Tag Archives: Holidays

Sfenj doughnuts on colourful tablecloth

Sfenj AKA Moroccan Doughnuts: Your New Fave Hanukkah Dessert Using Just 5 Ingredients!

Sfenj, derived from the Arabic word for “sponge,” are crispy and chewy doughnuts made with unsweetened, sticky yeast dough that is risen until light and fluffy, pulled into rings and fried until golden. They’re a breakfast staple in Morocco and other Maghrebi countries and often eaten by Sephardic Jews during Hanukkah, symbolizing the oil that fuelled the holiday miracle. Sfenj should be served piping hot and can be enjoyed plain, drizzled with honey or dusted with sugar. They’re simple to make at home, only require the most basic ingredients and don’t contain any eggs or milk — so you can add them to your list of best vegan recipes too.

Sfenj dougnuts on colourful tablecloth

Sfenj Moroccan Doughnuts With Honey and Sugar

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Servings: 12 to 15 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
3 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water, divided
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp sea salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Topping
Honey (optional)
Ground cinnamon (optional)
Granulated or icing sugar (optional)

Sfenj doughnut ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ½ cup of lukewarm water and set aside to bloom for 10 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast mixture with flour and gradually add 1 ¼ cups of lukewarm water until it forms a sticky dough. Then add the salt and continue to knead for about 10 minutes, which will make the dough springy and elastic. A stand mixer with a hook attachment is ideal for this, but you can also mix by hand, working the dough vigorously. The dough should still end up very sticky and loose.

Related: You’ve Been Making Couscous All Wrong. Here’s the Right Way to Prepare It

3. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 2 to 3 hours, until light, airy — and they double or triple in size. (To speed up the rising time, put dough in the oven with the light turned on).

4. In a high-sided pan or pot, heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil on medium heat until hot, measured on a candy or deep-fry thermometer between 360°F to 370°F. (A Dutch oven works great for this because it maintains a consistent temperature and its heavy weight anchors it to the burner, reducing the risk of accidents when deep frying). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil with the handle end of a wooden spoon. If you see lots of little bubbles form around the wood, your oil is ready to fry in.

Related: Cozy Jewish Comfort Food Recipes

5. Keep a small bowl of cold water handy for wetting your hands before you shape each doughnut. Lightly punch down the dough to deflate it. Pull off a piece of batter about the size of an egg. Use your thumb to make a hole in the centre of the dough and then pull gently to form a doughnut shape. (Don’t worry about getting them perfect, they will puff up nicely in the oil).

Woman shaping sfenj doughnut dough

6. Carefully put the doughnuts one at a time into the pot of hot oil and don’t overcrowd them. (A good rule of thumb is 3 to 4 doughnuts at a time). Fry the doughnuts for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown on the bottom and puffed on top. Then flip carefully with a slotted spoon or metal tongs and cook on the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes, until even in colour and golden brown all over.

Sfenj doughnuts frying in oil

7. Remove the finished doughnuts onto a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve piping hot or warm, either plain, drizzled with hot honey or dusted with cinnamon or sugar — and preferably accompanied by a glass of Moroccan mint tea.

Sfenj doughnuts being dusted with sugar

Like Claire’s sfenj recipe? Try her upside-down apple cake or comforting mujadara recipe.

Anna Olson smiles while icing a cupcake with her Anna Olson Kitchen Disposable Icing Bags

Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Tools for the Holidays

Holiday baking season is here and having the right tools on hand will help lead you to success. These are my top gadgets to make this holiday season less stressful. Remember, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts!”

Related: Anna Olson’s 50 Ultimate Holiday Desserts

1. Offset spatula

This tool becomes an extension of your hand as you use it to lift cookies off of hot trays, loosen cakes delicately from their pans and frost cakes with precision and panache. The spatula I use in Bake is my own. I’ve had it for about 10 years and I’d be lost without it!

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Long Offset Spatula,  HBC, $10.

Hands mixing a batter with a black silicone spatula with various baking tools and ingredients laid on the table around the bowl

2. Silicone spatula

I prefer the curved spatulas for effective folding and stirring and for getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl. Silicone is heatproof so it can be used to stir pastry creams and sauces on the stove.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Allwin Housewares Silicone Spatula 3-Piece Set, Amazon, $12.

3. Oven thermometer

This may sound trivial but a thermometer placed inside your oven is a valuable and inexpensive tool that can save you frustration and prevent spoiled baked treats. You’d be amazed how many ovens don’t sit at the correct temperature the entire time your goods bake. Just because your oven “dings” or displays the temperature doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurate. If you discover your oven temperature is far out of range by 10 °C or more, a repair person can recalibrate it.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Pecula Oven Thermometre, Amazon, $12.

Related: Anna Olson’s Top 5 Vegan Baking Substitutes

Anna Olson poses in her kitchen while icing a cupcake

4. Disposable piping bags

Gone are the days of fabric piping bags that never quite come clean or that only fit your largest piping tip. Most cake supply and even craft shops will carry disposable piping bags in an assortment of sizes. They can be reused if you wish and are fully recyclable. You can even buy really small ones, which are perfect if you’re hosting a cookie decorating party.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen 100-Pack Disposable Icing Bags, HBC, $18.

5. Ice cream scoops

I rely on an assortment of sizes, not just for scooping ice cream. They are great for portioning perfectly consistent cookies and dropping muffin or cupcake batter into tins with less mess.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chee Mong Ice Cream Scooper Set, Amazon, $29.

6. Candy thermometer

The world of confectionery and chocolate work requires a precision that only a candy thermometer can offer. The difference between the thread stage and the soft ball stage of boiling sugar is only a few degrees and a candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of it. There are traditional models and also digital probe thermometers – both work equally well. If you have an induction cooktop I recommend the traditional model because the magnetic energy of the induction can interfere with the digital reads.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Taylor Classic Candy Thermometer, Amazon, $17.

Related: From Easy to Advanced: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes For Every Skill Level

7. Fine rasp

Savoury kitchens use this fine grater for garlic and Parmesan but I value it for finely grated citrus zest, mincing ginger without any fibres, grating nutmeg and for chocolate. Now there are models with larger grates, so you get chocolate curls, not just shavings.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Starfrit Zester/Grater with Protective Cover, Amazon, $10.

Yellow Citrus Juicer on a marble table with freshly squeezed juice and lemons

 

8. Bar citrus juicer

Lemon, lime and orange juice figure prominently in desserts and I always use freshly squeezed juice. A bar juicer is and fast and convenient way to extract the most juice and it’s easy to clean.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, Amazon, $33.

9. Measuring tape

This may seem trivial but a fabric measuring tape is immensely handy in a baker’s kitchen. I can verify how thick my dough is as I roll it and I can measure the circumference of a piece of fondant before I lift it to cover a cake. Plus, I can ensure that my squares are all cut to the same size.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Edtape Measuring Tape, Amazon, $6.

10. Cake wheel

If you are getting serious about baking this will be a tool you’ll want to invest in. A cake wheel spins on its base, making seamless frosting simple and detailed piping less. Professional cast-iron cake wheels can be pricey but there are other more affordable options. You can even purchase a lazy Susan that can function as a cake wheel.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Glass Top Cake Turntable, HBC, $44.

For more festive recipes from Anna Olson, try her Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake and Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bars.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Cozy up With a Cup of Hot Chocolate Topped With Homemade Peppermint Vanilla Marshmallows

These Baking Therapy homemade peppermint vanilla marshmallows are soft, fluffy and they melt into the perfectly gooey topping on your hot cup of cocoa. Try different flavours like coconut or almond and make a big batch to gift over the holidays. Once you try homemade marshmallows, there’s no going back to store-bought!

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Peppermint Vanilla Marshmallows With Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 16 marshmallows

Ingredients:

Marshmallows
¾ cup cool water, divided
6 tsp gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
⅔ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp peppermint extract
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup icing sugar

Hot Chocolate
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups almond milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Homemade marshmallows ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment paper and grease generously with neutral oil or spray. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add ½ cup water, sprinkle over gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly This Fall

3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water and salt. Once the mixture starts to boil, let bubble for 1 minute. Remove from stove and transfer to a bowl with a spout.

4. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly stream in the hot sugar liquid. Once the liquid is in, turn the mixer to high and whisk for 10 minutes until the mixture is nice and fluffy. Whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extract.

Homemade marshmallows gelatin in mixing bowl

5. Transfer the marshmallows to the square pan, making sure to brush any tools you use with oil to avoid sticking. Smooth out the top using an offset spatula. Finally top the marshmallows with another sheet of greased parchment paper and let set for at least 2 hours at room temperature.

Homemade marshmallows batter

6. Remove the marshmallows from the pan. Brush a sharp knife with oil and slice the marshmallows into 16 squares, making sure to brush the knife with oil after every cut. Dust the marshmallows generously with icing sugar, making sure to cover every surface.

Homemade marshmallows cut on table

7. For the hot chocolate, in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, whisk together coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Once the mixture is hot, add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Continue to heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Like Sabrina’s peppermint vanilla marshmallows recipe? Try her gingerbread doughnuts or her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies.

Team Buddy featuring Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Christmas, Season 1.

Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat

Christmas is kind of a big deal at the Valastro residence. Sure, this holiday season may look a little bit different than Christmases past as a result of the pandemic, but in a typical year Buddy and his wife Lisa go all-out when it comes to their holiday dinners. Would you expect anything less from the Buddy vs. Christmas personality?

In previous years the couple has hosted all of their extended family, which adds up to more than 100 festive people. Typically Lisa cooks (prime rib, eggplant parm, lasagna, shrimp, lobster and more), while of course, Buddy does the desserts. But don’t let him fool you — he doesn’t necessarily whip up 100 mini pastries or elaborate cakes at home for the occasion.

Related: Buddy vs. Duff: See Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman’s Most Epic Cakes

“Well, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t want to take credit,” he tells us. “I just bring like a slew of stuff from the bakery. We bring cakes and pies and cookies and lobster tails and pastries. And you know, we still love cake. After all these years and all these holidays and all these desserts, we still love cake.”

 

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A post shared by Buddy Valastro (@buddyvalastro)

While cake may be a year-round hit, Buddy adds that Christmas feels like an especially great time to indulge in pasties. He and his family specifically dive into Italian classics like cannoli and lobster tails (AKA sfogliatelle) because, let’s face it: when else do you have as much room for dessert as you do come the holidays?

“As big as the meal is that my wife makes, I swear it is just as important when we eat dessert,” he laughs. “No matter how stuffed everyone is — ‘oh, I can’t get up, I’m so full’ — they wind up all eating dessert. Every single one of them.”

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Desserts for the Holidays

For those fellow dessert-lovers out there, the host adds that around the holidays Carlo’s Bakery typically offers a red-and-white sponge cake that’s festive and crowd-pleasing — and they have a few other goodies in store for December too. This year that’s extra exciting for Canadians since the shop has expanded into Canada. In fact, Buddy says his Oh Canada Baby! cake would be the perfect thing for Christmas dessert this year.

“That would be a great Christmas cake on anyone’s table because it’s pretty and it’s delicious,” he says. “It’s also made with love. I want the Canadian people to know this is only the beginning of the plans for Canada because every time I come there fans are just so receptive and great. I’ve always felt so loved there and now it’s time for me to do some more in Canada.”

Related: Buddy Valastro’s Coolest Celebrity Cake Creations

For now Canadians can catch Buddy in his latest holiday-themed series, Buddy vs. Christmas. In each of the four episodes the baker and his team come together to face off against highly specialized artists (Broadway set designers, expert glassblowers and more) to see who can create the best life-sized Christmas displays to be presented at high-profile events.

 

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A post shared by Buddy Valastro (@buddyvalastro)

“These four creations are some of the best work — I was so blown away by what we did,” Buddy reveals. “When you see what we made, it’s just to another level. This was less about a competition because we’re all artists. Whether you’re a glassblower or whether you’re a brick artist and you make Legos or you’re a Broadway set designer or you’re someone who does animatronics in the windows, we’re all using different art forms to express our medium,” he continues.

“I love Christmas. My house is like the Griswolds at home with the decorations and stuff. And I gotta tell you, we just turned it on for this. It’s really cool.”

Watch Buddy vs. Christmas Mondays at 10EP and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

This Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer (or Easy Dinner Idea!)

With five minutes of prep time, this incredibly easy appetizer is a favourite around the holidays — or any day for that matter. You don’t even need to splurge on a fancy brie, a budget choice is just as delicious with every sweet and savoury bite. And while this holiday recipe calls for walnuts or hazelnuts, as well as cranberries or cherries, feel free to add in whatever nuts and dried fruit you prefer. Almond and pecans are always tasty, alongside apricots or figs. You can also swap out the herbs for a strip of orange or lemon zest too.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g double cream brie
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
½ cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the brie in a small oven-safe skillet or a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Score the top with a paring knife for the cheese to quickly warm. Bake until softened and slightly puffed all around about 15 minutes.

Related: Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

2. While the brie is in the oven, make the topping: combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil; cook, stirring until brown sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries.

Making baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

3. Immediately top warm brie with hot pecan cranberry mixture and serve with crackers and fresh fruit if desired.

Tip: If using a heat-safe small skillet or ceramic dish, the brie will stay warm for up to 15 minutes. It can also be reheated in the microwave until warm, about 30 seconds. If you’re a fan of toasted nuts, feel free to toast them before adding to the brown sugar mixture. Do so over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Serving of baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Like Soo’s baked brie recipe? Try her Chinese scallion pancakes or pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges.

Gingerbread doughnuts on white plate

These Gingerbread Doughnuts With a Cinnamon Glaze Can Be Made in Under 30 Minutes

I love nothing more than a quick, easy dessert you can whip together in under 30 minutes. And these Baking Therapy gingerbread doughnuts are just the ticket. They will be sure to get you in the festive spirit, as they have all the flavours and spices of a classic gingerbread cookie — but in doughnut form! All you need are a few essential tools you probably already have in your kitchen and these doughnut pans. Topped with a cinnamon glaze for a hint of sweetness, because let’s be real: who doesn’t love a glazed doughnut?

Gingerbread donuts on white plate

Gingerbread Doughnuts With a Cinnamon Glaze

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 23 to 25 minutes
Servings: 16 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup grapeseed oil or any neutral oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp molasses

Cinnamon Glaze
1 ¼ cups icing sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp vanilla extract
5-6 Tbsp heavy cream

Gingerbread doughnuts ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 2 doughnut pans with oil or butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar until evenly distributed.

2. In a measuring cup, measure out the grapeseed oil and buttermilk. Whisk in the egg, vanilla extract and and molasses.

Related: Party-Worthy Doughnut Recipes

3. Create a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the wet ingredients. With a spatula, stir the ingredients together until just combined, don’t over-mix. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or simply spoon the mixture into the doughnut pan until just below the fill line.

doughnut batter in doughnut pan

4. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until a toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean. While the doughnuts are still hot, invert the pan and gently tap on the counter to remove the doughnuts. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

doughnuts cooling on wire rack

5. For the cinnamon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla extract. Begin with 4 Tbsp of heavy cream, whisking until well combined. Add 1 Tbsp at a time until the mixture has reached your desired consistency for dipping.

6. Dip the doughnuts, one at a time, into the glaze until the tops are fully coated. Add holiday sprinkles if you’re feeling festive!

doughnuts being dipped in cinnamon glaze

doughnuts with glaze in doughnut pan

Like Sabrina’s doughnut recipe? Try her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies,  sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Glass of milk next to pile of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies

These Chocolate Eggnog Sandwich Cookies Will Surely Get You in the Holiday Spirit

I can’t help but get excited when I start to see the store aisles fully stocked with sweet eggnog, as it signals the most magical time of year! And what better way to get in the holiday spirit than whipping up a batch of these Baking Therapy chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies? They’re chocolatey, soft and filled with a creamy eggnog frosting. Put on your favourite holiday playlist and get baking.

Glass of milk and stack of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies

Chocolate Eggnog Sandwich Cookies

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 33 to 35 minutes
Servings: 15 cookies

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cookies
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Eggnog Filling
1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
3 Tbsp eggnog
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Related: 20 Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, scrape down the bowl again and mix for another 10 seconds. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop balls on the lined cookie sheet. Round out the cookie balls by rolling them between the palms of your hands. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.

Chocolate eggnog sandwich cookie dough rolled into balls on baking sheet

4. Place the cookies 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies have spread and tops begin to crack. Let cool on sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate cookies cooling on baking tray

5. While the cookies are cooling, whip up the frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter until airy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, gradually add the icing sugar. Add the eggnog, nutmeg and vanilla extract and whisk on high for 1 minute until light and fluffy.

6. Transfer filling to a piping bag with a star or round tip. Pipe the filling on the bottoms of half the cookies, place another cookie on top to create sandwiches.

Glass of milk next to a pile of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies on wire cooling rack

Like Sabrina’s chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies? Try her sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake on dark blue cake platter drizzled with brown butter glaze

Anna Olson’s Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake Will Give You All the Holiday Feels

Gingerbread comes in more forms than just cookies! With a triple dose of ginger, this bundt cake recipe from Anna Olson will fill your house with a sweet and warming scent that screams holiday-time. Enjoy the recipe from Anna’s newest cookbook, Baking Day With Anna Olson.

Anna Olson's triple gingerbread bundt cake on a blue cake stand with a brown butter glaze dripping temptingly down

Buy Baking Day with Anna Olson, Amazon, $31

Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake With Brown Butter Glaze

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Yields: 16 to 20 (Makes one 10 cup/2.5 L Bundt cake)

This decadent cake is meant to feed a crowd, and it is perfect for autumn baking when you want to fill the house with the smell of wonderful spices. The “triple” in the title refers to fresh, ground and candied ginger, which means the ginger flavour is woven throughout the cake.

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Cookie Recipes

Ingredients:

Cake
1 ½ cups (300 g) packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
½ cup (130 g) fancy molasses
4 large eggs
2 Tbsp (12 g) finely grated fresh ginger
2 ½ cups (375 g)  all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (6 g) ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp fine salt
1  cup (225 g) unsalted butter, melted (still warm is OK)
¼ cup (40 g) chopped candied ginger

Brown Butter Glaze
6 Tbsp (90 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (130 g) icing sugar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) 1% or 2% milk

Directions:

1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease a  10-cup (2.5 L) Bundt pan and dust it with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, buttermilk, molasses, eggs and fresh ginger until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the batter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter and then the candied ginger. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 75 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Anna Olson in a light blue and white striped shirt and light blue apron smiling on the cover of Baking Day With Anna Olson

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Gingerbread Recipes to Bake This Winter

3. Cool the cake in its pan on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes and then turn it out onto the rack to cool completely before glazing.

4. For the glaze, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it froths and then subsides and the liquid turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then whisk in the icing sugar and milk until smooth. Pour over the cake, letting the glaze slowly drip down.

5. Let the glaze set for an hour before serving or for 3 hours before covering to serve later. The cake will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For more of Anna Olson’s delicious dessert recipes, check out her ultimate holiday desserts or Anna Olson’s best-ever cake recipes.

This Vegan Eggnog Recipe is So Good It’ll Impress All the Non-Vegans Too

Because it isn’t the holiday season without a cup of boozy eggnog, I’m serving up a vegan twist on this staple winter drink. This version is not only dairy free, it’s gluten- and egg-free too! The eggnog gets its delicious creaminess from canned coconut milk (don’t use the boxed variety) — and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup. Serve this warm on a snowy day or chilled over ice, whichever you prefer. For a kid-friendly option, just omit the bourbon or rum. Cheers!

Ingredients:

2 14-oz cans full-fat coconut milk
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
½ cup bourbon or spiced rum
Coconut whip, for serving

Related: 20 Vegan Holiday Entrées You’ve Never Tried Before

Vegan eggnog ingredients

Directions:

1. In a saucepan over low heat, add the coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Whisk until combined. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Vegan eggnog in pot

2. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to ensure it is smooth. Stir in bourbon.

Related: 12 Must-Try Fall Cocktails to Give Thanks for This Autumn

3. Serve warm with a dollop of coconut whip and a pinch of nutmeg. To serve chilled, transfer mixture to a glass serving pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, fill a glass with ice, add eggnog, a dollop of coconut whip and a pinch of nutmeg.

Vegan eggnog in two glasses

Like Marcella’s vegan eggnog? Try your hand at her winter greens mac and cheese or her sausage, apple and sage-stuffed acorn squash recipe!

Cranberry bliss bars on cooling rack

Whip up Those Popular Coffee Shop Cranberry Bliss Bars in Less Than 1 Hour

You know those popular coffee shop cranberry bliss bars that come out every holiday season? Buttery shortbread dotted with dried cranberries, topped with a sweet cream cheese icing — and sometimes are just a little too sweet? Well, these Baking Therapy cranberry bars are inspired by those, but even better! This soft and buttery pistachio shortbread is topped with fresh, tart, in-season cranberries that are bursting with flavour. Finished with a sweet and addictive white chocolate, cream cheese icing. Need I say more?

Cranberry bliss bars on cooling rack

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 to 55 minutes
Servings: 12 bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup crushed pistachios
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest

Filling
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing
⅓ cup (60g) white chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup icing sugar
3 Tbsp milk

Cranberry bliss bar ingredients on kitchen counter

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease 9×9 square pan. Set aside.

2. First, whip up the shortbread. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, pistachios, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Beat on low until just combined, texture will be crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of mixture for the crumble, press remaining dough firmly into bottom of pan.

Cranberry bliss bars base

3. Now for the filling: in a medium bowl, toss together cranberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Evenly distribute the cranberries onto the cookie layer. Top with the reserved cookie dough and pack down firmly.

Cranberry bliss bars cranberry layer

4. Bake in oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Cranberry bliss bars cooling on rack

5. For the icing: place the chopped white chocolate or chips in a small bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until melted, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.

Related: 12 Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly This Fall

6. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add in the icing sugar and whisk on high to combine. Add the melted white chocolate and milk and whisk on high for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a piping bag and drizzle over top.

Piping bag icing top of cranberry bliss bars

Like Sabrina’s cranberry bliss bars? Try her sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

The Perfect Fall Dessert: Healthy Low Sugar Persimmon Creme Brulee

This unique twist on the traditional creme brulee is an egg-free and sugar-conscious alternative that fits right into your fall dessert menu. Not only is it healthier — it mostly relies on a ripe persimmon for that creamy butterscotch-like sweetness — there’s no baking required. This dessert is a fun and fancy way to utilize persimmons during the fall season, especially since they are only around for a short time.

persimmon creme brulee

Persimmon Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 medium very ripe persimmon, chopped
1 cup half and half creamer
⅓ cup + 4 Tbsp golden monk fruit sugar, divided
⅓ cup cornstarch
½ cup water
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Creme brulee ingredients

Directions:

1. Place the persimmon, creamer, ⅓ cup monk fruit sugar, cornstarch, water, sea salt and cinnamon in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan over medium heat and whisk until it thickens like a smooth custard and has no lumps. This should take about 25 minutes.

Persimmon creme brulee ingredients in blender

2. Divide the mixture between four ramekins that are 4 oz each. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight until solid.

Persimmon creme brulee ingredients divided into ramekins

3. When ready, let the creme sit at room temperature for 2 minutes. Top each ramekin with 1 Tbsp of monk fruit sugar, making sure the entire surface is equally coated. Melt the sugar with a brulee torch until golden brown or slightly darker if you prefer. You will get a golden brown-orange colour, since this is not a regular creme brulee.

Related: 17 Low-Sugar Dessert Recipes to Get You Through the Holiday Season

4. Let sit for 5 minutes until the sugar has crystallized. Garnish with persimmon slices and serve.

Like Valerie’s low-sugar creme brulee? Try her easy paleo butternut squash or 30-minute low-carb zesty lamb burgers.

Hasselback apple with scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzling of toffee sauce

You’ve Got to Try These Delicious Hasselback Apples Topped With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Apples are such a versatile fruit with so many variations and endless ways to prepare them. These Baking Therapy Hasselback apples feature sweet honey crisp apples (my fave!) that are sliced open like a fan and topped with a delicious coconut-oat streusel. Serve with a drizzle of toffee sauce and a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. Perfect for any get together this fall season. Bet you’ve never had apples like this before!

Hasselback apples on white plate

Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 32 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

Apples
3 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Topping
3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup oats
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Hasseback apple ingredients: apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Peel the apples, cut in half lengthwise and with a melon baller, scoop out the core. Place the apples core side down and cut thin vertical slices all the way around, making sure not to cut all the way through.

Peeled and cut apples laying on pan

3. Mix together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and brush on the tops of the apples. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes until softened.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the streusel topping. In a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. With a fork, work the mixture together until it forms a crumble.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Irresistible Apple Desserts

5. Remove the apples from the oven. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, strain and top the apple with streusel, making sure to get it between the apple slices. Bake at 425°F uncovered for 10-12 minutes until the streusel is bubbly and golden brown.

6. Enjoy with a drizzle of toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Hasselback apples on baking pan

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookies, sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

These Curried Brussels Sprouts Are the Fall Side Dish You Need Right Now

Fall is all about making roasted veggies — and Brussels sprouts should be high up on that list. Their small size and nutty taste make them perfect for roasting. The key is to get the edges crispy and caramelized by roasting them cut side down at a high temperature. And don’t even think about removing the small leaves that fall off — those become so crunchy and make the best Brussels sprouts chips. In this recipe, we use a delicious curry spice mix to take them to next level. All you need to do is cut the Brussels sprouts, toss them in the spice mix and roast them on a sheet pan. The perfect side dish for any meal!

Curried Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large garlic cloves
1 ½ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (more to taste)
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim the ends and cut in half lengthwise. It’s fine if some of the outer leaves fall off, keep them to roast on the pan.

2. Peel the garlic and crush it using a garlic press. Mix together the curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down on a sheet pan and space them out evenly (do not overcrowd!).

4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Serve as a side with lemon wedges.

Looking for more fall recipes? Try this vegan pumpkin soup or this easy paleo butternut squash tart.

This Upside-Down Apple Cake is a Must-Make Rosh Hashanah Dessert

This flavourful glazed apple cake recipe is a mashup of two of my favourite fall desserts: a simple and delicious honey apple cake that I grew up eating on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and a show-stopping upside-down salted caramel apple cake that has become a more recent indulgence. I’ll be serving it for dessert at our Jewish New Year dinner, as well as Thanksgiving, because it’s one of those crowd-pleasing autumn cakes that has something for everyone, from the tender and nutty crumb to the sticky, sweet and salty topping. It’s also made almost entirely in a good old cast-iron skillet, which has become my new go-to for everything from barbecuing to baking.

Upside-Down Apple Cake With Honey and Salted Caramel

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 60 to 70  minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Topping
2 Tbsp + ½ cup unsalted butter, divided
4 small or 3 large baking apples such as Gala or Pink Lady, peeled, halved and cores neatly scooped out with a teaspoon or melon baller
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup light-coloured honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt (4% or 5%), room temperature
Flaked sea salt to finish (optional)

Directions:

1. Set the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread almond flour on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden. Set aside to cool. Keep the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other oven-safe pan) over medium heat. Cast-iron takes longer to heat up than other pans, so leave it on for a good 5 minutes before you start cooking for even heat distribution. Add 2 Tbsp butter to coat and arrange apple halves with cut sides down. Cook apples until cut sides are evenly golden brown. (Don’t stir). This can take 5 to 10 minutes or a bit longer, depending on the type of apples you’re using, so keep a close eye on them and rotate as needed. Turn apples over and cook for about 5 more minutes, until slightly tender and juices start to release. Transfer apples to a plate with cut sides up.

3. To make the caramel sauce, add ½ cup butter to the skillet on low heat. When it starts to bubble, stir in brown sugar. Keep stirring until smooth and thickened for about 2 minutes. (If it’s separating, add one or two spoonfuls of very hot water). Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Let cool for 1 minute. Arrange apples, cut sides down, on top of the caramel sauce, spacing evenly.

4. For the cake: whisk together flour, toasted almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

5. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat butter, brown sugar and honey together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then the yogurt, until combined. Beat in remaining flour mixture until incorporated and no flour pockets remain. Do not over-mix.

Related: Transform Those Overripe Bananas Into This Impressive Upside-Down Cake

6. Spoon batter over apples and caramel in skillet, smoothing evenly.

7. Bake until it is evenly browned and the middle springs back when pressed lightly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let the apple cake cool in the skillet for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a small knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen and flip over onto a cooling rack or dish. (If any apples stick to the skillet, gently scrape them off and press them back into the top of the cake).

Related: Pomegranate Ginger Chicken for a Sweet and Fruitful Rosh Hashanah

8. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and mint tea. Store covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Love Claire’s upside-down apple cake? For a main, whip up her vegetarian mujadara dish or seven-vegetable Moroccan couscous.

We’re Falling for This Sausage, Apple and Sage-Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

As the fall approaches and the summer heat comes to an end, the hearty comfort food cravings strike! This recipe is as cozy as it gets and hits all the fall must-haves: roasted acorn squash stuffed with sweet apple and a spicy sausage filling. Loaded with flavour, it is perfect for a small Thanksgiving gathering side dish, but easy enough for a weeknight supper. If you aren’t a fan of spice, simply substitute the sausage with a mild Italian or honey garlic variety.

Sausage, Apple and Sage-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 medium or 3 small acorn squashes, halved and seeded
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
½ pound ground spicy Italian sausage
1 tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried thyme
1 apple, diced
1 cup panko bread crumbs (unseasoned)
½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet, flesh side up. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, until tender.

2. As the squash roasts, prepare the filling. In a skillet over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil, garlic, onion and celery. Cook until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the sausage, sage and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked throughout, about 5 minutes.

Related: The Ultimate Squash Guide: All the Varieties and Their Best Uses

4. Stir in the apple, bread crumbs and parmesan. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

5. Once squash is ready, evenly divide the mixture amongst the roasted squash halves. Place back in the oven & bake for an additional 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Like Marcella’s acorn squash recipe? Try her winter greens mac and cheese or make-ahead French toast bake.

cheeseball bites

Cheese Ball Bites Are the Ultimate Make-Ahead Party Appetizer

Your favourite party-perfect appetizer made mini! A simply adorable starter for the holiday season, these mini cheese balls are easy to put together and can be rolled in a variety of delicious ingredients. Serve with fresh bread for spreading, and you’re set for festive entertaining. No time? Make your gathering even easier by preparing and rolling the cheese ball bites (without coatings) up to two days ahead (wrap and refrigerate). When guests arrive, roll in your desired coatings, then dive right in.

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 24

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Ingredients:

Cheese Ball Bites
1-½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 brick (250g) cream cheese, softened
2 green onions, minced
1 tsp paprika
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Coating
3 Tbsp chopped, toasted walnuts
3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
3 Tbsp chopped crispy fried onions
3 Tbsp minced chives
3 Tbsp (3 strips) cooked, crumbled bacon
3 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds

Serving
Sliced fresh baguette
Crostini
Crackers

Directions:

Cheese Ball Bites
In a large bowl, stir together cheddar cheese, cream cheese, green onions, paprika and cayenne pepper. Form mixture into 24, 1 Tbsp balls (tip: dampen hands with a little water if mixture is sticking).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Coating
Roll 4 balls into walnuts, pressing lightly to adhere, and place on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining balls and coatings (4 balls per 3 Tbsp of topping).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Serving
Serve finished cheese ball bites with fresh baguette, crostini or crackers.

Add these mini cheese ball bites to an epic Canadian cheese platter at your next holiday gathering. You can also try these 25-minute everything bagel smoked sausage rolls, along with our best last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy.

Your New Favourite Shortbread: Petits-Beurre (French Butter Cookies)

If you’ve travelled in France, you might be familiar with the ubiquitous Petit-beurre cookie. It has been around since 1886, when it was invented by Louis-Lefèvre Utile in Nantes. The cookies are still imprinted with his initials (LU) and are the best-known product of all the Lefèvre Utile range. This recipe is the closest I can get to my store-bought favourites.

Butter Cookies (Petits-Beurre)

Active Time: 45 minutes
Chilling Time: 1-3 hours
Bake Time: 11- 13 minutes
Servings: 50 cookies (approx.)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup (113 g) cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (60 mL) heavy (35%) cream

Read: 20 Delicious French-Canadian Dishes to Make at Home

Directions:

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

2. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cream and continue to pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly soft.

4. Gather the dough into a ball, divide in half and form each half into a disk. If you don’t want to use it immediately, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Roll each disk between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Keeping the dough flat and between the two sheets of parchment, place it in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.

Read: These Classic French Dishes Are the Definition of Comfort Food

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. Remove one of the rolled-out pieces of dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

6. Cut out cookies using a rectangular cookie cutter that measures 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6 x 5 cm). Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking trays. They will not spread, so you can place them fairly close together—just make sure they are not touching.

7. Repeat with the second sheet of dough.

8. Place one tray in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, switching the trays from the top to bottom rack and turning them from front to back halfway through the bake, until the cookies are golden around the edges but still pale in the centre.

9. Remove the cookies from the oven and, using an offset spatula, immediately place them on wire racks and allow to cool completely. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For more irresistible baked goods, check out these 20 make-ahead options for your holiday bash, Anna Olson’s very best cookie recipes, or our most popular cookies of all-time.

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Anna-Olson-Holiday-Dessert-Hacks

Transform Festive Desserts with Anna Olson’s Top Holiday Hacks

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to shine in the dessert department. In addition to the usual festive fare, why not dress things up for the holidays with Anna Olson’s sweet and easy hacks? Just follow these fun, fresh and flavourful ideas to make good use of your holiday ingredients, and take your Christmas baking to the next level.

How to Eggnog Anything

A mix of eggs, cream, sugar and booze, eggnog is the quintessential holiday drink. With a little ground nutmeg and rum extract, it’s easy to infuse this drink’s festive flavour into desserts, too. Anna shows that just a dash of rum (or rum extract) and ground nutmeg give buttercream frosting an unmistakable “eggnog” flavour. Swirl the sweet spread onto her Flourless Mini Vanilla Cupcakes and sprinkle nutmeg on top to complete the look. Or, for a decadent sweet treat, stir nutmeg and rum extract into Anna Olson’s Chocolate Truffles. If cookies are more your style, infuse the eggnog flavours into Anna Olson’s Vanilla Icebox Cookies by adding rum extract and ground nutmeg to the recipe, then, after baking, pipe frosting between two icebox cookies.

If you just can’t get enough eggnog this season, try your hand at these 15 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Eggnog.

Edible Peppermint Candy Platter

Instead of the plastic or glass trays, serve treats on an edible peppermint candy platter. Anna Olson demonstrates how to make a serving plate out of standard candies in this impressive holiday hack. If you’re making cookies, bake up a peppermint plate so you’ll have a unique and portable option for holiday parties and potlucks.

Adorable Rudolph Cookies

Shake up the holiday cookie table with these show-stopping sweets! Start with Anna’s Icing Sugar Cookies and learn how to transform them into adorable and easy decorated treats. A little royal icing and perfectly placed pretzels will help create delicious and adorable desserts. Those new to decorating will love how easy and achievable these sweets are.

Leftover Candy Canes

Got a stocking full of candy canes? There’s a recipe for that. Before you toss them, break out the food processor and pulse those broken bits into a fine candy cane crumb. This will serve as the base for tons of recipes. For a simple dessert, add crunchy candy cane bits inside and out of Anna Olson’s Vanilla Icebox Cookies. Another way to refresh your holiday treats with candy cane crumbs is to roll filled Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies into candy cane dust. If you’re looking for a festive sipper, double-up on the peppermint with this Slow Cooker Peppermint Hot Chocolate, lining the mug’s edge with candy cane bits (brush the edge with a bit of warm water to encourage sticking).

For even more recipes with the traditional holiday candy, try these 15 Tasty Recipes That Use Leftover Candy Canes.

The One Genius Kitchen Product You’ll be Gifting Everyone This Year (Plus More Ideas)

Ah, the joys of shopping during the holidays – scouring the big-box department stores and online shops for the latest and greatest items to gift your loved ones, only to wind up more confused than when you first started.

But there’s never been a better time to surprise an at-home chef or foodie with a gift, considering the current wealth of innovative gadgets that will elevate their food game to the next level.

For the friend or relative who knows their way around the kitchen (and has cooked you more than their fair share of scrumptious meals and party appetizers), there really isn’t a better way to demonstrate how much you appreciate their culinary skills than with the latest appliances that seamlessly marry technology with home cooking.

And if there’s one genius kitchen product that’s been generating all the hype as of late, it’s this one:

The Instant Marinator


Vacu Vin 1/3 Quart Instant Marinating Container, $39.99, Amazon.ca.

What is it?  An Instant Marinator boasts impressive technology that removes oxygen from the container (a vacuum pump extracts the air faster and opens up the pores of the meat to absorb the sauce). This ultimately speeds up the entire marinating process and tenderizes the meat in minutes. Bonus: considering the Instant Marinator comes in a variety of sizes, from half-quart containers (above) to tumbling canisters, there are plenty of options and price points to choose from, making it a refreshingly flexible budget-friendly option if you’re looking to save some cash.

Who needs it? The friend or relative who loves pairing homemade marinades with their favourite cuts of meats or veggies. Also ideal for those who want to save time in the kitchen (read: all of us!) and never think to marinate tomorrow’s dinner the night before.

Related: Marinating 101: How to Flavour Your Meat, Fish and Vegetables

Want more kitchen appliance ideas? Gift one of the handy gadgets below to a loved one, or simply treat yourself (because there’s nothing wrong with that!).

Sous Vide Precision Cooker


Chefman Sous Vide Precision Cooker, $124.99, Amazon.ca

What is it? A method of cooking that involves sealing food – from eggs to fish to meats – in a heat-stable plastic pouch and bathing in water, before cooking to perfection using precise temperature control (no under-cooking or overcooking here!). Fun fact: the term Sous Vide actually means “under vacuum” in French. It also happens to be a healthier way of cooking due to the enhanced flavour and little to no additional salts or fats. The vacuum sealing ensures essential vitamins and minerals don’t dissipate during the cooking process, so you can soak up all those nutrients as you eat. And now the process is easier with the Sous Vide Precision Cooker that heats  up the water that much faster. Bonus: since it’s Bluetooth and WIFI enabled, it connects to your phone or tablet.

Who needs it? The determined home chef who tends to overcook just about everything, or the nervous food preparer who doesn’t want to risk under-cooking or ruining a dish, especially when entertaining. It’ll transform anyone into a kitchen master, we swear.

Never attempted a sous vide dish? These En Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs and Sous Vide Steelhead Trout recipes are perfect for beginners.

Digital Glass Steamer


Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer, $194, Amazon.ca.

What is it? Skip the stove-top steamer and opt for the modern digital variety that delivers steam from the top down. Because who doesn’t love a beautifully steamed dish – especially since it retains many of the foods original minerals and vitamins? The appliance boasts a dishwasher-safe glass surfaced pot large enough for family-sized portions of veggies, fish, chicken or rice. Foodies can also look forward to everything from specific food settings to a built-in timer.

Who needs it? The health-conscious home chef, or anyone looking to be inspired in the kitchen with an easy and good-for-you cooking solution. We’re all about it!

Related: 15 Bad Eating Habits Experts Recommend Ditching by 2020

Smoke-Less Indoor Grill

Philips Smoke-less Indoor BBQ Grill, $329.00, Amazon.ca.

What is it? Living in Canada means spending a significant chunk of the year curled under a blanket, waiting for the snow to melt. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the smoky taste of a summertime BBQ. Cheer everyone up this winter with a SmokeLess Indoor Grill featuring advanced infrared heat technology and minimal side spattering for evenly grilled food that will remind you of warmer days. The non-stick grid also provides those authentic, sought-after grill marks and the constant heat browns your meats without burning them. It’s also ideal for healthy, lean grilling with a grease tray that collects excess fats.

Who needs it? That friend or relative who lives for summer grilling and would love to keep the party going year-round.

For more holiday gift ideas, check out which top kitchen appliances our editors can’t live without.

Harry Eastwood’s Top 7 Baking Tips for a Marvelous Holiday

There are few things in this world that excite The Big Bake: Holiday judge Harry Eastwood more than baking during the holidays.

“I am an absolute, unabashed Christmas junkie all the way,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve even already started wrapping up some presents and putting them on the top shelf in my office.”

Famous for her unique approach to vegetable cakes (more on that in a minute), the British-born, Paris-based chef and cookbook author knows more than her fair share about holiday baking.

So, as the talented teams on The Big Bake: Holiday continue to wow us with their festive cake creations, we took the opportunity to catch up with Harry to learn more about her top tips for healthy holiday desserts – including cake baking tips for beginners.

Related: Our Top 100 Holiday Cookie and Square Recipes


Harry on the set of The Big Bake: Holiday episode Santa on Cakecation

Plan Ahead

Although it may seem fairly obvious to prep in advance, Harry points out that it’s often one of the easiest mistakes home bakers make – and one that can result in high levels of stress and burnt baked goods. “I’m a big proponent of planning,” she says, “and by planning what I really mean, if I’m cooking a cake on Friday my list of ingredients would be done at least a day or two beforehand so I have time to make sure that I have everything I need. It’s very depressing to start a cake and discover that you’ve got only half the amount of sugar you needed.” So, forget that Santa wishlist: the most important list you’ll need this holiday season is the one organizing all your must-have ingredients. Check!

Budget Your Time

Another cake baking tip for beginners is something that comes with practice – and a whole lot of patience. “Don’t hurry it,” Harry says about getting your bake on. “The thing about cakes, above anything else, is [the realization] that you’re not in charge. The ingredients and the cake are in charge and that won’t bend just because you have a dentist’s appointment. So, budget the time for it.”

Related: Harry Eastwood Takes You Through the History of Cakes

Divide and Conquer

There are two stages of baking, according to Harry: one is the actual baking of the cake and the other is the icing and adding any additional decorations. Remember: there’s no reason why you can’t ice and decorate your masterpiece the next day, so there’s no need to rush through the entire process in a couple hours. “It’s like writing a letter by hand, the joy is always in doing,” she says. “Racing to finish it is dangerous and it would be such a shame to lose the joy of [baking].”

Kitsch for the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so don’t be afraid to have a little fun and infuse some of your own personality into your creation. Adding a little colour and texture can easily elevate your cake to the next level, so embrace it! “I’m not afraid of kitsch,” Harry says. “I love making my own [cake] toppers. I love that candy cane stripe; it’s so easy to mix into cakes. You can smash them up and make patterns on top. Everything is an excuse for a story at this time of year, so go nuts on the decorations because it’s such a joyful wow-factor.”

Related: The Perfect Holiday Cookie, According to Your Zodiac Sign


Harry Eastwood on set with host Brad Smith and judge Eddie Jackson

Swap in Some Veggies

If you’ve got root vegetables on hand and you’re looking to make an epic sponge cake that has some real moisture to it, Harry suggests swapping out some of the more common ingredients for some of those sweet veggies. “I think vegetable cake is so underrated just because it’s healthier,” she says. “But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good! If you have a vegetable cake with buttercream icing on top, I defy you to tell the difference.” Bonus: since the holidays are all about indulging in your favourite treats, you’ll appreciate having at least one healthy(ish) dessert. It also comes in handy if you’ve got a few picky eaters on your hands. “Zucchini is probably my favourite ingredient to add into cakes because it’s very easy to introduce without anybody having a clue,” Harry says with a laugh. “The point of a vegetable cake is that people don’t know it’s a vegetable cake so you need to do something which just effortlessly swaps it in. If you’ve succeeded at that, then you’ve done a good job. You’ve nailed it.”

Simple Substitutes

Bid adieu to butter this holiday season. “You definitely don’t taste the butter in a sponge cake, you taste the buttercream [icing],” Harry points out. “It’s the easiest ingredient you can lose without noticing so long as you replace it with a healthy fat, like ground nuts, because there needs to be a balancing act with what you put in.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Quick Guide to Ingredient Substitutions

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

You don’t have to wait until you’re a seasoned pro before you can start experimenting in the kitchen. “I’m a big fan of a recipe I wrote a little while ago which is for a sesame tahini white chocolate blondie,” Harry says. “That in itself is a show-stopper. I love offering something unusual around Christmastime.”

For more holiday fare, you can get your bake on with these 20 easy make-ahead Christmas cookies for your holiday bash and Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks.