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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


For Christmas, I always make at least one tiramisu, which I bring to my cousin's house. It has become something of a tradition, and I thought I'd share the recipe, since it always goes over so well. It is one of those things that is slightly labor-intensive, but so worth it. It is also one of those things that is heavily customizable, especially with regard to the choice of liquor used.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie (No Bake)

Here is an incredibly easy no-bake dessert that is great if you need a quick holiday treat: No Bake Peanut Butter Pie. It has few ingredients, and is a snap to put together! It has peanut butter, Hershey's Kisses, cream cheese and Cool Whip, all in a graham cracker crust. Pretty simple!

I have the original recipe from a "Hershey's Holiday Favorites" mini-mag from 2004, but it can also be found online here. I tweaked it just a bit, to be more peanut buttery!

Rocky Road Candy

Here's a quick and easy holiday candy recipe that can be made entirely in your microwave. It is a great and tasty treat, and especially easy to do with kids!

Rocky road ice cream was invented in 1929 by William Dreyer, who was in the ice cream business with his partner Joseph Edy -- and yes that is today's Edy's ice cream for those of you in the east, and Dreyer's ice cream for those of you in the west -- the ice cream is marketed under 2 names to honor both founders. As the story goes, William Dreyer added walnuts and bits of marshmallow (snipped with his wife's scissors) to chocolate ice cream. Prior to this point in time, the only ice cream flavors available i he US were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, so Dreyer's new flavor became a hit. Dreyer and Edy decided to call the flavor "Rocky Road" as a nod to the Great Depression, and the flavor took off from there.

Gingerbread Bread Pudding

I love me some gingerbread. Normally, I make several batches throughout the holiday season, as well as the occasional gingerbread man and decorated gingerbread house. This year, I decided to add a twist and combine two of my favorite things, and make Gingerbread Bread Pudding!

I got the idea from Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread pudding (which I would also like to try someday), but I tweaked the recipe a decent amount, not the least of which was making use of gingerbread, and using mixes that Betty Crocker sells, for added convenience!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peanut M&M Cookies

This post is nice and simple, but a great, great cookie. My mom and I have been making them for year, peanut M&M cookies, in Christmas colors! The original recipe is based on one available on the M&M site, but I've slightly modified it to suit our tastes, and it is even better than the original!


I've been making rugelach for Christmas for a few years now, as per a special request from my mom a few years back, as they are one of her favorites. I happened upon this recipe from Ina Garten, and with a few modifications, made them my own.

Rugelach is Yiddish for "little corners" (although sometimes it is attributed as being related to the word "royal"), with the -ach ending actually denoting the plural form of the word. It originated with the Ashkenazic Jews of central and eastern Europe, who adapted the tradition of using sour cream in dough from the Middle East. The dough is typically sour cream or cream cheese-based, and it is rolled around a filling that typically contains nuts, spices and/or raisins. Sour cream-based rugelach is typically a yeast dough, while cream cheese rugelach typically uses eggs as the leavening agent. This recipe falls into the latter category.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee Cookies

If Ferrero Rocher and old fashioned monster cookies did the dirty and had love babies, these cookies would be those babies.  Inspired by one of Giada's recipes, the end result ended barely resembling the original by the time I was through tweaking, but the result is a sublime mixing of chocolate and hazelnut, with a hint of toffee. The ingredients list is a little long because of all the mix-ins, but the cookies are straightforward to assemble.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gingerbread Truffles (Gingerbread Cake Balls)

Because I'm on a roll, here's one more posting that is a cake ball variation. These are gingerbread cake balls, and I've been dying to try them ever since last year. 'Tis finally the season, so here they are, in an abbreviated posting, because I'm sure everyone is familiar with the basics of cake balls by now.

Coconut Cake Balls

Since my previous koulourakia post was for something quite labor-intensive, I decided to follow-up with a post about an easy holiday treat!

This entry is yet another of the many variations on Bakerella's cake balls that I've come up with over the years, and one I mentioned offhandedly as a possibility in a previous post. But they are good enough that I decided to give them their very own post -- coconut cake balls! This post is very short, it is really more of an idea than a recipe, but they are easy and tasty, and for some reason, I always associate coconut confections with Christmas, so here is the workflow:

Koulourakia (Greek Butter Cookie)

This is my second posted recipe for koulourakia, which are traditional Greek butter cookies normally served at holidays, particularly Easter, but also Christmas. They come in a variety of shapes, including twists and circles, and the following directions are to make the more common twist form.

Helpful schematic courtesy of my Uncle Jeff

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to taste koulourakia before, they are butter cookies, on the dry side like biscotti. They are meant to be enjoyed with coffee or at least milk. They are slightly sweet, with vanilla, and glazed with an egg wash.  And they are delicious, a simple flavor but one of the best around. This recipe is my Aunt Maria's, and it is hand's down the best I've had since my Yia-Yia's (who never wrote anything down, and unfortunately that recipe was lost).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

My mom and I have been making peanut butter blossoms for years at Christmastime. It is a well-known and well-loved recipe which came originally from Crisco, although my mom and I slightly modified the recipe to exclude...well...the Crisco. Instead of the butter-flavored shortening that the original calls for, we just use regular butter in a 1 to 1 swap. This doesn't work in every recipe, because while shortening is 100% fat, butter is only about 80% or so fat. However, for these cookies, a 1 to 1 swap of butter for shortening works fine, because of the added fat of the peanut butter. You can use crunchy or creamy peanut butter, but make sure it isn't reduced fat.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Pistachio Chip Cookies

This is my first Christmas cookie posting of the 2010 Christmas Baking season, and I'm starting out with a brand-new cookie recipe that is super-easy but big on taste!

My Christmas cookie baking is fairly constant from year to year in terms of variety, but I try to roll out at least one new variety per year, to test. Sometimes, the new ones make the cut and transition to perennial Christmas cookie staple...and sometimes they don't. These pistachio cookies definitely make the cut, for both their taste and ease of assembly. Let's face it, when you are making many different kinds of cookies, convenience definitely becomes an important factor. I tore the original recipe out of a Betty Crocker mini cookie magazine, but it is also available online here.  The original recipe calls for cranberries, but I modified it, because I prefer chocolate!