The Finer Points of Christmas Baking
Written By: Caity

What's something you just happen to see almost anywhere at this time of year? Tacky tinsel garland from the 1980's? Mmm hm. Obese zombies shopping Walmart at 2:30 a.m.? Yep. Lame inflatable lawn decorations at every third house? Even that. But I'm talking about when you go to any function and see mounds and mounds of Christmas baking. Now obviously everyone just likes what their mom used to make when they were kids, but there is some stuff out there that's not overly good to eat. I will go through what I can think of in alphabetical order. Anything I miss probably isn't worth making it into my brain.

Buttercrunch


Google image search tells me this is buttercrunch! Who am I to argue?!

This stuff never used to be a staple in my house, but in recent years it has made its way up the list. In case you haven't tried this marvelous stuff, I'll give you a play by play on them. The bottom layer is a caramelized candy made of...sugar and butter and some other stuff. Then there's a thin layer of almond slices, and then white and semi-sweet chocolate swirled as the top layer. You then break it up into little chunks that get eaten very quickly by anyone who's man enough to try them. Good stuff though. My mom makes a wicked buttercrunch.

Butter Tarts

I think I've probably only had about three of these in my entire life, but other people seem to like them. I don't know, I guess I'm just not much of a tart person and I don't believe the filling is any combination of actual edible ingredients. I don't think I'll have sufficient information to actually talk about all of these things. But hey, this is an LTM review...who said it had to be any good? Oh BURN!!

Gingerbread

Now most of the time these crazy little cookies are absolutely rock hard and taste pretty much like gingery cardboard. Not the way my mom makes them though. So what if she made up her own recipe...they are soft and they taste like gingerbread should. These are usually the most fun to make because you can decorate them every which way. Our gingerbread men remain naked this year, however. We still have three days left to decorate them, so it might happen. Gingerbread is great when dipped into eggnog.

Lebkuchen

Growing up in a German family, every Christmas we were forced to eat lebkuchen. It is made using the strange German flour that really doesn't taste quite right. I guess the taste of this stuff grows on you, but my memory doesn't hold it in very high esteem. It's alright though.

Nanaimo Bars

Or, as I found out last night, New York Slices. Apparently New Yorkers claim these for their own, but I must regretfully inform you that they were invented in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Yes, Canada folks. These are hideously overdone at every party or funeral you go to, and it's always the terrible store-bought kind. These are something that my grandma used to make at Christmas, and we hadn't had a homemade Nanaimo bar for probably 6 or 7 years now. So this year I dug out the recipe and made them up. They are phenomenally different than the store-bought ones. Last night I made a second batch of them since they seem to be mysteriously disappearing from the deep freeze.

Oat Cakes

I don't actually know what these are but I was trying to brainstorm more Christmas baking and my sister-in-law mentioned these. She said that her aunt who used to make them is dead now, so they don't get them anymore. That is all I know about oat cakes.

Peanut Butter Balls

I think that my grandma invented these, and it's probably the easiest recipe I've ever seen. 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of icing sugar, 1 cup of chopped walnuts, and 1 cup of maraschino cherries. Mix them up and make into balls, coat with chocolate. So easy and so freaking good. I hadn't had these for years until I found the recipe this year and made them. My grandma used to make these but we haven't had them since she lived at her house. Anyways, that's the lowdown on peanut butter balls...obviously not a good choice if you don't like the peanut butter/chocolate combination. But quite frankly, it doesn't really matter to me whether you'd like them or not...they're still amazing.

Poppycock

I basically had to put this on the list because of its funny name, but it's also a pretty good treat at Christmastime. My mom can't make it worth crap though. I feel okay about saying that because I've complimented her on most of the other topics here, and she's well aware of her short-comings. Poppycock is absolutely amazing but like most other Christmas delicacies, is pretty much just made of butter and sugar. We have some sitting on the counter right now which has yet gone unopened since we got it in a gift yesterday. Tomorrow I shall have to remedy that.

Shortbread

This Scottish sensation is also one of those real hit or miss things. I've had many a crumbly, tasteless shortbread cookie. They're hit or miss in our house as to how easily they go through the cookie press, but they usually taste good regardless. I think I like the dough for shortbread cookies better than the actual cookies, but they're still fairly decent. I remember one time one of my brothers (or it could have been me and I have blocked out that part of the memory) knocked the Tupperware of shortbread off of a shelf and onto our garage floor. So we had dirty cookies that year. Maybe we didn't eat them, I can't remember. I just remember seeing tons of broken dirty cookies on the floor of the garage. Terrible.

Truffles

These have always been one my favourite. They are tiny balls of chocolatey goodness which taste like a little bit of heaven when they melt in your mouth. You can make them two different ways: with orange extract and Grande Marnier, or with almond extract and Amaretto. The latter is the way that my mom makes them, and I cannot even fathom how horrible the former would be. Anyone who thinks orange and chocolate go together has some serious issues.

Now if you sat and read that whole thing, I pity you. I'm not going to proofread it. Well maybe a little bit. Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas. Remember that the most popular New Year's Resolution is to lose weight. Christmas is at the perfect time of year for such buttery, sugary, rich treats. It's a damn good thing that New Year's is only a week away.


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