Tag Archives: Christmas

Candy Cane Brownie Bites

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowI almost didn’t share this recipe, it seemed too easy.  But then I remembered that people like easy, simple recipes that can be whipped up in a few minutes.  The first time I made these brownies, it was after work to bring to a church group meeting I had to leave for in about an hour and a half.  In less than 90 minutes I had homemade, from scratch brownies cut and ready to go!

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowThis brownie recipe is my absolute favorite and is so versatile.  It’s dressed up for Christmas with a little peppermint extract and crushed candy canes on top.  Cut into small pieces it makes a for a delightful hostess gift of shared treat.  The holidays feature so many desserts, it’s best to provide everyone with small bites!

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowI brought these to Andrea’s lovely holiday party and a guest asked me if they were soft.  Two questions – where does one find non-soft brownies? Who would bring hard brownies to a party?  Clearly my sarcasm could not be contained!  These brownies are deliciously soft, moist, fudgy, peppermint-y, and easy.  Whip up a batch now, anyone can do it!

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowTwo Years Ago – Eggnog Cookies

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Candy Cane Brownie Bites

Adapted from MMMMM Brownies

Yield – 8” x 8” pan, 36 bites

 

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon instant coffee

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

2/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 mini candy canes crushed

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F.  Grease an 8” x 8” square pan and line with parchment paper leaving an overhang.  Grease that too.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, sugar, water, and instant coffee.  When melted add in the chocolate chips and stir until combined and melted.  Add in the eggs one at a time and then the peppermint extract, stir to combine.  Add in the flour, soda, and salt mixing until just combined.
  3. Pour the brownie batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes, press them in slightly.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is shiny and crusty and a toothpick comes out almost clean.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!
  5. Let cool slightly and then slice and serve.  For bites, I remove the whole brownie from the pan and cut into 9 large pieces.  Then, I cut each ninth into 4, placing in a mini cupcake wrapper for maximum cuteness.candy cane brownie bites | pale yellow
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Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale YellowI love eggnog, absolutely and completely!  Almost every Christmas season I try to make the most eggnog-y of eggnog treats and always end up disappointed.  It’s not that the recipes aren’t tasty, because they are, they are just not eggnog-y enough.  I’m not ashamed to admit I can drink eggnog straight up!  Obviously I try to limit the indulgence, but that doesn’t stop the cravings.

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale YellowThis is a delightfully eggnog-y recipe!  I’m sure the original recipe had enough eggnog flavor for the average person, but I wanted to ensure there was plenty of eggnog flavor for me.  I used all the tricks I could think of like adding rum extract (obviously rum is essential in eggnog!) and extra fresh nutmeg; the results are super!Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

The base is crumbly and moist while the middle is lovingly smooth and creamy.  A crumb topping on top is perfect for providing a little crunch and texture.  Throughout the filling and crust there is significant proportion of fresh nutmeg and eggnog flavor.  These eggnog cheesecake bars are my favorite thing on the cookie tray this year!Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

One Year Ago – Easy Turtles

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Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield – 25 pieces

 

Crust

2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-3/4 of a fresh nutmeg, grated

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

6 tablespoons eggnog

Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1/4 of a fresh nutmeg, grated

1/2 cup eggnog

  1. Crust – Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease an 8×8” pan with shortening.  Line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and incorporate into the flour mixture with a pastry blender.  Blend until you have pea-sized pieces.
  3. Stir in the eggnog with a fork until the dough is shaggy.  Squeeze a bit with your hands to incorporate the loose flour.
  4. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan as evenly as possible.  Set aside.
  5. Filling – In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, one at a time, beating to incorporate each.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  6. Pour the filling over the crust.  Use the remaining dough to make crumbles on top of the filling.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling no longer jiggles and the topping just begins to brown.
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate to firm up before cutting and servingEggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl Frosting

chocolate cupcakes with peppermint swirl frosting | pale yellowTwo Years Ago – Boozy Cupcakes

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl Frosting

Yield – 10 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/8 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup hot coffee

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix together on low with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and milk in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.
  4. Turn on the mixer and add the hot coffee slowly until well combined.
  5. Fill cupcakes liners with a not quite full basic ice cream scoop and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Turn out of the cupcake tin and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Peppermint Swirl Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

100 grams of  egg whites

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

red food coloring

mini candy canes for garnish

  1. Add 1 inch of water to a small saucepan.  Add the egg whites, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Place the bowl in the saucepan.  Heat and whisk until the mixture is smooth and no longer gritty.
  2. Move the bowl to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed until the bowl is cool and the meringue is whipped.
  3. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time while the mixer whisks on high speed.  If the frosting becomes runny or curdles, just keep beating at it will smooth out.
  4. Beat in the extract.  Remove half the frosting.  To the remaining frosting add a bit of red food coloring, mix until the desired color is reached.
  5. Add the red to one disposable piping bag and the white frosting to another piping bag.
  6. Place both piping bags in a larger piping bag with a large star tip.  Squeeze lightly until both colors are coming out.
  7. Swirl on each cupcake.  Decorate with a mini candy can if desired.

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Slovak Crescent Cookies

Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale YellowThere are a few holiday traditions that are more important than making the family cookies that only appear once a year.  My mom and I would go to my grandmas, sit at the same corner table, roll out the dough, fill, bake, and laugh.  We would always burn our tongues eating a cookie straight off the cookie sheet before they have a chance to properly cool.

Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale YellowLast year was the first year my mom or I made the dough.  In previous years my grandma always made the fillings and dough before we arrived so we could focus on rolling out, filling, and rolling up the crescents.  These cookies are definitely a 2-3 person job!  Apparently my great grandmother used to make countless batches of these cookies all on her own.  Someday I hope to have that kind of time available to me!

Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale YellowThis year Christmas traditions are going to change it bit.  It’ll be just my mom and I making the cookies and we will no longer be gathering in my grandparent’s 70’s themed basement tearing up the kids table on Christmas Eve.  My brother has the ping pong table, I took an awesome owl-string-art wall piece, and the rest of their house is being divided up.  I’ve missed my grandma everyday since she has left, but the next few weeks are going to make the loss that much more real.  I treasure all the memories I have with my grandmother shopping, baking, and spending all and every holiday together.  This grief thing is hard, do you ever stop missing someone you love?

Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale YellowThese cookies are a quintessential part of my holiday a season, I think they would make a fantastic addition to your Christmas cookie tray!  There are quite a few steps involved in making the cookies, but every buttery, flaky bite is worth it.  The key tip – use the lid of a large sauce pan to cut perfect circles ready to cut into eighths and rolled into lovely crescents!  Honestly, I do not like the apricot ones, it’s all about the walnuts!

Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale YellowTwo Years Ago – Banana Bread with Hazelnuts

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Slovak Crescent Cookies
Adapted from the Slovak Ladies’ Anniversary Cookbook
Yield – 80 cookies

dried apricots + water + sugar
walnuts + milk + sugar
3 sticks margarine (Blue Bonnet), room temperature
1 cup sour cream
3 egg yolks
3 cups flour + more for rolling
powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Make the fillings the day before.
  2. Apricot – Boil dried apricots with a little water and sugar until soft.  Let cool completely.
  3. Walnut – Finely chop the walnuts.  Mix with a little milk and sugar until the nuts are moist and sweet.  Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Beat the margarine and and sour cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until light and creamy.  Beat in the egg yolks.  Scrape the bowl.
  5. Mix in the flour on low speed until just combined.  The dough will be very sticky.
  6. With floured hands, divide the dough into 8 disks.  Place the disks between sheets of wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F.
  8. Liberally flour your surface and rolling pin, don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour.  Roll each disk into a 10-inch circle, trim if necessary.  Collect the trimmings to reroll once.
  9. Cut the circle into 8 pieces and place a teaspoon of filling on the wide end.  Tuck in the edges and roll tightly.  Place on the cookie sheet flap side down and bend into a crescent shape.
  10. Place 2-3 batches on each cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minute or until the cookies just begin to brown.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Before serving dust with powdered sugar.Slovak Crescent Cookies | Pale Yellow

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Holiday Cookie Time

I have yet to make my plan for holiday baking, but here is some inspiration for you!  There are so many flavors and ideas, it’s hard to narrow it down.  Maybe things will be easier for you!

Holiday Cookies 2014 | Pale YellowClockwise from top left:

  1. Boozy Eggnog
  2. Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream
  3. Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles
  4. Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes
  5. Peppermint Marshmallows
  6. Candy Cane Cheesecakes
  7. Candy Cake Truffles
  8. Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas

Holiday Cookies 2014 | Pale YellowClockwise from top left:

  1. Chocolate Peppermint Roll
  2. Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes
  3. Peppermint Bark Cookies
  4. Red Velvet Blossoms
  5. Sugar Cookie Wreaths
  6. Eggnog Chocolate Chip Cookies
  7. Easy Pretzel Turtles
  8. Mini Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Holiday Baking!

Two Years Ago – Candy Cane Chocolate Cupcakes

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Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes

mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellowLast holiday recipe of the season!  Hard to believe the year is almost over.  I feel like I’ve been running around like a maniac since July and I’m still waiting for the fast pace to end.  January is going to be super busy with the move and I’m working every Saturday in February, so it looks like I’ll have to wait until March to relax.  Luckily I’m loading up on Emergen-C to  get through winter.

mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellowThis past week has been a non-stop blast! I was able to catch up with multiple groups of friends and family to share meals and laughter.  At each event I brought a fresh baked good or two.  This year I didn’t mess around and brought my mixer to Michigan with me, it was time for some serious baking!  And yes, my family is spoiled!

mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellowHowever, between lunches, dinners, family parties, and sleep-overs, my body is feeling run down.  Throw in the drive back and forth between Michigan and New York and I’m done.  Who would have thought it would be raining both ways in December!  It’s time for some salads and couch time.

mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellowBefore we begin salad time, there are still a few desserts that need to be shown-off.  This dessert was probably my favorite of the holiday season!  There is strong eggnog flavor; I believe the rum extract plus fresh nutmeg really drove the cheesecake to flavor-town.  A Biscoff crust is crispy and tasty, while the lovely dollop of whipped cream sets the whole cheesecake off.  Mini cheesecakes maybe my thing in 2014, they’re awesome!

mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellowOne Year Ago – Chocolate Sugar Cookie Santas

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Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes
Adapted from Cooking Classy
Yield – 36 mini cheesecakes

16 Biscoff cookies
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup eggnog
1 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
extra nutmeg for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F and line 36 mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Crush the Biscoff cookies into fine pieces and mix into the melted butter with a pinch of salt.  Mix with a fork until all the crumbs are moist.
  3. Add about 1 teaspoon of crust into each tin and press down firmly.  I used the end of a rolling pin.
  4. Bake for 5 minutes and then let cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add the nutmeg and beat for a few seconds.  Beat in the flour and sugar.
  6. Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Scrape the bowl as needed and beat in the extracts.
  7. Beat in the eggnog.  Use a 2-tablespoon scoop to portion the batter on the crusts, fill to the top.  Bake for 13 minutes or until set.
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before topping.
  9. To make the topping beat the heavy cream with the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until you reach the stiff peak stage.
  10. Pipe or dollop on each cheesecake and sprinkle with more nutmeg.
  11. Store in the fridge.mini eggnog cheesecakes | pale yellow

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Chocolate Peppermint Roll

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale YellowI should be done with holiday recipes and start posting healthful food to get 2014 started right!  However, I’m not done!  January will bring more sweet treats and Monday will bring the last holiday themed recipe.  Promise!  I’ll be so busy packing and moving all January, I’ll probably just post cocktail recipes; that sounds closer to the truth.

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale YellowThe recipe was an accomplishment; I’ve never made a roll up cake before.  I’ve always loved the look of roll-up cakes but was really intimidated by baking a cake on a cookie sheet and then rolling it up.  Fear is gone!  Despite a few cracks, this cake was a piece of cake!  Pun intended.  I made this when Michelle was over helping me bake and she was all like, “I’ve made lots of roll up cakes, they’re easy!”  It was great having her on hand to lend some tips!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale Yellow2012 was the year of stacked cakes, 2013 was the year of bundt cakes, so maybe 2014 will be the year of rolled cakes.  I know I have a pumpkin one pinned for next fall and I have visions of strawberry shortcake dancing in my head.  It will probably happen!  I’ll just need to wait and see how my new kitchen is for baking; I’ve been very accustomed to my current set-up…

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale YellowDid you know this cake is gluten free?  True story; naturally gluten free!  I appreciate when recipes are naturally gluten-free or vegan or dairy free without any special ingredients.  I want to build my arsenal of allergies-friendly recipes that I can whip out whenever needed without having to buy weird stuff.  Everyone deserves to eat delicious treats!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale YellowThis cake is quite delicious. The cake portion is soft and spongy with a rich chocolate flavor.  The eggs keep everything light and moist.  It’s hard to go wrong with a rich, minty whipped cream in the center!  To top of the cake there is a lovely ganache with peppermint pieces.  This type of dessert tastes as good as it looks and is a perfect center piece for any holiday table!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale YellowPrint the Recipe!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yield – 10-12 slices

Cake
6 eggs, separated
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Filling
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scrapped out

Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup Andes peppermint pieces

  1. Cake – Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.  Grease a 17×12” cookie sheet and line with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Separate the eggs.  Beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
  3. While eggs are beating, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 10-second intervals.  Add the chocolate in a slow stream while the mix runs on high.  The egg mixture should become even thicker.  Beat in the vanilla.  Transfer the mix to another bowl.
  4. Clean the bowl and beater well and dry.  Add in the egg whites and and a pinch of salt to the clean bowl.  Beat until frothy.  Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate mixture in three increments.  Fold slowly to keep the air.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and rotate the pan to spread the batter evenly. Take care to not squash the batter.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is dry.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Filling – While the cake is cooling make the whipped cream filling by adding the heavy cream to a bowl of stand mixer with a whisk attachment.
  9. Add in the sugar, peppermint extract, and the seeds from one vanilla bean.  Beat until the cream has stiff peaks.
  10. Allow to set in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
  11. Spread the whipped cream over the cooled cake.  Start rolling at the short end of the cake facing you.  Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake.  If it cracks a bit it’s ok.
  12. Once the cake is rolled, place it in the fridge for another 10 minutes to set.
  13. Ganache – Heat 2/3 cup heavy cream in a saucepan until it begins to simmer.  Pour over the chocolate and set aside for 3 minutes.  Stir until the chocolate is melted.
  14. Assembly – Pour the ganache over the cake and push to the sides.  Sprinkle the Andes mint pieces over the top.  Refrigerate the cake for several hours to firm up before cutting.Chocolate Peppermint Roll | Pale Yellow

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