Eggnog & Dessert Party

Christmas tree with white lights and blown glass ornaments

For the past few years, Eric and I have hosted an Eggnog & Dessert Party for both our families about a week or so before Christmas. Our families rarely get together, so it seemed the ideal way to have everyone spend some time together. Although Eric does all the cooking the other 364 days of the year, the menu for this party is all mine. I try to make something slightly different every year, just to keep things interesting. This year, I decided to make Peppermint Bark, because I love all things peppermint, Gingerbread Men, and Eric requested Spiced Nuts. Somehow, the Spiced Nuts have made an appearance every year – they are that good.

I set aside some time last Sunday to do my baking for the party, which we held on the 23rd this year (schedules just didn’t permit us having it any earlier).

I started out by making the much-requested Spiced Nuts. They are super simple to make and oh so good.

a tray of spiced pecans

While those were cooling, I got busy with the Peppermint Bark. Another simple recipe. Eric hates white chocolate, so instead of using two pounds of white chocolate, I used a pound of white and a pound of milk chocolate. And, bonus, I got to use my double boiler for the first time!

a tray of peppermint bark

Each of the batches had about eight crushed up candy canes in them. They just cooled on sheet pans, and then you break it up into bark, like Peanut Brittle (another holiday favorite of mine).

After getting the nuts and bark out of the way, I started in on my Gingerbread Men.

sifting flour into a bowl

I would link to the recipe I used, however, the first batch of cookies I made turned out horrible. They were hard and flavorless – I wonder if I got a hold of a recipe meant for more architectural uses than for eating! So, I found another recipe, and ended up modifying it to suit my needs. For example, I grated fresh ginger.

grating fresh ginger on a cutting board

Boy, did that make the whole kitchen smell good! This batch looked so much better even in dough form. I knew I was on the right track!

gingerbread dough in the bowl with the beaters and a jar of molasses in the background

Years ago I’d actually found boy and girl cookie cutters (at Williams Sonoma, maybe?). So, I rolled them out and got them ready to pop in the oven. I didn’t roll them very thin, because I wanted them to stay chewy and soft.

cookie sheet with unbaked gingerbread boys and girls

And, when the night of our party arrived, everything was perfect.

pieces of peppermint bark (white chocolate version and milk chocolate version)

I would highly recommend the Peppermint Bark made with milk chocolate – it was really good.

And of course, there was eggnog. We mix regular eggnog from the grocery store with Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog and a little nutmeg on top.

glasses of eggnog with grated nutmeg on top

Pretty good spread!

coffee table with trays of peppermint bark, iced gingerbread cookies, bowls of spiced nuts, a stack of plates, and napkins

And for whatever reason, I didn’t take photos of the goodies last year. Along with the Spiced Nuts, I made Peanut Butter Fudge and Swedish Melting Moments Cookies. Yum! The year before, I made Fudge and Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies. Don’t they look good!

bowls of spiced nuts and a tray of chewy chocolate ginger cookies and fudge

So much fun! I wonder what I’ll make next year?

coffee table with treats on it and a black and white cat asleep on the couch behind it

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