Guess who had a full day of work and was still behind on writing cards and wrapping presents and still had not made Christmas Eve dessert by Friday afternoon on December 23?  MEEEEE!!!  That break I had the week before was more like a short gasp of air; there was so much to do @ the office before everyone else was trying to escape for the holidays.  Fun.  When I got home I couldn’t even think about making dessert @ the time and just rushed to wrap all the gifts for Vin’s family and tried to @ least sort out gifts for my family.  I took a break to give Vin the rest of his presents (super awesome knife cufflinks, shoes, tickets to see pro bull riders @ MSG,  Japanese thermal long johns).  Our romantic pre-Christmas dinner @ Maloney and Porcelli was my gift to him the day before (I don’t care if you’re vegetarian; you MUST get the crackling pork shank!).  Vin gave me mine super early: I got a second 6-quart KitchenAid stand mixer (I have now christened them Thing 1 and Thing 2) and some neat baking pans a week before Christmas =P

I woke up early on Christmas Eve to get started on the cake balls.  I had a clear vision in mind for this Christmas dessert, and it was basically making really fancy, hand-decorated cake balls that were to resemble ornaments on this wooden tree stand I bought from Godiva last year.  The tree came with wrapped chocolate truffles, but those are long gone and all that remains is this simple wooden display.   Although these aren’t my favorite things to do, I admit I’m getting quite adept @ making cake balls now.  Plus, I had some leftover cupcakes from last weekend, and what better way to salvage dry cupcakes but to process them into cake ball dust?

White cake ball with red and green Christmas trees

I took out a Godiva truffle to gauge what size to roll out the balls (1 Tbsp scoop) so that the wooden tree display would cup the balls ever so snugly.  I had a bit of candy coating leftover from last month’s wedding favor order to cover a few balls, and broke open a package of white candy coating to make different colored “ornaments”.  I made the white balls first one @ a time: dipping, setting them to dry, artfully arranging Christmas tree sprinkles, and wash, rinse, repeat with the remainder of the yellow and green coating.  The candy coating dries rather quickly (man, I thought the white coating was fickle… no way, the green coating dries super fast!), so I couldn’t just dip a few balls @ once or the decorations would never stick.  And I couldn’t just throw all the sprinkles on or it would look like crap.  These were delicate, handcrafted, ornate cake balls with a coating that dried pretty damn quick.  I’d liken this to decorating a Fabergé egg, but on speed.  haha

The three final designs were:  white balls with red and green Christmas trees, yellow balls with clear/red/green sugar sprinkles, and green balls with white snowflake sprinkles.  I WANTED to make a fourth design: red balls with crushed peppermint sprinkles, but my downfall was not having actual red candy chips. I thought I was being sooooo innovative and smart by adding red food coloring to the white coating after making several white balls…  but I overheated the candy by just a tad and didn’t have enough time to fix that mess.  It was 1055 am and Vin was already hovering over me to pack this up and get ready to go, so I just brought a not-so-Christmassy variety pack of balls.  I mean, yellow?  Come on now… =/

Hand-decorated cake ball Christmas tree

We set it up @ the T house and it did look nice. Someone said it was a really great cake ball dispenser and Vin’s crazy cute nephew Patrick was very adamant on having a “gween ball wif white snowfwakes!!!”  I made extra balls to refill the empty spots on the tree and hoarded some to bring to my parents’ house for Christmas Day.  My mom, dad, and grandma had never had one before and said they were good, my sister and her boyfriend were quite familiar with my baked good experiments, and my brother just popped the whole thing in his mouth, grinned, and ate it.  =P

And with that, I give you the end of Christmas 2011 baking. (Phew!)

Happy 2012!

Things @ the office are JUST starting to slow down as we’re approaching that holiday lull where nothing gets done b/c frankly… everyone I need to  harass work w/is out on vacation.  Normally, I like being super active and multi-tasking, but it was getting a bit out of control.  The breathing time is quite welcome b/c I needed to get my crap together for the holidays, too!

I’ve been staying up late and using ANY free time I have @ home to organize gifts to ship out to faraway friends and family and addressing our awesome, one-of-a-kind Christmas postcards using Vin’s photography.  I figured we should have two sets made: one for “adults” and one completely nonsensical, weird set for people who are OK with our unique sense of humor =)  I spent a LOT on stamps and shipping gifts this past week, but thanks to baking orders and selling stuff on eBay, it wasn’t a big deal.  After bypassing the ridiculous line @ the post office on Saturday to send out 10 boxes of gifts to friends and family (thank youuuu, Click ‘n Ship!), Vin and I went to the supermarket to pick up ingredients for baking time.

chocolate minis with red peppermint frosting and vanilla minis with green vanilla frosting

This weekend’s order was very important.  A very nice woman found my site online and asked if I could make cupcakes as Christmas presents to deliver to her loved ones in LI since she wasn’t able to visit them for the holidays.  I definitely couldn’t say no.  We decided on making a mix of chocolate cupcakes with red peppermint frosting and vanilla cupcakes with green vanilla frosting.  I made a dozen minis to deliver to each house and added Christmas sprinkles to make it more festive.

chocolate minis with eggnog frosting and chocolate frosting

Then I also made a bunch of chocolate cupcake minis with chocolate frosting and eggnog frosting.  And then meticulously placed more Christmas sprinkles on these, too.  (I seriously love being able to use all these cute sprinkles!)

I made some extra chocolate minis and brought in leftover eggnog frosting to bring to co-workers.  I didn’t have time to decorate before bringing them in to the office, so I rushed to squeeze every last drop of frosting on the cupcakes and put one Christmas tree sprinkle on each during my lunch break.  There were a lot of gift baskets and store-bought baked goods out in the office, but I’m glad everyone still had room for my cupcakes.  =)

 

 

PS.  After I take the baked cupcakes out and let them cool, I dump them out on cooling racks and then line then up to make room for more batches. As I was straightening up the chocolate minis, I saw that one of the cupcakes kind of looked like it had my initials.  I swear I didn’t try to make it look like that!  I thought I was seeing things so I showed Vin and he said, “Yeah… it DOES look like there’s ‘KT’ on it!”  oooooooohhh… it’s a sign I was meant to do this, huh.

 

I completely forgot about posting this.  I made a TON of cream puffs for Thanksgiving over 2 weeks ago.  I guess it was glossed over since it’s been crazy @ work and the photos are forgettable and this wasn’t a big deal; I’ve made these before.  Ain’t nothin’ special.

I was on a puff-making spree the morning of Vin’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner and made hundreds of little puffs.  I just kept going and going and all my racks were overfilling and I lost count after 250.  I made this many with the intention of bringing some for the T house dessert, then bringing them for my family’s post-turkey dinner on Saturday, and then doling out the rest to coworkers.

Pistachio puffs

I made pistachio filling for the T house puffs.  No, pistachio filling is not naturally green; a bit of food coloring gives it that lovely processed pastel shade.  And there were bits of nuts in there, too.  I also made chocolate filling and vanilla filling, but as usual, Vin likes to get to his parents’ house early so I didn’t have time to change tips and refill pastry bags to do multiple flavors.  I REALLY wanted to construct a tower of puffs (croquembouche), but there definitely wasn’t any time for that.  Meh.

TONS o' puffs

I brought about 60-70 puffs to the T house and brought along my nice cake stands to assemble them, but I was preoccupied with our new little niece for a few hours. She was so cute and peaceful sleeping on me that I didn’t want to move and wake her up to arrange cream puffs and hold her @ the same time, so Vin’s mom set them all up on one platter.  There were extra puffs so Mom T froze them.  (I was told she took them out to eat 2 weeks after Thanksgiving and they held up well and were still good.)

For my parent’s house, I packaged the dry, baked puffs in a bag and didn’t fill them till we got to the house.  I didn’t want the puffs to be soggy.  And it was a much more relaxed setting so I just sat down @ the dining table and took my time filling the assortment of pistaschio, chocolate, and vanilla while my siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and my dad eyeballed the process and commented on the “messy ones that needed to be eaten right away.”  hahaha  It was a nice sampling dish… I think I made about 80 for my mom’s family feast and they were all gone by the time we left.

plate o' puffs - chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio

And I REALLY wanted to bring some for my coworkers and teammates since we were finishing up a big group project and this would have been a nice treat, but I just didn’t have time to make more filling before then.  So frustrating.  Now I have another 150+ empty, frozen puffs in my freezer, so maybe I can make a small caramel croquembouche tower for later.  In addition to the awesomely fun idea I have in mind for the Christmas…  stay tuned…