2010 is almost a memory, and what remains is mostly the bitter-sweet disassembling of Christmas.  I've been finding pieces of packaging shrapnel from eager gift opening and the odd half-eaten piece of Christmas candy (a sure sign of overindulgence).  For me, these days-after feel a little awkward, but reflecting on the year fills my glass half-full again.  So many amazing things happened, and I am hopeful that 2011 will be even better!

I may even have a resolution or two.  Do you?

Though I'll miss the ornaments and lights, these cupcakes have plenty of sparkle to welcome in the new year.  They are festive little parcels that carry bright, fruity notes of champagne.

This will be brief.  I know you're probably just as busy as I am with Christmas a mere week away.  I can hardly believe how fast time has flown by this year!

While the weather outside has been truly frightful, (check out our ice-encased trees!) my kitchen has been cozy and delightful.  Here are a couple of easy Christmas treats that have warmed my home.

Edit: I nearly forgot! I'm blogging for Pixiq now!  I'll be doing future postings of food photography 101 and food styling tutorials. You can find my first article here.

This holiday season I've been baking more than ever, and my appliances are either rebelling or flat out giving up the ghost.  My Kitchen Aid mixer started making an unfamiliar noise yesterday, and my poor cheapo food processor died last week.  It's untimely demise was from the thick batter of a viking cake I'm making for the upcoming book.  Apropos, don't you think?

I don't even want to talk about my mini chopper (R.I.P.).  I really loved that thing.

Though I've clearly had some trials, I've not lost much time working.  I've got a really great support system, and Mr. Baird is handy indeed.  So, onward to the cake!

I've had the idea for this cake for some time now.  While thumbing through some old favorite recipes I came across the beloved Jello "poke cake".  This is my version, and though it's not made from a box mix, it's still pretty easy to put together.  In place of the jello, pomegranate juice and sugar are simmered together to make a syrup that soaks into the white cake layers. It reminds me of the sweet-tart flavor that a jam cake has.

I frosted the cake with cream cheese icing, but you could switch it out for buttercream if you prefer.

Many of you may already have this delicious cookie in your recipe arsenal.  It's an old favorite of mine, and their snowy appearance makes them perfect for Christmas festivities.  I like to compare them to Pecan Sandies, except they are softer and all the more lovely with a generous coat of confectioners' sugar.  The best part?  They are so easy to make!

Milk and cookies for Santa.
The icicle candy is a little more challenging.  Preparing the candy mixture is easy enough because you make it in the microwave.  I was worried because  (me) + (candy making) - (candy thermometer) =  disaster².  I'm not kidding.  I was sure I'd have a big lump of sugary mess stuck to the bottom of my glass measure.  In spite of my phobia, everything went as indicated in the recipe text.  The most challenging part is cutting the candy into strips and twisting them before they harden.

These are really pretty and would make a neat homemade gift.  If you plan to make them for this purpose then I would suggest making a trial batch.  You will learn much the first time around.  I fumbled with re-heating the candy and I twisted some of the candy too tightly.   Now that I know what I'm doing,  I'm ready to make my second batch!  I think they'd be cute in cello bags tied with pretty ribbon.

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