Generations baking together is a tradition in many families. Since my mother and I share a house, we tag-team on holiday goodie making, every year vowing to cut back on the amount of decadent sweets we create … yet every year finding fun, new things to try.
Though we co-habit pretty harmoniously, Mom and I do have rather different philosophies in the kitchen. At nearly 90, she's made a LOT of delicious treats over the years, and experience has taught her that a simple cut-out cookie sprinkled with a little red sugar will be gobbled up as eagerly as more elaborate productions. By contrast, I like to style myself a Cookie Artisan at this time of year. I scour Pinterest for the most impressive-looking sweets and complicated concoctions that often require obscure ingredients and special equipment ("But Mom, I NEED a chocolate-tempering machine!")
While I enjoy the creative process, I have to admit it usually consumes a LOT of time and fuss, often occupying all available space in the kitchen for days at a time – thank goodness for microwave TV dinners! Mom is generally pretty tolerant of my efforts, but I sometimes hear her sigh as she surveys the cluttered "workshop" her usually tidy kitchen becomes through much of the month of December.
This year I decided to give her a break and look for recipes for sweets that are adorable and impressive, yet relatively simple to make. I decided on Snowman Truffles and Brownie Reindeer. Of the two, the snowmen – consisting of Absolutely Almond Pound Cake balls dipped in almond bark – are a bit more "fiddly." But the process is simple and allows for creativity in decorating. (If you're squeamish about sticky hands, you'll want to wear plastic gloves when making these.) I enjoyed giving my snowmen different facial expressions and outfits and posing them in formation on a serving tray dusted with powdered sugar "snow."
The adorable brownie reindeer feature luscious Truffle Fudge Brownie Mix and crunchy Twisty Graham antlers. Add a couple of googly eyes and a Rudolph-red nose and these super-simple little guys are almost too adorable to eat. Almost.
I'll still be making a few fussy holiday treats this season (sorry, Mom). But Snowman Truffles and Brownie Reindeer will stand proudly on our cookie trays alongside the Divinity candy, Springerle cookies and meringue Christmas trees. 'Tis the season to indulge!
Tips & Hints:
- Chill the cake balls a few minutes in the refrigerator before dipping them.
- I "glued" the licorice scarves around the snowmen’s necks with a little melted almond bark.
- Insert short pretzel stick "arms" into the snowmen to make them even more animated.
- Although the recipe calls for using frosting gel to make the facial features and buttons, I used mini chocolate chips for the eyes and a butterscotch chip for the "carrot" nose.