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Christmas

Cupcakes

Gingerbread Cupcakes

December 8, 2015

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cupcak

It’s the 8th of December and Adam and I haven’t put up a christmas tree yet. That’s not to say we haven’t made a valiant effort. The first weekend of December we had a neighbourhood get together and we couldn’t make it out to get a tree before then, however I did get out all the other decorations. Then this last weekend we were out of town saturday and sunday.

So, last night we ventured out after work to a u-cut tree farm we had seen a sign for up the road from us. By the time we got there it was dark, and the signs that lead us up the street and around the corner appeared to be misleading.

We couldn’t find the house or farm, and there were no signs of a christmas tree farm anywhere. We went to another garden centre and contemplated buying a living christmas tree to use outside afterwards, but the lady informed us that it needs a couple weeks to acclimatize before bringing it inside, or else the needles might all fall off. So that was a no.

We finally went to home depot for some wood and took a look at the trees, but they were all so sad looking, slumped up against the side all wrapped up. It didn’t feel like the christmas tree choosing atmosphere i had hoped for. So, we left empty handed without a tree.

I’m hoping this week or weekend we can make it out to a tree farm in the daylight to choose a tree.

In the meantime i’m trying to get some christmas baking done for our staff party this weekend. This year my favourite flavour has been gingerbread. Usually i don’t make any gingerbread men or houses, but the flavour combination definitely feels like christmas to me. I adapted this smitten kitchen recipe to make cupcakes. They were perfect. Deinitely a christmas recipe keeper. You can also make it in cake form.

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Gingerbread Cupcakes
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Ingredients
  1. 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  5. 1 cup unsulfured molasses
  6. 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  7. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  8. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  12. 2 teaspoons baking powder
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add baking soda — it will foam up! Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in butter until melted. Whisk in dark brown sugar, molasses. Mixture is usually just lukewarm by now, but if it still feels quite hot to the touch, set it aside to 10 to 15 minutes to cool further before using.
  3. Place flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder in a fine-mesh strainer or sifter.
  4. Transfer molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs until just combined. Sift dry ingredients over wet, then stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
Notes
  1. Frost with your favourite vanilla buttercream, or cinnamon buttercream!
Adapted from smitten kitchen - gingerbread snacking cake
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Breakfast

Panettone French Toast

December 11, 2014

Each year growing up I looked forward to my favourite Italian Christmas treat – Panettone. A festive Italian sweet bread / cake studded with dried fruit and a hint of citrus. It’s one of my favourite memories of Christmas with my dads family. It signified the beginning of the holidays. We would only get to taste the sweet fluffy bread during the holidays – which meant that when I could get my hands on it I would easily devour 4 or 5 pieces. Unlike traditional Christmas fruit cakes, panettone is light and fluffy, with a hint of citrus and a sweet taste much like brioche. I’m not fond of fruitcake, unless it’s panettone.

As soon as I see the beautiful imported boxes of Panettone I get way too excited. I’ve even brought a panettone on an airplane to gift to someone  – yeah, I’m that person who brings a cake on a plane. 

We always did the big Italian Christmas Eve at my Nonnas – and you would always see the famous boxed panettone sitting on the counter waiting to be sliced for dessert. If we were lucky we might get some before dinner – but you wouldn’t want to spoil your appetite before the feast of seven fishes.

As a special treat we would add the faintest dust of icing sugar on top (though you really don’t need it). On Christmas morning my dad would slice the panettone at our house, and present it in star cut slices.

Now, as an adult I buy myself at least two panettone’ during the holidays. I may even buy another one to freeze for the future. While I love panettone on it’s own, I’ve also grown to love it as French toast for breakfast. It’s simply delicious – and easy to prep. I find it’s better than brioche because the bread is so airy light that the pieces of French toast are fluffy like a cloud even when cooked. It’s definitely a Christmas treat and would be an absolute favourite Christmas morning breakfast. Serve with a mimosa, maple syrup and fresh fruit.

T’is the season – so go ahead, eat panettone for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!

Panettone French Toast
A christmas twist on the traditional favourite - thick slices of sweet panettone dunked in a vanilla-egg mixture and cooked until crisp.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 thick slices Panettone per person
  2. 2 eggs per slice (4 eggs for two people)
  3. dash of vanilla
  4. dash of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat pan on medium heat with cooking spray/coconut oil/butter.
  2. In shallow baking dish whisk together eggs, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. Add thick slices of panettone, allowing it to soak on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Carefully lift slices out of baking dish and into pre-heated pan. The panettone can be quite 'mushy' at this stage, so I suggest lifting it with a spatula/egg flipper.
  5. Cook each side of the panettone for 3-4 minutes on medium-low. You want the outside to be crisp, and the inside to be cooked but not soggy.
  6. Serve with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.
Notes
  1. Best if eaten the same day.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
Christmas

Holiday Baking Roundup 2014

November 30, 2014

There is something so magical about the first snowfall of the season. 

Friday night while watching a movie with one of my friends, and snacking on our charcuterie board (the best), the soft white flakes began falling down. We took a peak outside and were happily surprised to see how much had accumulated over the past couple hours. 

As a kid it was always so exciting when the first snow fell – waking up to a winter wonderland was everything.  And, if you knew it was supposed to snow, you would leap out of bed and tear open the blinds to see if it really had snowed. You’d race to get your snow gear on and bound out to the fresh mounds of snow to make snowmen and snow angels.

Now, as an adult, I get equally as excited about the first snowfall. However, for much different reasons. First, I’m happy it was on a Friday night so I didn’t have to get up and drive to work the next day because, lets face it, people freak out at the tiniest bit of snow. And second, instead of running out to enjoy the snow, I am happier to stay indoors, cozy up with a warm cup of tea, a good book or show and watch the snow fall around outside. 

What better way to spend a snowy day inside than by baking. I’ve rounded up a few of this past years favourite holiday recipes. Some new, some old and some gluten free and/or vegan! Something to please everyones taste buds :)

1. Italian Pizzelle Cookies – crisp, light and delicately sweet.

2. Vegan Brownies – bake them in a larger pan, cut into smaller squares to please a crowd. 

3. Personalized Gingerbread Cookies – monogrammed cookies means everyone gets one :)

4. Flourless Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars – fluffy and light, gluten free. 

5. Fudgey Raspberry Brownies – dense, and deliciously decadent. 

6. Christmas Toffee Crack(le) – addictive, salty and sweet – amazing 

7. Flourless Almond Brownies – made with almond meal, dense and fudge-like

8.  Almond Butter Blossom Cookies – an almond-butter take on the traditional thumbprint classic

9. Nanaimo Bar Bites – one of my favourite holiday treats, just dressed up a little different

10. Salted Almond Butter & Pretzel Cups – just like their peanut-y partner, these almond butter cups are a bite of heaven.

11. Pumpkin Biscotti – a seasonal twist on another italian classic – drizzle in chocolate for an extra treat.