These muffins–and muffins they be– are not an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. Not too sweet and with a pebbly-crunchy mouthfeel, they still hold a holiday-ishly decadent pizzaz with the very best bittersweet chocolate baked right into the bottom of the muffin. You can also add it at the top if a frosting effect is more to your liking (see Cook’s Notes), but I do very much like the little secret chocolate that’s perfectly hidden until you take your first bite. If you’ve been roaring on about trying not to eat all those goodies this month (waa, waa, waa), take heart; read on…
For anyone with Scots background, shortbread is the Christmas cookie. In whatever “shape or form”, to quote my Dad, it might come. It also happens to be my very favorite cookie of any season and you can find it on the blog in a few incarnations... The endless variations are a large part of its intrinsic attraction for this baker:
Holiday breakfasts, for many people, are laden with tradition. Such as: We always have pancakes. OR My best friend makes scrambled eggs with peppers and onions. OR Bacon gets fried up in huge quantities for me.
Whenever I run into savory little cheese cookies someone’s served with a glass of wine, I’m happy indeed. These days, they’re usually they’re made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, but older food memories include homemade crispy little cheddar crackers that were just as good with beer as with wine. Back in the day, these were called “Cheese Pennies” and while they were usually simply round, occasionally a creative baker would even roll them out and cut them out into shapes (suits, of course) for bridge club.
Things that grow together go together
is the saying–Cheddar and Beer being two things the British do very well and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Wine being two things the Italians do just superbly. So, whichever way you roll –to coin a phrase –these savory bits are luscious.
Checking through my top choice cookbooks for such recipes (and tooling around the internet, of course) showed me there’re just as many varieties of not-sweet cookies as there are baking (or other) books on my cookbook shelves.
By the time Christmas or New Year’s comes you might not have the energy for a dessert just for the holiday dinner. This especially if you’ve entertained or baked throughout the season and simply feel all the cookies and goodies you’ve gotten through the kitchen must certainly be enough. If that’s the case, and you’ve frozen a few of each of your favorites, pull them out and arrange them in loving fashion on your favorite platter and call it quits. If, however, you haven’t worn your dear baking self out by now, make my gorgeous cranberry compote cheesecake. Even if you’re not a baker at heart, this is a fairly easy endeavor as long as you have a 9-inch springform pan and said ingredients.
There’s no special skill needed to make a cheesecake. The filling can be made with a hand-held electric mixer, a standing mixer, or with my favorite machine, the food processor. If you’ve strong arms or can borrow some, and have your cream cheese truly at close to warm room temperature, you can make this with no machines at all. Imagine. (I went without an electric mixer for many years of my baking life, so I know wherein I speak.) You can crush the graham crackers in a bag with a rolling pin or a hammer. If you’ve any sauce pan at all, you can make the cranberry topping. So go ahead. Start now; it’s better really well-chilled and keeps for days and days. Baking blessings, friend.
I’ve worked on Christmas Eve for many years, so our Christmas Eve dinner was always something like a soup I left in the crock-pot while I directed the choir at church. Or it might have been a made-ahead casserole like cassoulet that finished up in the oven while “Silent Night” was sung. One year I made a fish stew base early in the morning, heated it around 9pm, and threw in the seafood and fish for a few minutes until it had just cooked through. On a rare occasion we’d go out for dinner before the first service or in between services if I had to direct an 11 o’clock. (at left: PPUMC Choir, Minneapolis)