Eggnog Bundt Cake

Eggnog Bundt CakeThere are two kinds of people in the world: those who love eggnog and those who hate it. Until a few years ago, I was decidedly in the latter camp. I have an aversion to liquid dairy (I take my coffee black and prefer my cereal to be dry). I am hesitant around creamy things in general, but especially drinks. I have had one glass of eggnog in my life and while I loved the flavor, I just couldn’t handle the texture.

Eggnog Bundt CakeLuckily I’ve learned to bake since then, so I can have the flavor of eggnog without the texture. Last year, I made some rockin’ Eggnog Sandwich Cookies and I’ve been dreaming of other ways to bake with eggnog ever since. A few months ago, it hit me: Eggnog Bundt Cake. Soft, tight-crumbed cake flavored with everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage, scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, and drizzled with glaze.

Eggnog Bundt CakeI know that all the ridges and curves in a bundt pan can make it intimidating–there’s a greater chance that a chunk of cake will stick to the pan or that it’ll break in half when inverted. The secret here is to grease it heavily with a mixture of flour and oil. Whisk equal amounts of them together until a thin paste forms and then paint it over the entire inside of the pan. This creates a barrier between the cake batter and the pan, greatly reducing the chance that your cake will stick. When the cake is done and has had a chance to cool for a few minutes, run a small, thin knife around all of the ridges and curves and invert it onto a cooling rack. The cake will come out of the pan in one piece every time–there’s no hoping and praying about it. There may be a little excess flour on the top of the cake, but it should come off with the swipe of a dry paper towel. Voilà! Easy cake release every time. I use this method with all my layer cakes too, and have excellent results every time.Eggnog Bundt CakeEggnog Bundt Cake

Once the pan is greased, get to work on the cake batter. You’ll see all of the usual suspects here–flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, eggs. But then we put a holiday spin on it and add a full 1 1/2 cups of eggnog and 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg! The cake batter will be very thick, but should pour easily into the greased pan. Bake it for nearly an hour before inverting onto a rack and drizzling with a simple glaze made with confectioner’s sugar, more eggnog, and spices.

Eggnog Bundt Cake is soft and moist, perfectly spiced, and full of eggnog flavor. It’s a great dessert for holiday parties, but you could also place it on a cute tray, wrap it with cellophane and a bow, and give it as a gift!Eggnog Bundt Cake

Eggnog Bundt Cake
makes one 12-cup capacity bundt pan

For the Pan:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups eggnog
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3-4 tablespoons eggnog
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pan. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and oil. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture over the entire inside of the bundt pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until very light and fluffy–about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Mix in eggnog and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing on low until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 50-55 minutes, tenting with foil at the 25 minute mark. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the outer edges of the pan before inverting the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of eggnog and vanilla. Add another tablespoon of eggnog if you’d like a thinner glaze. Use a fork to drizzle glaze over cake. Glaze will set a bit after 20 minutes. Slice cake and serve.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Note:

You may use cake flour instead of all-purpose. Use 3 cups of cake flour and omit the cornstarch. Proceed with recipe as written.

Gingersnaps

GingersnapsFor whatever reason, I associate gingersnaps with watching TV with my dad when I was five. After dinner, he’d grab a few and make himself a cup of decaf, park Eliot and me next to him on the couch, and flip on the TV. I think we watched CSPAN and Star Trek, but I don’t remember (probably because I was bored…CSPAN is a snoozefest). What I do recall is that he would dip each gingersnap in his coffee and share them with us. I just loved eating those coffee-soaked cookies and hanging out with my dad.

Now anytime I eat a gingersnap, I go back to those days for just a second. I’m not sure if those memories took place around the holidays, but who cares. This is the time of year for ginger, cinnamon, cookies, and nostalgia. I’m not sure if most people consider gingersnaps a holiday cookie, but I do.

GingersnapsGingersnapsThese gingersnaps, y’all. They’re amazing–way better than the storebought variety I grew up eating. Crispy, crunchy, and full of that classic ginger-molasses flavor, they’re guaranteed to be hit at all your holiday parties! The best part? They’re super easy. Once your butter has softened to room temperature, this recipe comes together in under an hour.

GingersnapsThe dough is very straightforward. Flour, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper (don’t skip it!), baking soda, and salt are whisked together. Use an electric mixer to beat together your softened butter, a cup of sugar, an egg, and some molasses. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, and then scoop the dough by the tablespoon. No need for a chill or anything. Roll the dough into balls and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets before sliding them into the oven for 12-14 minutes. The cookies will spread a bit, but still be nice and puffy when they’re ready. They may feel a bit soft immediately after baking, but will harden as they cool.

Once these gingersnaps are cool, good luck restraining yourselves. They’re delightfully crispy and the ginger-cinnamon flavor is just…everything. I can usually restrain myself around all my baked goods, but I’ve been snacking on these all day! Throw these gingersnaps on your to-bake list this holiday season.

GingersnapsLooking for more holiday treats? Check out my Hot Chocolate Mix (perfect for gifting!), Chai Whipped Shortbread, and Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms!

Gingersnaps
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and molasses. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition.

Scoop dough in 1 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans from the top to bottom racks at the 7 minute mark. Gingersnaps will still feel soft in the middles, but harden as they cool. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Gingersnaps will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms

Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter BlossomsI spent this past weekend working on a huge tea party. I made vegetarian Cornish pasties, three kinds of pie (including this one), and two flavors of scones for 100 guests. I’ve done parties for 300+, but this event was my Everest. Note to bakers everywhere: if you’re making pastry for 100, spring for a sous chef. It’s been three full days since that party, and I still haven’t fully recovered.

Since I’m all pastried out, I’m keeping it simple today with these Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms. That’s right, classic Peanut Butter Blossoms are dressed up with milk chocolate Lindt Lindor Truffles!

Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter BlossomsThe cookie base is rich, chewy, and chock-full of peanut butter flavor. And did I mention that it just happens to be gluten-free? That’s right–there’s no wheat flour in these little cookies 😊 The structure comes from a combination of creamy peanut butter, eggs, and cornstarch. Add a little baking powder, and the resulting cookies come out super soft and puffy.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part–these peanut butter cookies come together in less than half an hour and don’t require a chill!

Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter BlossomsLindor Truffle Peanut Butter BlossomsWhile you could certainly serve the peanut butter cookies by their lonesome, it’s the holidays, so they are just screaming for a little something extra! Peanut Butter Blossoms are traditionally made with Hershey’s Kisses–and you may certainly go that route here–but why not try something a little more decadent? Lindt Lindor Truffles are everywhere this time of year. I’m not a huge candy person, but I can’t resist their chocolate shells and creamy ganache centers. Here, they’re pressed into the tops of our warm peanut butter cookies, making every bite creamy and luxurious. I prefer the milk chocolate variety, but you may use dark chocolate or any other flavor you like. A warning, however, that Lindor Truffles do contain gluten (a fact which I somehow overlooked until right before I hit publish today). If you or one of your guests must be gluten-free, I suggest using the traditional Hershey’s Kisses or any other gluten-free chocolate you enjoy.

Seriously, y’all. These little cookies are so good–perfect for all your holiday parties and cookie swaps. Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms are guaranteed holiday crowd pleaser ❤️💚Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms

Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms
makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups creamy-style peanut butter* (almost an entire 16.3 ounce jar; I used Skippy)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
24-25 Lindt Lindor Truffles (I use the Milk Chocolate variety), unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat peanut butter and light brown sugar until combined. Mix in egg and yolk, followed by vanilla. Beat in cornstarch and baking powder.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-9 minutes, until no longer shiny. Let cool five minutes on the pans before pressing one Lindt Lindor Truffle into the top of each cookie. Let cool and additional ten minutes before removing to a rack or serving plate.

Truffles will re-solidify after several hours at room temperature. They are best eaten with a napkin handy to catch any drips from the ganache centers. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

Do not use natural peanut butter here. These cookies need the homogenous texture of creamy-style peanut butter.

Chai Shortbread Snowballs

Chai Shortbread SnowballsSometimes I make a recipe and like it enough to post it, but then, when I go to make it again, I am disappointed. I feel that way about a few recipes on this site and will be posting better alternatives as we move into 2017.

One that I am out to fix? My Whipped Shortbread Snowballs. They are super buttery and delicious as written, but they are also incredibly fragile. So fragile that coating them in confectioner’s sugar is near impossible. Forget about stacking them in a container or putting them on a cookie tray–they’ll all break. There’s nothing wrong with delicate cookies (I love these Apple Cider Snaps), but I don’t want to make cookies that fall apart the second I go to eat one.

Chai Shortbread SnowballsSo, how am I going to fix that recipe? Like I do most cookies: I’ll add cornstarch. I love cornstarch. It keeps chewy cookies soft, gives my cakes a tender crumb, and it makes my Chocolate Cream Pie nice and sliceable. Here, it adds just enough structure to these cookies to keep them from crumbling without fundamentally altering the crispy, melty texture. Cornstarch is magic, I tell you. If you want to make a better, sturdier version of my Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, add 1/4 cup of cornstarch when you add the confectioner’s sugar, then follow the recipe as written. Voilà! They’ll still melt in your mouth, but they won’t crumble all over your floors.

Chai Shortbread SnowballsChai Shortbread SnowballsChai Shortbread SnowballsI could leave it at that, basically posting the same recipe twice in a year, but that’s not really my style. Today’s shortbread take that classic recipe and turn it up a bit with the addition of chai. Black tea leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and black pepper (yes, black pepper!) are blitzed into the flour before its mixed with the whipped butter, confectioner’s sugar, and cornstarch. The resulting cookies have all the flavors of your favorite chai tea latte. Coat them in more confectioner’s sugar for that signature holiday cookie look and watch them disappear at your next holiday party!Chai Shortbread Snowballs

Chai Shortbread Snowballs
makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon black tea leaves (I use PG Tips)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Coating:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 275F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine flour, tea leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and salt. Process about 15-20 seconds, until tea leaves are broken down. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch, and mix for 1 minute. Turn mixer to high and beat for 6 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in two installments.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and place them at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 14 minutes before rotating pans from top to bottom racks. Bake an additional 12-14 minutes.

Let cookies cool on pans for 5 minutes. Place confectioner’s sugar in a small-medium mixing bowl. Gently coat each cookie in confectioner’s sugar before placing it on a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate MixHi! How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great–I got lots of quality time with my little sister and parents, had dinner with a reader (hi Robyn!), and ate so much chocolate that I think I might soon abandon my vanilla person ways.

But now Thanksgiving has passed and November is nearly over. I got home Sunday night and immediately broke out my Christmas tree and started decorating. It’s still not finished and I have no idea where I’m going to put my Peanuts Nativity scene, but I’m definitely getting into the holiday spirit ❤️💚🎄

Hot Chocolate MixDuring the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, I did Twelve Days of Cookies. While I love holiday cookies and had a blast making all of those recipes, I felt I had limited myself. I mean, why only make cookies when there are cakes and food gifts and seasonal beverages to be had?! There will definitely be some new holiday cookie recipes over the next few weeks, but I’m expanding a bit this year. Let’s call it Twelve Days of Holiday Treats, and let’s kick it off with Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixEveryone loves Hot Chocolate. It’s a classic. Warm, sweet, creamy, comforting, and (most importantly) chocolaty, it’s a must-have this time of year. We’ve all had great cups of hot chocolate while out and about. The versions we make at home, however, are often packaged and filled with stabilizers. And they certainly don’t taste like chocolate. At least, they don’t taste like any chocolate I’ve ever had.

My Hot Chocolate knocks the pants off anything you can get in a packet. It starts with cocoa powder. Use any cocoa you like (I am fond of the deeper, richer flavor of Dutch process). Sift the cocoa into a large mixing bowl. I know sifting is a tedious process, but this will keep the Hot Chocolate Mix from being lumpy when stirred into warm milk. Lumpy hot chocolate is gross. So sift that cocoa powder and a couple of cups of confectioner’s sugar, too. You could certainly use granulated sugar, but the powdered variety dissolves more easily into warm milk and the cornstarch it contains helps to thicken the Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixNext, grate half a chocolate bar into the mix. I prefer milk chocolate, but use dark if that’s what you prefer (it’ll keep it vegan!). This will make the Hot Chocolate extra chocolaty and super smooth and creamy. Lastly, whisk in a pinch of salt. You may add some vanilla powder if you happen to have some lying around, but if you don’t, your Hot Chocolate Mix won’t suffer in the slightest. Whisk all the ingredients together and spoon the mix into an airtight container.

And then, make yourself some hot chocolate. Warm some milk on the stove or in the microwave, and stir in a few tablespoons of your mix. Drink it plain, or top it with whipped cream or marshmallows or chocolate curls–or all three, if you’re feeling feisty. You’ll love the smooth, rich chocolate flavor, and that you know exactly what ingredients are in your mug.

Hot Chocolate MixHot Chocolate MixWhile it’s fun to have a treat all to yourself, it’s always more fun to share. This hot chocolate recipe is easily doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled so you can share with your family. And, of course, you can always tie a cute ribbon around a jar of the mix and give it out as a gift.Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix
makes about 4 cups

1 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1.5 ounces chocolate (milk or dark), grated
1 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Sift cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in grated chocolate, optional vanilla powder, and salt. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To make Hot Chocolate:
3-4 tablespoons Hot Chocolate Mix
1 cup milk of choice, warm
whipped cream, if desired
mini marshmallows, if desired
chocolate curls, if desired

Whisk mix into milk until no lumps remain. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows, or chocolate curls, if desired. Serve immediately.