The holidays are a great time to have fun in the kitchen.
Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, or any other holiday, you can make all kinds of festive treats for your family, friends, and guests, to enjoy at your holiday dinner table, to send as a gift or even to decorate your home. Decorated cookies are one of my favourite things to make for the holidays.

[caption id="attachment_18318" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Homemade date and nut energy bars. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak Homemade date and nut energy bars. Photo by Jennifer Maliniak[/caption]
When you are a working mother, busy student, or young professional with a non-stop schedule keeping you busy every minute of every day, sometimes eating properly or regularly just doesn't happen.
It is often the case that you simply can't  find the time to stop and make yourself something, or even go out and pick up something quick. Hours go by without eating, and when starvation hits, we transform into irritable, short-fused rage monsters that just want something to eat- anything that will  satisfy our bellies, and keep us going without taking up too much of our time.

One of the most attractive features about cupcakes is their ability to be decorated in any which way imaginable. All you need are a few specialized pieces of equipment, and some specific decorating supplies and of course, some creativity. In this How-To article, I will show you how to decorate a cupcake like Cookie Monster.

Although the pastry world today is trending towards more rustic and homestyle desserts reminiscent of the stuff your grandmother used to make, there is still something to be said for classic, fancy-type pastry. Sometimes, it's  comforting to sink your teeth into a fraisier, croissant aux amandes, or mille feuille, despite their highfalutin appearance and composition.

If you are hosting a party and want to give  fun party  favors to your guests, decorated cookies are the perfect confection for the job. Highly customizable, you can make cookies in all shapes, sizes, flavours and colours. They can also serve several functions: make holes in the tops before baking, and your cookies can now be ornaments or name tags. You could also use decorated cookies as place setting cards.  All you really need to know is how to make Royal Icing.

The key to baking is ratios; if you know the ratio behind a type of recipe, say for cake or cookies, it is very easy to make variations on that recipe, or even create your own. In baking, ratios refer most typically to the weights of ingredients. For example, saying that dark chocolate ganache has 1:1 part ratio of cream to chocolate means that ganache is made from equal parts (by weight) of cream and dark chocolate. White chocolate ganache on the other hand has a 1:2 part ratio meaning that you would need double the weight of white chocolate to cream.