Holiday Baking… Six Hits and A Miss

What would the holidays be without some yummy homemade treats? Every year a day or two before Christmas Eve I bake about four or five different types of cookies. This year was no different, although this year baking didn’t seem as stressful as year’s past- probably because I was able to bake on the weekend as opposed to a weekday. Every year I get the idea to bake up actual Christmas cookies with frosting and decorations, but, it never happens. Instead my holiday cookies look more like this…

An assortment that includes Rugelach, Peanut Butter, Malted Chocolate Chip, Lemon and Fudgy Chocolate Cookies.

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I also decided to bake a cake for a friend’s Christmas Eve dinner. I wanted to try something new so I went with a recipe that I saw in the December 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine, an Almond Layer Cake with White Chocolate Frosting.

First things first, I got together all of my ingredients together.

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To start off I essentially created a variation of pure almond flour by pulsing together cake flour, baking powder, salt and almonds until the almonds were finely ground down.

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Next up I whisked together egg whites, milk, vanilla and almond extract. While there are almonds in the flour component of the batter, the almond extract is what truly gives this cake its almond taste and scent.

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And finally, what cake would be complete without creaming together butter and sugar.

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I then incorporated all three of these components to create the batter for the cake.

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And then divided the batter among my two prepared pans and popped them into the oven.

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After about twenty-five minutes my cakes were ready to come out of the oven and cool down.

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While I had no doubt that the cake would taste good I was a bit doubtful that the frosting would be as good. I have never been partial to white chocolate so I wasn’t sure how I would like white chocolate frosting. Also, I couldn’t imagine the almond flavor actually tasting good with it. But, I was wrong. The frosting actually leaned more towards a cream cheese flavor than a white chocolate flavor which was a good match for the almond flavor.

The frosting was super simple to make. Basically I made a cream cheese frosting and then incorporated melted white chocolate into it. For the white chocolate I opted to use two Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bars.

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To start frosting I used about a cup of frosting in between the two layers and then covered the cake in a crumb coat and placed it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

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I then used the remaining frosting to finish covering the cake. Once that was done I covered the cake in some red sparkles I had bought to give it a festive feel.

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This cake was a HIT! One of my friends said it was like eating a Good Humor Toasted Almond ice cream bar!

Unfortunately everything can’t always be a success. I tried making Rainbow Cookies a few years and I wasn’t too happy with the end result. While they tasted good I wasn’t pleased with the way they looked. I decided to try this year after coming across a recipe in a recent issue of Food Network magazine that seemed flawless enough. Once again though, there wasn’t a pot of gold at the end of my rainbow. I’m not sure if I waited too long to slice them or something went wrong while mixing and baking but they weren’t too appetizing looking. While I could overlook that, I couldn’t overlook the fact that they didn’t have much of a taste. All I could taste was the chocolate and not much of anything else.  After failing twice to get these cookies to somewhat near perfection I doubt I will try again. Sometimes you don’t need three strikes to be out!

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They looked great prior to and after being covered with chocolate, but, as you can see that was short-lived once I started slicing them. Oh well!

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