Fleur de Sel and Thyme Breadsticks

I just got back from a lovely Christmas visit in Boston. We just ate and ate for 4 days straight, yet here I am, baking breadsticks. Yes, as if we hadn’t all eaten too much starch in the past week or so, I am baking bread. I have no ideas why, as I had vowed to myself last night that I would only eat salad for the next month. I guess I’m not so good with resolutions.

Bread making has always scared me, so much I have never attempted baking any. I started small, with just breadsticks, but this recipe proved to be very simple. Patricia and John from Cook Local inspired me with their easy peasy rosemary breadstick recipe (as I didn’t have any rosemary on had, I used thyme and it turned out just as good). I was so new to this that the reaction between the milk and baking powder startled me. I though I had done something wrong right from the start! In just a few minutes, the batter was ready, then wait a while and bake the breadsticks for a couple minutes. Really, I don’t think there are many error possibilities with this recipe, so it was a great way I think to overcome my fear.

I am hosting some family members later today so I will serve these with this great crab dip and a few crudités. What a great way to recover from holiday food lethargy, haha!

Chocolate Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

This should be the last installment of my cookie marathon as I am burnt out and because my electric bill must have exploded with the oven on all day for a week. I keep saying each cookie is my favorite but this one might as well be the one. They are a good mix of flavor, sweet and bitter, and textures, soft and crunchy. Guests seemed to be impressed and my mother in law’s Christmas party yesterday night. These thumbprints take a little more time to realize than a simple drop or icebox cookie but they are well worth it.

One layer shortbread, one layer caramel (similar to dulce de leche) and one thin chocolate layer make up these little bites. These bars are SWEET. The sort of sweet you can’t take so much of. They are very good but one bite is enough, which might as well be a good thing during the Holidays.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into as many problems with such a simple recipe. The recipe called to make the shortbread in a food processor, but my kitchen equipment is so basic I don’t own one. Using the same ingredients, I made it following a basic cookie preparation. It turned out pretty good. The caramel layer was the hardest. You really have to be attentive at all time. I got districted for a minute or two and the evaporated milk burned, turning the mixture very lumpy. The taste was not affected but strain the caramel. The chocolate layer is pretty straightforward. The other problem came when it was time to cut the bars. I’ve never been good at making a clean cut, my brownies are always crooked. I just gave up and made do wit what I had. With these tips and a steady hand, I don’t think you should run into any more problems.

Russian Cashew Teacakes

Today was phase two of my holiday food marathon (and I use this word in the least derogatory way possible). With finals, I almost forgot Christmas would come so fast. Only one more week and I couldn’t be any more exited. I baked chocolate snowballs and these cashew delicacies.

Russian teacakes, Mexican wedding cakes, sandcakes, snowballs, Italian butter nut, however you call them, these little white balls are always a pleasure. They a like a sable with a very buttery and nutty taste. They are not too sweet either, which is a nice break once in a while during the holiday season. Cashews are a fun way to change this recipe around a little, as they are usually made with pecans.
<Yearly, holiday baking always has to start with these biscotti for me. They are not particularly christmassy but they are the first cookies I ever baked by myself so I have some sort of special attachment to them, sort of a first step into woman-hood. I was expecting a disaster as I had always been told baking had to be precise to the milligram but I was happily surprised when these golden brown cookies speckled with chocolate came out.

Planning for a celebration

Law school finals are finally over (so is half my bachelors degree) and now comes the times for long awaited baking. The past month has been spent buried in books. The whole house is stained by highlighters. And most importantly, I have gone though all my post-its. Finals are especially hard in December because all I can seem to think about are holiday preparations. I have gone over my Christmas Eve menu hundreds of times and collected thousands of cookie recipes, avoiding to read about civil procedure the principle of legitimate expectation.

I am currently setting everything up for the first batch of cookies (more on that coming later). I only have 6 days to get everything ready. We are not having a very elaborate celebration this year as the whole house is under renovation and we are not receiving anybody in this mess. A simple cocktail and hors d'oeuvre party for the 5 of us.
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