Today marked the first day of my quasi-annual holiday baking marathon.  2008 was The Year Without a Christmas in my house, and I never did get to make any cookies, but I am feeling quite festive this season, and was excited to get back into the kitchen.  I usually strive to make at least 5 different kinds of cookies, some candy, and about 8 pounds of fudge.  I love to give it all away to the people that I love.  Would you like me to add you to my gift list?  Then subscribe to my blog!  🙂

Here’s what’s on my holiday baking list this year (and yes, I do indeed make a list):

  • Orange Poppy Seed Twinks (a simple variation on my Cherry Poppy Seed Twinks)
  • Chocolate Chip Shortbread Sticks
  • Russian Tea Cakes
  • Church Windows
  • Coconut Macaroons
  • Oreo Truffles
  • Peanut Butter Truffles
  • Chocolate Frangelico Truffles
  • Butterscotch Toffee Fudge
  • Some other kinds of fudge
  • Christmas Crunch (chocolate almond toffee)

Since I had a pork tenderloin roasting in the oven this afternoon, I decided to tackle a few of the items that can be made on the stovetop: toffee and fudge.  The Christmas Crunch is an almond toffee that I’ve been making since 1998 (based on the date on the Good Housekeeping magazine I got it from!).  It’s simple (as far as candy-making goes), and it absolutely amazing.  When/if i ever open the Wendalicious Shop, it will be one of the items I sell.

Christmas Crunch, Close Up

I always make a ton of fudge, because it’s so easy and everyone seems to enjoy it.  Of course I make the regular plain fudge, and plain with walnuts.  A few years back I was experimenting (as I am wont to do), and dumped some leftover Heath Bar bits into the butterscotch fudge I was making.  My friend Chris (of “Marlene and Chris” fame) said it was the best fudge he’d ever had, and thus a new tradition was born.  It really is quite fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Here are some pics (with the recipe included) of the Butterscotch Toffee Fudge:

Stirring together 2Tbsp butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp salt and 2/3 cup evaporated milk over medium heat. Boil for 4-5 minutes.
Adding the marshmallows, butterscotch chips, and toffee bits
Remove from heat, add 4oz marshmallows, 1 bag butterscotch chips, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup toffee bits
Stir vigorously to melt the mixture
Pour the fudge into a foil-lined 8x8 pan, then place in the fridge to firm up.

I had a fudge revelation today – much in the same way I created the Butterscotch Toffee Fudge, I invented Vanilla Ice Cream Cone Fudge.  Vanilla Ice Cream with Rainbow Sprinkles is my all-tie favorite summer treat, and I thought it would translate well into the holiday fudge milieu.  I happened to have bought white chocolate chips, so I substituted them and then added rainbow sprinkles to the mixture before pouring it in the pan.  I cannot wait to see how the experiment turns out.    This particular recipe is very amenable to variations, and you can substitute just about any kind of chip or nut, to suit your taste.

If you’ve ever made fudge, or any other kind of candy, you know it makes a sticky, sugary mess.  So, I am including here a handy tip for cleaning up the candy pot – fill it with water, throw in the spoons and spatulas, boil, and pour away the mess.  Sugar only melts in a heated solution, so this is the easy way to get that pot clean again – no scrubbing necessary!

Cleaning the Candy Pot

I will post recipes and photos as I continue my baking over the next week.  I’d love to know what (if any) holiday baking you do.  I’m particularly interested in finding a good fruitcake recipe – I think I may be one of the only people under 40 who actually enjoy fruitcake.  I guess that pretty well sums me up.