Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Baking

Each year I look forward to Christmas baking. I have picturesque images of plates full of homemade sweetness in perfect contrasting color towers. I have lists of the recipes I absolutely must try. In my perfect plan I show up to each event with a beautifully wrapped package of love-in-sugar-form. And then Advent rolls around, takes me by utter surprise as if it has never happened that soon after Thanksgiving before, and I am resigned to decide which few recipes I can muster my way through. This year, however, I had very enthusiastic little Helpers whose joy and excitement was thoroughly contagious! We had SO much fun!

Pretzel Dots are a favorite! With very little help from me the girls were able to complete the process. They were excited to be able to do each very simple step, and everyone LOVES the finished product. And what's not to love about the festive colors, which thanks to M&M marketing can be adjusted to suit whatever holiday you want.

Sugar cookies are time-consuming, messy, and require full-time involvement. And I LOVE making them! Nothing is more exciting to kids than rolling out that dough and pushing cutters to make what is, to their eyes, the most perfect shapes. And oh! The sprinkles! The colors! The hands that are now dyed the colors of the sprinkles from all the taste-testing! The only real problem is that of course I did not take any pictures with my own flour-covered hands, so the finished product will suffice.

Sometimes a pre-made kit is the perfect project for a short time frame. Step 1: open packages. Step 2: let the kids decorate however they want for 15 minutes. Step 3: give them a glass of milk and call it lunch. Everyone wins!

We also made chocolate chip (of course). The taste-challenge winner, though, was a new recipe for me this year. I made These cranberry-orange cookies and I recommend starting out with a double batch. That way when you nibble your way through these tasty, beautiful treats you will still have a few to set out and share with others. Or to eat later. They are visually appealing and very, very delicious!