Category Archives: holidays

Chocolate Mint Cookies

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without little bowls of sugary temptation to nosh on around every corner. A particular favourite of mine are Misty Mints, the pastel coloured mint chips coated in white nonpareils. Sometimes mowing down on more than a few (cough handfuls cough) can be minty sweet overload, so I threw them into some chocolatey cookies to mix it up. When you bite in, you get a cheerful peek of colour and a delicious hint of mint.

I used a great chocolate cookie recipe that you can find here, but feel free to Misty Mintify your favourite batch. Before scooping out my dough, I added 1 cup of chips and stirred them in slowly. Be careful when you’re mixing because they are a bit more fragile that chocolate chips. If you want a pop of colour on the outside of your cookie, stick a few chips on top of the dough before baking.

These make a great holiday treat, but if you stock pile your mints (boxing day sales anyone?) you can enjoy them all year round. Is it just me, or are these colours screaming Easter? I’m glad I’ve jumped ahead a few holidays. Not to worry though, I still have a few ideas to share before Christmas, so don’t be a stranger. Happy baking!

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Filed under cookies, holidays, super simple

Citrus Almond Meringues

Holiday feasting can get to be a bit much by the time December 25th rolls around, so sometimes it’s nice to keep dessert a little lighter. These meringues incorporate seasonal citrus flavours, and make the perfect airy end to a heavy meal. Meringues are inexpensive, easy, and super low calorie. You might say they’re the new “super food”. This recipe  makes 12-16 meringues. You’ll need:

  • peel from 1 large grapefruit and 2 tangerines
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (equal to about 4 lg eggs, but I buy them in the carton)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup super fine sugar

Peel your fruit with a vegetable peeler so that you get just peel without the pith. Finely chop the peel, or pulse it in a food processor until you have tiny pieces. Scatter the chopped peel on a parchment lined baking sheet and dry it out in the oven for about 10 minutes at 250 degrees.

On low heat, toast your almonds in a small sauce pan tossing them frequently. Finding the perfect balance between deliciously toasted nuts and burnt garbage can be a challenge, so watch them carefully. When your almonds are slightly brown, and a nutty flavour is wafting from the pan, take them off the heat and put them in a bowl to cool. Don’t leave them in the pan or they will continue to cook (and will probably burn).

Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. In a metal mixing bowl, combine your egg whites and cream of tartar and whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add your vanilla, and whip on high, adding the sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Continue to whip until very stiff peaks form.

When your meringue is stiff, slowly fold in your dried citrus peel (reserve 1 tbsp) and 1/2 cup of your toasted almonds. Line two baking sheets with parchment, and drop 1/4 cup spoonfuls of your meringue mixture onto it. You can create oval shapes by filling a large spoon with meringue and scraping it off with another spoon, or just drop haphazard dollops. The great thing about meringue is that it will hold its shape perfectly without expanding, so you can be creative. Check out these Meringuebows for inspiration.

Sprinkle the rest of your toasted almonds and citrus peel on top and bake your meringues in the middle rack of the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. You can vary the time depending on how crunchy or chewy you’d like them.

Feel free to indulge in 2 or 3 (or 10) of these without feeling guilty. They’re basically air, right? I mean, you’re probably burning calories just chewing them. I’ll be sharing another meringue recipe this week, so keep your eyes peeled. Happy baking!

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Filed under cookies, holidays, new flavours, relatively healthy

Itty Bitty Figgy Pudding

I have always had a thing for miniatures. I started collecting tiny trinkets when I was a little girl, and when I see an opportunity to shrink something down to dollhouse size, I just can’t help myself. These Itty Bitty Figgy Puddings make adorable table favours, and couldn’t be easier to create.

 

 

Take a dome shaped chocolate, drizzle a bit of royal icing on top, and decorate it with teeny tiny holly sprinkles. I was lucky enough to happen upon these Wilton Holly Mix Sprinkles at HomeSense last year. You can find them at some bulk or craft stores, but if you can’t track them down, design your own topper out of candies or fondant.

For the icing, mix together 1/4 cup of icing sugar, a pinch of cream of tartar, and about a teaspoon of water. Adjust the proportions of water and sugar until you have a nice thick consistency. Dollop a little on top of each chocolate, and press in a pair of holly leaves before the icing sets.

Now, these may not be the most delicious item on your dessert tray (royal icing and chocolate isn’t exactly a winning combo), but it’s what’s on the outside that counts, right? If you want something a little more gourmet, you can experiment with different icings, but I found that for an authentic look, royal icing worked best.

Can’t you just picture your beautiful holiday table with a little figgy pudding waiting for  each of your guests at their seat? And to give you an idea of just how teeny these are, here’s one more photo.

 

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Filed under a party, adorability, candy, holidays, super simple

DIY Colourful Coasters

Day 5 is bringing you another thrifty handmade gift. This one is super easy, so even kids can get involved. I’ve had this idea in my mind bank for over a year, and holiday gifting gave me the extra push I needed to put it together. It’s based on a craft that I LOVED as a kid. Do these things look familiar?

I grew up calling them ‘Hama’ beads, but it seems like the ‘Perler’ brand has taken over. I guess a lot can happen in 20 years. You can find them at most craft stores, but believe it or not, IKEA sells them for way less! You’ll need some of these, as well as little peg boards (the green things in the photo below), some waxed paper, an iron, and some sticky backed craft foam (if you can’t find adhesive craft foam, you can attach it with double sided tape or glue).

Work out a design on your peg board. When it’s finished, carefully place a sheet of waxed paper on top (waxy side down), and iron it on medium heat for about 20 seconds. Slowly peel back the paper, and tip the disc off of the pegs. The heat from the iron melts the plastic beads together.

When you’ve finished ironing all of your coasters, stick them, ironed side down, onto the sticky side of your craft foam. Cut the foam around the coasters with a pair of small scissors. Make as many as you’d like, and try out lots of different patterns. The finished product has a fun, kitschy, retro feel, and makes a great addition to a funky apartment.

A few tips: when you move the boards around before ironing them, use EXTREME caution. Picking up these tiny beads from the floor is a nightmare! Also, keep an eye on the beads as they’re melting. You want them to be fused together, but not over melted.

Happy crafting!

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Filed under holidays, inedible, super simple

Candy Cane Cake

Welcome to day 4 of my 12 Days of Christmas posting! After seeing a ton of these adorable cakes popping up online, I thought I would give it a try. Just alternate layers of white and red cake (I used a mix and added 1 tbsp of red gel colour and 1 tbsp of cocoa to half of my batter), and you have an easy candy cane effect. It’s always fun to have a little surprise to cut into.

I iced the cake in white buttercream. It was my first time colouring buttercream icing white with food colouring, and I was surprised by how much colour it required. The effect is great if you want a pure white look without using shortening though (shortening is gross. always use real butter in your icing!).

The decoration on the top is simple: take 10 mini candy canes (or more depending on the size of your cake), and pair them together in hearts. Instant cute holiday appeal.

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing another last minute handmade gift idea; see you then!

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Filed under a party, cake, candy, holidays

Poor Man’s Pumpkin Spice Latte

For day 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas, I’m sharing my version of a fall favourite at the ‘Buck. It is super rich and festive tasting, for a fraction of the markup, and it’s topped with a deliciously frothy cream cheese whip. This recipe will make a cozy serving for two. You’ll need:
  • 2 cups of strong coffee
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 6 tbsp. of canned pumpkin pie filling
  • 4 tbsp. of sugar
  • 1 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. of Philadelphia Whipped cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. of sugar

Combine your milk, 4 tbsp sugar, pumpkin and spices in a small pot, and whisk them until hot and frothy, but not boiling.

Meanwhile, whip your cream until it is stiff, then add in the cream cheese and sugar.

When your milk mixture is nice and hot, divide the coffee between two large mugs, and pour the milk mixture over top.

Top each serving with a healthy dollop of cream, and garnish with a dusting of cinnamon if you like.

While sipping away on your budget latte, you can dream up all the lovely gifts you’ll buy with the money you’ve saved.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a fun do-it-yourself gift for friends and family who envy your chops in the kitchen.

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Filed under holidays, pop culture, super simple

Spare Noses

It’s the 12 Days of Christmas here at Luvcrumbs!

After a major blogging hiatus during exam period, I am in full-on holiday mode. Leading up to Christmas, I will be posting a new gifting/baking/celebrating idea each day to make your season a little brighter.

While touring Dundurn Castle in Hamilton yesterday (one of my favourite Christmas activities), I learned that the 12 days of Christmas traditionally began on Christmas eve, and continued until the Epiphany on January 6th. Now, I’m all for tradition, but the idea of santa cookies after Christmas just seems ridiculous. Therefore, I will be bringing you a new project everyday from now until December 24th. Think of it as my gift to you.

First stop: Spare Noses. For Rudolph. From Santa. Get it?

These miniature cookies are perfect for the reindeer in your life who needs a little extra help guiding his/her sleigh. Be sure to make lots: we wouldn’t want Santa (and all of those glorious presents) to be held up by a red nose shortage.

This recipe will make about 6 small jars worth. You’ll need:

  • 6 smallish jars (recycled or new) mine are about 3″x3″ at the base, and about 5″ tall (thank you Dollarama!)
  • 6 labels to fit your jars
  • ribbon or raffia for adornment
  • about 3 tbsp red gel food colouring
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • plastic wrap
  • 1 cup red sanding sugar
  • small round cookie cutter (roughly 1″ diameter)
Cream together your butter and sugar until fluffy. Add your food colouring, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add the salt, and stir in your flour cup by cup, kneading with your hands if necessary. If it doesn’t look red enough, throw in a little more colour. When it’s all combined, turn your dough out onto some plastic wrap, and flatten it out into a disc. Wrap it up and throw it into the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When your dough is chilled, roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. You may have to work it out a little before it softens up. When your dough is about 1/4″ thick, cut out as many tiny red circles as you can with your cookie cutter. Keep re-rolling your dough until you can’t cut any more circles. (Here’s a tip: if you can’t find a small cookie cutter, use the large end of a medium sized piping tip. If the dough gets stuck in the tip, just blow on the other side and it will pop right out. This may not be the best choice if you’re a germaphobe…just saying’.)
Now you have a choice. If you have time on your hands, and want some wow factor, go with style 1. Otherwise, use style 2.
1. Fill a shallow plate with some water, and another with a few spoonfuls of sanding sugar. Dip one side of each cookie into the water, then into the sanding sugar before placing it on a non-stick baking sheet. Keep the cookies about 1/2″ apart from one another.
2. Place your cookies on a non-stick baking sheet spaced about 1/2″ apart. Take a pastry brush, dip it in water, and brush it over the cookies. Sprinkle copious amounts of sanding sugar onto the cookies until you are satisfied with the amount that has stuck. Warning: the sugar that ends up on the baking sheet will likely melt, and may burn in the oven.
Bake the cookies for 5-6 minutes. It is essential that the edges do not brown (it’s not “Rudolph the Brown-Nosed Reindeer” people). Let your cookies cool, and divide them evenly among your jars.
Now you can get creative. I am technologically challenged, so printing labels was a stretch for me. I ended up printing basic labels with the lettering typed on them, and then found some cute stickers to jazz them up. Feel free to draw your own labels, or design them with a program. I tied on a little bit of twine for rustic appeal, and may I suggest adding a gift tag that reads: To: Rudolph, From: Santa?
These cookies will keep for 3-4 days at optimal levels of freshness, so don’t bake them too far in advance. You can, however, freeze your dough and thaw it out when you’re ready to bake.
These festive treats make great gifts for kittens (I mean children), teachers, and anyone on your list who likes a little whimsy. And if you have people on your shopping list who aren’t into whimsy, let’s be real, you should probably just give them a lump of coal.
Happy baking everyone! Stay tuned for day 2 of The Twelve Days of Christmas here at Luvcrumbs. I’ll be making a dime store version of one of your favourite coffee shop beverages.

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Filed under adorability, cookies, holidays