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Christmas

Christmas, Cookies, Holidays

Personalized Gingerbread Men

December 20, 2013

breadginger

 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… (which is only 5 days away!!!!)

Today is a wonderfully white snow day in Metro Vancouver. 

The fluffy white snowflakes began falling late last night and we woke up to roads blanketed in snow. Snow makes everything look beautiful. 

I hope it sticks around for Christmas. We haven’t had a white Christmas in Vancouver for a few years.. oh how lovely it would be. 

However, snow in Vancouver creates chaos. Unlike most people, I actually put on brand new all weather tires a couple months ago so I was pretty prepared for the cold weather and ice. Whereas a lot of people in Vancouver don’t have all weather/snow tires, and if they do they wait until after it is already snowing to put them on….

I’ve been watching Twitter all morning and the list of accidents/cars in the ditch keeps growing.. Stay safe out there people. 

What better way to celebrate a snow day (if you’re lucky enough to be home today and enjoy it!) than to bake. A warm house filled with baked goods while snow falls outside is a perfect winter afternoon to me.

I have a certain love for ginger baked goods (such as these GingerStamp cookies) – the aroma is delicious. These are soft and chewy gingerbread people with a spicy ginger bite. To make them a little more personalized, without using royal icing, I used a small letter cookie cutter to imprint our family members initials on them. They would be great for table setting cards – or on top of presents. 

Stay warm inside on this snow day and bake yourself a gingerbread army. 

ging

The dough itself is easy, and only requires about an hour to chill. Little kids can help with rolling out cutting out the cookies, and even decorating if you want to add frosting. 

Gingerbread Cookies
Yields 24
Soft and chewy personalized Gingerbread Men
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Prep Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  2. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  4. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  5. 2teaspoons ground cinnamon
  6. 1 tsp. nutmeg
  7. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  8. 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
Instructions
  1. 1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. 2. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses.
  3. 3. Add flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic.
  4. 4. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about one hour or up to two days.
  5. 5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice, I used smaller gingerbread men cutters. If you want to personalized them, lightly press a small letter cookie cutter into center of the cookie. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone baking mat.
  6. 6. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
Notes
  1. Store in airtight container on counter for up to a week, or freeze.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/

 

Candy, Christmas, Dairy-Free, Dessert, Holidays

4-Ingredient Almond Butter Cups (Vegan, Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free)

December 18, 2013

almod butter cups

almod cups

Monday night we had a few of our neighbours over for a holiday get together. We’ve lived in our new house for exactly one year this month and we all kept saying “we should get together!” While we do see some of our neighbours quite often we thought it would be a great time to have everyone over to get to know each other a little better. At the beginning of the month our friends, Josh and Gillian, who live just one row over in our complex came over and we crafted some decorative invitations to leave at doorsteps. There’s just something about a ‘real’ invitation, not a Facebook invite. 

I came home from work Monday and ran around finishing setting up, tidying and getting ready. Gillian messaged me around 5 and asked “what time did we tell people to come over?” I replied “6.” 

Well, they came over just before 6 to get the appetizers going before the guests arrived. At about 10 after 6, we started joking “maybe they’re stuck in traffic” – seeing as how they only live next door to us. When guests still hadn’t arrived at 6:30, we began second guessing what time we actually told people to come – none of us had saved an invitation for ourselves or remembered what time we had told them to come at. 

Sometime just before 7 we realized we probably told our guests to come at 7, while Josh said “Ya know, I remember texting someone about it and saying 7 before..” Yup. We had told the guests to come at 7 – not 6. We had a good laugh, and realized it was probably better we were ready an hour earlier, than an hour late. 

Regardless, we were ready and the night was a success. Lots of great stories, even learning that we have way more in common with some neighbours than we thought (what a small world). In the summer it’s easy to say hi to everyone because we’re all on our decks, walking around outside etc. In the winter we are all bundled up inside and rarely bump into each other so a holiday party get together was perfect. 

lkmlkm

These little cups are my favourite creation. I make them not only at Christmas, but any night that I feel like a little treat. They take practically no time at all, no baking, and only 4 ingredients. 3 Really, because you can definitely omit the coconut oil if you do not have any.  They are vegan (dairy-free), wheat-free, peanut-free and contain natural ingredients unlike the list of processed items listed on a Reese’s PB cup. 

lmm

almond butter cups bakeahlic

4-Ingredient Vegan Almond Butter Cups
Yields 24
Just like the popular peanut butter cups, these are peanut-free, vegan and wheat-free. An Almond butter center nestled between two chocolate layers topped with sea salt.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 Cup Smooth Natural Almond Butter
  2. 3-4Tbs. Almond Meal
  3. 1 tsp. Coconut Oil
  4. 6-8 squares Extra Dark Chocolate
Instructions
  1. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners. If you don't have a mini muffin tin, you can place them on a baking sheet or in a regular sized cupcake tin. You can use regular sized cupcake liners, however the cups will be quite large.
  2. 1. In the top of a double boiler place the chocolate and coconut oil. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. If you do not have a double boiler you can place a glass or metal bowl on top of a small pot with simmering water. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 1 minutes intervals at power level 8 until melted.
  3. 2. Using a small teaspoon, spoon chocolate into bottom of mini cupcake liners, about 1/4 full. Once all are filled place in refrigerator to set while preparing filling.
  4. 3. In small mixing bowl, combine the Almond Butter and Almond Meal until well combined. It will be slightly thick. If the filling is too thin, add more Almond Meal until desired consistency.
  5. 4. Remove cupcake tin from fridge. Spoon small drops of Almond Butter filling onto tops of hardened chocolate. Using remaining chocolate, spoon melted chocolate on top to fully cover almond butter.
  6. At this point, you can top with an Almond or Sea Salt. Place back in the refrigerator to set. Store in Fridge in container for up to a week, can also freeze longer. They are great right from the fridge, or take out about 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Equipment needed: Mini Cupcake Liners, Mini muffin Tin (optional), Double Boiler (optional).
  2. These can definitely be made without the coconut oil if you do not have it.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Christmas, Cookies, Italian

An Italian Favourite: Pizzelle

December 17, 2013

Pizzelle // Bakeaholic.ca

Pizzelle // Bakeaholic.ca

I’ve mentioned before that Christmas Eve is a big tradition for Italians. In many ways Christmas Eve was more important that Christmas growing up. 

For one thing, we opened up all of our gifts on Christmas eve. My brother and I were the first grandchildren on my Father’s side of the family – and we were for a few years until our other cousins came along. So on Christmas Eve Nick and I would have to stay up until midnight before we could open our presents i.e. we would be falling asleep on our Nonna’s couch. ‘Santa’ a.k.a my Nonno or Zio would dress up as Santa and come to my Nonna’s house at midnight to deliver presents.

Earlier in the evening we would eat our Feast of Seven Fishes dinner РItalians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, only seafood. My brother and I were incredibly lucky to grow up with such amazing food and traditions. It was truly a feast to remember. We would begin with a seafood pasta course (usually tuna sauce my dad or nonna would make), followed by fish, prawns, mussels, clams, baccalà (salted cod), homemade calamari and other amazing dishes. It has always been my favourite memory of Christmas with my dads family.

As a child I remember stealing Pizzelles from the counter before dinner, when Nonna or Nonno weren’t looking. Pizzelles are incredibly thin, delicate waffle like cookies that are crisp and slightly sweet. You can eat about 6 in a minute flat. They were always the elusive holiday cookie that you would only get at Christmas or maybe Easter. Pizzelle makers were not popular so only my Nonna would have one therefore making it an even more treasured dessert that I looked forward to.

pizellea

Now, I have my very own Pizzelle maker by a complete mishap that happened this summer. Long story short, the company Chef’s Choice sent me an e-mail on a completely different subject that lead me to respond and receive a response from a woman in their marketing department. After a few back and forth conversations about her daughter, myself and my family she offered to send me one of their products to make up for the mishap. Of course I chose the Pizzelle maker, as it meant I would not longer have to borrow my Nonnas. Also – that I could now make Pizzelle’s whenever I wanted. 

Pizzelle // Bakeaholic.ca

I am also excited to be hosting my very first Christmas Eve dinner at our house this year. In honour of my Dad I hope everything turns out – though Christmas Eve has never quite been the same since he passed. Christmas makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. Nevertheless I am looking forward to having all of my family over to share a delicious seafood meal together – and Pizzelle’s will definitely be on the dessert counter. This time, I won’t have to sneak them.

Pizzelle // Bakeaholic.ca

Italian Pizzelles
Yields 36
Thin crisp waffle cookies
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Ingredients
  1. 3 Eggs
  2. 1 3/4 cups Flour
  3. 1/2 tsp. Anise seeds (optional)
  4. 1/2 cup Butter or oil, melted
  5. 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  6. 3/4 cup Sugar
  7. 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. 1. Turn on Pizzelle Maker. In a medium sized bowl beat together the eggs and sugar until frothy.
  2. 2. Add the cooled melted butter or oil, vanilla and anise seeds (optional) and beat again.
  3. 3. In small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture stirring with wooden spoon.
  4. 4. Stir batter until well combined, it will be slightly stiff and dough-like. The dough should be stiff enough to drop by rounded spoonfuls.
  5. 5. Drop by spoonfuls in the centre of the Pizzelle maker. Be careful not to place too much dough, otherwise it will spill out over the sides. You want them to have delicate 'fingers' like lace.
  6. 6. Bake according to your Pizzelle Maker's instructions, usually only 20-30 seconds per batch. Carefully lift off using a fork. Place on cooling rack to crisp.
Notes
  1. Special Equipment Needed: Pizzelle Maker
  2. Pizzelle cookies last quite well. Place in airtight container (my nonna would always place paper towel over them) and store on counter for up to 2 weeks. You can also easily freeze them for ice cream sundaes, or ice cream sandwiches.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/