My goal this year was to make it a handmade holiday as much as I possibly could. My dreams of knitting fingerless gloves and endless infinity cowls for dear friends of course, didn’t happen. My wish to sew cute dresses for our little one and all of her adorable baby friends, didn’t happen. But what I did manage to put together (sometimes at wee hours of the night/morning) made me feel good about giving this holiday season, even if my lofty goals weren’t quite possible.
One of the little gifts that I tried making this year were cookie cutter ornaments decorated with festive paper, glitter, ribbon, and tiny jingle bells. These accompanied baked goods and decorated some packages.
One of the cookies that I decided to try making this year were these “surprise cookies” that I found in an old Martha Stewart magazine. The photo above is what they looked like in the oven when I put half a marshmallow on top, but you can see what the finished product should look like by clicking on this link: there’s a chocolate icing that goes on top of them to hide the marshmallow center. The husband’s verdict: quite yummy.
Some of the other bags of treats that we gave away to friends, family and coworkers included old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies, these chewy lemon snowdrop cookies, and mini pound cake loaves. I have to say that my favorite thing to make this holiday season were the pound cake loaves — all 12 of them! — because I really enjoyed the recipe that I found by Ina Garten. It was the first time I used buttermilk in a pound cake recipe and also the first time I used mini loaf pans so I was a little nervous about the outcome. I cut the baking time to 40 minutes and let them cool in the pans for a while before removing them, and they turned out perfect (that was decided after a friend and I did a taste test, of course). The recipe is at the end of the post too.
I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season no matter what you celebrate, and that you have a fabulous start to the new year!
Happy crafting and homemade goodness to you all, and see you in 2013!!
Plain Pound Cake Recipe (by Ina Garten)
– 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
– 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon kosher salt
– 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8.5″ x 4.5″ x 2.5″) or 4 (4.25″ x 2.25″ x 2.5″) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. (The parchment paper makes it much easier to remove them later.)
2. Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. (With the mini pans, I baked them for 40 minutes and let them cool in the pans for a little while before removing them. But every oven is different!)
4. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.