Christmas baking round-up: cookies & bark

Well hello there!  Who else is baking up a storm and simultaneously stuffing their faces with baking all day every day?  I thought so.

Now here's a round-up of my family's tried and true recipes that make up our Christmas baking plates that we gift to friends and family during this time of year.  Usually we'll try one or two new recipes each year, but these classics have stuck around for awhile now. 

This is my first Christmas living on my own, and I definitely didn't do as much baking as other years.  Now, I don't live far from my family (and I WORK on the farm), so I often stumbled upon my mom or sister baking one of these recipes, and it made me feel so nostalgic. Ha!   There's a lot of memories behind each of these recipes, and I hope you enjoy them if you give them a go!

ALSO: Feel free to LAUGH REALLY HARD at some of the photos from several years ago.  Seriously....YIKES!  *I'm looking at you toffee pretzel bark. Ha!!!

Merry baking!

-Kelsey

eggnog cinnamon buns (in under 90 minutes!)

Oh hey there!  Today we're drooling over cinnamon buns.  Eggnog cinnamon buns to be exact!  The best part about them?  They take less than 90 minutes!  Heck yeah!

I don't bake a ton of bread, mostly because I lack the patience it takes.  I'm hoping that this is something I get better at, since my mom makes buns every Saturday, and it is basically heaven.  So, the fact that these cinnamon buns don't take a million years makes me a very happy girl!

Of course, since it's nearly Christmas, I used eggnog in the place of milk in both the dough as well as the glaze.  I'm not even the biggest fan of eggnog, but it's pretty darn delicious when it's baked into bread!


Eggnog Cinnamon Buns

recipe: adapted from GoofyDebbie
yields: 12 cinnamon buns

ingredients:

1/4 cup water

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 

1/4 cup white sugar (1 tablespoon for yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons in the rest of the dough)

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

filling:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

 

directions:

In a small bowl, add water, a tablespoon of white sugar, and yeast.  Stir together and set aside to rise.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter on a medium heat, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, add 2 1/4 cups of flour and salt.  Stir in yeast and egg, and mix well.  Add in milk and butter mixture.  Add in remaining cup of flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir well until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes until smooth (it's better if you're dough's a little sticky here, rather than adding too much flour).

Cover with a clean, damp cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and soft butter.

Roll dough out into a 9x12 rectangle (*hint: the pan you'll be placing them in is a 9x13 in case you need an idea of measurements).

Spread butter-sugar mixture evenly across the dough.  Then, roll up the long side of the dough as tight as you can.  Pinch the seam where it ends, so that it doesn't come apart.  Use either a serrated knife to cut the roll into 12 even pieces, or you can use a piece of plain floss (slide it under the dough, bring it up, cross over each other, and cut).  

*Hint: I often trim the ends of the roll off and bake it in a mini pan to help the buns stay more even!

Arrange the twelve buns into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover with a clean dish towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 18-20 minutes.  


Eggnog Glaze

recipe: from Moirianne
yields: 1 1/2 cups

ingredients:

2 cups icing sugar

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla 

3 tablespoons eggnog

directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together softened butter, icing sugar, vanilla, and eggnog.  Add eggnog or icing sugar as needed until the desired consistency is reached.

Spread on slightly warm cinnamon buns and serve!


white chocolate cheesecake (with sugared rosemary & cranberries)

Oh hey there!  Today we're talking about cheesecake.  Rich, decadent, (perfect for the holidays...and well, everyday) cheesecake.  It's not something I experiment with often due to it's decadent nature, and priciness of the ingredients (I'm looking at you cream cheese!).

I totally play favourites when making cheesecake, and this mocha cheesecake is what I make 9 times out of 10.  Why mess with perfection?

So, obviously I chose to mess with perfection.  Ha!  And the results were pretty stellar.  The idea of doing a white chocolate cheesecake with sugared cranberries had been rattling around in my mind for a while, and I thought it would be so great for Christmas.  The added rosemary brings a winter-y touch, and it adds a subtle flavour to the cheesecake just from sitting on top!


White Chocolate Cheesecake (with sugared rosemary & cranberries)

yields: one 9-inch diameter cheesecake

ingredients:

Crust: 

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup melted butter


Cheesecake:

2 cups (350 grams) good quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut)

1/2 cup half-and-half cream

3 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs
 

For Topping:

whipped cream

white chocolate curls

sugared cranberries 

sugared rosemary

directions

In a medium bowl, mix together graham wafer crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, place chopped up chocolate and the cream.  On medium-low, melt together, stirring often.  Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, cream together your cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing well between each one.  Mix in vanilla and melted white chocolate.

Pour batter over the crust, and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the middle has completely set.  Turn off your oven, crack the door, and let the cheesecake cool for an hour inside (to help avoid cracking).  Remove from oven and cool on counter if your cake is still warm, and then run a knife around the edge of the cake but leave in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before removing from pan and serving.  Serve with whipped cream, chocolate curls, sugared cranberries & sugared rosemary (instructions below)

*There are tons of tips out there on how to keep cheesecakes from cracking, and I haven't figured out the perfect combo for me and my oven/kitchen yet!  Mine cracked in 3 spots, so I just covered it in whipped cream - nobody will know, and it tastes great!


Sugared Cranberries & Rosemary

ingredients:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

Sugar - for rolling cranberries & rosemary in

cranberries

fresh sprigs of rosemary

 

directions:

In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and water, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.  Once sugar has completely dissolved, your simple syrup is ready!  Remove from heat and let cool.  Place cranberries and rosemary into the syrup (I just hand dipped the rosemary), and then remove with a strainer.  Spread out on parchment paper, and let them start to dry for about 10-15 minutes.  

*If syrup is pooling under your cranberries or rosemary, just move everything around.  You don't want anything to sit in syrup, just for it to be lightly coated.

In a shallow dish, place more granulated sugar for rolling your cranberries and rosemary in.  Roll until coated (for the rosemary I just gently pressed each side into the sugar and shook off the excess).  Place onto clean parchment, and allow to dry more thoroughly.  These will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple days, and can be refreshed by rolling in a bit of sugar if they get humid at all.


Happy Christmas Baking!

-Kelsey

gingersnaps

December is officially here, and that means all the cozy things!  To me, gingersnaps are a winter cookie.  Something about the warm flavours of ginger and molasses make me want to curl up next to a fire with a plate of these in front of me.  We even had snow yesterday, although most of it is gone already!  (We don't get snow all that often, so that was an exciting/interesting/panic-inducing event for us locals...)

Anyhow, I think they have the best of both worlds, as these cookies are partly soft and chewy, and a little snappy.  The little crackles on top have so much character, and they are the perfect addition to Christmas baking platters.  

Now this is my grandma's recipe, and I might be biased, but no one makes these better than her.  She advises you to make one or two test cookies, and see what happens.  Sometimes they might need a touch more flour, and sometimes they're perfect as is.  If you're like me, I usually don't have the patience, and just plow ahead and hope for the best!  Spoiler alert: they're always delicious.


gingersnaps

recipe from: Grandma Holloway

 ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

granulated sugar - for rolling cookies in

directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy.

Mix in molasses, baking soda and all spices, and mix well.   Add in flour and mix until just combined.

Roll cookies into balls, and then roll in granulated sugar.

Bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes.  They'll puff up and crack a bit on top.  You can always do a test cookie, and see if you need a tad more flour if they're too flat.


Happy cookie baking!

-Kels

pumpkin cake

Today we're talking about cake.  Pumpkin cake to be precise.  There's salted caramel involved as well (because duh...you should know by now that I'm obsessed with it).

I made this cake for my birthday way back in October!  Yes, I know that was more than a month ago, but my life is just calming down after our crazy Fall season on the farm, and I'm very slowly catching up on all of the Fall themed things I shot but didn't have time to blog.

Also....Yes, those are leaves on my cake. #noregrets

Anyhow.....I knew that I wanted a pumpkin cake, and I had dreams of a brown butter swiss meringue icing situation with salted caramel drips. Alas, it was not meant to be, as my icing majorly failed, and I had to improvise with whipped cream instead.  Of course this happened with half an hour of daylight left, and family arriving for my birthday dinner.  Talk about STRESS!!

Nonetheless, it was mighty delicious, but very messy, as whipped cream isn't the best for layer cakes.  Cutting the cake was a bit of an adventure, as the messy, imperfect photos below can attest to.  And maybe there was a birthday-life-lesson in there somewhere, since life doesn't always turn out the way you imagined.  It's often messy and imperfect, but when in doubt, caramel drizzle makes everything better.


Pumpkin Cake

yields: approx. three 6-inch cake layers

ingredients:

1 1/3 cup butter (browned)

3 1/3 cup flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

4 eggs

15 oz pureed pumpkin (about 2 cups)

2  2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

 

 

directions:

1)  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2)  First you'll want to brown your butter, and allow it to cool slightly.  Using a stainless steel saucepan or frying pan is great since you'll be able to see when the butter starts to darken.  Place your butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Swirl the pan to help your butter melt and cook evenly.  It will take a few minutes, but your butter should start to foam a little bit on top, and then will start to darken.  Keep swirling, and once it reaches a dark tan colour then remove from heat and set aside to cool.  It will smell a bit nutty and taste extra delicious!  (You can always skip this step if you're short on time, and just melt your butter instead).

3)  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.  Mix well, and then set aside.

4)  In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.

5)  Add your browned butter, pumpkin, milk and vanilla, and mix well.

6)  Gradually add your dry ingredients to the wet ones, and mix until just combined.

7)  Distribute batter between your greased cake pans.  (If you don't have 3 pans, you can bake  1 or 2, and then remove your cake from the pan(s) once the cake has cooled a bit, wash the pan, re-grease it, and bake the next one.  The cake will likely rise a bit differently since the batter has sat for a while!  I bit the bullet and purchased 3, and it makes life so much easier!)

8)  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Frost your cake with your desired icing - I recommend using Amy's Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Frosting (recipe here).  Or you can use whipped cream for a messy look like me!  I added homemade salted caramel between each layer, as well as on top of each piece as well.  Have fun with it!


Happy Cake Baking!

-Kelsey

roasted red pepper and cauliflower soup

Oh hey there!

I have another soup for you today!  We all know that soups make the perfect, cozy, comfort food that we all crave as the weather gets colder.  My family often has "Soup Saturday" during Winter, so we are always looking for new combinations of flavours to try.

I knew that I wanted to make a cauliflower soup, and my mom suggested adding some roasted red pepper to it.  Heck yes!  I feel like the word "roasted" just conjures up such yummy vibes, and instantly makes things sound more impressive.  Right?  So, there's roasted red peppers, roasted cauliflower, onion, garlic, cumin, curry powder, chicken broth (easily subbed for vegetable broth) and some fresh red chili peppers in this soup!  It's so simple, thick and hearty, and is bursting with flavours.

Let's also take a moment to appreciate these Lion Head Bowls. How gorgeous are they? They come from Revol, a family-run French company that creates high quality porcelain cookware, and has been around since 1768. I love finding new companies that put so much care into their products, and the quality shows. The little dutch oven I used is from their new line of healthy cookware, called Revolution 2, and one of my favourite things about it is that it's surprisingly light! It can also be used on the stovetop, in the oven, or even the microwave. And the cherry on top is that it's pretty! Let's just say that I'm lazy when it comes to dishes, so I love the fact that this doubles as serveware!

Also, the red Thai chili peppers were a total impulse buy at the grocery store, and one I'll probably make again in the future!  They're just so stinking cute!  I knew that I needed some for styling, and putting just one in the whole pot of soup was almost too spicy!  I had 10 in my produce bag....and my total came to a whopping $0.16.  16 cents people!  Big spender right here.  Hehe.


Roasted Red Pepper and Cauliflower Soup

yields: 2-4 servings (depends on serving size - this recipe easily doubles)

ingredients:

2 red bell peppers

1 head cauliflower

1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 tbsp oil - divided between onions and roasted veggies

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 cups chicken stock (depending on how thick/thin you prefer your soup)

1 red Thai chili pepper, finely minced
 

chickpeas & dill - to garnish

directions:

Quarter the two red peppers, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Chop cauliflower into florets, and add to baking sheet as well.  Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with cumin and curry powder, and stir.  Roast veggies at 400 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until tender.  About 20 minutes

While the veggies are roasting, saute onions with one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven (or large saucepan), until tender.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in chicken stock.

Add roasted veggies to the broth and bring to a simmer.  Use an immersion blender or a blender to puree soup into a smooth mixture.  Chop a red Thai chili pepper finely and stir in.

To roast chickpeas for a garnish: roast chickpeas on a greased cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes at 400 F until crunchy.  Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Garnish with roasted chickpeas, cauliflower florets, and a bit of dill.  Serve hot!


This post was created in partnership with Revol! All opinions are my own, as always. Thanks so much for supporting brands that help keep me cooking <3

Happy soupmaking friends!

-Kelsey

apple caramel crumble pie

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Today we're talking about pie and salted caramel.  Pie.  Salted Caramel.  Two of my favourite things.  

Seriously though, when asked my top 3 favourite foods....salted caramel makes the cut.  #noregrets

I debated whether or not to put the caramel right into the pie, but wasn't sure how it would cook (anyone have any tips for this?).  I decided to leave it on the side, and will revisit caramel IN a pie at a later date.  Maybe I just wanted to keep it in a jar on the side so that I could drizzle an inappropriate amount on my piece of pie, as well as ice cream the next day, apple slices during the week, and anything else I could think of.  Ha!

You'll also notice that this pie has a crumb topping.  I love the double crust just like any other sane person, but sometimes I just want those crumbs!  I feel like this pie is the perfect marriage of your classic apple pie and apple crisp.  Also, it's less work than rolling out a top and obsessing about getting your crimps/braids/cut outs just right.  That's a win win in my book!


Apple Caramel Crumble Pie

ingredients:

Pastry - recipe from Jean Pare
Yields: enough for 4 double crust pies

5 cups Flour

2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

3 tbsp Brown Sugar

1 lb Lard (or vegetable shortening)

1 Egg

2 tbsp Vinegar

Cold water

 

 

directions:

1)  Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and brown sugar in a large bowl.

2)  Cut up lard and add to dry ingredients. 

3)  Using a pastry cutter (or a plain old fork works as well), cut in lard until your mixture is crumbly.

4)  Break your egg into a liquid measuring cup and beat well.

5)  Add vinegar to the measuring cup.

6)  Add very cold water to the measuring cup, until the mixture measures to 1 cup.

7)  Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture slowly, and stir.

8)  Use your hands to work the mixture together until it no longer crumbles apart.  This is where experience will come in, as you don't want to overmix the dough!  Once you make it a couple of times, you'll get the feel of it.

9)  Divide into 4 equal parts.  Each part will make one pie, so you can choose to use it all at once, store some of the dough in the fridge* for up to 2 weeks, or pop some of into the freezer for later!

*If you do refrigerate your dough overnight (or for a few days), be sure to take it out at least an hour before you roll out it (maybe less if it's super warm in your house).  Otherwise it will be too stiff!


assembly:

1)  Once your pie dough is ready, you can peel and chop apples (the exact number will depend on the size of your apples, and how full you want to make your pie).  We used Elstar apples, which are nice and tart, and are wonderful for baking with!

2)  Mix all ingredients in with your diced apples, stir, and let sit for a few minutes.

3)  Take approximately an eighth of your dough, and roll it out in a circle.  You want your dough circle to be big enough to cover the bottom of your pie plate, and to cover the outside edge at least a half an inch.

4)  Add your apple mixture to the pie plate.

5)  For Crumbs:  Mix together flour, brown sugar and salt.  Pour melted butter over and stir together.  Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over top.

6)  Bake at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until nice and bubbly.  

*Check on your pie while it's baking, and cover with tin foil if your crumbs start to get too dark.

7)  I drizzled a generous helping of salted caramel over each piece of pie as I served them!

Crumbs
from: epicurious - Melissa Burns

3/4 cup flour 

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon butter, melted

 

Filling

6ish medium Elstar apples (or any tart apple of your choice)

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 cup Flour

3/4 cup Sugar


Salted Caramel Sauce

ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

 

directions:

In a medium saucepan, heat sugar on medium high heat until it starts melting, stirring occasionally.  Once there are no more white bits of sugar, or chunks, stop stirring, and let sugar turn a dark amber.

Immediately add in the butter, and stir until incorporated.  Add in the heavy whipping cream and salt, and again stir until incorporated. *Be careful in these steps as the mixture will froth quite violently!

Remove from heat, and let the caramel sauce cool and thicken before serving.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container!


Also, this was the last pie I made...way back in September.  Need to fix that ASAP!!!

Happy Pie-Making!

-Kelsey

simple pumpkin soup

Fall is well underway, and that means it's time for cozy soups!  My sister and I cooked up this incredibly simple pumpkin soup, and I couldn't resist photographing it in our pumpkin patch!  Of course, that was easier said than done, and it had me rethinking that decision as we trudged through the mud dragging all of my props and soup.  Ha!  

I think it was worth it though!  Getting to see the sunrise from the field is always a treat, and these little pumpkin pots looked so cute beside actual pumpkins!

Edit: Giveaway is closed!  Congrats to Sarah LeNoir for winning! 

Also, I have an exciting giveaway for you today!  I was so pumped when I heard that Loran from Polder's Old World Market was looking for collaborators to gift some of their gorgeous dreamware to readers who would appreciate it, and even more pumped when she said yes when I reached out!  Being from a family-run farm myself, the story of the Polder family business really resonated with me, and their passion and attention to detail is so apparent within their work.  Hand-carved dreamware created from salvaged wood, beautifully curated vintage cookware, ceramics, linens, and more!

So, today I'm giving away one of their all purpose wooden spoons (pictured in this blog!) & the world's best cookie spatula.  All you have to do is visit their site, and comment below telling me what piece of dreamware you would like to find in your stocking this Christmas!  I will randomly be choosing and e-mailing the winner on November 10th.


Simple Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped finely

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 cups (16 oz) pumpkin puree

2 cups chicken broth

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

salt & pepper to taste

cilantro & pumpkin seeds to garnish

Directions:

In a large pot, place oil and chopped onions, and sautee until onions are soft.  Add in garlic and stir, cooking for about a minute together.

Add in chicken broth, cumin, red pepper flakes, and pumpkin puree.  Stir occasionally as mixture heats up.  Add in coconut milk and heat through.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot!

Garnish with a swirl of coconut milk, cilantro and pumpkin seeds!

*note: pairs well with biscuits (recipe here!)


And bonus!! The Polder family wants to gift their customers with a $25 gift certificate, and all you have to do is sign up for their newsletter here!  (You don't have to sign up to be entered, this is just an extra perk!)

Happy soup making!

-Kelsey