It was officially Christmas in July a few days ago, and the weather must have gotten the memo, because it was in the 60s and, dare I say it, slightly nippy, here in New York. Naturally, I made a whole slew of festive treats, including these addictive caramels. Thank goodness I had a leftover box of candy canes from last December.
Let’s try to classy up St. Patrick’s Day, shall we? Instead of going crazy with food dye, I used pistachios to get a natural green color and added some Guinness to the batter to really capture the spirit of the holiday.
The result is a rich, chocolate donut that’s moist and cakey, with some crunch and a bit of saltiness from the chopped pistachios. Make these mini so they’re easier to eat when you shove a handful in your mouth in a drunken stupor. And if you want to get drunk off the donuts, increase the amount of Guinness to 1/2 cup in the batter and splash some in the ganache too. And then drink the rest of the six-pack while you wait for these to bake.
For this week’s Muffin Monday, I decided to go with something festive since it’s Mardi Gras on Tuesday, so naturally, King Cake! Now, the last time I had a King Cake was in middle school French class, so my memory of them has more or less disintegrated. According to the internet, they’re basically a giant cinnamon roll sometimes also filled with fruit and cream cheese and then covered in a simple glaze and colored sugar. I remember them being good, but pretty dense and heavy, and I knew that’s not how I wanted this muffin version to be.
I decided to go with a basic muffin batter lightly spiced with cinnamon and then filled with both cream cheese and sauteed apples. Then I topped them off with a simple glaze and yellow, purple, and green sanding sugar.
The end result has all the festiveness and deliciousness of a King Cake but is lighter and won’t weigh you down the way a typical King Cake does. Give up anything else for Lent, just not these muffins.
I’ve got a new Christmas tradition and it’s this bread. I know everybody loves cinnamon rolls, but just look at this thing, it’s an absolute showstopper! It’s not much more work to make than cinnamon rolls, either, so if you’re looking to jazz things up next year (or whenever – this bread is so good you won’t want to wait for the holidays to make it), try this tasty wreath instead.
With just three of us, the holidays were never such huge occasions for my family. Growing up, we already saw each other all the time, so it wasn’t like we were waiting all year to be together again. But since I’ve moved out and only go home once or twice a year, the holidays have become much more meaningful as it’s one of the few times a year I get to spend time with my parents.
This year, my parents came to visit me here in New York, their first visit since they helped me move into my apartment in May 2011. As a thank you to them, I decided to go all out and plan and cook the entire menu myself, and even arranged a pretty legit-looking centerpiece.
I’m a vegetarian and my parents aren’t huge fans of turkey anyways, so the star of the meal was a nut-stuffed squash that magically tasted similar enough to sausage to satisfy even my father’s carnivorous appetite. The menu went like this:
- Whole wheat potato rolls
- Mashed potatoes
- Thyme roasted broccoli, carrots, and red potatoes
- Nut-stuffed butternut squash
- Lentil pot pies
- Pumpkin chiffon pie
And that’s how you do Thanksgiving for three people.