As untimely as this post is, you should know that I meant to get it up a couple weeks ago. The problem was that I just kept procrastinating because I was dreading editing all the pictures and updating the baking ingredients spreadsheet. Editing the pictures alone takes forever.
Well, it just so happens that today school was cancelled due to the cold, so yay! Free Day! Days like this are a gift from Heaven above. The best part about them is the surprise in the morning, waking up to a text message telling me that school is cancelled. That, and it's a Monday. It's better than Christmas morning, let me tell you.
Temps in my neck of the woods dropped to 20 below last night and they've been hanging out around 0 and 1 all day, so I'm not going anywhere, and since I'm not going anywhere, I may as well make myself useful. I should go to the gym, but I don't really want to walk into my cold garage and get into my cold car to warm it up. I'm such a Delicate Flower.
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Peanut Head and I used to do an insane amount of holiday baking to give away to our friends and neighbors for Christmas. Well, in 2011 we decided we were finished with the whole ordeal. It had gotten so out of hand and become such a huge time suck and stress to accomplish, that we just threw up our hands and said "No more."
So last year we didn't do any baking. Nothing. Nada.
And it was awful. We missed giving the treats away and frankly, we missed the treats.
So this year we cranked the machine back up and went to work. I thought it would be fun to share the crazy amounts of ingredients we use to accomplish our Bake-a-Palooza and how we pull it all off.
It starts with this. Our ingredients list. We print this baby out in October and slowly start amassing the ingredients with each grocery shopping trip, checking things off as we acquire them. On this spreadsheet you can see that we go through 39 boxes of white chocolate, 8 pounds of chocolate chips, 2-1/2 pounds of mint chocolate chips, 5 packages of Vanilla Almond Bark, 2 pounds of milk chocolate stars, 3 pounds of dried cranberries, 21 cups of almonds and pecans, 6.25 pounds of Oreos (from the Devil, they are), and on and on. Don't ask me how much it all costs because I'm afraid to keep track of it and I prefer blissful ignorance.
Here are some of the things we make, although each year we add and take things away, just to keep it interesting.
This is the Cranberry Almond Bark and it is by far the easiest thing to make. This one is my responsibility because I pick the easy stuff. Peanut Head is the patient one, so he does the really time-consuming stuff.
This is what I'm talking about. Peanut Butter Bon Bons. Peanut Head spends an entire day making these things.
And they do not disappoint. Someday I'll make a recipe card for them, but until then, you can have this picture. I know, annoying, right?
These are also made by Peanut Head, and they are Buckeyes. Or you could just call them Peanut Butter dream balls, although as a middle school teacher, the b-word is one I am very careful not to say around teens and pre-teens, as they lack maturity.
Egg Nog Fudge, another one of Peanut Head's treats. I know it's not much to look at, but every year people rave over this stuff. It's awesome.
These are Mint Chocolate Truffles. They are super yummy and smooth, but one of my least favorite things to make. I think it's because it seems like it takes forever to roll all of them into their little truffle shapes. Like maybe two hours or something like that. Not all day like Peanut Head's treats.
I used to roll these in chocolate sprinkles, but this year I made a white chocolate mint drizzle that saves a lot of time, and I think it makes them prettier too.
Pretty is good. So is pretty yummy.
Another one of Peanut Head's treats. Does it seem like he makes more than I do? Perhaps. Who's really keeping track anyway?
These are Star Cookies and they are one of my favorites.
Ah. Oreo Truffles. Who doesn't love Oreo Truffles? The only not so pretty thing about these is that when they sit at room temperature for any length of time they get a little greasy-beady looking, on account of all the lard in the Oreos. That's what makes them so good. Says my Grandma. Lard makes everything better because it comes from bacon.
Here's another one of Peanut Head's treats, White Chocolate Coconut Clusters. People rave about these too, and I have to agree, they are pretty dang good.
These Gingerbread Snowflakes are my responsibility and they are probably my most time-consuming treat to make. I make the dough one day, it chills overnight, and then I roll the dough out, cut the cookies, and bake them. Then they usually sit in my garage, frozen, until I get off my gnarly carcass and decorate them already.
That's on account of the decorating is a little tedious as I'm compulsive and insist on using tweezers to put little pearlescent balls on the snowflake ends.
Eighteen of them on each cookie
I eat some too. When they're defective and not perfectly round. That's me, taking one for the team again.
It generally takes us two to three weeks to crank out about a dozen different treats. Once something is made it gets stored in an airtight Rubbermaid container and then it sits on Peanut Head's Martha Stewart workbench in our freezing cold garage.
It's like having our very own deep freeze.
The last step is to distribute everything among the containers and deliver. It always surprises me how long this step actually takes. Hours.
Generally, every year on the day after Christmas, we hit the stores up for our treat containers for the next year. That way we get them half price. Unfortunately, we didn't do that last year because we thought we were done for good.
That meant that the usual containers we buy were out of our budget since we had to pay full price. We ended up using paper plates and cheapo boxes that had to be reinforced with Scotch tape. Neither option stacks, so it also made delivering and storing a bit of a nightmare. Live and learn though.
After Christmas we scored our usual mass quantities of treat containers for next year. Now we just need to find 1,264 small paper candy cups.