The Perfect Holiday Baking Day

The Perfect Holiday Baking Day

The Perfect Holiday Baking Day

The Holidays in our home would not be complete without a girls baking day. A day dedicated to pulling out the Christmas apron, playing Christmas music and drinking some hot cider all while diving headfirst into lots of flour and sugar!  It is a special day I have shared with my mom, my aunts and my girls over the years. An opportunity to slow down, learn from the generations before us and reflect on the goodness of blessed relationships.

A love for all things Christmas began with my Grandma Theda Mae. She spent the Holidays in the kitchen. She would spend days making Christmas cookies, baking bread and preparing for that treasured Christmas meal with family and friends. She gave great attention to the details and made every guest feel welcomed. Grandma Theda is no longer here but her Christmas cookies are still such an important part of our Christmas traditions. They are a beautiful reminder of her. 

This 2020 Christmas Season feels very different and for many, they are unable to be with those they love. However, the baking can go on… A plate full of Christmas cookies delivered to the door of a neighbor or mailed to a beloved grandmother can be a piece of Christmas we can all share. I can imagine if Grandma Theda Mae was here with us, her car trunk would be full of yummy cookie deliveries to be made and she would stop at nothing to get them where they needed to go.  We at 31 Chapters wish we could make that same special delivery to all of you. Instead, however we can share some of our treasured recipes. So pull out your aprons, turn on the Christmas music and grab a hot cup of cider…it may be the perfect day for a baking day. Merry Christmas from our kitchen to yours! 

Chocolate Mint Bars

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sliced unblanched almonds
Mint Cream (recipe follows)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Melt chocolate and butter together over hot water. In a bowl, beat together eggs and sugar thoroughly; add flour, nuts and chocolate/ butter mixture. Stir until combined. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Let cool in pan. Spread Mint Cream evenly over chocolate brownie layer. Cover and chill until firm- about 1 hour. Drizzle with Chocolate Glaze over Mint Cream and smooth out to cover the top completely. Cover and chill. If you do not want to make the chocolate brownie layer from scratch, you can use a shortcut and make a boxed brownie mix and add almonds to mix.

Mint Cream
1.5 cups of powdered sugar
3 T. soft butter
3/4 tsp. peppermint extract
2 T. half & half cream

Mix all ingredients together and thoroughly blend until smooth. You can add a few drops of green food coloring if you would like to color the Mint Cream green at Christmas time.

Chocolate Glaze
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 T. butter

Melt together in microwave and stir together until the chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Immediately spread over Mint Cream layer.

Note: This recipe was a tradition at Christmas time in my home growing up. Greg loves them too. In the busyness of the holidays, I have found a way to shortcut this recipe by making a boxed brownie mix. I can’t tell the difference. Enjoy! 

Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
4 tsp. milk
2 cups sifted flour
1.5 baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, orange peel and vanilla. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Sift together dry ingredients, blend into cream mixture. Divide dough in half and chill for one hour. Rollout and cut in desired shape. Bake at 375 about 6-8 minutes on greased cookie sheet. Should be about 1/2 inch. Serves two dozen.
(From Grandma Theda)

Mocca Bars

1 cup sugar
1.5 cup flour
pinch of salt
3 tsp. baking soda
1 cup milk
2 egg whites, beaten
1 lb. Spanish peanuts, finely ground

Sift dry ingredients three times. Scald milk and add to dry ingredients and beat well. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into a greased and floured baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes at 350. The baking sheet should be big enough that the cake is not more than 1.5 to 2 inches high (maximum) when baked. Cut into 1.5 inch small squares with a sharp knife dipped in very cold water. The cake will be sticky so you will need to do this step to prevent the cake from tearing as you cut. Frost all sides with frosting (recipe below) and then roll all sides in ground peanuts. When you frost, put just enough frosting on all sides so that the peanuts will stick- do not frost really thick. These can be stored in an airtight container and/or frozen so that they will last longer. Defrost before enjoying them.

3/4 cup butter
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 T. cream (or more if needed)
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream and cream and cream with mixer until smooth and light and fluffy.

Note: This is a very OLD recipe from the 1960’s that was given to my family by Mom Gunderson. It was a treat that my mom would make for us at Christmas time. They take a little bit of time but well worth the effort.