Christmas Bake-a-thon 2015

Chocolate PB Cookies

Traditions are a vital part of the holidays and there is one tradition that my mom and I have managed to check off each year for… more years than I can actually remember.

The bake-a-thon.

Ingredients - A Dash of Sparkle

This magical event takes up the better part of a weekend day and includes festive outfits, music and of course, LOADS of cookie baking.

I mentally begin preparing about a week ahead, digging out my absolute favorite cookie recipes that are specifically reserved for the Christmas season. The day before includes a massive grocery trip and I cover my countertops in all the delicious ingredients we’ll need for our epic day of baking.

This year was the first in our new house and the first in a long time where we had ample counter space in our larger kitchen (Hooray!). We used every inch.

The morning of our big day, I light all my holiday candles…

Candle - A Dash of Sparkle

Pop on a holiday record and light up every light garland and tree in the house…

Holiday Decor - A Dash of Sparkle

And spend a few extra minutes with some festive hair and makeup.Smile - A Dash of Sparkle

(This look used the limited edition Becca + Jaclyn Hill Shimmer Palette along with a bright red lipstick.)

Makeup - A Dash of Sparkle(Definitely embracing the whole strobing trend!)

Once Mom arrives, the drinks are poured, the aprons donned and the boys clear out of the house as we take over, and crack down to bake.

We usually start with our favorite, Holiday Cherry Squares, which are similar to Magic Bars but with cherries and marshmallows instead of chocolate chips.

Measuring - A Dash of Sparkle

My favorite part is the final step where you pour the sinfully tasty sweetened condense milk all over the top before popping it into the oven.

Finishing touches - A Dash of Sparkle

The finished product is pretty difficult to stay away from.

Holiday Squares - A Dash of Sparkle

Next we made some Rum Balls, which are a real delight for the senses with their rummy, no-cook dough. It’s basically just some whirling together of a few ingredients…

Blending - A Dash of Sparkle

Adding some rum, and then rolling. They end in the fridge, where they proof (yes, proof) for several hours. Thus, we didn’t get a finished snap.

Continuing the race of cookie recipes, we continued mixing…

Mixing - A Dash of Sparkle

And sampling…

Batter taster - A Dash of Sparkle

Followed by more mixing…

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And even more sampling, believe it or not…

Red handed - A Dash of Sparkle

In what seemed like a whirl of flour and butter and a splash of vanilla, we were working on our favorite peanut butter cookies…

Into the oven - A Dash of Sparkle

And topping each with a kiss…

Chocolates - A Dash of Sparkle

Of chocolate, that is!

A Sweet Kiss - A Dash of Sparkle

These are some of my all time favorite cookies and so easy to make! Use your own favorite soft peanut butter cookie recipe and then just top with a chocolate drop as soon as they come out of the oven.

The chocolate kiss will melt into the cookie as they cool, and they form the perfect delicious balanced bite of chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate PB Cookies - A Dash of Sparkle

For the grand finale, we rounded out our collection of baked delights with two shortbread based cookies, our take on a Mexican Wedding Cookie and some Jam Thumbprint Cookies.

Using what felt like a million pounds of butter, both of these recipes are a breeze to create, and even easier to devour.

Elbow grease - A Dash of Sparkle

We did need to make some more room by spilling our cookie baking space into the dining room, so careful relocations were conducted.

Hot pan - A Dash of Sparkle

No cookie was wasted.

Stolen bite - A Dash of Sparkle

The last two batches filled the entire house with the irresistible smell of vanilla and had us glued to the oven, practically watching the cookies turn golden brown.

Thumbprints - A Dash of Sparkle

When the last buttery ball was coated and cooled…

Snowflakes - A Dash of Sparkle

We cut divided them up, enjoying the occasional sample where needed…

Just a crumb - A Dash of Sparkle

And packaged them up with a flourish, filling tin after tin and even a couple baking dishes, with our day’s hard work.

Bakers - A Dash of Sparkle

Some went to office kitchens, dinner parties and were even delivered as gifts to neighbors and friends.

We each kept a special stash to be savored at home, however, as a reward for our six-hour effort.

What holiday season would be complete without such a tradition? I dough not know! (And I don’t want to find out.)

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