I've been invited to THOSE Holiday Cookie Exchange parties in the 'hood. I have to admit it's pretty stressful . I love the ladies who get together every year to do this exchange and I was honoured to be invited into their circle of sweetness. But baking one type of cookie and, like, 6 dozen of them was really not my cup of tea. I love baking but I hate baking under pressure. Amanda just wrote her blog about Making the Cut with her circle of baking friends. And as Amanda says, "it is KIND OF A BIG DEAL" to some.
The cookies need to be delicious AND look good. Perfect cookies only. So, you know, I had to make something like 10 dozen to churn out the perfect 72 cookies. The party was successful but then I had way too many cookies in my fridge that year and the freezer was overflowing.
But having said that I LOVE baking.
When I have time. And who has time? I know, you need to make the time. Yes, I know.
This year, I got a little nudge to help me kick-start my baking frenzy. KRAFT CANADA asked if I was planning on doing any baking and if so, they would send over a professional photographer to capture all the action in the kitchen.
But I thought it would be way more fun to invite a couple of my "besties" over to bake TOGETHER! We always have a great time and with their busy schedules, I thought "hey,let's just make a mess in one kitchen, shall we?" So, when Buffy and Candy (yes, their real names) came over with sleeves rolled up, I knew they were going to rock my kitchen. Our FAST & FURIOUS baking session was a blast!
But when we get together, we tend to get a little distracted with the chatter - too many steps would not be a good thing. But while we laughed away for 3 hours we managed to get some significant baking done. At the end we shared the bounty which will definitely come in handy over the next week of entertaining and gifting!
TA-DA! Here is my new Holiday Tradition! Baking with friends! It's WAY MORE FUN and social doing it together. Our families loved that we had time to get in some baking and KRAFT gets kudos for yummy sweet and easy recipes.
But most importantly, spending time together with some very special friends was a gift in itself. This day, I realized that holiday baking is not just about the yummy baking!
Here are the recipes that we made! They are fast for any last minute baking you may need to do at this point. Happy Baking!
CHOCOLATE, CARAMEL & OATMEAL BARS
What you need:
24 Kraft Caramels
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
1 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut up
1 cup Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
HEAT oven to 350F.
LINE 9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides; spray with cooking spray. Cook caramels and milk in saucepan on low heat 2 to 3 min. or until caramels are complete melted and sauce is well blended, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
MIX flour, oats, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbly; press half onto bottom of prepared pan, Bake 10 min.; top with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle with caramel sauce; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
BAKE 20 to 25 min. or until golden brown. Cool completely. Use foil handles to life dessert from pan before cutting into bars.
SALTED CHOCOLATE-COVERED CARAMELS
What you need:
1 pkg. (269 g) Kraft Caramels
5 squares Baker's Premium 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate, melted
1 Tbsp. sea salt
INSERT toothpick into 1 caramel; dip in chocolate. Shake gently to remove excess chocolate. Place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Remove toothpick Repeat with remaining caramels.
SPRINKLE immediately with salt. Let stand until chocolate is firm.
Personal Note: instead of sprinkling salt, we made them festive with crushed candy cane. We also sprinkled sweetened coconut flakes on a few for variety. To speed the chocolate firming we placed the tray of finished chocolate caramels into the fridge and it worked well!
What you need:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
35 Premium Plus Crackers
1 pkg. (8 squares) Baker's Semi Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted, finely chopped
HEAT oven to 400F
COOK butter and sugar in saucepan on meidum-high heat 5 min. or until butter is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil; cook 3 min. without stirring. Meanwhile, arrange crackers in single layer in foil-lined 17 x 11-1/2 x 3/4-inch pan.
SPREAD sugar mixture onto crackers.
BAKE 7 min. Immediately sprinkle with chocolate. Let stand 5 min. or until chocolate is melted; spread to cover crackers. Top with nuts; cool completely. Break into pieces.
Personal Note: since we didn't want to put nuts on top we decided to let the chocolate look a little more 'rough'. We also added coconut for contrast. It was very simple to make and taste great too! We thought this would be a fun recipe to do with kids. But also check out the Kraft page for their presentation of the original recipe. Either way they both taste delish!
For more awesome holiday recipes and kitchen tips make sure you visit
DO YOU HAVE ANY HOLIDAY TRADITIONS WITH YOUR FRIENDS? We'd love to know!
This post is not sponsored nor was I compensated. Kraft Canada provided a selection of recipes to choose from and sent over Teddy, the photographer, to capture the fun! Thanks to Kraft Canada for this wonderful Dessert Moment with my BFFs! And thanks to Buffy & Candy for taking tine out of their busy holiday schedule!