Saturday, December 22, 2007
Last week, right before we left Syracuse, I did a marathon day of cookie baking, and here is what I made:
peanuttiest blondies, courtesy of Vegan Diva- we also made these last year, and they are Daiku's favorites
lemon-poppyseed cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan- these were awesome!
mini chocolate-chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance
Here is the completed selection (along with My Sweet Vegan's pfeffernusse and VwaV ginger cookies). Do you notice a problem...? While all the cookies tasted great, they were all practically the same shade of beige! This happened to me last year, too. I will have to do something about it next year!
So far, we have given these cookies to our families on the east coast, the west coast, and everywhere in between, and they all seem to love them. Success!
Also sticking with our home-made, minimalist holiday aesthetic are these chai kits that we have given to friends:
The trick to making homemade chai kits (or similarly, mulling spice kits) is to find a good source of bulk spices. In my case, I used organic cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, candied ginger, nutmeg, and dried orange zest. I put these together along with some black tea (bulk black tea from Iran) in unbleached teabags, and some instructions, and voilà! An easy and fun way for our friends to brew themselves something warm and comforting. I think you can make chai kits with any kind of tea you want- I bet rooibos would go well, or something herbal, or green...
Speaking of gifting, I was so happy to finally meet Textual Bulldog in real life last week! And I was beyond happy when she gave us a huge tin of holiday cookies:
including chocolate chip, chocolate walnut, (not pictured, because we ate them too quickly!) iced sugar cookies, and the piece de resistance: chocolate cookies with crushed Trader Joe's candy cane joe-joe's! These were genius cookies. And notice how she, unlike me, managed to bake colorful and non-monochromatic cookies. Thank you, TB!
This is a good time to talk about one of my favorite baking ingredients- Frontier brand fair trade vanilla that I buy in bulk from the food co-op. This has changed my baking- I can never go back to regular vanilla extract. This stuff is so good, and has such a pure, strong flavor. It is suspended in glycerin instead of alcohol, so it's thicker and heavier- I usually use half of the vanilla called for in a recipe. The result is a baked good with a soft, round, mellow yet assertive vanilla flavor, with none of the sharp, overpowering, cloying, or artificial notes of other vanilla extracts that I have tried. If you come across this vanilla, give it a try. Like me, you may never go back.
Happy holiday baking and gifting, everybody! I'm continually in awe of all your fantastic, home-made goodies.