Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Baking of Legend

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Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.  I love winter weather, I love the decorations, I even have been able to work through my intense hatred of Christmas music (I worked retail as a teenager and it RUINED me for Christmas music) to the point where I now can enjoy instrumental Christmas music.  The best part for me, other than seeing my family and friends, is that I have an excuse to bake treats like a madwoman.

In no way did my Christmas baking reflect the above vintage artwork.  The only similarity in my kitchen were the constant attempts to keep my 18-month-old daughter away from the open oven while I quickly shoved trays of cookies in!

The past 2 days I completely overran our kitchen counters with baked deliciousness.  There are a few standbys I always make: peanut brittle, ginger cookies and fresh cranberry bars, but I also love to use Christmas baking as an excuse to try out new recipes for sweets.

This year I tackled the most simple fudge recipe known to man, cinnamon roll caramel popcorn and candy cane kiss sugar cookies.  All of them turned out beautifully, but I have to say that the popcorn is the winner.  That stuff is magic, and by magic I mean that you literally cannot stop eating it!  

I also have a love of this recipe due to the fact that it features the first caramel I've ever successfully made.  I have tried at least 4 different methods of creating caramel in the past 2 years and all have ended in burning (either myself or the sugar), the destruction of cooking equipment (I had to literally throw a pot away) or revolting burnt-sugar taste.  I had given up on caramel and was resigned to just buy it in a jar...then I came across this recipe from one of my absolute favorite bloggers: http://www.melskitchencafe.com and I thought, "hmmm...maybe I'll give it one more shot."  I have no idea why this caramel worked for me after so many others have failed, but it is divine and I'm already trying to make an excuse to create it again.

In the frenzy I didn't get to take many photos of the deliciousness created, but check out the links below and let me know what you think and what Christmas-y treats are haunting your kitchens these days!

The Easiest Peanut Brittle

Christmas Peppermint Fudge

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Fresh Cranberry Bars

Cinnamon Roll Caramel Popcorn (AKA Manna From Heaven)

Candy Cane Kiss Sugar Cookies

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