Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas Baking

In an attempt to start a new Christmas tradition, my husband and I decided to make Christmas goodies together this year. Actually, we decided on the tradition two years ago, but this is the first year that I scheduled the event so that it actually took place.

We decided on 5 different varieties of cookies/candy to prepare in small batches. Since there are only two of us and we weren't planning to give a lot of cookies away as gifts, we didn't see any reason to get carried away and bake enough treats to last until spring or beyond.

We made Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Frosted Cut-Out Cookies, Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Sandwiches dipped in chocolate, and Chocolate Peanut Squares. They are all delicious, now that we can stand to look at sweets again! (I knew it was bad when two hours into the baking, my sugar-loving husband declared that he may not want sweets again.)

It was a different experience for us. I love to cook and bake so I tend to view the kitchen as my personal domain. That day I had to share.:-) But with two people, it went more quickly and was so much more fun than doing it all by myself. We worked together and found out which tasks were better for who.

I wasn't sure if this would become a tradition after all. It was rather hectic, you know. But this week we have had two opportunities to share small cookie platters with friends in our small group and at my husband's worship team practice. And guess whose idea it was to take treats to share? Not mine, but my husband, who is very proud of his/our accomplishments in the kitchen. He loved the fact that I actually let him be actively involved.

Note to self- cookie baking will be a Christmas tradition for us, after all.

This is a new recipe that we tried this year. It is from the Dec/Jan "05 issue of Taste of Home. This is a no-bake recipe and very easy to make. It is our new favorite Christmas recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Squares
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon butter

Lina a 9-inch square pan with foil and butter the foil; set aside. In a large bowl,combine powdered sugar, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and butter. Spread into prepared pan.

Combine topping ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl; heat until melted. Spread over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until cool. Using foil, lift out of pan. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds.

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