Epic Holiday Baking Day

December is like a month-long full moon for people who like to bake. We get a little…out of hand. It’s the perfect excuse to make those cookies and candies and sundry snacks we’ve been eying since the end of summer fruit season but couldn’t quite justify.

The below-depicted Epic Holiday Baking Day was suggested by my dear friend Erin, who is also a foodie and a fantastic cook. She could be an honorary asian if she wasn’t so nice and thus insufficiently prone to squabbling. Having grown up in a household that is chock full of bite size buttery temptation for the duration of the holidays, I enthusiastically agreed.

Evidence of a day well spent

Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Bread

You MUST try it. It is perhaps one of my all time favorite things to eat, ever.

Bar Nuts, courtesy of Union Square Cafe (courtesy of Saveur.com).

If you make these, which you should, skip the hazelnuts and be generous with the seasonings. Resist the urge to eat them by the fistful. The urge will be strong, but you’ll only end up with spicy sugar all over your face. Trust me on this one.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate-Hazelnut Truffles

Gingersnaps!

These gingersnaps are easier than falling down, and unfailingly delicious. Their ingredient list is pure americana (read: cheap!).

Gingersnaps

  • 2 c flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c Crisco
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • extra sugar for dipping

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream shortening with a hand-held mixer, add sugar and mix until combined and fluffy, 20-30 seconds. Add egg and molasses, mix until color is even and ingredients are well combined.

Add dry ingredients, mix until combined, then cover and chill for a while. You want the dough to be firm enough to handle, so anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight.

Roll dough in to 1″ balls, roll each in sugar, place about 2″ apart on baking sheet(s). I like to line them with parchment paper first, for easier clean up, but these work just as well without.

Bake at 350 for 11 minutes for a softer cookie, 12 for a crispier cookie. They will be all puffed up and soft and look very underdone when you take them out of the oven, but they will flatten out and crisp up as they cool.

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