Have A Holiday Baking Party



It has been a very busy few days, with the holidays, traveling, decorating and craft shows. I am just now finding some time to recuperate and gathering ingredients to begin baking desserts and cookies for Christmas. I especially like this time of year because it is cold and baking makes our home smell wonderful.

Christmas will be different this year. Our family is all over. Mom left for Lima, Peru, brother Tommy for Italy. My sister Nancy and all my children will celebrate in their own homes. That leaves brother Jimmy and myself and close friends at our table.

Today I will share with you a wonderful Strawberry Yogurt Cake, Marzipan Hearts Cookies and Hazelnut and Almond Fingers.

Since the holidays usually means family and friends, why not gather together on a weekend or weekday and bake cookies and desserts way before the holidays, share a light dinner with finger food or salads. Make it a potluck and just enjoy the baking, laughter and visiting. Who knows? You might just start a new tradition!

Have an amazing day!


Marzipan Hearts

1 pound marzipan

11 ounces confectioner's sugar

2 egg whites

1 egg yolk

candied angelica

glace cherries

Work the marzipan and 7 ounces of the confectioner's sugar together. Roll out on a surface dusted with icing sugar until 1/2 inch thick. Cut out small hearts with a biscuit cutter.

With the remaining marzipan mixture, cut thin strips long enough to form the heart shape. Brush the edges of the hearts with egg white, and then place the strips on top to form a raised border. Flute with the prongs of a fork, and then brush the borders with beaten egg yolk. Place the hearts on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. Mix together the remaining egg whites and icing sugar and brush in the centers of the hearts, Let to set, then decorate with the candied fruit. Makes about 20.

Tip: Use a selection of cookie cutters to make different marzipan shapes.

Hazelnut and Almond Fingers

7 ounces flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

6 ounces sugar

4 ounces ground hazelnuts

4 ounces butter or margarine

1 egg yolk

1 ounce ground almonds

Sieve/sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and make a well in the center. Put the egg, milk and half the sugar into the well and mix together. Add the remaining sugar, the hazelnuts and butter or margarine, cut into small pieces and mix quickly to a dough. Chill dough for 20 minutes. Form the dough into small fingers. Brush with the beaten egg yolk and roll in the ground, flaked almonds. Put on a greased baking tray and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

Cook's tip: Keep butter in the refrigerator and grate it for easier mixing.

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

7 ounces flour

2 ounces margarine

6 ounces sugar

1 egg

1 ounce gelatin

3 tablespoons water

1 pound strawberries

1-1/2 pints natural yogurt

1/4 pint whipping cream

1 small apricot

Sieve/sift the flour onto a working surface. Make a well in the center and put in the margarine, cut into small pieces, 4 ounces of the sugar and the egg. Mix quickly together to form dough. Press into the base of a greased 9-inch spring-form cake pan. Prick all over with a fork and bake blind at 400 for 25 minutes or until cooked. Cool.

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and leave to soften. Hull the strawberries, then sieve or puree three quarters of them. Mix with the yogurt and the remaining sugar. Dissolve the gelatin in a bowl over simmering water, then strain into the yogurt mixture.

Put aside a few strawberries for decoration and halve the rest. Arrange the halves, cut side down, on the pastry base. Spoon over the yogurt mixture and chill until set.

Remove from the tin. Whip the cream and pipe on top of the cake. Decorate with pieces of strawberry and apricot.

Serves 6-8.

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