Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Baking Recap

So if you follow me on social media you may have noticed my #cookieabstinence for the week leading up until Christmas Eve. Well it was hard and I made it without any desserts AT ALL! I am so very proud of myself and I learned a lot about impulse control and determination. The whole reason I started it was because my baking marathon 2 weeks before Christmas left me feeling sick from all the cookies I "tried" and "tasted". There was also A LOT of craft beer consumed, so I gave up beer for 5 days too! Before I even stepped on the scale last week I was scared and knew I needed a break from all the holidays' consumption! So it was a win and a lose for me this holiday season. I got to try some amazing recipes, but it took it's toll on me- BUT I also made it a whole week without a single dessert. So I think it evened out... maybe. So this pic below was me totally deflecting cookies! I was literally like wonder woman!

So this post is a recap of ALL my holiday baking! Everything came out amazing! I decided to go full fat and just try other bloggers recipes. Like my husband says, you have to master something before you add any variables.  I have never been a good baker, like seriously I don't know much about it. By making other bloggers recipes I learn A LOT in the process and how I can make my own low fat version of it at some point. This is the experimentation and learning process behind the madness. I am also happy to report, I think I am really good at baking and cookie making now. I have learned a lot and I will share some tips with you! I will mark them clearly below.

This is my last post before #HolidayDetox begins! I am ready to get my healthy back on! If you are too, please stop in every Wednesday for healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinner and snacks- also lots of great tips to stay on track! 

So without further adieu here are the treats that I made. The links on the headings will lead you to the recipe.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie Baklava by Half Baked Harvest

This was definitely some over the top deliciousness! Its basically chocolate chip cookie dough with LOTS of nuts layered in buttered filo dough, then soaked in vanilla syrup and drizzled with chocolate ganache and sea salt. Yeah this is NOT for the faint of heart. It is totally opposite of what I usually make, my recipes are always reduced fat and think and sometimes reduced sugar, so this was a treat ONLY for the holiday season! I ate 1 piece and left it at my parents. It was beautiful and delicious but an indulgence. So that is why I left it behind, LOL. I love Half Baked Harvest's recipes, LOVE them. This one, to me, was a bit too over the top. More sugar! More butter! More Fat! I used 1 less stick of butter for assembly, that is something right?! I HAD to try it though! It was in my MUST Make Board on Pinterest, since I am half Greek and I love me some baklava and chocolate!

Pub Cookies by the Beeroness

These cookies are a craft beer lover's dream! There is beer extract in them: basically it's a beer you reduce down to a tablespoon or two. They also have chocolate chips, honey roasted peanuts and pretzels. I didn't have peanuts so I omitted them. Overall these wee great! Very chewy in texture. Had a but if beer flavor and the salty of the pretzel with sweet chocolate chips were great!

Peppermint Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache- Adapted from Martha Stewart

I took this basic recipe for macarons from Martha Stewart. The directions were good. To my surprise they came out great! As I am sure you heard macarons are difficult to make. But now I have gotten the hang of them. Made 2 kinds this season! I have great step by step pics with the gingerbread macarons I made. There are detailed directions in the link. Most important thing I learned is just take your time with it. All I did differently is I added a teaspoon of Peppermint Extract and some red food coloring. Then I made her dark chocolate ganache for the center. These were AMAZING! So light, so fluffy and just PERFECT!

Gingerbread Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache- Adapted from Martha Stewart

Same recipe from Martha with the same chocolate ganche, BUT I added 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon ginger. These were GREAT! All that great spice flavor, without being overly spiced, add some chocolate and you go MAGIC! I also let these set in the freezer for 5 minutes to get the ganache to firm up.

Gingerbread Blondies by The Baker Chick

Just look at that texture, yeah I would say fudgey- but it's not chocolate. But these totally blew my mind. Confession: I added some beer extract that I made for the Pub Cookies, just 1 tablespoon and man these are the BEST blondies I ever ate! Sooooo good, I broke my cookie abstinence with one of these puppies! Yeah they are THAT good! Seriously you MUST try 'em! I think I can make these low fat though. I will experiment with pumpkin in these! I think I can make that work!

Nutella Oatmeal Lace Cookies by Half Baked Harvest

Made these exactly as directed and they are not as Lacey as a Lacey cookie usually is, but there were AMAZING none the less. Buttery, not too sweet with nutella in the middle, pure magic! Would totally make them again!

Beer Molasses Spice Cookies- Adapted from Katrina's Kitchen

So I made some changes to this one too! I added a tablespoon of that beer extract and also rolled these in cinnamon sugar. I also did not dip them into white chocolate as the recipe calls for. These were sweet and had this great soft texture! Another big success!

Thanks to all the bloggers that made these incredible recipes and thanks to my friend Jenn, a real live pastry chef, that helped me experiment and ummm drink beer for ummmmm research!! LOL! Another BIG thanks to my neighbor Christine, that let me bake with her is her very large in beautiful kitchen!! She also helped me with beer research and brainstorm of ideas of what to do, if we have no bread flour as needed for the Pub cookies. LOVE my foodie friends and my ladies! Thanks so much! XOXO!