Peeps were one of my favorite Easter candies when I was a kid and I still look forward to those brightly colored marshmallow chicks and bunnies around Easter. Over the past few years, Peeps have been branching out into other holidays with different shapes and even different flavors for different occasions! I couldn’t resist picking up their three holiday offerings this year when I saw them at the store: Gingerbread, Candy Cane and Sugar Cookie.
The Gingerbread Peeps are shaped like gingerbread and have a spicy gingerbread flavor to them. They had just the right amount of spice to make it clear that they were gingerbread, but not so much that the cinnamon overwhelmed the sweetness of that marshmallow. I also loved the look – they look amazing when used as a holiday garnish, even if you’re not planning to eat them. They also work extremely well in hot chocolate, where that extra spice is very nice in a warm drink.
Cutting out Christmas cookies can be a very fun job, but it can also become a very tedious one if you bake a lot of cookies for the holidays. It is fun to roll out the dough, cut your cookies and decorate them, but when you start to work in bigger batches you will find that you face problems like keeping the cookie cutters from getting sticky and trying to get a good arrangement with different shapes so that you have a nice variety of cookies. And, frankly, if you do more than a couple dozen cookies, your hands will get tired.
I spotted these neat Holiday Rocker Cookie Cutters in Williams Sonoma recently and liked how they helped to streamline the cookie cutting process. The cutters are set in wide, curved tools that you can just rock across your dough – like a rocking chair – cutting five cookies out at a time. They’re set close together, so there is minimal space between the cut-out cookies, so you will fit more cookies into each batch of dough with less re-rolling – and spend much less time wondering how you are going to puzzle all of your cookie cutters together to mazimize the number you can fit on one piece of dough. There are two cutters in each set, and each of them has five different cookie designs: The red rocker includes Santa, a Stocking, a Christmas Tree, a Candy Cane and a Holiday Tree Light, while the green rocker has a Gingerbread Boy, a Gingerbread Girl, a Snowman, a Snowflake and an Ornament. With a set like this, you will have a lot more time to spend decorating, since you’ll spend a lot less time cutting out those cookies. The set also includes with stencils to help you decorate the shapes you cut, too.
I have a couple seasonal kitchen towels that I pull out for various holidays throughout the year. I have a set with hearts for Valentine’s Day, with bats and black cats for Halloween and all kinds of lights and decorations for Christmas. These ultra-cute Sugar Cookie and Gingerbread Kitchen Towels that Sur La Table is stocking for this holiday season are about to head into my holiday kitchen towel collection. Each towel has a list of ingredients for a classic holiday baking recipe: one towel has a sugar cookie recipe, the other has a gingerbread cake recipe. They have a great, festive look and any baker would get a kick out of them – especially if you get them as a set.
The one caveat to these towels is that there are no instructions for mixing the ingredients if you want to try the recipes. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to figure out how they should be put together. For the cookies: Mix the cookie ingredients as you would a standard cookie dough, chill it, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. 350F for 10-15 minutes should be plenty of baking time, depending on how large your cookies are. For the gingerbread: Mix the ingredients as you would for a typical butter cake, creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs and alternating the wet and dry ingredients. Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 350F until a toothpick comes out clean. Check the cake early to make sure you don’t overbake it.
The towels are made of cotton and measure 30″ x 20 1/2″. They’re soft enough to use for regular kitchen uses, like drying dishes or wiping up spills, but because of the designs I know that they would mostly be used for display (and maybe as a recipe guideline) and drying my hands, nothing heavy duty because I would want to keep them clean and presentable – even if they are towels!
It wouldn’t be Christmas morning with a big mug of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows – preferably Homemade Vanilla Marshmallows! Hope that your holiday is filled with hot chocolate, cookies and all kinds of other goodies.
Merry Christmas everyone!
The holidays are all about traditions and, for most of us, that tradition includes baking. Even people who don’t use their oven at all the rest of the year often pull out an old favorite recipe and bake a batch of cookies before Christmas. Of course, I’m going to be an advocate for baking year-round, but there are definitely some treats that only pop up around the holidays and they are things that we look forward to as part of the holiday season. That makes me wonder: what is your favorite holiday treat to bake?
I like to keep things simple and Butter Cookies topped with sprinkles and Gingerbread Men are typically treats that I save for the holidays. I also save peppermint treats, like Candy Cane Cupcakes and Peppermint Snickerdoodles for the holidays because they pair perfectly with hot chocolate, another favorite winter treat. Finally, I always cook up a batch of crepes to have a special breakfast on Christmas morning, too.
So, what are your favorite holiday treats to bake? Do you save a special recipe just for this time of year?