Christmas Baking, Part 2: The Part Not Dealing with Molasses

What have I done since my first episode of Christmas baking?

Well, I ate the food I made, participated in several Yankee swaps, worked on some projects, and, well, baked more!  And somehow ended up with one of the most epic Yankee swap gifts I've ever gotten.  He's a tea infuser.  NES ended up with vanilla scented lotion.  He was less than excited, and it's already been entered in another swap.

I watched a cute snowman being built.

I've also spent time celebrating a birthday!  Happy birthday, GNS!

We had tasty hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting!

Oh, and watching the guys put together a robot.  I'm deeming it the IKEA robot because the directions are just diagrams.

Anyway, I was planning on Friday being my second baking day. But because of a Christmas celebration, party, and heading to school for project work there were just not enough hours in the day.

So I started Saturday morning by making marshmallows!  I like being able to let them sit overnight, but it just wasn't going to work.

I decided at the very last minute, as I sat sipping my peppermint mocha with breakfast, that I was going to make flavored marshmallows. The original plan was to just make peppermint mocha marshmallows.  Then I found Kahlua peppermint mocha marshmallows. Sold.

I actually adapted my usual marshmallow recipe by changing the liquid used to soften the gelatin.  I used 1/4 cup of Kahlua and 1/4 cup peppermint mocha coffee creamer instead of half a cup of water. I'm sure Kahlua with peppermint extract would work, too. It would just be stronger Kahlua flavor.  I also substituted 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract for 1/4 tsp. of the 1 tsp. of vanilla.

Oh, the sugar.  So much sugar.

I really like how they came out too -- they have kind of a subtle coffee flavor -- not too overpowering, and definitely not too pepperminty.  I will definitely be making these again.

Even NES, who isn't a marshmallow fan (how is this possible??) or peppermint fan, gave them a nod of approval.

And they solidified!  No fluff this year!

Kahlua Peppermint Mocha Marshmallows
adapted from Betty Crocker and Mis-Cakes Oven Adventures

Butter, for greasing
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tbsp. (3 packets) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/4 cup peppermint mocha coffee creamer
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Grease the bottom and sides of an 11x7 inch glass baking dish with the butter.  Dust the dish with 1 Tbsp. of powdered sugar.

Sprinkle gelatin over the Kahlua and creamer in the bowl of a mixer.

Heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, peppermint extract and remaining 1/2 cup water over low heat in a 2 quart saucepan, and stir constantly till the sugar is completely dissolved.

Then bring the mixture to boiling, and cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from the heat.

While beating on low speed, pour the syrup over the softened gelatin, then increase to high speed.  Beat 8-10 minutes, or until the mixture is white and is approximately tripled in volume.  Add the vanilla.  Continue to beat on high for 1 minute.

Pour into prepared dish, patting approximately flat with wet hands.

Let stand, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight.

Dust a cutting board with 1 tbsp. powdered sugar.  Put the remaining powdered sugar into a small bowl.  Loosen the sides of the marshmallow mixture from the dis hand gently lift or flip onto the cutting board.

Using a greased, sharp knife, cut into approximately 1 inch squares (or used a greased cookie cutter).  Dip each marshmallow into the bowl of powdered sugar.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

While those set, I also made my other Christmas tradition: Finnish coffee bread!  This means that the only tradition I just didn't get to was cookies.

I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of this bread.  It's a yeast bread, even!  Huzzah!  There were points when I was concerned about how much it was/wasn't rising, and I didn't throw it out and start over or worry.  It does take a while to start rising.  Note to future self: it will rise eventually!

NES also taught me the trick to determine if bread dough has enough flour!  All you have to do is pinch a bit between your fingers and see if it forms a ball without sticking.  No more guessing.

And, and, and, I finally managed to cut it into three vaguely similarly sized pieces!  That has been my hardest challenge so far.  So I finally ended up with three reasonably sized loaves!

However, I also somehow managed to burn the bottoms.  They weren't burned to a crisp or anything, but they were dark.  Maybe it was the parchment, or maybe it was the fact that I was trying to get the crevices to be completely baked.  That is my major problem with baking braided breads.  And unfortunate when the bread will be a gift.

I also used hand-chopped (for lack of a better work) cardamom again.  I almost caved and bought ground cardamom this year (since I hadn't JUST gone out and bought all sorts of expensive spices for chai), but I decided that I really like the little tiny crunch and burst of cardamom flavor that comes with the bigger, uneven pieces.

I think cardamom might be my favorite "sweet" spice.  Don't worry, thyme is still my favorite "savory" herb.

My wrist wasn't so happy with my choice.  But it's still worth it.

I love that this is becoming a Christmas tradition!

Finnish Coffee Bread/Pulla
Adapted slightly from Food, Fun and Facts

6 1/2-7 cups of flour
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 packages dry yeast
2 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Heat the milk in the microwave or a pan until it reaches 115 degrees.

Pour the milk, sugar, salt and cardamom into the large bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with a wooden spoon, and add the yeast.  Stir until the yeast is dissolved.

Add one egg.  Mix well.  Add 3 cups of flour and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour (more, if necessary).  Mix well with the dough hook of the stand mixer.

Add the flour to the dough.  It should be obvious when the dough comes together.  Knead with the mixer for about 5 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth, and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Remove the dough and cut into 3 even pieces.  Divide each piece into 3 small pieces.

Roll each small piece into long (10-12 inch) strands, and braid.  Tuck ends under.  Place braids onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Cover again, and let rise for 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Beat an egg, and brush on the tops of the loaves.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wrap loaves when cooled, since it goes stale quickly.  Makes 3 loaves.

And then I made balsamic vinaigrette.  But I didn't take pictures.  It just isn't as pretty as fresh baked goods.

I wish you a very blessed Christmas, and joy as you remember the reason we celebrate!


  1. Growing up I ate this with a glaze, oh you should try it!! Thanks for the recipe, I've been meaning to try making it, since it's been years since having it. =)
    -Melissa Grayum

  2. I have had it with glaze, but I grew up eating it with sugar on top, so that's what I'm partial to! Enjoy! :)


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