Last week, some good (nay–amaaaazing) friends gifted us a loaf of stollen; we ate it record time. There may have even been a few squabbles between me and my husband regarding who just exactly ate how much of this stuff. When the inevitable heel of the loaf appeared, I thought, “hey–this can’t be that hard to make.” And I was right. It takes the a day to bake and the better part of a week to let the loaf “ripen” into its decadent glory, but most of it is inactive, soaking or rising time.
Is there anything more indulgent than a baked brie? Puffy, crispy layers of puff pastry encasing warm, gooey triple-cream cheese is #holidayappetizergoals. Usually, I use cranberry sauce, but I decided to give this one a little Southern twist and use pepper jelly. For those of you not familiar, pepper jelly is a jelly made out of peppers–both mild and hot. It’s delicious–sweet and spicy and usually served with cream cheese and crackers (or if you’re feeling fancy, some goat cheese).
Pavlova, Australia’s national dessert, is one of my favorite desserts, both to eat and to make. It looks seriously complicated but couldn’t be easier. Its foundation (literally) is a cloud of meringue–crusty on the outside with a pillowy marshmallow interior. Next is a layer of sweetened whipped cream, and then usually a fruit of choice. I thought cranberry would be perfect for Christmas, and I happened to have these fantastic Sparkling Sugared Cranberries for a garnish.
All of the components (even the cranberries!) can be made up to two or three days ahead. I whipped up the meringue and baked it three days before my event, and wrapped it in plastic wrap and stored it in a cabinet (not the refrigerator, or else it will weep). I even whipped the cream the day before, sweetening it with a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Whipped cream stays fresh in the fridge for at least a few days. The cranberry syrup I saved from the Sparkling Sugared Cranberries got a new life in this dessert. I combined the syrup with a few handfuls of fresh cranberries, squeezed some satsuma (a local citrus similar to a tangerine) juice in there, and simmered it until it thickened and the cranberries popped. This I strained and reserved for drizzling over the finished pavlova.
Christmas Wreath Pavlova
A show-stopping Christmas dessert, this pavlova has it all: tart fruit, clouds of whipped cream, and airy meringue.
4extra-large egg whitesat room temperature
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract
Sweetened Whipped Creamsee note
Sparkling Sugared Cranberries
Rosemary sprigscut into 1-2 inch pieces
Cranberry saucesee note
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
Draw a 9-inch circle on the paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 3 minutes.
With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 4 more minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula.
To make a wreath shape, spoon the meringue into a circle on the parchment paper and smooth the top, joining the dollops into a wreath.
Bake for 1 hour.
Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Wrap it in plastic wrap until you're ready to assemble it, ideally right before eating.
To assemble the pavlova, place the wreath on a plate (it will most likely crack as it cools--this is okay). Spoon whipped cream on top of the wreath and garnish with cranberry sauce, sugared cranberries, and rosemary or mint.
For the whipped cream, place 1.5 cups of heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer and whip until thick. Add 2 tablespoons vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and whip until firm peaks.
For cranberry syrup, put reserved syrup from Sparkling Sugared Cranberries in a saucepan with 1 cup of fresh cranberries. Add the juice of one satsuma, orange, or clementine and simmer it until it's thick and the cranberries pop. Strain into a bowl and discard solids.
For my #12DaysOfChristmas cocktail, I wanted to do something really different. I got the idea for this ChristmasThyme cocktail from Inspired by Charm’s “A Very Merry Ornamentini.” I went with his idea for the vessel and garnishes (a clear glass ornament and rosemary and the aforementioned Sparkling Cranberries) but made a completely different cocktail, as I wanted something less sweet and a little herbal. And what a cocktail it is!
On the third day of Christmas, there were sparkling cranberries, for your cake or cocktail garnishing or snacking pleasure. This one may seem a little out of left field, but if you’re a fan of sweet and tart things, they’re delicious.
On the second day of Christmas, there was an unbelievably fudgy, deep-dark chocolatey, ooey-gooey cookie. Deep Dark Chocolate Crinkles are pretty much the exact opposite of yesterday’s Pecan Snowballs. Where those are hard and crumbly, these are soft and chewy. But hey—it’s #12DaysofChristmas and who says we have to choose? Make both and enjoy the compliments.
Like the snowballs, these need to chill. I actually made the dough in the evening, stashed it still in the mixing bowl in the fridge overnight, and shaped, rolled, and baked them in the morning. The balls of dough can even be frozen for up to three months, so keep a a bag in the freezer to bake up for impromptu gifts. If you’re a chocoholic, it really doesn’t get any better than these cookies.
Deep, Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Fudgy and impossibly chocolatey, these cookies will please the pickiest of palates.
1cupunsweetened cocoa powder
4eggsat room temp
3teaspoonspure vanilla extract
2cupsall purpose flour
powdered sugarfor rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
In a stand mixer or medium bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar and vegetable oil. Mix with stand or hand mixer for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until evenly combined.
Add the flour, baking powder and salt and incorporate all the ingredients. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
With a cookie scoop or teaspoon, measure out 1-inch balls of dough.
Roll each ball in powdered sugar before placing onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. Middles will still look wet when done.
Let cool for two minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
I began last year’s #12DaysofChristmas with a Meyer lemon snowball cookie, and this year it’s going back to the original, plus pecans. These things go by so many names it’s hard to keep up. I’ve called them tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, pecan meltaways, etc. What more do you need to know other than they’re delicious? Melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly shortbread, studded with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. It’s impossible to eat just one.
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there.”
This is truly my favorite time of year. I love the warmth of this season–which may sound strange given the outside temperature–but it’s a warmth of giving, of goodness, and light, that ignites in me as soon as we pack up the Thanksgiving leftovers (who am I kidding–I start getting giddy after Halloween). As I looked back at #12DaysofChristmas last year, I noticed I didn’t have a roundup of all of the 2016 recipes in one spot. Here they are below for your gifting/eating/drinking pleasure. Stay tuned next week for 2017’s 12 Days of Christmas (culminating in another awesome giveaway), but in the meantime, enjoy these 11 fantastic holiday recipes!
On the 12th day of Christmas, there was an awesome giveaway! This lovely set of Williams Sonoma* citrus-themed plates will be my present to one of you. Glazed earthenware with a hand-painted green rim, these salad plates will brighten up your winter table, for sure. It’s a set of four, one of each design of grapefruit, lemon, orange, and lime.
All you need to do to have a chance to win is write a comment on this post answering the following question:
“What’s on your wish list this year?”
*Williams-Sonoma is in no way affiliated with Lemon Baby or this giveaway. No purchase necessary to enter. Sweepstakes will run from 12/21/2016 6:00 PM EST and close at 6:00PM on 12/25/2016. Winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Prize is valid only to US residents and will be shipped only to an address in the 48 contiguous states.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, there were oysters swimming in butter and cream. “Oh, that sounds good,” you say? You bet your Hatchimal it’s good. Good enough for Christmas Eve (or even the first course that is the marathon Christmas Day meal).
On the tenth day of Christmas, there were nuts. No, I’m not talking about Great Aunt Bethany with the jello mold that may or may not contain cat food (if you don’t get that reference you need to watch more Christmas movies). I’m referring to the nuts of the pecan variety, lightly coated in a shiny glaze and spiced to perfection with paprika, cumin, cayenne, sugar, and ginger.
On the ninth day of Christmas, mama needed a hot toddy. For those of you not familiar with this libation, it’s a warm cocktail of whiskey, hot water, lemon and honey, usually reserved for medicinal purposes. Like the Thai chicken soup I posted for the third day of Christmas, it’s my go-to when I’m suffering from a cold, but on a chilly, rainy night like tonight, it’s perfect, too.
On the eighth day of Christmas, there were still lemons in my kitchen. That’s right, I have not somehow figured out how to use 200 lemons in one week. But lucky for me, I’m not sick of them yet, despite drinking them in my water, and cocktails, and adding them into any recipe I can think of. So that’s why I bring you lemon curd tonight, and even better, a recipe that takes fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish.
On the 7th day of Christmas, there was more peppermint and chocolate. In case you didn’t believe me when I said this is one of my favorite combinations, here’s more proof. Peppermint patties are one of those things I never thought about making myself, but along came Gourmet magazine’s December 2007 issue, and my Christmas treat-making has never been the same. Continue Reading
On the sixth day of Christmas, there was caramel. Gooey, soft, sweet, buttery caramel, dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with tiny grains of sea salt. I’m a huge fan of caramel, in any form. Dulce de leche, caramel sauce, and caramel truffles are all good in my book. I’ve never been much into making candy (I’m pretty sure it’s because of the time I burned myself with sugar syrup in high school cooking class), but as long as you pay attention during the last stage, you don’t even need a candy thermometer for these.
On the fifth day of Christmas, there was Champagne. There’s nothing like bubbly to toast the holiday season (and keep on toasting ’til the New Year). Last night was our annual gift exchange, hosted by Allison, party thrower extraordinaire. In characteristic fashion, the bubbly was flowing. Champagne is nice, but champagne cocktails are the bomb. For our holiday shindig, Elizabeth brought a grapefruit syrup she made with fruit from her own tree. Paired with bubbly, it was light, refreshing, and the perfect libation to sip while enjoying friends and laughter.
On the fourth day of Christmas, there was peppermint + chocolate, a match made in the North Pole. When I say I love chocolate and peppermint together, that means that I can easily eat an entire tin of Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark by myself. That’s $40 well spent, my friend. Now, I’m pretty sure at one point you’d have never been able to convince me that there was anything better than that combination. Once Bon Appetit added shortbread to the equation, however, I was hooked. I say the word “shortbread” the way Garfield says “lasagna.”
On the third day of Christmas, there was cold and flu season. Yes, while this seems odd to include in a Christmas countdown,no one is immune to the common cold. What’s more, it tends to strike around the least opportune times (i.e., during the holidays, when we have better stuff to do than being stuffed up.) Clear your sinuses with my favorite remedy, this Thai Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup.
On the second day of Christmas, there were cocktails. Because of crowds at the mall, the fact that your kid told you he wanted the impossible-to-find Nintendo NES from Santa (I said “Santa doesn’t bring presents for grown-ups, and we both know that’s really for your daddy”,) and perhaps you (with the help of your husband and two friends) just harvested over 200 lemons from your backyard tree.
For the next twelve days, Lemon Baby is bringing you twelve mini-posts of our holiday favorites. Cookies, cakes, side dishes for the holiday meal, candies, soups, and even some edible gift ideas. Starting #12DaysofChristmas off right is a recipe for one of my absolute favorite cookies. They go by several different names (Snowballs, Meltaways, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Tea Cakes) but they all translate to a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookie dusted with powdered sugar.