Apologies for the delay in posting today, but I’m just now emerging from the sugar coma that resulted from my holiday baking extravaganza yesterday. Now that it’s behind me, all I can say is…YAAAAAAAY! Which roughly translates to “not my finest nutritional hour.” The one bright spot–besides some really tasty cookies–was that the weather was gorgeous, and I was able to get out for a speedy, arm-swinging, song-singing 3-mile walk. Amazing how mild temps, no wind, abundant sunshine, and a whole bunch of sugar coursing through my body can shift me into GazelleCammy mode. I’m not sure my feet were touching the ground on the first two miles!
I love when that happens!
But back to the cookies. Here’s a pictorial (and zero-calorie) sampling:
At the top of the photo: Cranberry Orange Cookies with fresh cranberries and freshly-squeezed/zested orange. I followed some of the reviewers’ suggestions and added extra orange zest and juice. I skimped a little on the sugar, but not too much because those cranberries were really tangy. I think I could’ve used at least 1/4 cup less white sugar than called for in the recipe. (Note: photo includes recipe glaze and Betty Crocker tube icing. I think the bright-white BC looks prettier, even with my inexpert application, but the recipe glaze tastes divine!)
Moving clockwise, we have Chocolate Peppermint Drops made with yogurt and less sugar than your average cookie. Unfortunately, this does NOT mean you can eat twice as many. Um, that was a note to myself. I used soft peppermint candies this year. Last year I used chopped Hershey’s White Chocolate Peppermint Kisses, and I think I prefer those. Either way, they’re not a “pretty” cookie. For that I think you’d have to add frosting and maybe some crushed peppermint candies, perhaps borrowing Michele’s great idea in entry #7 in our Virtual Holiday Potluck. These cookies are also adaptable to other types of chips or fruits. I may make a batch with fresh cranberries for Christmas weekend with the family. Yummmm….
Next, we have the easy-peasy Pretzel Turtles. These things are simple, delicious, and highly-addictive. I’m including the “recipe” at the end of the post.
And finally, Maple Snickerdoodles which spins the classic recipe by including real maple syrup. I didn’t have the maple sugar called for in the recipe, so I’m not getting a particularly maple-y flavor. Still tasty, though!
Fortunately, almost all of these treats have been packaged into gift packs and are now out of my house. Those that remain are either already in the freezer or will be there very soon. But first…
As promised, the “recipe” for Pretzel Turtles
- Mini-pretzels. These are from Sturgis Pretzel Factory, which I visited a couple months ago when I was in Pennsylvania. Any mini-pretzel will do, even the small waffle-style.
- Hershey’s Caramel-filled Kisses (I’ve also seen them with Rolo candies.)
- Pecan Halves
- Kitchen Aid Classic Stand Mixer (Okay, you don’t need this at all, but I like to work it into the conversation whenever possible. Such a great memory! Shiny, too!)
Quantities of each ingredient depend on how many turtles you want to make.
You’ll also need parchment paper, some cookie sheets, and an oven that’s preheated to around 200°
Assembling is easy:
- Spread the parchment paper on the cookie sheet
- Place the pretzels on the paper. No need to allow space between each one. In fact, I find it easier if there’s no space. Otherwise, I end up chasing pretzels around the tray in the final stage.
- Plop a candy in the center of each pretzel. (Surely I don’t have to mention that they should be unwrapped first?)
Although possibly, your oven is cleaner.
You only need to leave the tray in the oven for five minutes or so, just long enough for the tops of the kiss to soften. The chocolates get super-shiny to let you know they’re ready. If you’re in doubt, you can gently touch the tops of a couple of chocolate to test the “give-ability.” (Yes, it burns a little, but you DO get to lick chocolate off your finger.)
When the chocolate is nice and soft, pull the tray out of the oven and begin pressing pecan halves into the top of each chocolate, making the chocolate go squish! and surround the pecan. (Note: Don’t forget to wash your hands if you did the touch-lick test!)
Typing this out has given me another sugar buzz–time to hit the gym! I can only imagine how much fun it will be after my day of indulgence. (Note to self: Pick up Extra-Strength Tylenol on the way to gym.)
Hope you all had an amazing (and less caloric) weekend!