Moving on! So for the third year in a row, I completed my crazy Christmas baking extravaganza to send treats to my friends across the country for the holidays. I'm incredibly grateful for the wonderful friends I have in my life, so it's a little way I can show them how much I love and appreciate them. Plus, it's a great excuse to try new recipes. The first year I did it, I did tons of cookies, last year it was bread, and this year it is a variety of treats! I also decided to get very crafty with the presentation of everything.
My apartment basically looked like a baking factory for a couple weeks with my supplies strewn everywhere. I had cards spread out over my couch as I wrote ones for everyone to include in the packages. And then I had to tape up the boxes and set them up for easy packing. This year, I had what I feel is more than normal, but I can't remember. It ended up being 34 people in 21 households (and that's with me forcing myself to limit my list a little this year). The boxes made it a little difficult to walk around for a few days, but all in the name of organization!
Unfortunately, I did a terrible job of taking pictures as I baked this time around, mostly because I was too distracted with trying to finish everything!
So to start, here's the final product! Pumpkin bread in a jar, chocolate fudge in a cookie cutter, and eggnog cookies!
So the Pumpkin bread was by far the funniest baking adventure I've had in awhile. I had never baked anything in a jar before, but I thought it was a clever and cute idea. I ended up buying 12 oz jars, and then I bought fabric and ribbon to dress up the jar a little. I doubled the recipe and then did two batches of that, which made 23 jars of bread. Baking them in the oven was hilarious because it's all a balancing act. You don't want to bake the bread on a baking sheet because it doesn't cook through like it's supposed to, so you need to put them directly on the rack.
When it got close to be doing, I wanted to test a jar to see if it was done or not. Bad idea. I kept knocking jars over in the oven and then struggled to get them balanced on the rack again. I ended up having my head practically in the oven for at least 10 minutes trying to fix it all. But they eventually turned out great! As soon as I took the jars out of the oven, I immediately put the lids on the jars, and as the breads cooled, it sealed the jars. The first time a seal popped, I jumped a little because I forgot it was going to do that. The only problem I ended up having was the shape of the jars made it difficult to really grease them, so everyone will have to make sure they eat the bread from the jar...unless they like big crumb messes.
The rest of my baking was done between 11pm and 3:30am on the Friday night before I mailed everything out. On four hours of sleep. After working a 15 hour day (including 8.5 hours of driving to and from Charleston). But you know what is totally ridiculous? As soon as I started baking, I was just in the zone, very relaxed, and felt like i was moving pretty fluidly. That's why, even when I bake really late like that sometimes, I don't care because it's not stressing me out. Until I see the dirty dishes and then I save them until after I've slept. Ha.
When I made the cookies, I doubled the recipe, and with making them a small size (about a tablespoon scoop per cookie), I made almost 100 cookies! SO MANY COOKIES. But it meant each person got three cookies each, so it was perfect. I didn't do the glaze on them though because most of them were getting mailed and it was just easier. The thing I loved about the cookies was the eggnog flavor did not hit instantly, and when it did, it was the perfect amount. I then put each person's cookies in little ziplock baggies with snowmen on them! Very festive.
The chocolate fudge was last and I molded each person's fudge in a holiday cookie cutter! I used a random fudge recipe with semi-sweet chocolate chips and marshmallows, and it was soooo rich and delicious. I wrapped each cookie cutter bottom in foil and greased them so as I poured the fudge in, it wouldn't seep out and it would stay in the cookie cutter. After making each batch, I poured the fudge in to the cookie cutters, and used a spoon to spread them to the edges. I had snowflakes, snowmen, christmas trees, sleighs, elves, wreaths, and many other shapes! I then stuck them in the fridge so they could set. It was very labor intensive, but really fun to make.
I'm glad I finished up all my baking in time to mail everything out, and I hope my friends really enjoy their treats!