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Every year I bake for Christmas. I have two staples that I make for two reasons: they are both simple beyond and they both taste delicious!  I fell in love with Williams Sonoma peppermint bark over a decade ago when they were handing out samples in the store. I couldn't get enough. But they charge $30 for a tin. That makes for an expensive habit. So when I later came across a recipe in the Food and Drink holiday magazine, I hoped that I had found a solution.  Indeed it tasted just the same. And it was quick and easy.

The other thing I make for the holidays is my mother's shortbread. Hers always tasted the best to me. No frills, no flavours, just melt in your mouth cookies. Literally, they melt in your mouth.

Here are the recipes - great for gifts too.

Peppermint Bark

1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate

8 drops peppermint oil

1 lb chopped white chocolate

3/4 cup chopped candy canes

Line an 11x17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Adjust amounts for different sized cookie sheets. Set aside.

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heavy pot on low heat, stiffing constantly. Stir in 4 drops peppermint oil.

Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared sheet. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 4 drops of peppermint oil, then add candy canes.

Spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan. Chill until set, about 4 hours or overnight. Refridgerate until just before serving then break into pieces and serve or package as gifts. Will keep in refrigerator for 3 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of FOOD AND DRINK magazine 2003 holiday edition

My Mom's Shortbread

1 lb butter

1 c fruit sugar

3 1/2 c pre sifted flour

1/4 tsp salt

Mix with beater. Roll into a log and refrigerate. When ready to bake, pull from fridge and slice in 1 inch pieces and place on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degree until edges are brown.

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-Kate

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