take a picture of my bark because, due to my impatience, I didn't wait until the second layer fully hardened. As a result, the minute I poured the warm melted white chocolate over the top, the middle layer began melting, so the top of my bark has a swirled effect that is much less pretty than it should be. But it still tastes phenomenal and really is so easy if you just wait the amount of time suggested for each layer. I'd even suggest putting the pan in the freezer rather than the fridge to make sure the layers really do harden up properly. A little side note: I had no idea how much 6 oz. of peppermint was in terms of candy canes. I crushed up 4 and it seems to have been the perfect amount.
Then I made a batch of gingerbread dough using this recipe on my friend Tammi's blog. I was going to make a double batch, but this is the first time I've made gingerbread cookie dough from scratch and in case I messed it up, I didn't want to have a ton of dough. It was super easy to make, so I can always whip up another batch later in the week. I shaped the dough into a log and put it in my freezer until I'm ready to make the cookies in the next few days.
I finished up this evening's endeavors with a double batch of dough for Peanut Butter Blossoms. My best friend's mom has made these for years and I finally got the recipe from her. I've tried other versions of this cookie, but hers is always the best! She said the dough freezes really well (and actually the baked cookies do as well) so I've got two logs of this dough in my freezer. Here's the recipe:
Peanut Butter Blossoms
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
3 Tbl more sugar
36 chocolate kisses, unwrapped
Put margarine, peanut butter, ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg into a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium until smooth and creamy.
Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder together, and mix into creamed ingredients. Cover w/plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or more.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper or silicone mats.
Put the 3 T of sugar in a plastic bag.
Shape the dough into balls the size of walnuts in the shell. Shake three balls at a time in the bag of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake 8 minutes. Put a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie and press down gently. Continue baking 2-4 minutes, or until chocolate has melted down a little.
Remove cookies with a spatula and cool on a cooling rack. (I let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet a little before removing to a cooling rack, or they fall apart sometimes.)
I'm going to make half the cookies with Hershey Kisses and half with milk chocolate Dove Promises just to compare. Dove is my most favorite chocolate, so I have a feeling they'll be pretty darn good!
I've got a bunch of Christmas cards to share and will do that over the next few days, so check back! For now, my feet and legs are tired from my evening in the kitchen, and it's after 10pm and I haven't eaten dinner yet, so I think I'll go curl up on the couch with some food and watch the end of It's a Wonderful Life on TV. I love this time of year!!