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Entries in holidays (51)

Friday
Dec172010

Such a Flake: Cornflake Wreath Cookies Recipe

This cornflake wreath magically has a star shape in the center!Cornflake wreaths are like the Rice Krispie Treat's Christmas-y cousin, made in very much the same method, but decorated in a far more festive fashion.

They're a classic that many of you probably grew up with, so it's probably not a new recipe for you, but sometimes it's sweet to pay homage to the old favorites, no?

Here's how I make them.

Cornflake Wreaths

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon green food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (can use all vanilla or all almond extract, if preferred)
  • 4 cups Corn Flakes

Procedure

  1. On your stovetop in a saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the marshmallows and mix frequently until they get melty and cohesive.
  2. Add and mix quickly the coloring, extracts, then Corn flakes.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls in to little stacks on greased wax paper; using your fingers, work holes into the center of each stack (I find it easiest to do this as you spoon them). Garnish with red candies if desired.
  4. Let cool, and serve. This recipe makes 15-20, depending on size.
Monday
Dec132010

Season's Sweetings: A 12-Layer Christmas Cake for Serious Eats

Whoever said that size doesn't matter clearly stuck with cakes that were, like, seven layers or fewer.

But here's a treat to power you through the holiday season: a towering 12-layer red and green Christmas cake. Why twelve layers? Why, one for each day of Christmas, of course!

A riff on Maryland's official state cake, the Smith Island Cake, this red-and-green confection is brimming with holiday cheer, and butter. Serve in slender slivers, because a little goes a long way with this sugary splendor.

Note: To avoid confusion, I should say that though it takes cues from both, this cake is neither a Red Velvet cake (it does not contain cocoa) nor truly a traditional Smith Island cake (the cake part is, but the icing is traditionally chocolate). Consider it a holiday mash-up, with liberties taken on both cakes to make for a festive holiday look.

For the full recipe and writeup, visit Serious Eats!

Tuesday
Nov302010

Bang a Gong: Harvey Wallbanger Cake from Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

The holiday season has begun its assault on our senses. But I know how to dull the sensory overload: indulge in a big slice of boozy cake. Don't judge me.

(Note: curious about that patent? I was too. Learn more here.)

This one comes from Krystina Castella's Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked With Spirits, Wine, and Beer, a fine release from Quirk Books this year. This book is full of fun boozy cake recipes, plenty of which are great for a holiday crowd; I won't lie, I chose the Harvey Wallbanger because of its funny name and interesting recipe lead-up:

All the rage in the 1970s, the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail is a groovy twist on the classic Screwdriver: it adds a splash of the smooth vanilla Italian liqueur Galliano to the vodka and orange juice. In the 70s spirit, this is one drunk Bundt cake that is dead easy to make. It's a light, moist, absolutely booze-drenched crowd pleaser.

And happily, I wasn't let down. Citrusy, festive, and very boozy, this one is party-perfect.

Harvey Wallbanger Cake

From Booze Cakes by Krystina Castella

For the cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.3 ounce) box vanilla instant pudding
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup Galliano liqueur
  • 3/4 cup orange juice

Boozy Orange Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1 tablespoon Galliano liqueur

Finishing: original recipe  suggests orange slices and confectioners' sugar; I garnished with toasted almonds.

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cake mix, pudding powder, vetetable oil, eggs, vodka, Galliano, and OJ for 4 minutes, or until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. Make the glaze. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over cake. Give it a few minutes to sink into the cake for extra boozy goodness and moisture. Finish with whatever garnish you'd like.

Warning: Do not share Harvey Wallbanger cake batter with pugs.

Monday
Nov012010

Live and Let Pie: Bourbon Orange Pecan Pie Recipe from megpies

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from the very talented Megan of megpies--let's let her take it from here!

Hello Everyone! I’m Megan from megpies and I’m so thrilled to be a guest on Cakespy!

One year ago, I started a small pie business completely by accident. In fact, this Thanksgiving marks megpies’ first anniversary! Sharing its Anniversary with Thanksgiving is only fitting since it’s my favorite holiday. The smell of food cooking early in the morning, having people over, getting the linen napkins out…these are the things that make it special. Now that megpies is born, it makes it all the more dear to my heart.

In honor of the Thanksgiving season coming up I would like to share one of my most popular pie recipes – Bourbon-Orange Pecan Pie. It’s not Thanksgiving without pie! In fact, my family is so into pie that traditionally we will eat pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Our reasoning is that we’d rather not wait until we’re too full of dinner to enjoy the pie! So pie is first on Thanksgiving – it’s our favorite part after all! I hope you enjoy it at your Thanksgiving table this year.

Bourbon-Orange Pecan Pie

Photos by www.halliewestcott.com

  • 1 uncooked pie crust
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbl – 1 ½ tbl orange zest
  • 2 tbl bourbon
  • ¼ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (plus 1 cup for decoration) Pecan halves

 Procedure

  1. Place the uncooked pie crust into a 9” pie pan and gently form into the pan. Crimp the edges as desired. Place the pie shell in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Wisk the eggs and add the brown sugar and corn syrup. Wisk again to combine.
  4. Add the salt, orange zest and bourbon. Wisk again to combine.
  5. Add the melted butter and wisk until combined.
  6. Pour in 2 cups Pecan halves and toss.
  7. Pour the mixture into the pie crust shell
  8. Arrange the remaining cup of Pecan halves around the outer edge of the pie.
  9. Place the pie on a baking sheet and wrap the edges in foil to prevent the crust from burning.
  10. Bake on the bottom rack of your oven for 40-50 minutes until the top looks dry and starts to rise a bit. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

 megpies Tips:

  1. While forming the crust to the pan, be careful not to stretch your dough. Any stretching you do now, will shrink as it bakes.
  2. I use several pieces of tin foil to wrap the edges of the pie while it bakes. There are other methods such as the metal pie baking rings, etc. but I’ve found that good ‘ol tin foil works best. It’s a little harder to get it in place, but don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make sure the shiny side of the foil is facing the outside.

Thank you all for spending some time with me today. You can find more of my work here, and I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving traditions in the comments below! Happy Holidays!

Tuesday
Jan262010

Sweetness Down Under: Get to Know Some Aussie Treats for Australia Day

Happy Australia Day! Or, to those not down under...ah, happy Tuesday?

Geography aside, why don't we all celebrate by getting to know a few popular Australian treats? Here's a triple threat of Aussie treats which all happen to be named after people. And they couldn't be easier to remember: just think of them by their anagram, P.A.L, and know that when or where you may find yourself in Australia, with these three treats you'll always have a friend.

Pavlova: This lovely and light fruit and meringue dessert is named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), famous Russian ballerina; both Australia and New Zealand have claimed to be the places of invention, though it looks good for Australia in my opinion, as it is their national cake and all. One thing is for sure though: the ballerina only shared a "light as air" similarity with the dessert; I've heard it is unlikely she ever partook. Here's a recipe.

 

Anzac Biscuits: OK, so they're not necessarily named after one person, but an army of persons. ANZAC is an acronym for Australia New Zealand Army Corps; according to this site, the crunchy ANZAC biscuit was made by women on the home front and sent across the sea to their soldiers. Originally named "Soliders’ Biscuits" and containing just flour, sugar, milk powder and water, these simple biscuits were made to endure the journey at sea. Now the biscuits are more of a treat with the addition of butter, golden syrup and desiccated coconut. CakeSpy friend Marianne (owner of Let them Eat Cupcakes) shared this recipe.

Lamingtons

Lamingtons: Per Joy of Baking, Lamingtons are very popular in Australia and consist of a small square of white cake (sponge, butter, or pound) that is dipped in a sweet chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut. I suspect Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 190l), their namesake, might be surprised at how popular these cakes have become. As for a recipe--joy upon joy, Australian CakeSpy reader Erin has contributed her favourite (we're spelling Australian style today) recipe

Note: Want more? Here are some links to a few other Australian desserts which may interest you:

Darwin Dessert

Mango Mousse

Vanilla Slice

Wattleseed Creme Caramel

...and of course, if you want some serious deliciousness, look back at Cake Gumshoe Diane's Cakewalk in Sydney!

Tuesday
Jan052010

King of the Hill: The Difference Between Galettes des Rois and King Cake

Galette des rois Vs. King Cake
CakeSpy Note: the King Cake photo above left is from a previous post on this site, from flickr user bobby_emm.

Christmas may be over, but the season of the King is just about to begin. No, not Elvis--we're talking King Cake. And as the Epiphany (aka King Cake Kickoff Date) draws ever closer, it seemed like a good time to examine the Galette des Rois and the King Cake to see some of the differences. Ready?

First, let's discuss the physical differences--what are these cakes?

Galette Des Rois: This cake consists of rounds of flaky puff pastry, layered with a gorgeously dense filling of frangipane. By many accounts, this popular version of the cake seems to hail from northern France.

King Cake: This version, as we know it in the USA, is largely associated with New Orleans, and is defined by wikipedia as "a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors)... Some varieties have filling inside, the most common being cream cheese followed by praline."

Both cakes are often garnished with crowns--the galette des rois version commonly being a paper version which can be worn.

Based on my research, the New Orleans King Cake more closely resembles another regional French variation which goes by various names: Gâteau des Rois, or sometimes the couronne, or sometimes the Twelfth Night Cake, which is made of brioche and candied fruits--one could surmise that the New Orleans version is a derivation of this. (Note: Not to confuse things, but it does seem that occasionally galette des rois and gateau des rois are used interchangeably).

Physical differences aside, there are several other subtle differences between the two cakes:

The Trinket

With both the Galette des Rois and the King Cake, there will be a trinket hidden inside the cake, and the person who finds it in their slice is declared "King". However, what the trinket is can vary.

With the Galette des Rois, Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of fèves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters. According to Dorie Greenspan's entry on Serious Eats,

Feve means bean and, originally, that’s what the trinket was. But over the years, while the word feve remained, the beans gave way to fanciful trinkets. (There are feve collectors all over the world now.) It probably goes without saying, but this being Paris, the best pastry chefs change their feves each year and, yes, vie to be the most original.


With the King Cake, while variations exist, by far the most popular trinket is a baby figurine. Why? Well, as you learned in last year's King Cake entry, some say is to represent the young Christ of the epiphany; however, we like this explanation so much better: "a local bakery chain got a large shipment of such plastic dolls from Hong Kong very cheaply in the 1950's and had to use them up and there is no more signifigance than that." Who knows the real truth, but hey, it makes a good story.

Galettes des rois
The Duties of the King

Additionally, the duties associated with being crowned king can vary. With both cakes, the lucky trinket-finder gets to wear the crown that traditionally garnishes the cake; while in both cases this person is declared king of the moment, it seems that a tradition more closely tied to the King Cake is that this person is also responsible for buying the cake for the next party. It would make sense that this tradition is tied only with the King Cake though, as it is available for a longer period of time and therefore there would be more occasions for the cake to be served. Which brings us to the next point...

Dates Available

Another major difference between the cakes is the dates of availability. Though both make their big debut on the Epiphany (January 6), the Galette des Rois has a noticeably shorter season--it is generally available through the month of January, whereas the King Cake will be available for the full Carnival Season, culminating on Mardi Gras (mid to late February, or sometimes even March).

Want more?

Now, by this point you may be feeling a royal hankering for one or the other of these cakes--happily, there are sweet, sweet resources for you. Ready?

Here is a recipe for the galette des rois; here is a recipe for the King Cake.

As for places to buy? 

For the galette des rois, look to your local French bakery--anyone worth their fleur de sel should have it available at least on January 6th. As for the King Cake? Alas a harder species to find, unless you're in the New Orleans area--however, joyfully, several bakeries, such as Gambino's, Haydel Bakery, and Randazzo will ship King Cakes anywhere in the US.

Monday
Jan042010

Vive le Roi: Baby Galettes des Rois for Serious Eats

Galettes des rois

The 12 days of Christmas may be drawing to a close, but there's still one sweet treat to enjoy this season: the Galette des Rois.

In case you missed Dorie Greenspan's Serious Eats piece last year, the Galette des Rois is a rich almond cream and puff pastry confection which commemorates the arrival of the three kings on the Epiphany. Within each galette is a hidden treasure—a feve (originally a bean, but often a trinket now), the finder of which is declared king.

So why make them mini? It all comes down to the fate of the feve. Faced with the prospect of a possible revolt by the power-hungry masses who all want to be crowned king, I decided to take control of destiny by making mini galettes wherein everyone could have a trinket. Happily, this seemed to ensure peace in kingdom cake.

For the full post and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Dec142009

Sweet Variation: Alternate Construction for the Berlinerkranser

Norwegian butter cookies
Do you like the idea of the berlinerkranser , but not the idea of rolling and twisting dozens of cookies? Happily, there is a variation on the cookie which is a bit faster but no less delicious: using the same dough, the cookies can be formed into buttery little thumbprint cookies with pretty sprinkles on the side. Here's the recipe variation:

Berlinerkranser, Reconstructed

- makes about 36 cookies -

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • red and green candied cherries
  • (optional) red and green sprinkles, mixed together in a small dish

Procedure

  1. Mix butter, 1 cup sugar, orange rind, and eggs thoroughly. Stir in sifted flour until fully incorporated. Chill dough.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into circles, a little smaller than a ping pong ball.
  3. With a finger, press an indent into each cookie and press a piece of candied cherry in the indent. If desired, roll the sides of the cookie in red and green sprinkles for a pretty effect.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes, or until set but not brown.

Wednesday
Dec092009

Sweet December: The Holiday Cupcake Roster at Trophy Cupcakes

Bourbon. Eggnog.
Not that you need a reason to go to Trophy Cupcakes this month, but you know what? Here are four reasons. You know what that means? No excuses.

#1: CakeSpy Art Show. Buy original artwork all December long at the Wallingford location of Trophy Cupcakes! The paintings are selling like hotcakes so be sure to go soon for a sweet holiday gift for your sweetie!

#2: Bourbon Eggnog Cupcakes: One of the December flavors which seems to sell out every day. This bodes well.

#3: Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes: Another of the December flavors, comprised of rich chocolate cake and a gorgeously buttery-pepperminty buttercream, all topped with crushed candy canes for the perfect balance of decadent, sweet, and crunchy.

#4: Gingerbread Cupcakes: The final of the three December flavors, this spicy gingerbread cupcake is perfectly balanced by a slightly tangy, bright orange zest buttercream.

Bonus reason: The Candied Yam Cupcake! This Thanksgiving has proven so popular that Trophy is offering it Wednesdays and Fridays all December long.

You know what this all means: get yourself to Trophy Cupcakes! For locations and more information, visit trophycupcakes.com.

Monday
Nov302009

Sweet Seconds: Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry Nut Bars for Serious Eats

Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats

The year's biggest eating weekend is over (sigh). But there's definitely some sweet eating to be had from the little leftovers left, as proven by these cranberry nut squares. This is a revamped version of a pecan bar but composed instead with leftover cranberry sauce and the mixed nuts that played a supporting role in so many Thanksgiving recipes. The result is surprisingly addictive: sweet, salty, tart, and buttery, all at once.

Not only will you enjoy eating them, but you'll also feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing some of the slower-moving Thanksgiving leftovers.
Thanksgiving Leftover Cranberry nut Squares for Serious Eats
You can find the full recipe at Serious Eats!

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