'Tis the holiday season to return once again to what we love. To open stored boxes and pull out old treasures, strings of lights, decorations, and cherished memories. To reacquaint ourselves with long-standing traditions. To reach out to those we love and hold them close.
There is no time like the holiday season. The whole world celebrates this time of year. Each nation with its signature cultural traditions. Each family in its own unique way. And as families come together in love and festive spirit, gratitude pours from our hearts. That is, until we experience, once again, the pitfalls of spending too much time in close quarters with the family! We're kidding, of course, but as you've probably experienced, there's also a bit of truth there!
We love big family gatherings, but it's not always easy satisfying everyone's unique needs, desires, and temperaments--especially where food is involved! That's why we aim to cook with everyone in mind, which requires more forethought, additional work, and a great deal of patience. But hey, family is the most important thing there is so we're willing to put in the extra effort.
That's why we decided to write a slightly different guide this month. It's our way of helping you show up with extra love and kindness this holiday without having to do a lot of extra work. It's already such a busy time of year, after all.
We chose to focus on desserts because there's a bit more wiggle room around tradition with the sweet stuff than there is with the main course. Besides, it's not unusual to offer four or five desserts at the holiday meal, so you can have a balance of classic and contemporary tastes. You may also choose to bring one of these desserts to a holiday party or give to your neighbour.
We included five recipes only because there's already so much overwhelm during the holiday season. We wanted to keep it simple. Bear in mind, most of these recipes take extra time and effort to make, but if you love baking then it won't feel that way. Use the following table of contents to jump to a particular recipe or browse each one and see what grabs your attention. Enjoy!
(White Chocolate Peppermint Gingerbread Cookies)
(Ginger Pear Loaf)
(Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Pie)
(Pecan Pie Bars)
5 Holiday Desserts for the Whole Family
White Chocolate Peppermint Gingerbread Cookies
Why settle for boring gingerbread men when you can jazz it up with sweet n' pepperminty gingerbread showgirls?
These cookies are a winning balance of the classic gingerbread taste that we all know (and expect) at the holidays, decadent white chocolate, and swirly peppermint. They're a literal mouthful!
You'll be glad you went through the effort these require because they're not only a textured taste bomb, they look good too in your holiday basket!
1 cup softened butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp molasses (or treacle, but we vote molasses!)
2 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tbsp peppermint candy canes, crushed
1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
Part One: Preparation & Baking
In a large mixing bowl, combine and cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or stick blender on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
Add the vanilla and molasses and beat until completely integrated.
Use a small mixing bowl to whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt.
Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until it comes together into a dough.
Mold the dough into a ball and place it on a large piece of plastic cling wrap. Flatten the ball to create a disc and wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap.
Chill it for at least 30 minutes. If you chill overnight, remove it from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you want to roll it (next step).
Preheat your oven to 350 F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Sprinkle flour on a clean countertop and roll the dough disc until it's ¼ inch thick.
Use cookie cutters to create desired shapes.
Place the cookies on the baking sheet an inch apart. Chill for 10 minutes.
Bake for 8-10 minutes & remove from the oven.
Allow cookies to cool for about 10 minutes while on the baking sheet, then use a spatula to transfer them to a large cooling rack.
Part Two: Decoration
Melt the white chocolate chips in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave (stirring every 30 seconds).
Dip half of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle with crushed candy canes and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
Christmas Trifle Pudding
A gorgeous, layered mess of cake, cream & fruit with a festive flair. Traditional English trifle calls for strawberries or raspberry jam, lady finger biscuits, and amaretto. It's delicious, but not very Christmas.
So instead of boring biscuits, we chose gingerbread. Cranberries replace strawberries, cinnamon and ginger offer a fragrant heat, and why not pour a little rum n' eggnog over top? That extra boozy bit adds moisture and makes the whole thing a little more like a trifle pudding.
YIELD: 16 SERVINGS
TIME TO MAKE: 1.5 HOURS
1 box gingerbread cake mix
2 bags fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed (12 oz.)
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup water
½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground ginger
2 cups whipping cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ liter of eggnog mixed with 2 shots of dark rum
Part One: Preparation
Set oven temperature at 350 F.
Follow package instructions to prepare gingerbread cake mix & allow it to cool.
In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, water, cinnamon, and ginger over high heat until it reaches a boil.
Reduce to a simmer for about 8 minutes, until the berries burst. Stir and mash the berries as they simmer.
Pour the berry compote into a bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes until cold.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until it peaks, then set it aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gradually beat in the whipped cream, then cool the mixture.
Part Two: Assembly
Slice the cake into ½" slabs and layer the bottom of your trifle dish.
Cover with 1 cup of berry compote and a layer of whipped cream.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your trifle dish is full. Top with whipped cream.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Part Three: Presentation
Scoop a large spoonful of trifle into individual serving bowls.
Pour desired amount of rum n' eggnog blend over top (not so much that the trifle is completely submerged).
Sprinkle sugared cranberries over top and serve.
Ginger Pear Loaf
Don't think that this is just another boring loaf out of Grandma's kitchen. While it's not as fancy looking or decadent as the others in this collection of recipes, it should not be overlooked. Cinnamon drives this moist bread home with a heavenly, festive scent and ginger heats it up. Pear adds texture and sweetness.
While you might opt to slather fresh, salted butter on a slice of this loaf, we highly recommend adding something of the creamy nature. Here are a few options that we love: fresh whipped cream, cream cheese frosting (or just plain cream cheese), or get really festive and soak a slice in eggnog. However you choose to enjoy it, make sure you don't leave this one out.
P.S. - Add some beautiful wrapping and It makes a perfect gift for a dinner host, neighbor, or colleague.
YIELDS: 12 servings
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 20 mins
1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp + ⅛ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt
½ cup molasses
½ cup buttermilk
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ firm but ripe Bartlett pear, peeled & chopped
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Lightly grease a loaf pan and line it with an oversized-sheet of parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, cloves, and salt in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the molasses and buttermilk.
Using an electrical mixer or stick blender, beat the butter and brown sugar until it becomes light and fluffy. Then, reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs vanilla. Finally, reduce the speed to low and add both the flour and molasses mixtures, a little at a time so that you end with the flour mixture.
Fold in the chopped pear and pour the mixture into the lined loaf pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until an inserted fork comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.
Slice & serve with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Pie
YIELDS: 8 servings
PREP TIME: 40 mins + 3 hours to set
25 classic Oreo cookies
¼ tsp rock salt
5 tbsp butter, melted
2 liters peppermint or candy cane ice cream, slightly softened
Chocolate sauce for drizzling
Peppermint patties, broken
Pulse the cookies in a food processor to create fine crumbs. Add the butter and salt and continue pulsing until well combined. Press the mixture into a 9" pie plate.
Spread the softened ice cream evenly over top of the crust, creating swirls if desired.
Place the broken pieces of peppermint patty on the surface, as desired. Drizzle chocolate sauce over top, creating any designs you desire.
Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Pecan Pie Bars
YIELDS: 12 servings
PREP TIME: 20 mins + 1 hour baking
2 sticks butter
¾ cups sugar
½ tsp salt
2 ¼ cups flour
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
3 cups pecan halves
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into small chunks, place in a saucepan over medium heat until the solids turn brown. Then pour it into a bowl immediately.
Add the sugar and salt and whisk to combine. Then add the flour and gently stir until combined.
Using a buttered spatula or your hands, press the contents evenly
Bake for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine the melted butter, corn syrup, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Gently stir in the pecan halves and pour the mixture over the crust.
Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes until the topping sets.
Allow it to cool completely then remove from the pan and cut into squares.
Serve with whipped cream.
We hope this free guide has brought platefuls of love and decadence into your home this holiday season. If you have questions, comments, or other feedback, please feel free to contact us, or sign up for our monthly newsletter.
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