Hey, friends! I hope you’re having an absolutely beautiful day doing exactly what you want with people who make you laugh. You are all a gift to me. Thank you so much for reading my words and cooking the food I share.
I hope you have an opportunity today to find of moment of peace, light, and hope and truly look in awe at this amazing complex, terrifying and unbelievably beautiful universe we live in.
I’ve gone through my archives and put together the ultimate list of close to a hundred totally awesome holiday recipes. There’s everything you’ll need for brunch, dinner, parties, and more. I’ve got your holiday cooking sorted.
Breakfast & Brunch
Do you do a big breakfast spread on Christmas morning? I actually prefer it to Christmas dinner. All of these recipes would be a hit.
I’ve been digging deep for that Christmas feeling. I’m counting the days until I get a break from work so I can go into full relaxation mode. We bought our Christmas Tree last week. I even made Geoff take me on a date to the Christmas market so I could eat a Yorkshire pudding wrap and drink hot chocolate with Bailey’s. We took the route home that has a walk past the most twinkling lights possible. I’ve been finding a few moments of holiday zen, and it’s delightful.
Of course, I still have a bunch of presents to buy, and the idea of wrapping them is close to sending me over the edge. Practical geometry was never my strong suit. Then there’s the Christmas menu to finalize. Geoff’s requested this turkey recipe, along with some other British Christmas classics. As for me, I’m more interested in what cocktail to serve. A poinsettia is always a good choice.
If you’re looking for a deceptively impressive dessert this Christmas, may I suggest you make this Buche de Noel? The first time I made this, I thought it would definitely be a disaster. I don’t have the patience or fine motor skills to make fancy cakes, and I had never tried to make a rolled cake before. It all came together surprisingly easy, and it was so chocolaty and tender, I couldn’t stop eating it.
You don’t need to worry if your cake cracks a bit as you’re rolling it up because the fluffy chocolate frosting will cover up any problems. And you don’t need to be Van Gogh to make it look like a log, either. All you need is a toothpick and an unsteady hand. Squiggly lines are a bad artist’s best friend. A few fresh cranberries and a couple of snips off of a sprig of rosemary, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed masterpiece.
Maintain your holiday bliss and impress your family with a Buche de Noel this Christmas. It’s gonna be awesome.
Buche de Noel
A Buche de Noel is a great way to impress your family this Christmas without adding any stress to your life.
Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Give yourself plenty of paper to hang over the edge, and fold it up in the corners to give it a bit of structure.
In a large, very clean mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk your egg whites until they're nice and foamy. With the mixer still running, add in 1/4 cup of your sugar and continue to whisk until your have stiff peaks.
In another mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer for this part) whisk your egg yolks with your remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Ditch your electric mixer at this point.
Add the vanilla to the egg yolk mixture, then sift over the cocoa powder. Fold this all together with a rubber spatula.
Next, fold in your egg white in three batches. A few streaks aren't the end of the world. The egg white are all you have to leaven this cake, so don't overwork it.
Pour your cake batter into your waiting jelly roll pan and gently spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, the use the overhanging edges of your parchment paper to lift out the cake and allow it to cool completely.
For the frosting
Melt your chocolate by breaking it up into pieces and microwaving it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each go until it's completely melted and smooth. Should take about a minute. Allow this to cool for a few minutes.
Add your powdered sugar to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to make sure you get rid of any lumps.
Add the butter to the food processor and process until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and process until smooth and incorporated.
Once your cake is completely cool, spread a layer of your frosting over the entire top of your cake.
Use your parchment paper to help you roll your cake. You want the short end facing toward you as you roll away from you. Don't panic if you have a crack or two. It will all get covered up with the frosting.
If you want to have a stump or two coming out of your log, slice the ends of your roll at a gentle angle. This will also give the ends of log a cleaner look. You can then use a bit of your frosting to stick this slices onto the side of your cake. Once they're covered in frosting, they'll look like stumps of branches. It's almost too easy.
Don't be afraid to use all of your frosting to completely cover all parts of your cake. No need to make it smooth. The rougher it is, the more it will look like bark.
To complete the look, us a toothpick or skewer to to make some wobbly, bark like lines down your cake. Make some rough concentric circles at each end to resemble tree rings.
If you want to get extra artsy. add a few cranberries and some rosemary to make a few sprigs of holly. If you want it to snow on your log, sprinkle it with some powdered sugar.
Presumably, most of you spent yesterday overeating and napping to your heart’s content. Now that we’ve got all that turkey and thankfulness out of the way, we can start talking about the C word.
I’m getting the most outrageous birthday/Christmas present ever this year, our very own apartment. With us moving at Christmas, I doubt we’ll get to have a tree and all the decorations that make Christmas feel so special this year. Things could be much, much worse, I know. But there’s just something about the way the whole world seems to change at Christmas that makes it so magical.
To kick of our Christmas cheer, I made us some fun and tasty Gingerbread Dudes. Often times, I don’t like gingerbread cookies because they’re made with molasses which I just can’t get into. These are made with brown sugar and golden syrup.
Golden syrup is impossibly sweet and quite possibly the stickiest substance in the universe. I’ve just come to accept it as unavoidable, especially as it’s sold in a container similar to a paint can. If anybody knows any tips for measuring this stuff without making a huge mess, please share it in the comments. If you can’t get your hands on golden syrup, light corn syrup will work, too.
I like to let each person decorate their gingerbread dudes themselves. No matter your age, it’s impossible to decorate a cookie without getting a huge smile on your face. It’s instant happiness. I brought a tin full of these and some store bought tubes of writing icing to work, and I loved seeing everyone’s cookies. They loved making them. The joy was much needed.
Bring a smile to everyone’s face. Make some Gingerbread Dudes and share them with friends, family, and coworkers. Be merry.
Gingerbread Dudes made with golden syrup are delicious and bring a smile to everyone's face.
Add the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
Add the butter and process to mix. You should have a mixture resembling wet sand. Add the sugar and pulse to combine.
Add the beaten egg and golden syrup and process until the dough starts to clump together.
Turn your dough out onto a clean surface and knead it two or three times just to bring everything together. Flatten your dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out your dough t about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out your dough using a cookie cutter in your favorite shape and transfer the cut cookies to a cookie sheet. Give them a little space. They will spread a bit.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. These are crisp cookies, so you don't want them underbaked. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once the cookies have totally cooled to room temperature, you can use writing icing and other decorations to create the gingerbread dude of your dreams.
If your dough starts to get too soft and sticky as you're rolling and cutting, wrap it up and stash it back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
If you're baking your cookies in batches, store the cut cookies in the fridge until they're ready to go into the oven. This will help keep them from spreading too much.
December is crazy and wonderful and stressful and awesome all at the same time. I’m sure you feel it, too. There are festive lights and music at every turn. People are constantly showing up with treats and, if you’re lucky, inviting you to parties. You get to see more of your friends and family. It’s fantastic. It’s exhausting.
But sometimes life can just overwhelm you in December. I’m supposed to be writing an outstanding post for you this evening, but instead I’m prepping food for my husband’s office Christmas party tomorrow night. My brain is completely fried from the insane couple of weeks that I’ve had at work, and there just seems like there’s no time to catch up with life.
So instead, I’m going to share a few tips on how to survive the crazy awesomeness of the holidays without losing your mind or spending all your money. I mean, if you were rich, you could just go and get a massage every day of your life and hire a housekeeper and a personal shopper and a decorator etc etc…
#1 Always always always cut your bacon with scissors. Chances are, you’re going to be making swiss and bacon dip for a party. I mean, I just did. Scissors, baby. Don’t make it hard.
#2 Whatever you do, don’t run out of cheap booze. Whether it’s a bottle of vodka in the freezer or a $6 bottle of white wine in the fridge, keep it stocked. I should say it’s to share with surprise holiday visitors, but we all know it’s for those evenings when it’s either sit down and have a drink and forget about it or scream at everyone who walks by. December is tough. Be nice to yourself.
#3 Sing Christmas songs everywhere you go, even if people can hear you. They might think you’re crazy. They might also think it’s charming and join in. Either way, it will make you smile.
#4 Buy yourself a cheap little present. I know, Christmas is supposed to be about giving, but shopping for the perfect present is hard. If you find a cookbook by your favorite kitchen goddess that just happens to be on sale for ridiculously cheap, get it! I mean GEEEEET IIIIIIIIT!!!!! You worked hard, and nobody else is going to get it for you.
#5 Scale back. If you’re anything like me, no one else’s expectations are nearly as high as your own. Every inch of your house doesn’t have to look like a magazine. You don’t have to serve an eight course meal. Remember that the holidays are a time for hope and love and togetherness. Take a deep breath and remember that you are enough. I’m talking to myself here.
Be kind this holiday season, kids. We’re all living the best we know how. Try and take it easy. Give out some hugs and high fives. Keep calm and be awesome.
More delicious amazing cheap awesomeness is in our very near future. I promise.