27 December 2011

holiday baking . . . triumphs and otherwise


1) For Christmas Day I tried a spin on the traditional buche de Noel (traditional for other people, I mean, since our family had never made one before, at least not that I remember) with this recipe from SK.

It cracked. But it was tasty. And no flour! Nary a tablespoon! I am determined to make it again, perhaps as a triply-stratified layer cake rather than a roll.

(Is triply an adverb? If doubly is . . .)

2) I made chocolate mint squares but with 1.5 times the amount of mint filling and bitter chocolate coating, which worked to the great satisfaction of all. The former ratio was always frustrating to spread and not as satisfyingly minty. This was perfect.

3) By the third go-round, using extremely stiff egg whites and a few tablespoons of coconut flour, the flourless macaroons succeeded. I used honey rather than agave.

When removing them from the parchment to the cooling rack, I would advise coating your spatula lightly with nonstick spray. This will help you to avoid making a heap of coconut shreds out of your plump, sweet, rather delicate macaroons.

4) The ganache truffles . . . well, their flavor was magnificent, as would be expected for something made with Lindt 70% and heavy cream. But only after much finagling. The chocolate seized every single time and I had to go through this heat-more-cream, add-to-double-boiler, stir-stir-stir rigmarole to fix it up. I think next time I'll use a different method to make the ganache, just starting it in the double boiler in the first place. Humph. Chocolate is tricky.

5) Rachel and I played around with a cranberry-blueberry crumb bar, the end result being tart and colorful and my favorite gluten-free cookie yet. Actually one of my favorite cookies, period. Recipe soon.


As for those gingerbread houses, I'm working on pictures. Our camera suffered an untimely death this summer and so now I have to rely on my husband's smartphone. It does take decent pictures but does not connect directly to my computer . . . which is to say that I need aforementioned husband to take and send aforementioned pictures, and who knows when that will happen.

Helpful Tip: if your holiday baking extravaganzas have demolished your brown sugar supply, don't bother to buy more. Make your own with regular old granulated sugar and molasses! It takes five minutes, requires no more sophisticated equipment than a bowl and fork, and yes, it truly works. I like streamlining my grocery lists. :)

p.s. We didn't eat all this at once. Our family helped to polish off the buche de Noel and most of the rest. :) What's left of the mint squares and berry bars went into the freezer, where they will bide their time until needed. The macaroons and truffles won't freeze well, though, so I guess we'll be eating them this week. Boo hoo.

p.p.s. Butter is on sale two for $4 at John Herr's this week. Stock your freezer.

Bonus Christmas Day picture, courtesy of Daddy, as are those of the chocolate roll. Here Jared demonstrates what happens when someone from his family [always logical and methodical] tries to explain a new game to my family [only logical and methodical when absolutely necessary and sometimes not even then].

By the way, that sunflower painting on the back wall is the work of my talented nine-year-old brother. Ain't he something?


  1. Those are really nice buche de whatever pictures, even if your camera situation is annoying. We keep our camera in the diaper bag so it was gone with Ransom when Esther came and we have the same problem: how to get those first-ever baby pictures off the phones!

  2. I figured out a way to get photos off of my old phone: send a text with the photo as an attachment, and type your email address into the 'send to' field. It shouldn't cost you anything more than an ordinary text.