Ok, so here’s the deal. When I was growing up, my family always had a holiday party on Christmas Eve. People would come and help decorate our tree and my mom would cook a lot of desserts. Drinks flowed pretty freely (for my parent’s friends, not us kids), and it was all around a lot of fun.
When I went out on my own I decided to continue the tradition. Kinda/sorta anyway. I had a tree trimming party, and made lots of desserts, but since I went home to my Mom’s for Christmas proper I would have my party in early December. Over the years the parties got bigger and bigger and more and more people were invited – and came!
When I first started I was afraid that no one would come and I’d get stuck with a bunch of food (and feel like a complete loser). I still have that fear, somehow, even though every year the house is filled with happy, hungry people. For some reason NONE of my friends is ever on time so for an afternoon party, if it starts at 1:00, people start showing up at around 2-ish and by 1:30 I’m sitting there surrounded by food that I’m certain no one is going to eat. Then the doorbell rings. Then it rings again. Then I go into the kitchen to do something and when I turn around, the house is full. I love it.
So, why “ugly desserts”? Here’s the deal – I can make desserts that are amazingly delicious. I know this, and I’m confident in it. What I can’t do…is make them look good. They almost never look like the desserts you see in magazines, or bakeries…or sites like this. And I’m telling you right now – that’s ok. It’s better than ok. Own it! I’m not trying to make the world’s most beautiful desserts. I’m trying to make stuff that people really, really want to eat. Hopefully, this book will help you do that.
For my party every year, by myself, I make about 25 desserts (plus some savory things). I know that sounds daunting (crazy?) and there’s honestly no reason for anyone else to do that. Frankly, there’s no reason for ME to do that, but I like doing it. What it’s done, though, is given me a pretty good bank of recipes to choose from. Some get made every year, some rotate in and out. Kind of whatever I feel like doing.
When you’re making that many desserts you need a combination – some that you finish the day of the party or the day before, some that you can make in advance. Plus, there are the failures. Boy, are there failures! I still will never live down the year I tried to make candied grapefruit rinds. It was out of my comfort zone , and they were “fancier” than I usually make, but I wanted to class it up a bit. They were a LOT of work and most definitely not a hit. In fact, my friends went into my computer desk, found a box of paper clips, and proceeded to use them to hang these things on the tree. It was a tree trimming party after all.
And 20 years later, I still get teased about it. But you know what? You HAVE to fail sometimes….otherwise you’re not taking risks. It’s ok. It’s baking. IF you fail it’s so not a big deal. So what you can do is, if you’re trying something new and you’re not sure you can pull it off, follow the recipe exactly, at least for that first time. Once you get comfortable with it you can play around with it a bit. That said, have ingredients ready for one of your go-to desserts, just in case you need to go back and make something on the quick.
So anyway, inside you’ll find a bunch of recipes that I hope you’ll enjoy making and sharing. Some are super easy, others not-so-much. But, even the more complicated ones don’t require a lot of tools or fancy ingredients – they mostly require more time, more steps and, frankly, require you to pay attention to what you’re doing. If that’s not your thing that’s fine – there are plenty of choices in here that you can knock out and people will think you’re amazing.
I’m serious when I say you don’t need a lot of tools. You need the basics: oven (duh), cookie sheets, cupcake/muffin tins, mixing bowls, wooden spoons, hand mixer. There are also a couple that require a food processor but you don’t need one of those giant things that take up your entire counter – I don’t have one. All you need is a small little one you can probably get at your local hardware or cookware store, and they’re pretty inexpensive.
These recipes come from all over. Some I started from scratch. Some were from my mom, a couple from my grandmother, and others are adapted from recipes I originally found in books or magazines. What I mean by that last bit is I took the recipe and changed some things to make it more to MY liking. And that’s a big thing to understand and I’d love you to take away from this…none of these recipes are carved in stone. A big theme here is personalization – have fun with the recipes, take out what you don’t like, add what you do… Sometimes that will mean a complete recipe fail, but so what? Try again and next time they might be amazing. And when they are, I want to know about it!
So I think that’s it! Have fun, enjoy the food, and let me know what you think! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through any of the social media links on the home page – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. I’m just starting this so there’s not a lot there yet, but there will be! And please, please share this site and those social media links with any of your friends and family out there who love baking – I want to reach as many people as I can because I think (I hope!) a lot of people will enjoy this.
Thanks for reading!