Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2009

As a belated follow-up to the Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2010 post, I’m dedicating this entry to the fruits of my labor circa December 2009.

To date, the Penguin Cupcakes I made last Christmas have been my favorite baking project, albeit the most laborious.  That means blog content will probably go downhill from here, but I promise to try my best not to let my readers down… all three of you.

Penguin Cupcakes

The penguins themselves are Jordan Almonds strategically dipped in chocolate.  It was particularly difficult to get them dipped evenly because A) I had trouble finding the right balance of butter and chocolate to give the coating a thick and even consistency, and B) the almonds are ridiculously slippery so I kept dropping whole almonds in chocolate.  A full bag of chocolate chips, two sticks of butter, and two hours later, I caved and bought some Wilton melting chocolate which worked perfectly.  See penguin carnage in below photo.  If you look closely, you might be able to spot the one with the accidental chocolate pompadour.

Penguin War Zone

Next, I made the beaks from tiny pieces of orange Swedish Fish and frosted them onto the face of the penguin.  My little flightless friends sat on a bank of white frosting topped with coconut “snow”, all on top of a homemade chocolate cupcake.  A miniature candy cane “North Pole” sign was posted behind them.  I got the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes as well as the inspiration for the decorations from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.

My little fleet of penguins

In addition to the aforementioned fowl armada, I also made a plethora of cookies… specifically, one batch each of cranberry orange oatmeal, peanut butter kiss cookies, chocolate chip oatmeal, and pumpkin spice.  My girl, Martha, put out some nifty treat boxes that year that I picked up at Michael’s.  Target also had some small gift bags that I used too.  Click on the thumbnails below for close-ups!

Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2010

Happy New Year!  If you know Kevin and I, then you know that we aren’t fans of spending loads of money to be around lots of drunk, belligerent people with inevitably flailing limbs and flying drinks in tight quarters.  To kick off 2011 KJ-and-Al style, we had a great dinner and got dolled up in our best ensembles for a night out… on the living room couch watching episodes of Top Chef until about 15 seconds before midnight.  Classy.  I’ve never stayed home on New Year’s Eve in my adult life, but I must say it was stress-free and really fun.

I’ve also been a bit sick the last couple of days, so I thought I’d spend the time updating here instead of circulating my germs in a new baking or crafts project.  The holidays are an infamous time for reveling in buttery, sugary foods.  I admittedly do partake in providing artillery for expanding the waistbands of those around me, as I usually try out a new baking recipe (or three) around the holiday season.

Nine sticks of butter (yes, NINE) and more than an entire brand new carton of sugar later, I think I truly outdid myself this year.  I had been itching to make madeleines ever since I got a madeleine pan from my Sho-Yu Secret Santa last year.  The little french cakes are so classy, and in my opinion, make a great holiday baking gift.  Thanks to Martha, I found some great recipes I was dying to try out.  I was really pleased with the colors that all three madeleines had distinct colors, making a nice looking gift bag.  And the madeleines would not have come to existence if not for the help of Santa’s Little Helper, Kevin, who took some great photos and helped out a ton with the baking.  I’ve never seen madeleine pans buttered so masterfully!

Gift Bags

In addition to the madeleines, I also pulled out some White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies from my baking repertoire, as well as a Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing from scratch for a Christmas dinner potluck.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Also, big thanks to Shirley for sending me the recipe for the Japanese Furikake Chex Mix that I’ve been eating my whole life but finally made for the first time.

Furikake Chex Mix

I’ll keep this post relatively short, but here’s the photo gallery for close-ups of the madeleines in the making.

Cheers to 2011!