Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baking for the Holiday

These are the brownie bites just came out of oven, cooling off on the window sill. They eventually traveled all the way to Europe and Japan.

Our family Christmas tradition didn't include the exchanging of gifts to each other. It was just us kids getting small presents. One year, I swear, my sister and I were convinced it was from Santa! Our parents were very good at sneaking the presents without being spotted by us. There wasn't much space in our apartment, so we made the hand painted Christmas tree on the cardboard for a festive decoration. And we always requested the same menu: roast chicken, corn chowder (don't ask...we just loved it!) and mashed potato (one year we made it into a tower, complete with parsley trees, just as in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"). Even after we moved to the stateside, this didn't change much. We did, however, decorated the real tree.

So coming from that humble tradition, I wanted to bake something. I chose the brownie bites and chocolate chip-pecan cookies because they are perhaps the most sturdy. I even baked the cookies in half size to ensure minimum breakage. Put them together with candy canes and Ghirardelli "Peppermint Bark" squares (my favorite mint&chocolate confection) in a tin, and voila!

I'd say, the shipping cost was the Christmas gift itself... But seeing the picture of my niece grinning made my heart really warm.

Until next year I am giving my trusty oven the well-deserved time off. But I'm already thinking of the next occasion (hmmm, Valentines Day?) and ever improving my repertoire.

Wishing all of you the safe and prosperous 2009.

Ku Cake

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chocolate Lover's Dream

A friend of mine asked me to bake under one condition: "I Need Chocolate! Chocolate everything!" So I made this sampler to fulfill that desire. What's inside the snug box is my signature chocolate chip-pecan cookies mingling with Kahlua brownies and a small chocolate cake with ganache. It was later reported that everything was devoured in matter of minutes.

I wished I had baked this one just for me...

Ku Cake

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ginger and Spice

Thanksgiving Day = Pumpkin Pie. What's, then, Christmas = to? I think that'd be the Gingerbread. See, this flavor, rich dark molasses spiked with ginger and other spices, was not what I grew up tasting. Then I became very fond of Lebkuchen that are quite ubiquitous during Christmas time in Germany. I was instantly hooked to the sweet moist cake with serious peppery punch.

So I was on the lookout for a good recipe for the gingerbread. And I think I just found one. As usual, the samples were offered to unsuspecting friends and co-workers as to be my guinea pig; which they are happy to oblige (thank you!) I always bake the first one according to the recipe, just to see how it'd turned out. I was a little concerned the recipe called for too much spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger and black pepper!) but the majority commented: "More ginger!" So I'm modifying the original recipe and now making it into my own. The wonderful aroma of spices remained in my kitchen all day long. Ooo, I can't wait to bake this cake again!

Ku Cake