Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas treats...

I love baking.  It is so rewarding to take the individual ingredients and blend them together in just the right ratios so that the end product is worthy of savoring.  And I really love the savoring.  A welcome break from school and my favorite holiday (Christmas!) is the perfect excuse to get the kitchen nice and messy.

First, we celebrated my husband's birthday with pizza and cake.  Pizza dough recipe was from the smitten kitchen, and Lt. Dan's Truffle Cake was from my first cookbook. My aunt gave it to me when I was maybe twelve, and every recipe I've tried from it has been a success. 

Don't worry, my husband isn't 14.  I didn't want to burn the house down :)

The next day I just had to make cupcakes using another recipe from smitten kitchen.  Chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and chocolate peanut butter glaze.  The cake was too sticky for cupcakes, but stayed moist for days.  The frosting is Brian's new favorite.  Yum. 

Sunday was a family Christmas party, so that called for more goodies.  This time I needed them to be dairy and egg-free so I made easy peanut butter cups, a wacky cake (that's really what it was called -- google it) and adapted my favorite molasses cookie recipe.  I forgot to take a picture of the peanut butter cups when they were all done, but I'm planning on making some for neighbors so I'll post the recipe later. 

Here's the recipe for Molasses Crackles (originally from my mom's neighbor):

1/2 c. butter or margarine
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg (or 1/4 c. apple or pear sauce)
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. flour (I use 1 c. white, 1 c. whole wheat)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt

Cream together the butter, sugar, egg and molasses.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Chill until hard enough to roll into 1 inch balls.  Then roll the balls in sugar (I used some red and green sugar, too, to make them more festive) and bake 6-8 minutes at 375.  Take them out while they're still soft.  Makes 3-4 dozen small cookies, but I usually double the recipe and freeze the extras.  They really are best a little soft, but if you overbake them they're a little like gingersnaps and that's good, too. 

To make them vegan, just use a dairy free margarine (I use Nucoa) and pear or apple sauce instead of an egg. 

I hope you're finding joy in this Advent season.

It's hard to end this post on a happy note in light of the recent tragedies.  It makes me think more about what I'm actually celebrating at Christmas.  There's a movement called The Advent Conspiracy, started by a few pastors to reorient how we celebrate Christ's birth.  If you haven't heard of it, check it out.  I love to celebrate Christmas, but that's because of the grace freely given to us as a result of Christ's second birth at the Resurrection.  I don't know how we as a nation can stop evil people from doing Satan's work, but I know I need Christ's grace.  And I know I need to love people with my words and actions, and tell them about the new life they can have through Jesus Christ.  And I need wisdom from the Holy Spirit on how to do that.  

Lord, help us.  Amen.

P.S. Our nation, me included, is reeling from the murder of these innocent kindergartners.  Can you imagine what it was like in Israel when King Herod ordered the murder of all the boys aged two and under in and around Bethlehem shortly after Jesus' birth?

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