Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Birthday Cake

My brother Rob's birthday is right before Christmas, so the family always gets together and I  make his birthday cake. They've gotten more extravagant over  the years.  Last year's Devil's Food Layer Cake with Peppermint Frosting was so high, the cake dome wouldn't fit on it. It was on the cover of Bon Appetit so I decided to make this December's cover cake too. It was a Peppermint Meringue Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. It's such a fun project but I usually do a couple of steps the day before.
Here's the cover photo: (What was I thinking, right?)

I started the day before with the meringue layers,(which are just like forgotten cookies), and  the peppermint syrup.
Day two I made the chocolate cake and the chocolate buttercream. Then it was just a matter of putting all of the  12"x4" pieces of cake, meringue, peppermint syrup, and chocolate buttercream together.
Here goes on a meringue layer.

Brushing the peppermint syrup onto the cake layers.

After the top layer of buttercream I decorated with raspberries and mint leaves.

It looked very pretty when we cut into it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snow Days

With two feet of snow on the ground, there wasn't much to do but cook! We went through some old Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines from Decembers past, looking for a fun different holiday cookie to make. We decided on mini black and white cookies. I bought a big one in New York last summer for everyone to try so they were familiar with them. They really taste more like a little cake than a cookie.

Ruby was my cooking partner and she chose the black and white cookies. A big help in the kitchen.
I thought a perfect snowed in dinner would be Coq au Vin.

Lots of chopping but ah so delicious. I including a little cognac and burned it off. Quite the fire hazard!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tis' The Season

Fa la la la laaa la limoncello. For those on my family gift list the following entry may spoil your surprise! It's no secret I love limoncello, there's alway a bottle in our freezer ( I've been know to take it camping). I've been trying to make all of my holiday gifts for the past few years and our trip to Italy inspired me to attempt to make limoncello.

I started with 100 proof vodka since grain alcohol isn't legally sold in VA. Instead of a vegetable peeler I used this handy zester. After 20 lemons a batch and I made two batches, my hands were raw! I think since the zest strips were so thin it helped to really impart the lemon flavor into the alcohol. I let it sit about two weeks and then added my sugar syrup. I've found various bottles to package it in for giving. It's quite yummy! Ho Ho Ho! It'll put the Happy in your Holidays!

I've done a little bit of cookie baking so far. A favorite is these Linzer cookies. I made them for a school fundraiser. I like them because they're so pretty but they taste really good too. Sometimes it's hard to get both from a Christmas cookie.

A family favorite is these incredibly easy forgotten cookies. My mom always made them for us and now my kids love them too. I looked around the internet for recipes and a lot of them added nuts. We don't.

Forgotten Cookies
2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350º. Beat egg whites until stiff. Keep beating while adding the sugar, then salt and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheets. Put cookies in oven and turn oven off and leave overnight.

Today I made these Pumpkin -Spiced Whiskey Walnuts for gift giving.