10-22-21 Let the Holiday Season Begin!

The holiday season has officially begun! Yesterday, I purchased two bags of chocolate chips from Costco. They don’t always offer the vegan version and I plan on baking a lot over the next few months (plus I’m going to host Little Christmas Eve on December 23rd for loads of baking hit me up if you want in) so it is 100% worth it. Really, though, the holiday season began last week. I decided to start the season a little early this year because to me, the holiday season means baking and making all the desserts I could possibly want. Is it healthy? Uh….let’s not go there. 😉 That’s why I thought it would be wiser for me to start in October rather than mid-November or even December. Better to spread out the sweet treats than cram it all in 6 weeks, right? (Although I wonder if it means I’ll just make more…)

So about two weeks ago I made my annual list of holiday goodies I want to make between now and early January and Shari helped me start it off right when we made puppy chow last Saturday. You know puppy chow has got to make the list. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s tasty. I think I’ll make more in December because that stuff is gold, but for now I’m trying out other recipes.

Wednesday night, I decided I wanted to make caramel, because I’m on the hunt for a decent vegan caramel recipe that works with Granny Smith apples. Let me tell you, caramel making, which is basically candy making, is even more of a science than regular baking is. I thought I could make it on the seat of my pants but I was definitely mistaken. The first batch, I didn’t think it through, and I ended up melting half of a plastic spoon INTO the caramel. I looked at Shari and we both said at the same time, “We can’t eat that.” Neither of us wanted pieces of plastic in our digestion system. I felt real bummed (Shari handled the whole situation wonderfully and got me back on track. Maybe one day I’ll be the cool “go with the flow” chick.). So after dinner, we made another batch. Now, this recipe did provide a temperature that the caramel needed to reach, but I didn’t read the directions before bringing all the ingredients over to Shari’s and so I left my food thermometer at home. And Shari doesn’t have one. So I thought, “We can just wing it!” And then I thought, “I bet the altitude changes the cooking time too. Welp, guess I’m not googling that tonight!” Yeah…maybe those thoughts weren’t the best thoughts or choices for a soft caramel. Winging caramel isn’t a great idea and the second batch, while plastic-free and a really lovely golden color, hardened on your teeth immediately and was basically inedible because of that feature. We tried to eat some of it, and decided in the end it was not meant to be, and the second batch now lives in the trash too.

I don’t feel upset that I tried. Nor do I feel upset that neither batch worked out. I wish it was otherwise, of course, because I really love caramel apples and I’d really love to have a vegan option. But trying means it wasn’t a failure and it means I know one recipe that doesn’t work for me. I’ll look for another some other time and cross “Caramel for apples” off my holiday baking list for now. The list doesn’t say I have to love the finished product.

Then, yesterday, I made thumbprint cookies for the pumpkin carving party I’m going to later today. I’ve made these cookies before (Elisabeth’s bday party 2020 throwback!) so I knew they would turn out decently. I don’t love these cookies, I think the cookie base itself is a little off (maybe too much butter? maybe the sugar shouldn’t be all white?), but I was in the mood for them when I created my list so on the list they went. I thought it would be best if I didn’t try to eat all 25 cookies by myself so what better opportunity than when my friends are gathering.

Who knows what I’ll end up making next. Could be caramel pecan bars (I just can’t get away from caramel, can I?). Could be strawberry bread. Could be something else that isn’t on my list but that deserves to be. Gotta be flexible when it comes to holiday baking. And maybe life too? 😉 What are you all planning on baking this holiday season? Let’s get it started!

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