Archives for posts with tag: holiday baking

Tonight was the cookie exchange at the Jamestown Merc.  It was nice to meet new people and enjoy some very good cookies.

Maddy and I baked all morning.

Chocolate crinkle cookies have been featured on many of the blogs I enjoy reading so we decided to make those along with my gingerbread cookies.  I had also found a recipe for Earl Grey Shortbread cookies.  These sounded good but I did not have any Earl Grey.  I did have some very good chai tea bags so I decided to make chai tea shortbread cookies.  Maddy and I thought that the chocolate crinkle cookies would be the star but it turned out the chai tea cookies were by far the best cookies we made today.

These cookies were made by talented Jamestown folks.

Chai Tea Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are fabulous hot out of the oven.


  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tablespoons loose Chai Tea leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes.


I had heard of AmeriCorps before but did not know exactly what the organization did.  This winter a group of AmeriCorps participants have been staying at Cal-Wood and lending a helping hand.  Well, 11 sets of helping hands.  I have really become fond of all the young people in the group.  Some of the work they have been tasked with is hard and it has been pretty cold up here so my hat is off to them.  I do know what AmeriCorps does now.  They smile, laugh a lot and work hard for the community and America.

When we held our Christmas Tree fundraiser earlier this month I was given help from the AmeriCorp group to prepare food for up to 250 people.  We rolled at least 300 cookies, washed lots of dishes and made holiday candy.  Paige was the point person on making fudge.  The first recipe I gave her was complicated and involved a candy thermometer.  This batch did not turn out so well.  Making a huge volume of fudge with a complicated recipe was not the best choice.  I pulled out my favorite easy fudge recipe and Paige cheerfully got right to it.  Success!  The fudge has been a hit and people who have been asking for the recipe will be surprised how easy it is.  I have to thank Paige and all of the AmeriCorps group for the help and friendship they have provided over the last 6 weeks.  Since Fudge is a classically American treat I thought a post about AmeriCorps and Fudge was a perfect combo.

Best of luck to all of you in your next post and beyond.

Simple Fudge

2 ounces of unsalted butter or ½ stick

3 cups marshmallows

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

12 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper or foil.  Spray lined pan with non stick spray or butter.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine butter, marshmallows, sugar, cream, and salt; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted. Take the pan off heat, stir in vanilla, chocolate chips and stir until chocolate is melted.

Pour fudge into prepared pan, and smooth top. Let cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

I love cranberry muffins.  But the one thing that I noticed when making cranberry muffins is the the cranberries were too big.  They would sink to the bottom of the muffin or you would encounter a huge cranberry blast in one bite and nothing in the next.  Often the muffin was over whelming.  Too much or too little.  I am a fan of Cooks Illustrated and saw they tested Cranberry Muffins.  I jumped right on it and made a batch with Walnuts instead of Pecans because I did not have any Pecans.  Ohhh.. My.

These muffins are out of this world.  At Cal-Wood the staff calls them the “in your face cranberry muffin.”  I call it the CRAM-berry Muffin.  You have to try this recipe.

You pulse the berries in a food processor so that the cranberry flavor is distributed evenly.  Great tip.  I will be trying this with Pecans next and will post an update on how that version worked out.

Cranberry Nut Muffins


Streusel Topping

  • 3 tablespoons AP Flour
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves or walnuts


  • 1 1/3cups (6 2/3 ounces) AP flour
  • 1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4cups pecan halves or walnuts , toasted and cooled
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (7 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Process flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt in food processor until mixture resembles coarse sand, 4 to 5 pulses. Add pecans and process until pecans are coarsely chopped, about 4 pulses. Transfer to small bowl; set aside. 

Spray 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray with flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt together in bowl; set aside.

Process toasted pecans and granulated sugar until mixture resembles coarse sand, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to large bowl and whisk in eggs, butter, and milk until combined. Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until just moistened and no streaks of flour remain. Set batter aside 30 minutes to thicken.

Pulse cranberries, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and confectioners’ sugar in food processor until very coarsely chopped, 4 to 5 pulses. Using rubber spatula, fold cranberries into batter. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups, slightly mounding in middle. Evenly sprinkle streusel topping over muffins, gently pressing into batter to adhere. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin on wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated


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