Like a lot of people, I find myself doing three things during the last week of December: reflecting on the past 12 months, committing to the changes I hope to make in the New Year, and eating. Although this condition is temporary, and I'll start living in the present on January 1st, right now I am looking back at all the treats I've made in the last year. 'Tis the season for "Best Of" lists and I don't want to be left out. So in thinking about the stories attached to each recipe, taking into consideration the reactions from family and friends and, most of all, my own opinion, I give you The Best Sweets of 2011 From My Tiny Red Kitchen.
These cookies were a huge hit with me and those I love. Although I made them as a way to enjoy something indulgent without refined sugar or white flour after over doing it during the holidays, they quickly became a favorite regardless of their health properties. Super dark chocolate adds some oomph to mellow, creamy almond butter. I think I need to make a batch right now.
Clean Start Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I'm always on the lookout for a jam that isn't too sweet and in general I love the slightly bitter zing of a good citrus marmalade. Days after I spotted Meyer lemons and Blood oranges at Fairway, this recipe appeared in the Times. An omen of sorts. So easy, so good and so pretty. Perfect against the slight saltiness of an Irish soda bread or Rye toast.
Pretty as a Picture Meyer Lemon Blood Orange Marmalade
My sister and I agree on most everything. Except for these muffins. She hated them. I loved them. Decide for yourself.
Oscar Recovery Strawberry Thumbprint Corn Muffins
I love it when I'm giving the charge to tackle a dessert dilemma. In this case, I solved the Flourless Chocolate Cake for Passover question that stumps so many of us every spring. Finding a cake that doesn't feel like it's the poor Kosher cousin or imitation of something that tastes much better with flour than when made with potato starch and matzo meal, is always a challenge. This cake would be great any time of year and in no way does it feel like you're settling. Problem solved.
Not my Nana Jose Chocolate Pecan Cake
I've been making these cookies for years and they always cheer me up. That's why they're included. Crabbiness be gone.
Crabby Mother's Day Toffee Dried Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
How could I not include a recipe that brought me back to meeting Morgan Fairchild in 1976? Plus my friend Marsha's daughter loved this bread and if a six year old remembers me because of a baked good, I have done my job.
Bicentennial Memories Strawberry Bread
Another super easy recipe that looks much harder and fancier than it is. Doesn't everyone need one in his or her arsenal? Plus I've made them over and over again and they never fail to impress.
Be Prepared Palmiers
One of the first really decadent bar cookie recipes I ever made (about 20 years ago) that I finally felt ready to revisit. The blog that accompanied it got a bigger reaction than I'd anticipated and the spell that kept me from baking them has been broken. If you love coffee and chocolate, this is for you.
Who Asked You Coffee Blond Brownies
Back to school meant learning to make something I'd never made myself. Nothing was more satisfying than confronting and conquering the fear that had kept me from trying it. Plus, I love baklava and can never find it. It's very important to be self-sufficient.
If it's Halloween it's candy time and these caramels were a big hit with my neighbor, my friend Margot's daughter Annie and my sister. Why it took us all so long to realize the intense deliciousness of adding salt to confections is beyond me. I wasted so much time eating inferior caramels. Time I will never get back. As they say, Never Again. Now, go buy a candy thermometer and get cracking.
Most Wonderful Time Sea Salt Caramels
This recipe is worth making for the smell alone. A ginger scented kitchen is soothing and cozy as are these muffins. For the ginger lover in your life bake as instructed. For the ginger liker, leave out the candied ginger topping.
Late Bloomer Pear-Ginger Muffins
Because out of everything I've ever made, my mother deemed these her favorite treat. Enough said. Here's to an even sweeter 2012. Happy New Year!
Miranda Wants a Cookie Mocha Toffee Bars