Every year I, unlike my neighbors, like to wait till the very very last minute to have our lawn cleared of leaves.
When we first bought the house I went ahead like everyone else and had the leaves cleared in late October. Bad mistake.
My trees laughed at me and proceeded to give me more leaves throughout November.
Having over one and half acres of land and almost all trees, clearing of the leaves is not a feat one can do by themselves unless you have a giant leaf-sucker-upper-thingee or a strong back and non-forming callus hands.
And we always have a storm/hurricane/nor'easter in october or november--been this way for the last three years now.
So the first falling of the leaves happens mid October, then the seconds happens late November after whatever crazy NE storm comes at us; shaking the trees of their last hard-to-let-go leaves.
I feel smart waiting till late December, not only do I make sure every leaf falls, but I also get the lawn guys when they aren't crazy busy.
I have to give a big thank you to my lawn guys: Hoxie Landscape, every year they do a stellar job.
And a big thank you to Justin who happily (I think) deals with my type-A personality when it comes to my lawn. :-)
This year I surprised the guys with cookies, well actually it was the sweet & salty smore bark.
You should have seen their faces when I gave them the giant plate of bark.
Speechless, motionless--clearly they were not expecting food.
I left them the plate, thanked them for their hard work, got in my truck and drove away.
As I was turning down the road, past the house, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw all the guys, huddled up like a football team, just outside one of their trucks surely noshing on the bark.
It was like a feeding frenzy....
Curious--how long did that bark last?
It didn't have a chance did it?
This is why I love to bake and create, reactions on the faces, and to watch humans inhale my food.
Another nosh-worthy gift food are these peppermint-chocolate shortbread.
I used the same basic shortbread as the crust only this time made a chocolate-peppermint flavor.
Super easy to make, and tasty.
Because I firmly believe if you're going to give food as a gift make sure it's tasty, and eye appealing.
for the peppermint shortbread:
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup confectioners sugar
2 cups cake flour minus 2 TB
2 oversized TB cocoa powder
a splash or 3 of peppermint extract
¼ ts salt
for the white chocolate drizzle:
½ cup +/- of melted white chocolate with a touch of peppermint extract (add the peppermint extract in after the chocolate is melted, not before)
(see my copycat Nestle Crunch bars for peppermint-white chocolate)
¼ cup finely crushed candy canes for decorations
I used an 8 or 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom; this would work best, if you don't have this
then use an 8 or 9 inch baking pan and spray with non stick spray and/or line with parchment paper.
In a bowl mix the cake flour and cocoa powder, set aside.
In a bowl (stand mixer or otherwise), cream together butter, sugar, peppermint extract, and salt.
Slowly work in cake flour mixture until well combined.
No need to overmix, small lumps here and there are fine. This is a very dry dough.
Using wet fingertips, spread dough into pan, making sure to get all the corners evenly.
Place prepared pan into fridge to firm up a bit before baking. At least an hour.
If you cover this well enough you can leave it overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat over to 350 degrees.
Bake 21 - 25 minutes until edges are LIGHTLY golden brown or just firm.
Don't look for complete overall doneness; it’s ok if middle is a little soft.
Make sure to rotate pan halfway through baking too.
Let this cool in pan for at least an hour.
Remove from pan, and slice into bars or sticks, which ever you like.
Place over wire racks with parchment paper underneath.
Drizzle melted white chocolate over the bars and decorate with finely crushed candy canes.
Makes about 20+ sticks, depending on how you slice them.