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