Monday, December 19, 2011

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

Like red and green, and red and gold, red and white are just one of those Christmas color combinations that were meant to be. I mean, it’s obviously pretty important considering it’s the color of Santa’s outfit and the color of candy canes.

The idea of Santa is charming. A man who gives out presents by the sleighload? Well, if only. I can’t quite remember when I stopped believing in Santa. It must’ve been gradual, since I don’t remember sitting down with my parents and having the talk. I’m not sure if my eight-year-old sister still believes in Santa. I guess I’ll continue to play the role the older sister is supposed to play and just wait for some 5th grader to tell her the truth. I hope my sister will realize that just because Santa only exists in the mind, does not mean he’s not just as magical, especially if he can get kids to work harder in order to get on his nice list.

Ever wondered about the relationship between peppermint and Christmas? I’m surprised I haven’t actually. It’s just one of those accepted flavors that have become part of the holiday season, so who cares why? The point is that candy cane tastes delicious, and is a great addition to hot cocoa, cakes, and cookies, like these pinwheel cookies.


½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp red food coloring

For the peppermint frosting:½ cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp milk
1 crushed candy cane

1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until blended.
2. Combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture, beating at low speed until mixed well.
3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Roll 1 portion of dough into a 12- x 8-inch rectangle on a piece of lightly floured plastic wrap.
4. Knead the food coloring into the remaining portion of dough. Roll the red dough into a rectangle like in Step 3. Invert the plain dough onto the colored dough. Peel off plastic wrap.
5. Cut dough in half lengthwise, forming 2 rectangles. Roll up each rectangle starting at 1 long side, using bottom piece of plastic wrap as a guide. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 4 hours.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
7. Cut dough into ¼ inch thick pieces, and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool cookies completely.
9. Sandwich with peppermint frosting.

For the peppermint frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and continue beating on low until combined. Mix in peppermint extract, milk, and crushed candy cane.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

With just ten days until Christmas, the countdown has begun! Listening to B101’s nonstop festive music through the day, it really does feel like Christmas is around the corner. So begins the Christmas baking…

Christmas baking and the holiday season come hand in hand. It’s a great way to bond with family and friends, make fantastic edible presents, and an excuse to eat more sugar than normally acceptable. This time of the year, so many online recipe databases (like are covered with shades of white, red, and green that it’s hard to resist not trying a few recipes to experiment with.

These Christmas cookies were made with a simple sugar cookie dough, and then decorated with royal icing. In addition to being gracious noms, these cookies also make delectable Christmas tree ornaments. Simply poke a hole in the cookie before putting it in the oven and thread some tinsel or ribbon through. Hang it around the house and on the tree for a shortbread scent without the risk of burning your whole house down.

With the help of my two elves (thanks Jamie and Patty!) all the cookies turned out very festive indeed. If you so desire, you can even act out a scene with these cookies. Be careful though, once you make your food come to life, it’s difficult to let go of them. Especially when you give them names. Not saying I did or anything of course.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
There'll be much mistltoeing
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It's the most wonderful time of the year…”



3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the royal icing:1 egg white
½ tsp lemon juice
1 ¾ cup confectioners sugar
Food coloring


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Combine the flour and baking powder, then add to creamed mixture and mix well.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out with Christmas cookie cutters and transfer to lined baking sheets.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks. Decorate cookies with royal icing.

For the icing:In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Divide into bowls and add food coloring as desired.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

So where have I been the past three months of my life? I guess you can say I’m been on a hiatus. Because while college certainly isn’t a cakewalk, it’s a break: a break from the high school days, a break from living with my parents, a break from seeing familiar faces everywhere I go, and a break from home-style food. College is different to high school (duh, my high school chemistry teacher said when I announced this profound fact to him). It’s more fun. There’s much more free time. People are nicer.

I think over the last three months and am reminded of the friendships made, the memories shared, the frat basements visited. Then there’s the screwed up hours of sleep, the ubiquitous complaints, the irrational demands, and the spontaneous acts. I think that Hanover must be magical. What other reason is there to explain how 1000 people will willingly run 115 (or rather, 15) laps around a gigantic bonfire? Or how strangers will pay for your meal because you absentmindedly left your ID back in your dorm? Or how the entire campus will have snowball fight at midnight in freezing temperatures?

I honestly thought I could keep up this blog during college, but to my shame and realization, I’ve pretty much neglected it. So now I’m in winter break with four weeks to do stuff. I’m going to try hard to make it a productive few weeks of catching up with friends, eating much-missed food, piano playing, leisurely reading, exercising, and visiting places. From this list, you can tell I haven’t really changed much. Besides a few pounds heavier (not quite up to the freshman 15 yet though…) and 3 classes more knowledgeable (in spite of the lost brain cells) I’m proud to say I’m still my old self.


1 cup pretzels
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp oil
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup semisweet chocolate
white chocolate (optional)


1. Put the pretzels into a plastic bag and crush into small pieces with a rolling pin.
2. Spoon the peanut butter in a medium bowl and stir in the oil. Pour the crushed pretzels in the peanut butter, add the confectioner’s sugar, and stir well.
3. Shape the peanut butter mixture into small rounds by rolling it in your hands. Place on a tray and put into the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwave or on a double boiler. Carefully dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate to coat. If desired, melt some white chocolate and drizzle over the top.