I don’t know about you but December is the fastest month on the calendar. With holiday decorating, shopping, wrapping, baking, it seems there’s never enough days to do it all. This holiday season I do not have time to decorate cookies for the blog so I whipped up a very easy holiday dessert. This is a time saver and sure to be a hit. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate!

This White Chocolate Bark is made with peanuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried cranberries but can be made with any kind of nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. I prefer cutting the bark with a knife but it can also be broken apart. I was generous with the toppings but I found that too much can make it a challenge to cut. The next time I’ll go with the ‘less is more’ method and sparsely sprinkle the toppings to allow for easy, clean cuts through the chocolate.

You can see plenty of my decorated holiday cookies from previous years which are displayed in the right margin and the Index page.

White Chocolate Bark
1 lb White Chocolate (chopped) or Wilton White Chocolate Melts
1/2 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
[This recipe is Ina Garten's White Chocolate Bark at the Food Network]

Melt two-thirds of the chocolate in a heat-proof glass bowl in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Continue to heat chocolate and stir with rubber spatula in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately stir in the remaining chocolate until completely smooth. 

Pour chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread to an 8 x 10 rectangle. 

Sprinkle evenly with the peanuts, cranberries, and chocolate chips quickly before the chocolate sets. Press lightly with offset spatula to set toppings into the chocolate. Set aside for at least 2 hours until firm. Cut or break the bark. Makes about 16 pieces.
Hint: Stirring chocolate with a rubber spatula keeps the chocolate shiny.

 I also made a Milk Chocolate Bark in festive holiday colors with M&M’s and peanuts. 



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High School … sports, studies, dances, pep rallies, crushes, boys … fun days which reside in our teen memories. During my years in high school there was a special guy who often occupied my thoughts, was in my nightly prayers and whom I never met. His name is Bob … Maj. Robert D. Jeffrey, a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. I wore his P.O.W. bracelet during my first three years of high school as a constant reminder of our boys held prisoner and away from home. This was decades before the era of Livestrong, 4Ocean bracelets and the like. I did not remove my bracelet until our Vietnam P.O.W.s returned home in February 1973.

I requested Maj. Jeffrey’s bracelet because he was the son of my Dad’s co-worker. I first heard about Bob’s captivity when I was in the 3rd grade. He had been in Vietnam only three days and on his first mission he was shot down over North Vietnam on December 20, 1965. He was 26, married with a baby son. Bob was held for more than 7 years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton P.O.W. camp. The Vietcong ignored the laws of the Geneva Convention and brutally tortured the American P.O.W.s. The conditions were unbearable but somehow these brave men endured their time in captivity. Bob was held with notable prisoners such as James Stockdale, a hero among the men who kept up their morale and Jerry Denton, who blinked Morse Code spelling out torture to the television cameras, alerting the world of the inhumane treatment of our boys. Bob’s wife led a group of wives meeting with several North Vietnamese delegations over the years which eventually resulted in better treatment of the P.O.W.s.

After the war, Bob was promoted, awarded the Silver Cross and continued to serve in the Air Force until 1980. He still flies airplanes and resides in Arizona. To this day, I have never met Bob and still have his bracelet reverently displayed in a shadow box since the date of his return in 1973.

These butterfly cookies were decorated using my favorite technique of marbling. A light dusting of white on the finished cookie gives an elegant matte look. 

Butterfly Cookies
Butterfly Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted with AmeriColor Super White
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Teal with AmeriColor Teal
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
PME Decorating Tip #1.5
Scribe Tool or Toothpick
CK Luster Dust (Silk White)

Outline cookie with #2 tip in white icing.

Flood cookie with white icing.

 Pipe dots with teal flood icing with #1.5 tip.

Using a scribe tool swirl the icing to create marble design. Let dry 45 minutes
 Outline cookie with #2 tip in teal icing. Pipe center of butterfly with teal outline icing. Let dry overnight.

Using paintbrush, apply luster dust onto cookie. Let dry 15 minutes.



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LEMON COOKIES/ A State of Maine

Maine, picturesque and our northeasternmost state where residents are called Mainers. Last month we took an autumn drive to Maine. It’s been on my must see list for years as Mom told me she had wanted to honeymoon there. She would have enjoyed the serene and majestic landscapes of Maine. It’s a world away from the hustle-bustle and time seems to slow down, just enough to hear softly breaking waves at the shoreline, clanging of halyards on sailboat masts in the harbors, and the murmur of the lobster and clam boats out for their daily jaunt.

The shoreline of Maine is dotted with unique harbor towns; no two are alike. We began our tour in southeast Maine in Kennebunkport (you know who has a oceanside home there), a quaint seaside town. We visited shops, lunched on lobster rolls and took the trolley tour of the surrounding area and mega-mansions. We stopped in the general store where Dr. McDreamy shops for groceries and supplies, but no sighting! Then we headed north to Boothbay, a harbortown with Victorian Mansions from the seafarers' era. Driving further north was Camden, a quiet, upscale town on Penobscot Bay, the harbor a mix of vintage and new sailboats. Our final destination was Bar Harbor, where an afternoon sail on a schooner ship brought us close to sea life and a few of the 30 islands of Frenchman Bay. A tourist must-see was Acadia National Park overlooking Bar Harbor with its breathtaking scenery, hundreds of acres of lush foliage, natural lakes and rocky cliffs. We spent a mere two hours driving through the park and stopping at scenic overlooks, but you can hike or bike spending a few hours or a few days. Not to be missed is Jordan’s Pond, Thunder Hole and the stupendous view overlooking Frenchman Bay from Cadillac Mountain. We made sure to get our daily dose of lobsta!

Check out my Autumn in New York post here

Sea Captain's 19th Century Mansion - Boothbay, Maine

Harbor, Penobscot Bay - Camden, Maine

Acadia National Park-Loop Road (Source: Planetware)
Acadia National Park-Rocky Cliffs (Source: Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce)
Overlooking Frenchman Bay from Cadillac Mountain-Bar Harbor (Source: Planetware)

I swapped out vanilla for ¼ teaspoon of lemon extract which gives the cookie a subtle lemon taste. If you prefer a bold lemon flavor, add ½ teaspoon of lemon extract. These cookies are airbrushed and stenciled.

Lemon Cookies
Peach Shortbread Cookies
Royal Icing for outlining and flooding tinted Medium Yellow with AmeriColor Lemon Yellow and AmeriColor Egg Yellow
Royal Icing for detail tinted Light Green with AmeriColor Leaf Green
Disposable piping bags & couplers
Squeeze bottles
Wilton Decorating Tip #2
PME Decorating Tip #1.5
Wilton Leaf Trip #352
AmeriColor Airbrush Sheen Color (Lemon Yellow)
Quatrefoil Stencil
Airbrush Kit or Wilton Color Mist
CK Luster Dust (Silk White)

Outline cookie with #2 tip in yellow icing. Flood cookie with yellow icing. Let dry overnight.

Place stencil on cookie. Spray with sheen yellow airbrush color. Gently lift stencil. 

Let dry 15 minutes.

Pipe with leaf tip #352 in green icing. Let dry overnight.
Using paintbrush, apply white luster dust onto leaves. Let dry 15 minutes.




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FALL COOKIES/ Let the Fall Begin

Can it be that we are in the last quarter of calendar year 2019 already? Fall is nearly upon us, although the tropics and our southern states still have a few more weeks of hurricane season. In New England cool temps have arrived along with colorful foliage. In Northern Virginia we still have temps in the 80’s although daylight wanes a bit earlier each evening. The kiddies are back to school with soccer, football, track and lacrosse season in full swing. Best of all, October baseball is here with my beloved Washington Nats having clinched a wild card spot.

I took a blog break in recent weeks to travel and tend to some home projects. I have a few cookies in the pipeline but nothing ready to publish. For those with a hankering for autumn cookies and desserts, here’s a bunch from earlier posts. New subscribers can see what they have missed and long-time subscribers may want to take another look and re-read the accompanying anecdotes. Be sure to visit the Index page for all cookies and desserts on the site.


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