Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Eggnog" Bundt Cake

I was really looking forward to making another eggnog flavored cake and after searching for what seemed like forever, actually found a recipe that didn't use a prepared box cake mix or instant pudding (yuck!). As I prepared my mise en place [*which in french translate to "everything in place"] I realized the eggnog had a use by date of that day. So, instead of chancing it- I just replaced the eggnog with heavy cream (which the recipe called for in that instance) and my own idea of adding an extra egg yolk to up try and still capture an eggnog flavor.

Well, it didn't quite taste like eggnog. It was more of a spiced bundt cake, so we'll just call it a holiday bundt cake. Don't be put off though, it was still very good! With cinnamon, nutmeg, dark rum, and orange flavors- no one really missed the eggnog.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Fresh baked cookies is one of the best smells ever. This scent has been duplicated in candles and air fresheners but nothing can compare to the real deal.

These are a crowd-pleaser because everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. They are that go-to nostalgic comfort food and this recipe just makes them even better. Instead of getting a measly cookie, you get a big bar filled with three different kinds of chocolate slightly melted and a center that's warm and gooey.

see, three kinds!

You might even be tempted to eating the whole bowl of raw cookie dough because they are that good, but trust me they are best when warm & right out of the oven.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Curried Butternut Squash Potage

The weather has been pretty dreary lately, with buckets of rain coming down the past 5 days so a nice warm, hearty soup sounded so comforting.  I also found an enormous butternut squash at a farmer's market a few weeks ago and it was the perfect time to cook it. This soup recipe is one of my first very own and every time I make it I try to perfect it a little more.

Its pretty simple and only takes about 30 minutes to make. Also, the chicken stock can be swapped out for veggie stock to make it a completely vegetarian soup. Its warm and comforting and will perfume your kitchen with amazing smells.

Pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting

I've been making these cookies for a few years now. My mom and grandma love spiced cakes and cookies and these are reminiscent of them with the addition of holiday spices commonly used in baked goods; cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I usually end up doubling this recipe whenever I make it because they always seem to disappear so fast.

there they are, on the left
The cookies are not your average cookie. They are not crispy, chewy, or flat like your average cookie. They are very cake-like, resembling a whoopie pie almost. They are soft and pillow-y, and oh so welcoming with the warmth of the spice blends. Then the tops are spread with a lemon-scented cream cheese frosting which adds a nice balance of sweet and tang to the cookie.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sweet holiday treats

I absolutely love eggnog and I really only get to have it from November to January. So within that small window of time, I jumped at the chance to make eggnog cupcakes and happened to find a pretty good recipe to go off of [ not to mention I had these really cute cupcake liners I wanted to show off]. It also so happened that Josh's mom was hosting a big holiday party this past weekend and I was in charge of desserts. Along with the cupcakes, I also baked pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting [ which I will be posting about shortly] and the chocolate dipped pecan bars from earlier.

These cupcakes are delicious and I found some adorable edible pearls which added a touch of elegance to their presentation. The original recipe had a cinnamon stick as a garnish, but as I learned in culinary school- all garnishes should be edible and I don't think many people are interested in gnawing on some cinnamon bark.

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Chocolate-dipped Pecan Bars

Originally I wanted to make these little cuties for Thanksgiving but Josh just had to have pumpkin pie and I only had time to make one dessert. So I finally was able to try this recipe out today after a long busy week at culinary school!

Pecan pie on its own is really delicious but the addition of chocolate just makes even better. The fact that these are bars instead of a standard pie, adds a whimsical note to them. They can be dipped in chocolate, drizzled on top, completely submerged- the possibilities are endless with chocolate.

I took this recipe even further and sprinkled some pink himalayan salt on the tops of a few, which really takes the idea of decadence to a whole new level. The combination of caramel, chocolate and salt is like no other and because this dessert is so sweet and buttery, that extra salty bite balances very well with the other flavors.

Be prepared: this recipe calls for over 2 lbs of butter, and makes dozens of small sized squares so its great to bring for a holiday party!