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Holiday Baking Bonanza: 5 Party Pleasing Recipes

Two weeks ago, I attended our neighborhood holiday party—an elegant sit down dinner complete with appetizers, a delicious main meal with several entrees and sides, and dessert.

My first year at the party (only 6 months in the neighborhood!) and I volunteered to be in charge of dessert.

Rather than one main dessert, I decided to create a variety of desserts, in bite size portions. I embarked on a holiday baking frenzy! The list of recipes follows:

Neely’s Lime Bars by Gina and Patrick Neely (recipe here). I’ll be making these again this week for our extended family gathering, along with my annual Christmas mix (below), as they were the hit of the party! If squeezing and zesting a lime sounds intimidating, it was easier than it sounds! Yes, admittedly, there are steps to recipes that hold me back, but I am trying to get over those barriers!

Mini Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting by Ina Garten (recipe here). These are scrumptious. Ina’s recipe calls for large cupcake molds or papers, but I opted for the mini version. Fourteen minutes of baking at her suggested temperature produced perfect little tender morsels.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti by Gourmet magazine (1994) with recipe here. I have been making these biscotti forever, and I used to give them out as gifts. When the hostess asked me for the recipe, I was stunned to see the year! Officially, I’ve been at these for almost 20 years. They get nice compliments and were the second runner-up for the dinner party.

Chocolate Caramel Truffles (Gourmet magazine, circa 1994 with recipe here). My kids love these, and admittedly, I do too. They pack a powerful punch of dark chocolate and caramel, all mixed together. You can coat these with cocoa or pecans– the pecan coating is my favorite!

White Chocolate Mint Mousse by Nigella Lawson (recipe here).

This was a flop. I was disappointed, because in my mind, this was going to be, literally, the “cream of the crop.” But, it was my first time making mousse and my technique was bad (a temperature, mixing, folding fiasco), resulting in chunks of white chocolate running throughout the mousse.  Not the creamy, light, melt-in-your-mouth experience I was hoping for.

But don’t let that discourage you from trying this—the flavor was outstanding.

Last but certainly not least, is the Christmas Mix I make every year. I have been making this since before I met my husband! My kids would tell you it wouldn’t be the holiday season without this family recipe (or the standing rib roast and the egg-sausage-cheese casserole). The special teachers in our lives receive a bunch of this and it’s always a big hit. What are your favorite treats to make for the holidays?

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!

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