Gingerbread Pizzelle with Eggnog Buttercream Filling

I hope everyone had truly wonderful Christmas. I wish you a prosperous and joyful 2012, and the most amazing New Year celebration!

There are dozens of possible filling choices for pizzelle. The buttercream has a major advantage – it doesn’t soften a crispy pizzelle shell even if they were filled a day in advance. There’s just one thing to remember when choosing buttercream as a filling: roll the pizzelle cookies tight, so the amount of buttercream inside wouldn’t be excessive and in a good proportion with the cookie itself.

Smooth and creamy crème anglaise-based buttercream is so naturally turned into eggnog-flavored one by addition of nutmeg and dark rum. It goes well with crispy spicy pizzelle shells.

Happy New Year!

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Chocolate Cocoa Nib Cherry Biscotti and Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Biscotti

Here I am speeding up the baking process. These two different in taste biscotti are made from one chocolate dough.

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Mexican Wedding Cookies

This is one of my staple cookie recipes for holiday baking. I’m sure I’m not the only one who bakes similar cookies around Christmas. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the foolproof recipe that’s been tweaked and perfected over the years.

I love using a combination of toasted (always toasted) walnuts and pecans, but either one will work well. When I grind the nuts in a food processor, I pause to take some coarsely ground nuts out to add them later, and then grind the rest finely; it makes quite a difference in taste. I don’t cover the cookies with icing sugar until they are completely cool since I find a melted grease-like thick layer of icing sugar unattractive. I bathe them in icing sugar once they are cool.

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Prosciutto Parmesan Puff Pastry Straws

These are perfect for an easy entertaining menu. The recipe itself is super-easy. The straws can be made in advance and frozen unbaked for up to a week, or just put in the fridge overnight before baking. You can shove them in the oven when your guests are at the door and serve the straws freshly baked – warm, crisp, and wonderful.

The flavor combination is an old classic (doesn’t mean it’s out of fashion though). The way I like to make the straws is to put the filling (quite a lot) between two layers of puff pastry brushed with some egg wash, then roll the rolling pin over to adhere them well together and cut into thin strips. The filling stays inside and doesn’t try to escape, and every straw is packed with meat and cheese goodness.

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Santa and Chimney Tutorial

With the big holidays upon us, I decided to offer a seasonal tutorial. I tried my best to make it thorough and well-illustrated. There are numerous photos (over 60) of every step from the roof and chimney construction to the tiny details of Santa’s face.

This tutorial allows great flexibility. It can be turned into a smaller project of decorating a miniature fruitcake, for example. In this case the roof sculpting can be omitted altogether and you can only make the chimney with cheeky Santa inside. Or, if the needs are completely opposite and you need a cake to feed a crowd, then the roof can be made longer, or even steeper, the chimney can be done taller, yet Santa still will fit nicely. Demonstrated on styrofoam chimney and fondant blocks for the roof, the tutorial still covers in great detail how to sculpt the cake and adjust its size to your requirements.

I want to emphasize that if you have any questions or need an advice, I’m always here to help. These questions will be my first priority, I’ll make every effort to answer them in timely manner.

My promised earlier Thomas the Tank Engine tutorial will be available after Christmas, since I think it’s more relevant to share some new cookie recipes and sweet holiday treats with you now.


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