Holiday Party Recap, Part II: Bites, Bars, and a Holiday Standard

As I mentioned in my last post, I do like to have a variety of shapes and sizes of baked goods to present whenever I'm putting on a party. So I decided to make Midnight Chocolate Brownie Bites, and actually make them bite size. I baked a 9 by 13-inch pan, and cut the brownies into 1-inch by 1-inch squares, yielding 96 squares (the finished size of the baked brownies was about 8.75 by 12.75 inches, which is why I only got 96 squares, and another 21 smaller crust remnants that I was contemplating maybe mixing into my next batch of homemade ice cream... but would you believe that I found a guest eager to take home these irregulars?). The tiny bite size servings turned out to be a great idea, as guests liked being able to pick up just a bite or two, leaving them with plenty of room to sample other offerings at the party.

I also made Raspberry-Filled White Chocolate Bars, a Pillsbury Bakeoff recipe that I found in a booklet called "Bake-Off Cookies, Brownies & Bars" that I bought at the checkout lane at the grocery store in 1997. This recipe is one of my favorites and I make it regularly. The bars are extremely moist, and the white chocolate, raspberry, and almond flavors are fabulous together.

Another standard cookie in my rotation at Christmastime is florentines. I think these lace cookies are so beautiful and festive that I always make them during the holidays. (Also, because of the chocolate coating, I usually make these only in cold, dry weather conditions.) The recipe is from The Art of the Cookie by Jann Johnson, which is one of the very first cookbooks I ever owned (I got it back in college). You make the dough for these almond wafer cookies on the stove. You melt butter in a saucepan, add sugar, flour, salt, honey and cream, simmer the mixture for a bit, and then mix in sliced and ground almonds and almond extract. A cookie scoop and parchment paper are a necessity for this recipe; because the cookies spread so thin, they can go from undercooked to burnt very quickly and parceling out equal amounts of dough ensures that all of the cookies are done at the same time. The cookies are still soft and pliable when they come out of the oven, but harden as they cool; parchment paper makes lifting these cookies from the pan a breeze.

After the cookies are cooled, you spread a chocolate coating of melted chocolate and butter on the backside of each cookie. I draw a decorative design in the chocolate using a cake comb, a triangular piece of plastic with evenly-spaced teeth on each side that I drag through the chocolate. These cookies bake up with some small holes where chocolate can seep through to the front. It's an impressive looking cookie, and delicious to boot!

Previous Posts: