I've been hard at work finishing assignments for next Christmas, dreaming of all the fun things I want to make and do for this Christmas. It feels like a late start this year, so I'm skipping most of the holiday crafting and overly ambitious decor in favor of the gift giving - the baking, the wrapping, the spreading of joy and cheer.
First up, the baking. I've never been one of those people who bake a gazillion cookies every year, but I suddenly can't wait to get into the kitchen. There will be booze, too. Friends bring fruit from their trees, I make liqueurs. This year, there's been a steady stream of fruit, which means my kitchen is populated with bottles and bottles of satsuma, calamondin, and kumquat liqueurs along with the blackberry whiskey and almond liqueur I've been aging since last year. Lots of holiday cheer. But I digress. Back to that holiday baking.
I'm gathering up all the recipes I plan to make for friends and family and it seemed selfish not to share them. I really want to stretch a bit, try something new. Of course there will be some favorites that I'll revisit, such as the Scandinavian Almond Cake and Rosemary Butter Cookies from this post. They'll be part of my holiday repertoire forever and ever! Amen.
Here's what else I'm eyeing this year -
Coconut Pecan Pralines from Confession of a Cookbook Queen. Over the summer, a friend mentioned his mother's coconut pralines, which was an entirely new concept to me, and one I've been eager to try. The addition of pecans is a bonus.
Because there can never be too many pecans, I'll be making this Pecan Fig Nougat from For the Love of the South as well.
I spend most of my year waiting for blackberry season to roll around again. It's all too short of a season, so blackberry jam keeps me happy during the waiting. Blackberry Jam Shortbread Bars from Recipe Girl.
As a Southerner, red velvet is simply part of my cultural heritage. Besides, these Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies from Cooking Classy are too pretty to pass up.
Lemon Almond Cookie Wreaths from Cook Republic. Because sometimes you just need a simple cookie to eat by the fistful.
I made these Calissons once (from this recipe by Foodbeam) and they were lovely. Except it was summer and I thought they'd be nice for the winter months instead. I use my absolute favorite orange blossom water from Mymoune, which there seems to be a current shortage of. However, I was able to locate it through The Meadow (available for pick-up or mail order).
Let's face it, the holidays require copious amounts of coffee. What better accompaniment than Eggnog Biscotti from Home Cooking Memories?
Admittedly, I find these Mushroom Shaped Lebkuchen from Twigg Studios completely adorable, but we all need a little gingerbread during the holidays.
That's where I'm at so far. When all is said and done, I think I'll need some type of chocolate concoction beyond the red velvet. I could always make fudge, but that's hardly stretching myself. Or I could try the Brutti Ma Buoni from my friend, Chef Lisa White. They're my son's absolute favorite cookie in the entire world and she brings him full boxes which he always manages to eat singlehandedly. Perhaps it's time to give them a whirl at home.
Does anyone else have any favorites I should try? Post a link in the comments (or include the recipe) or email me.