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Wednesday 30 November 2011

Christmas Baking Swap-a-thon - gingersnaps, cookies, lava snowballs, cupcakes, muffins, saskatoon crumble, shortbread, cake truffles, bonbons and more!

I love homemade baking, and like many of my friends, we all have flour flying in the air around Christmas time as we bake up our own tried and true recipes. So what better way than to indulge, than to do a Christmas baking swap? Bake an item or two with enough portions for everyone participating... the more people you have, the more goodies you get to take home, and swap recipes for the ones you love the most! 

End of the day.. you get a whoooole heck of a lot of homemade baked goods to indulge with a fraction of the work, lots of laughter and a sprinkle of fun. And if you don't have time to bake? Just stop by a bakery so you have treats to swap :) I'll list the treats out in the order I think people came in. On to the awesome bake/spa day which my fabulously beautiful and talented girlfriend ST organized!  Thanks to everyone that shared their recipes and pics!! :D

After we stomped off the snow and started to defrost, we were greeted by special treats our lovely hostess surprised us with... a gorgeous platter of freshly cut french bread topped with garlic bruschetta... mmmm!

AND a surprise brunch of healthy mini personal pizzas! Whole grain pitas topped with tomato sauce, ham, mushrooms, sweet bell peppers and ooodles of molten cheesey cheese goodness. Mmmm!

M and M cookies  While we set up for brunch, ST took these babies fresh out of the oven. Mmm... I had to squelch my inner child from sneaking a warm soft crisp cookie off the pan :P

Baked cinnamon gala and green apples dipped in chocolate fondue For dessert, we snacked on this toothpick forest of tender baked apple wedges all covered in cinnamony chocolately goodness made by the fab YB.

Oreo truffle balls My inner child also kept on eyeing these yummies my crazy and beautiful Chee made. They tasted like a super chocolately rich moist cake encased in a layer of chocolate. Mmmmm. I couldn't get enough of them.

Toblerone shortbread cookies  Next on the counter was my pretty Anniekins and Dal's creation... if I thought shortbread cookies were awesome before, these are over the top with chunks of Toblerone.  Its soo buttery, my tastebuds are blowing a raspberry at my arteries. Butta butta buttaaaaa... Nom!!! :D

Red velvet cupcakes Me classy Kimchee didn't have a chance to bake, so these softly frosted moist vanilla-y mini cupcakes were picked up courtesy of the bakers at Save on Foods. So pretty!

Apple streusel muffins Cinnamon and spice always comes to mind when I think holidays, so these apple studded cinnamony muffins are topped with a crumb topping, and some craisins for a bit of festive color (note to self - add craisins in after baking as they tend to darken too much in oven). And you'll never guess these are bran muffins, as the apple and cinnamon flavor hide it!

Chocolate lava snowballs As the theme was Christmas, these cookies that have a rich brownie-like texture with a moist super chocolately center.  I modified this recipe from Jasper Park Lodge's chef by adding in a tsp of cinnamon to give it some warmth and extra kick of flavor. They are also low fat, but you'd never believe it :)

Soft pecan chocolate brittle Made by the wonderful mightyT, this is the first time I've had brittle that didn't require a sledgehammer to chip off a piece, and I'm not complaining.  Breaking off with very little resistance, this brittle is crisp, studded with roasted pecans and has a thin layer of chocolate to add in a nice sweetness to the yummy carmamel-chocolate-nutty affair. Nom!

Mint chocolate pretzel balls Also from mightyT, this is simple and yummy, with pretzel sticks drenched with dark chocolate laced with mint, then formed into easy to eat portions.

Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies The zany and fabulous YB made these incredible cookies... tiny hint of lavender adds in a subtle flavor to this soft and indulgent cookie with chocolate chips hidden throughout... mmmmm!

Vegan coconut bonbons Its a truffle! Its a bonbon! Its.. vegan?!  Whatever you want to call it, these dark chocolate balls (made by YB!) are packed with a sweet coconut explosion. Chee commented she couldn't stop eating them!

More cinnamon than sugar cinnamon bread  Like the name says, there's a lot less sugar than your average cinnamon bun, and YB's tender soft cinnamon bread still packs a lotta cinnamony goodness. Mmmm.. I love cinnamon :)

Gingersnap cookies Yaaaah! I think I actually cheered out loud when I saw these huge crisp sugar dusted gingery cookies baked by the cute CC. I love ginger snaps too! *munchmunchmunch* :D

Banana apple bread This moist and flavorful banana bread baked by the dazzling KT is studded with large chunks of apples... Mmm.. like banana bread and apple pie all in one :D

Saskatoon crumble Last but not least from the foxy Melmel is a super yummy crumble packed full of juicy Saskatoon berries she picked up from Saskatoon Farms (They have a stall at the Farmer's Market in both Edmonton and Calgary if you don't want to drive literally all the way out to the farm and Giddy Up Cafe).  With a soft oatmeal crumble and loads of Saskatoon berries, the pictures says it all. NOM!

Well, now you've seen the pics, here are some of the recipes if you'd like to make them for your friends and family (and yourself! Quality control is always important heehee!)

The truffles in pretty packaging!
Oreo truffles from
1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted
1. Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
2. Dip balls in chocolate using 2 forks; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs or drizzle with a different colored chocolate.
3. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator. Makes 42.

Various assorted goodies artfully placed in Chee's box
Apple streusel muffins from
1 ½ (375mL) cup All purpose flour
¾ (175mL) granulated white sugar
1Tbsp (15mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5mL) salt
¾ (175mL) cup butter or margarine
1 ½ (375mL) cup tart apples diced (2 medium apples, cored and diced)
2 cups (500mL) Post Bran flakes cereal (any bran cereal can be used)
3 tsp (15mL) cinnamon powder
2 eggs
1 cup (250mL) milk (higher fat milks bake fluffier product, but skim milk works well too)
¼ cup (50mL) chopped walnuts (for topping)
2 Tbsp (30mL) granulated sugar (for topping)
1. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter so that the mixture is crumbly looking. Reserve ½ cup of crumbs for topping
2. Add apple, cereal and 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon to the crumb mixture
3. Combine eggs and milk, add to mixture after beating together to form a lumpy mixture. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Fill muffin tins to ¾ full
4. Blend reserved crumb mixture with remaining cinnamon, walnuts and the 2 Tbsp (30mL) of sugar, sprinkle over batter in each cup
5. Bake at preheated 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius for 15-20minutes
6. Cool for 10min before serving, or cool completely before plastic wrapping and freezing for up to 3 months. Makes 24.

Yummy in my tummy!
Vegan Coconut bonbons YB’s adapted version from Ingredients
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 ½ Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond milk (or soymilk or water)
1 Tbsp margarine (use vegan if you want to keep recipe vegan)
1 ½ cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
2 cups dark chocolate chips

2 tsp oil (olive, coconut or canola) or unsalted butter
1. In a large bowl, beat together 2 ¼ cups sugar, honey, vanilla, milk, and margarine with a mixer until just combined. Add in shredded coconut and mix until combined.
2. Sprinkle a dry work surface with remaining ¼ cup sugar, and knead the coconut-sugar mixture on the sugared surface until smooth.
3. Roll out the mixture between 2 sheets of parchment paper on a baking sheet until about 1 inch thick. Place into the freezer for about 15min or until firm
4. Remove from freezer, and roll coconut mixture into balls, placing them on a fresh parchment sheet. Return formed coconut balls into freezer for 5-10 min while you melt chocolate.
5.  Heat chocolate and oil until completely melted and smooth in a double boiler or stainless steel bowl over a pan of boiling water. Remove from heat. Use 2 forks to dip coconut balls into the melted chocolate and shake off excess. Place bonbon back on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining coconut balls. Let bonbons stand until hardened. Serve cold or at room temp. Makes ~4 dozen bonbons

Chocolate lava snowball cookies adapted from Jasper Park Lodge recipe
One for you and...more for me! ;)
1 1/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
¼ cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon (optional, add for more flavor)
2 eggs beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1. Mix first 8 ingredients until crumbly
2. Combine wet ingredients into dry
3. Knead until combined and roll into 20 balls (super dry batter)
4. Coat with icing sugar in a bowl
5. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly
6. Bake at preheated 350F oven for 12-14 min until edges cooked. Inside will be molten. Makes 20 cookies, less than 3g of fat each.

YB's cute cookie jar getting filled with yummies!
Lavender Chocolate Chip Cookies
YB's adaptation from ExtraVeganZa: Original Recipes from Phoenix Organic Farm by Laura Matthias 
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup cane sugar
¾ cup Tbsp lavender honey

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (If you use vegan chocolate, recipe is vegan)
1. Combine oil, vinegar, vanilla, sugar and honey in a medium sized bowl. Mix well.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients in. Mix well. Fold in chocolate.
4. Roll dough into ~1 inch balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.

5. Bake in preheated 350F or 175C oven for 12-15 min. Makes ~20 cookies.

KT's Awesome Banana Apple Bread
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
2 bananas - mush them up good!
1 apple peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (red delicious or whatever apple you have around)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon
2. Mix together in a separate bowl brown sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla.
3. Combine batter with wet ingredients. Mix well. Fold in bananas and apples
4. Pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 1h in preheated 350F oven. Makes 1 loaf

One of the surprise gifts from our beautiful hostess!
After filling up our various containers (and our tummies!) full of homemade baked goodies and treats, we started our at home spa day complete with manicures, pedicures and facials. I wonder if we're the only people that do ninja poses when we're all slathered in blue, green, peach and black facial masks... :D  Hope you enjoy the recipes!  Until the next baking swap-a-thon... go get your bake on! :D

Saskatoon Farm
3338 Ave SW, Saskatoon Farm, Okotoks, AB
Phone 1-403-938-6245 or 1-800-463-2113
Hours Open daily 9am-5pm
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