Happy Holidays!

Let the holiday baking begin!
Gingerbread cookies
I think this is the very first baklava I ever ate! I'm not very sure where this origins. Does anyone want to fill me in? I can see it probably takes some time to make the flaky layers. It's quite sweet and is filled with pecans. So basically it fell apart when I tried to eat it.
This is irrelevant, but my sister received some beautiful flowers from her baptism:)

My glorious drippy cake. How'd you like it? Haha. I actually had lots of fun doodling this chocolate frosted cake with the leftover cookie icing. Can you see the mountains, trees, windows, dripping rain and snowflakes? The lovely winter wonderland. 

Now to my army of penguins!
I created this darn little cute things after seeing some creative yogurt cup creations on some blogs. Inside, I filled them with little treats of homemade granola or candied peanuts. And as you can tell, I need to work on my spray painting. But overall, it's quite satisfying seeing how they turned out :)

Yogurt with granola :)

Crunchy Granola 
adapted from foodnetwork 

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups rolled oats
2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, or slivered almonds*
1 cup sweetened shredded coconuts
dried fruit
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line baking trays with parchment paper and set aside for later. 
Combine brown sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook on low heat until the sugar dissolves. 
In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, shredded coconuts and brown sugar syrup mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Spread the granola onto baking trays and bake at 275°F for 25 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 300°F and continue baking for 20 minutes or until golden and crunchy.
When the mixture comes out of the oven, it is still very soft and pliable. So at this time, add in dried fruit and mix it up. When granola has cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

*The nuts can be raw. And if you have them whole, just dump them into a food processor and chop it up a bit. 

Candied Peanuts
2 cups (275g) raw peanuts
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/3 cup (75ml) water
a sprinkle of coarse sea salt 

In a wide, heavy-duty skillet, mix the peanuts with the sugar and water. Cook the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid seizes up. It will take a few minutes.
When the peanuts get dry and sandy (sugar will crystallizing), lower the heat and keep going, scraping up any syrup collecting in the bottom of the pan and stir the peanuts in it, coating them as much as possible.*
Right before their done, sprinkle on the sea salt and stir it a few times. Spread the peanuts onto a baking tray or counter top to let them cool completely then break up any clumps. 

Keep in airtight container for about a week. 

*I didn't cook them till caramelized in the picture to the left. 

Decorated cookies with royal icing and garnished with pearls

 I placed about 5 cookies in each cookie tin alternating between christmas trees and rounds. Also filling up the space with lots of colorful tissue paper!
 As for the rest, I bagged them and ended it with a tag and tied ribbon.
Speaking of cookies...my friend made me such a cute dinosaur cookie! I have no idea how to make it since I've never iced a cookie with fondant before...but she recommends dipping them with milk!

It was after I made the cookies when I got this wonderful cookie plate. I'm looking forward to using it for my future cookies :)

Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year! 

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