This Holiday season will likely be a bit different from previous years for most people. Because of health concerns over the current pandemic, many families have opted to stay in place rather than undertake travel to see their loved ones.
If you and your family are opting to stay home, why not make the most of family time and celebrate the season by creating delicious treats that are sure to bring warmth and cheer?
Try to remember that the holidays are a stressful time for everyone. Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Yule, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day, pay attention to what truly matters. When we focus on family, food, shelter, health, and gratitude, it becomes much easier to create wonderful holiday memories.
We’ve assembled a few seasonal favorites to enjoy after a holiday meal or even when taking tea on a snowy afternoon by the fire.
Walnut Rum Cake
This moist cake is a definite holiday favorite that incorporates the taste of hot buttered rum. It makes the perfect companion to enjoy after dinner or with a hot cup of your favorite Sir Jason Winters tea.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour two round cake pans and set aside.
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 2 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
2 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup spiced rum
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Whisk together milk and vinegar in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine flour, cinnamon powder, and baking soda and set this aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter together until creamy. Add one egg at a time to this mixture. Next, add the vanilla. Add one cup at a time of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and vinegar mixture and adding a bit of the spiced rum as you go. Lastly, fold the chopped walnuts into the batter.
Pour equal amounts of the batter into your prepared baking pans. Bake between 55 minutes to an hour and five minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a rack before removing them from the pan.
For the chocolate filling, you will need
1/2 cup Cocoa powder, natural unsweetened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup softened, unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
Beat softened butter until smooth. Beat in half of the powdered sugar until smooth. Add cocoa powder, vanilla, and as much cream as needed to keep the filling smooth but not too thin. This filling will go between the two cake rounds.
To make the glaze to go over the top of your cake, combine
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of rum.
Heat in a small saucepan until the sugar and butter combine. Drizzle mixture over the top of your cake and serve.
Almond Butter Cookies
Kids of every age love making cookies cut into holiday shapes and sprinkled with colored sugar and other festive edible toppings.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
Whisk together flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg along with vanilla and almond extract. Gradually add flour, one cup at a time. If the dough has a crumbly consistency, knead it on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
Take a portion of the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick.
Use cookie cutters to cut out holiday shapes and place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. Place the cookies and baking sheets into the freezer for 10 minutes. Near-freezing the cookies will help them maintain their shape while they bake. Remove from the oven when they appear just slightly underdone. Allow them to cool. They will become firmer.
Spread with your favorite icing and add colored sugar, colored sprinkles, red hots, or candy kisses and serve.
French Buche de Noel
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons of Rum
Separate eggs, then beat egg yolks with mixer until thick. Gradually add half of the sugar to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks appear. Gradually add the second ½ cup of sugar until soft peaks begin to appear in the mixture. Add yolk mixture, flour, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 15 ½ x 10 x 1-inch baking pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and begin loosening the edges of the cake. Turn onto a towel that has been sprinkled with sifted powdered sugar. Sprinkle the cake with rum.
From the long side, roll the cake and towel together and allow it to cool.
For the filling, you may use the same chocolate filling for the walnut rum recipe above. Unroll the cake and spread half of the filling and then re-roll the and frost the roll with the remaining half of the icing and serve.
If you want something light and savory to go with the sweet, you can add warm baby portobello mushrooms stuffed with crab to enjoy along with side traditional finger sandwiches.
Creamy Crab Stuffed Baby Portobellos
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
12 baby portobello mushrooms cleaned with stems removed
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese softened
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2–3 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 cup cooked crab or imitation crab meat, finely chopped
Lightly brush or spray portobello mushroom caps with olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet, cap-side down, and bake for two minutes to remove excess water.
Mix cream cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, green onions, Parmesan, parsley, and crab together in a large mixing bowl.
Turn the mushroom caps over and fill each with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the crab meat filling. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for one minute to allow the tops to lightly brown. Remove from the baking sheet and onto a decorative plate and serve.
“Better Homes and GardensTreasury of Christmas Crafts & Foods” Edited by James A. Autry, 1980, Meredith Publishing, Des Moines Iowa
“Country Living Country Christmas: Holiday Entertaining & Decorating” Edited by Bo Niles, 1990, Meredith Corporation, New York, NY
“Real Simple: Holiday Calm” Edited by the Staff of Real Simple Magazine, 2019, Meredith Corporation, New York, NY
“Small Town Woman: Family Friendly Recipes,” by Beth Pierce, 2018, web.