Engrossed. That is the word that I would use to describe my life in December. Engrossed in sprinkles, in icing, in cake batter, in buttercream and in chocolate. 🧁I did a whole lot of baking but only about a very small percentage of all the deliciousness that was created in my kitchen last month was actually consumed by my own family. (It must be torture to live in my house.) 😂
Since I didn't do any Christmas baking for myself during the holidays, I've decided to do my holiday baking now. So here we go - Christmas Rum Cake in January. (This is fair warning that I won't be posting Valentine's Day cookie recipes until March either. ♥️😂) Anyone want to join me in baking a delicious boozy cake during this less hectic month when we actually have the time to sit down and enjoy it? And we can all agree that the best place to spend a chilly January afternoon is in the kitchen - baking a cake.
I was a bit apprehensive about making this cake because when I hear Rum Cake, I picture a soggy boxed mix cake saturated with alcohol. I'm not averse to boozy cakes, I just don't want the flavor of the alcohol to overpower the taste of the cake.
A homemade almond cake baked with a hearty dose of rum and drizzled with a lemon glaze seemed like the perfect way to reinvent the traditional Rum Cake. I found this recipe in an issue of Cook's Illustrated. They are genius at revamping recipes to create new and better versions of the original.
French Almond Rum Cake
1 cup butter
6 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
6 Tablespoons dark rum
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup dark rum
Glaze and Garnish
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Pour glaze onto center of cake and spread to edges with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Let stand 1 hour for glaze to set.
The original recipe was baked in a 9" round cake pan. Individual mini bundt cakes seemed more appropriate for the event that I wanted to take these to though. So voila! Almond Rum Cakelets!! As an added bonus, our house was smelled AMAZING while there were baking. I can think of no better way to kick off 2020!
Hey, Christmas cookie bakers - where you at? It's that time of year when even the most novice baker channels their inner Martha Stewart in the kitchen. It's time to roll up your sleeves, dig out your apron and dust off those old family recipes for Christmas cookies. 👩🏻🍳
You know the cookies that I'm talking about. The ones that your grandmother used to make every year. The cookies that your mom helped you roll in bowls of sprinkles and nuts when you were a kid. The cookies that you couldn't buy in a grocery store or a bakery, even if you tried, but you just can't celebrate Christmas without.
I would love to see your favorite family cookie recipes and I'm quite sure that there are others out there who would also love to have access to these tried and true Christmas cookie recipes. So... I'm asking for your help. I'm hosting a good old fashioned cookie swap on my blog. Well, it's not really like the "old fashioned" cookie exchange like my mom used to attend with the women in our neighborhood - it's more of an updated 2019 virtual cookie recipe swap. No cookies will actually be exchanged in this swap - just tried and true, family favorite Christmas cookie recipes.
Here's how it works. Email me your favorite cookie recipe and a picture of the finished creation, and I'll compile them all into one fantastic Christmas cookie blog post. This is your chance to have your recipe and photo featured in the blogosphere. (Not sure that's really a word.) So gather up your ingredients and start baking. You have until the 7th of December to email me your recipe and pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org) so you can be included in my virtual Christmas cookie swap. I'll turn you all into food bloggers yet. 😂
Just in case you need a little nudge to get into the Christmas cookie baking mode - here's a favorite recipe of mine. Chocolate Brownie Cookies are a hit at every event that I've ever taken them to. I make double batches of this dough to keep in my freezer for any last minute holiday gift emergencies. (ie. The SUPER tolerant and patient UPS driver that puts up with my mischievous dog deserves at least two dozen of these decadent chocolatey treats.)
Chocolate Brownie Cookies
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 cup sugar
Cookie Toppings (walnuts, crushed peppermint, etc.)
Bake 16 minutes at 300. Let cool 30 minutes on baking sheet.
Find those recipes. Send them to my by December 7th and watch for your recipe to appear on my blog. 🤪
Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved chocolate studded cake and sweet breads and she dreamed of what it would be like to create a chocolate chip cake/bread fusion. Little did she know that this amazing confection already existed.
When I first discovered the chocolate chip panettone - I was blown away. This was the egg rich, chocolate chip loaded sweet bread with cake like qualities that I had been dreaming of. Traditionally, panettone is made with whisky soaked raisins but let's face it - no one dreams of breads studded with raisins. It's not that I'm opposed to fruit laden sweet breads but I would argue that chocolate chips just add more oompf to this delicious creation.
Chocolate chip panettone is one of the greatest breads ever. Want to know why? The first couple of days after the bread is baked, I slice off giant wedges and eat it for breakfast. If there is any panettone left after day two, the remainder gets toasted and enjoyed warm with a thin pat of butter. I have the best of intentions of turning the leftover sweet bread into french toast after day 4 but to be honest - our panettone has never lasted that long.
Chocolate Chip Panettone
3/4 cup warm milk
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Remove loaf from pan and let cool 3 hours.
Panettone is an Italian sweet bread originally from Milan. I did a little research into the Panettone and discovered that it's name is believed to be loosely translated into "cake of luxury." I couldn't agree more.
Just imagine gathering up all of your favorite local restaurants in one place where you could sample all of their best dishes. That would be incredible, right? Well last month, my dream came true. I first heard about this amazing event called the "Taste of Monroe" on Facebook and I bought tickets immediately. All of my favorite local restaurants (and future restaurants) were represented -- and they all brought samples!!!
Our ticket price covered all of the tastings. There was everything from beer and wine samples to honey fried chicken with collards to waffle house waffles. And yes, I sampled it all. You didn't think that I would pass up a hot fudge sundae from Scoops, did you?
From top to bottom and left to right
Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad
Mr. Jones Burger from LR Burger
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup from Panera
Asiago Cheese Bagel Bites from Panera
Bok Choy Broth from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Barbecued Chicken from Shanes Rib Shack
Honey Fried Chicken and Collards over Cornbread from The Monroe Country Club
Pesto Shrimp Chip from Silver Queen
Honey Hot Boneless Chicken Wing from Amicis
Buffalo Chicken Dip and Chicken Salad from the Cotton Cafe
Waffles from Waffle House
Hot Fudge Sundae from Scoops
Toffee Marshmallow from Scoops
Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream from Bruce's Sweet Shop
Cupcake Display from Posh Cupcakery
My personal favorite was the Shrimp and Grits from South on Broad. I didn't think that I was a grits fan but this was so good that I found myself desperately trying to scrape the last of the grits out of the bottom of my cup with my empty shrimp tail. It was THAT good.
It was really interesting to see what each restaurant chose to offer as their "taste" at the event. Just imagine that you could only offer someone one taste from the repertoire of things that you make in your own kitchen. What would it be?
Thanksgiving dinner at the Davis house this year was a compilation of talents. I asked each guest to contribute their best dish to the meal. Roll baking duty always goes to my mom because - well, we can all agree that she's the roll master. My MIL brought stuffing and cranberries. And, after I passed out all of the cooking assignments for the dinner - there really wasn't much left for me to make.
Thanks to a willing sister in law - I didn't even have to make the green beans for Thanksgiving this year. I actually like to make green beans but blogging a new recipe with a house full of dinner guests while entertaining on Thanksgiving is a recipe for disaster - trust me. I made these beans for Ben and I a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed them.
I am especially thankful for everyone who contributed to our Thanksgiving meal this year. Pulling together our best dishes is a great way to put on a great meal.
Green Beans Amandine
8 ounces haricots verts
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Did anyone else mistakenly refer to these green beans as "almondine"? I've made other versions of this recipe for years and I've always referred to them as green beans almondine. My bad. It does make me wonder though, how many of my other recipes I've been pronouncing incorrectly.
Two turkeys, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes, 6 pounds of sweet potatoes, 4 dozen rolls, 2 salads, gravy, stuffing, green beans, corn casserole, cranberries, 2 pies, 1 cake, 1 tart, chocolate pretzels, sugar cookies and homemade ice cream. I would say that Thanksgiving 2018 was a feast of epic proportions. These are the meals that home chefs live for. Lots of food, lots of wine, pretty table decorations and plenty of guests to enjoy it all.
Before we dove into any of that scrumptious Thanksgiving fare - we kicked off our meal with a bowl of creamy lobster bisque. Inspired by the darling little pumpkin bakers that really became table decorations, I decided to start off our meal with a somewhat non-traditional soup course. Lobster bisque was the first thing that came to mind when I started to think through hearty soups to compliment our Thanksgiving meal. After all, who doesn't like lobster?
8 lobster tails
1 stick butter
1/3 cup olive oil
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 yellow onions, diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
4 Tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh parsley
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
Place steamer basket in bottom of a large pot and add 1" of water. Bring to a boil. Add 2-3 lobsters at a time, cover and steam 2 1/2 minutes. Reserve water in bottom of pot.
Remove tails, split tails in two and remove meat. Chop meat. Reserve shells. Refrigerate lobster meat.
Chop shells into 1" pieces.
Add brandy and cook 5 minutes. Add wine and cook another 5 minutes on high.
Add reserved steaming water and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 hour.
Ladle bisque into bowls and top with warmed lobster meat and garnish with parsley and tarragon.
We had 21 people at our house on Thanksgiving to eat up all that delicious food, but we still managed to end up with enough leftovers to get us through at least a couple of extra meals. We did NOT have a lot of leftover lobster bisque though. I guess that means that it was a hit.
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