Holiday Baking Frenzy

December 13, 2011

It's that time of year! Here are my usual ways to celebrate CHRISTMASTIME!
  • listen to Christmas music 24/7
  • watch 80s Christmas Specials on Youtube (ie. Garfield, California Raisins, Muppets)
  • help decorate the Chung house when I get back home to the BG
  • play Christmas concerts (extra happy if I get to play the Nutcraker!)
  • SHOP
  • wear Christmas socks
  • bake a ton of holiday treats!
I heart Christmas. I especially love baking holiday goodies for friends/teachers/students/anybody/etc. This tradition started eight years ago in my first apartment while in college. I started out by buying a sugar cookie mix from Betty Crocker and then graduated to baking treats from scratch. I'm all grown up! The other day I whipped out my Gingerbread Man Oven Mitt and had a baking day.

On this year's menu: 
lil bundles of JOY
  • Iced Orange Cookies
  • Mint Chocolate Brownies
  • Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars 
The Iced Orange Cookies have become my holiday time staple. I got the idea from the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book, which described this as a favorite holiday cookie for one of their staff members. This isn't your average sugar or gingerbread cookie. It's super soft and hearty but citrusy and delicious. I look forward to every December so I can bake them for Christmas. (I should just bake them anytime). 
Iced Orange Cookies from King Arthur Flour
11 tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (grate fruit's zest before juicing)
2 tbs grated orange zest (the rind of 1 large orange)
2 cups whole wheat flour
Extra Orange Juice (just in case. one year I ran out of juice from the orange and was in a pickle. I always get a lil bottle as a in case of an emergency).
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs grated orange zest (rind of 1 small orange)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat in the egg, then the orange juice and orange zest, scraping the bowl. The mixture will look curdled; that's OK. (See pic below). Add the flour, beating until smooth. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies, reversing the pans midway through (top to bottom, bottom to top), until they're just barely beginning to brown around the edges, 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the pans for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.
To prepare the icing, beat the sugar, butter, orange zest, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Beat in the orange juice until the mixture is spreadable. Spread the icing on the cookies when they're completely cool, using a generous 1 tsp icing for each.
looking a lil curdled, but a-ok!
right out of the oven and perfect lil cookies thanks to my cookie scoop!
Christmastime also means it's time for some mint in baked goods. I was on the hunt for a good Mint Brownie recipe since a few years ago I wasn't a big fan of Paula Deen's Mint Brownies. I found a recipe in a random cookbook that my cousin received from her sons' school in Hong Kong. It was a compliation of the school's families' recipes. They call for TWO BOXES of Andes mints so it ended up being a lil labor intensive since I had to unwrap two boxes worth of Andes. These brownies ended up being yummy and tasted like a brownie version of Thin Mints. Yum!
Mint Brownies from Anna Tan
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 squares Bakers unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
2 boxes Andes mints, 1/2 cup cut into pieces
2 cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9/13 baking pan.
In a heavy saucepan over a double boiler, melt the butter, unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 cup of mint chips at low heat and stir til smooth. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.
Stir in sugar, vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, beating well until mixture is glossy and smooth. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. Add flour and salt mixture to bowl with eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in cooled melted chocolate and remaining chips.
Spread batter evenly in the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. brownies
A staple for me at any time of year are Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. I like to bake the Pan Cookie Version (aka cookie bars). I'll always think this is the best chocolate cookie recipe, hands down. To add a lil kick, add a 1/4 cup of Bailey's Irish Cream into the dough and you'll have one tasty cookie! 
hey, those almost look like the brownies. 
Happy Holiday Baking to all of you enjoying this fun holiday activity! 

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