By 8 am yesterday morning, my kitchen already looked like this. Because I waited until Christmas Eve eve to do all of my holiday baking, I had a marathon session in the kitchen yesterday. I absolutely love spending the entire day baking, especially when it involves whipping up treats to share with others. I made quite a few new recipes, but rather than post about each of them over the next week (I figure you’re probably sugared out by now), I decided to share some of photos I took over the course of the day (thanks iphone!) and point you in the direction of the recipe in case you see anything you want to try.

The day started with a batch of biscotti.  These were packed with mini chocolate chips, toasted almonds and coconut, and even though I don’t like nuts, I nibbled on more than my fair share of the ends/scrap pieces.  Highly recommend!  (You can see the biscotti in the kitchen shot above.)

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Continuing my obsession with gingerbread this holiday season – gingerbread granola! Loved this, and it’s relatively healthy with just a few tablespoons of canola oil and the only sugar coming from the molasses.

I knew I wanted to make fudge this year but wasn’t sure what kind.  After seeing Dara’s chocolate nutella fudge on Maria’s site recently, it quickly became the one.  This is beyond easy to make – no candy thermometer required – and Shane loved it (and he’s not even a Nutella fan).  Dara sprinkled hers with sea salt, and though I love the salty/sweet combo, I decided to play it safe and skip the salt since I was gifting the fudge.

Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies. A tried and true favorite here. They sort of remind me of a Christmas-y version of chocolate crinkle cookies, and that’s a very good thing.

My very first fruitcake.  Wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice when it comes to holiday baking, but it was pretty much the only thing my step-father told me he wanted for Christmas so I was happy to oblige.  That dried fruit was soaked in a ton of dark rum before being baked into the cake.  More rum was brushed over the loaf when it emerged from the oven.  I didn’t tase it since it was a gift, but I’ll report back.  Something tells me it’ll be boozy :)

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A cheesecake project that’s still in the works (that’s homemade peppermint bark on top of the batter).  If it turns out, I’ll share it with you on Monday!

I spent my Friday night in front of the tv watching the Bruins (Marchand hat trick – woo!) and dipping homemade peppermint marshmallows in chocolate.

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

I even broke out the real camera to take a few good pictures for you :)  Homemade marshmallows have become one of my go-to holiday gifts.  They’re not a ton of work, and they keep for weeks so if you want to get ahead, they’re perfect.  Plus, who wouldn’t love to stick one of these in a big mug of hot chocolate this winter?

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!  :)

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows
adapted from Alton Brown (inspired by My Kitchen Addiction)

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup ice cold water, divided
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
nonstick cooking spray
12 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
crushed candy canes

Add 1/2 cup of the water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup water, the sugar, corn syrup and salt to a medium saucepan.  Cover and set over medium high heat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes (no need to stir), then uncover and continue cooking (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Turn the mixer on low, and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture.  Once it’s all added, increase the mixer to medium high and beat until the mixture is thick and the outside of the bowl is just lukewarm, about 8-12 minutes.  Add the extracts during the last minute of beating.

Meanwhile, combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Spray a 13×9 metal pan with nonstick cooking spray then coat the bottom and sides with the cornstarch mixture.  Reserve the leftover cornstarch mixture for dusting the marshmallows later.

When the marshmallow mixture has finished beating, pour it into the prepared pan.  Coat a rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray and use it to spread the marshmallow in an even layer (you can also use damp fingertips to spread it into the corner if that’s easier for you).  Dust the top of the marshmallows with some of the remaining cornstarch mixture.  Set the marshmallows aside (uncovered) for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows onto a cutting board and use a pizza wheel (either sprayed with cooking spray or well dusted with the cornstarch mixture) to cut them into small squares. Dust the sides of all of the marshmallows with the cornstarch mixture (to keep them from sticking together).

Add the chocolate and vegetable oil to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between each interval, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip one end of each marshmallow in the chocolate then sprinkle with the crushed candy cane pieces. Transfer to a sheet of wax paper and set aside until the chocolate has set.

Store the marshmallows in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.