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The Joy of Holiday Baking

It’s the season of giving – my favorite time of year. It’s the time when my kitchen is constantly coated with a fine layer of flour, sugar and chocolate. The KitchenAid is continuously whipping up batches of cookies and candies. Perfectly sculpted bows tie up cellophane wrapped packages filled with an assortment of these homemade delicacies.

Everyone appreciates a gift from the kitchen. I love packaging these gifts almost as much as I love to bake them. I scour the shelves at thrift stores finding unique jars, cups, mugs and plates. I then fill them with spiced nuts, hot chocolate mix, homemade marshmallows, caramels or chocolates (or an assortment of all) and wrap them with a beautiful ribbon.

With a few inexpensive ingredients and packaging supplies you have wonderful hostess gifts or a delightful holiday gift for all the confectionery lovers in your life. Attach the recipe with your package so they can recreate your goodies in their own kitchen.

This year I will be passing out a variety of homemade treats, including onion jam and fennel pollen shortbread. I can’t get enough of the sweet and tangy onion jam that beautifully complements the sweet and floral flavors in the shortbread. When paired with blue cheese it makes for an amazing holiday appetizer. Both of these recipes can be made well in advance, before the harried rush of holiday shopping and parties hit.

For me, the joy in baking and cooking comes in the part of sharing. The act of creating something beautiful and incredibly delicious for someone you love is a truly special gesture. As I’m creaming the butter and sugar I pray for the recipients. While I’m stirring in the flour I give thanks for the blessing they are in my life. And as I’m tying the bow I relish in the joy of giving.

Happy Holidays to you all! Savor the season and all the delicious moments it brings.

by Ashley Rodriquez
Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. Read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com