Okay, okay. December 28, 2009 marks the day that the holiday hustle and bustle has finally ceased. I returned home 8 days ago, and after a day of much needed sleep-deprivation recuperation, I was glued to my kitchen. Baking is my therapy and the holidays provide a perfect canvas for me to be...well, therapeutic.
There are a million holiday cookies out this time of year which can be overwhelming. I like to experiment with cookies that I have never attempted before, but still want to make something pleasing and palatable for my family. Where to start...where to start? My action plan this year was to steal my mom's 2009 holiday cookie magazine, and pick three or four interesting and delectable recipes. Well...three or four ended up being seven and I made dog treats to make it an even eight. It was a three day process that left my hands destroyed from dish washing and my body tired, full and overly sugared...but it was worth it. My repertoire now includes peanut butter chocolate toffee bars, pumpkin pecan spice cookies, holiday biscotti, chocolate cherry ginger cookies, triple chocolate ganache cookies, peppermint meringues, apricot amaretto cookies and of course peanut butter dog biscuits.
Naturally I had to sample them all (minus the dog treats but the smell of peanut butter did force me to eat a few spoonfuls from the jar)and after much internal debate I think the biscotti were by far my favorite. They were flavored with both rum and vanilla extract with a faint taste of citrus from a piece of finely shredded orange peel incorporated into the batter. I added buttery pistachios, tart dried cranberries and cherries and sweet dried apricots. The flavor combination was sensational. The baking process for biscotti tends to be long and tedious but leaves you with a crunchy but not break-your-tooth hard cookie. A perfect light and satisfying breakfast or after dinner treat that will leave you with a smile on your face and a (festive)song in your heart.
Now that my cookie baking rampage/therapy has ended, time for bigger and better things. My New Year's resolution: be fearless. This year I want to venture out and make dishes I have never attempted. The only way to learn how to make a recipe perfect is to try, try and try again. I hope by the end of the year to bone a duck (I just watched the movie Julie and Julia...inspirational for a "servantless American cook.").
Happy Holidays and Bon Appetit,