Vanilla & Gingerbread Layered Cake with Birch Bark, Coconut Snow & Truffles

Vanilla & Gingerbread Layered Cake with Birch Bark, Coconut Snow & Truffles – Candy Coated Culinista

I came to church Christmas morning and was told by my God-Children’s Grandmother “I have a bone to pick with you” to which I said “huh”. She said “where’s my cake”…. Ohhh. Their grandmom had seen a picture of my Birch Bark Buche de Noel and wanted her own. Well in all honesty that Yule log could be shared as there was more than enough; but I took the hint and made a cake for her and her husband for new years.

Yield/Serving: 3 – 6” pans
Prep Time: approx. 60 min.
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Difficulty level is: Medium, time-consuming

Ingredients
Vanilla Cake

• ¾ cups unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• Egg whites from 5 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/8 tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• ¾ cups 2% milk
Gingerbread Cake
• 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
• 1 1/8 tsp ground ginger
• ¾ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp five spice
• ½ tsp ground clove
• ½ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¾ tsp cinnamon
• 1 large egg beaten
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 2 tbsp fancy molasses
• 1/3 hot water
Birch Bark
• Small paint brushes
• 6 dark chocolate wafers
• 6 milk chocolate wafers
• ½ cup white chocolate wafers
Simple Syrup
• 4 tbsp water
• 4 tbsp granulated sugar
Frosting
• 1 cups butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 2 tbsp milk, more if needed
Decorations
• Truffles
• Desiccated coconut
• Confectioners’ sugar

Assembly
Vanilla Cake

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Trace out the pan using parchment paper and place in the bottom of two pans.
3. Spray pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
4. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
5. Add in egg whites and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated.
6. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
7. Pour into butter mixture alternating between milk and flour mixture three times.
8. Pour into two pans, smooth tops and slam pans on the counter top to release air bubble and ensure an even bake.
9. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
10. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and turn out onto cooling rack and remove parchment paper.
11. Let cool completely.
Gingerbread Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Trace out the pan using parchment paper and place in the bottom of two pans.
3. Spray pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
4. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, five spice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
5. Whisk in eggs, oil and molasses.
6. Slowly add in water until just combined.
7. Pour into one pan and smooth smooth tops and slam pans on the counter top to release air bubble and ensure an even bake.
8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
9. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and turn out onto cooling rack and remove parchment paper.
10. Let cool completely.
Birch Bark
1. Place parchment in a cookie tray and set aside.
2. In two small microwave safe bowls melt the dark chocolate and milk chocolate wafers separately in 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted.
3. Draw lines and tree knots on the parchment paper and place in fridge to set for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile place white chocolate wafers in a medium sized microwave safe bowl and melt in 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted.
5. Let cool, until it is not hot to the touch. (You don’t want the white chocolate to melt the other chocolate when applying.)
6. Remove cookie tray from fridge and apply white chocolate using an offset spatula in a rectangular shape; covering all the dark and milk chocolate design.
7. Place back in fridge and let firm up for minimum 20 minutes.
Simple Syrup
1. Mix sugar and water together in a small prep bowl and set aside.
Buttercream Frosting
1. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter until fluffy.
2. Add confectioner’s sugar and milk and combine until well incorporated.
3. Taste frosting and add more sugar if you like; but this is purely a crumb coat to adhere the birch bark and coconut snow. So there is no need to overly sweeten this frosting.
Layered Cake Assembly
1. Use a serrated knife, trim tops and even out if necessary to level out the cakes.
2. Smear a little frosting on the silver disc so cake doesn’t move.
3. Place first vanilla layer on the bottom layer and spread some buttercream frosting over top.
4. Then place gingerbread layer over top and brush simple syrup into gingerbread cake. Cut a thin layer off the gingerbread cake for sure, to ensure the simple syrup can absorb.
5. Spread buttercream frosting over top.
6. Top with finals layer of vanilla cake and spread buttercream frosting over top and sides.
7. Place in fridge to let the crumb coat firm up some.
8. Bring out the birch bark and start breaking into long shards.
9. Once frosting has firmed up start placing birch bark unto the cake.
10. Run some of the buttercream frosting along back of the birch bark and stick to the cake.
11. Continue until the cake is covered in birch bark.
12. Grab truffles or make truffles buy using more milk chocolate wafers and melt in the microwave and pour into circular molds and let set in fridge for at least 1 hour.
13. Once truffles are set dip base of truffles in the buttercream frosting and then place around the edges of the cake.
14. Sprinkle cake top with desiccated coconut and dust tops of truffles with confectioners’ sugar.
15. Serve & enjoy

Tips
• I bought my paint brushes at the dollar store.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
They were very appreciative of the cake and said it was great; which made me happy. I enjoyed making this cake just as much as the yule log and I’m loving the decorating just as much as the baking now. I wanted to add a gingerbread layer to make it a seasonal cake and I’m happy I did. The aroma form the gingerbread cake was delightful. For once I got to taste my cakes as I had to level them. They tasted great and I loved that it came together so well. This took awhile to make; but again like the yule log I didn’t noticed how long it took. I binge watched Netflix’s Marvel shows in the kitchen while I baked and decorated and the time flew by.

Vanilla & Gingerbread Layered Cake with Birch Bark, Coconut Snow & Truffles – Candy Coated Culinista

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Holiday Pannacotta

Holiday Pannacotta – Candy Coated Culinista

Here is another one of those recipes on my must make list from time that I am all of a sudden feeling the need to tackle. With it still being the holiday season; I say having a few pannacotta’s in the fridge ready to serve any visitors would be a splendid treat.

Yield/Serving: 10
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 25 min
Difficulty level is: Easy

From Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
Pannacotta

• 2 cups whole milk
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2/3 cups granulated sugar
• 2 vanilla beans
• 5 sheets of gelatin
Sweet poached rhubarb
• 14oz sliced rhubarb, poached with one ball of stem ginger, ¾ cup + 5 tsp of Proseco, 1 tbsp of superfine sugar, and a fine grating of orange zest, serve with baby mint leaves and crushed nuts or almond biscotti.
C.C.’s South American Sauce (my sauce idea)
• 1 passionfruit, 1 tamarillo and granadilla to the South American inspired sauce, boiled in a little water and sugar to thicken.

Assembly
1. In a saucepan over low heat pour milk, cream and sugar.
2. Halve the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out and place in saucepan followed by the vanilla bean halves.
3. Heat over low heat for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
4. Soak gelatin sheets in cold water for a few minutes.
5. Remove saucepan from the heat, drain the gelatin and squeeze out any excess water.
6. Stir in the cream until gelatin is dissolved.
7. Whisk again to evenly distribute the vanilla seeds and then divide amongst pudding molds or ramekins.
8. Place on a pan, cover and let set in the fridge for at least 3 hours. (They can stay in the fridge for up to 2 days)
9. When ready to serve, dip half of each mold into a bowl of hot water for 5 seconds and give the mold a little shake to ease the pannacotta out.
10. Place on a plate and serve.

Tips
• Use gelatin powder and follow instructions accordingly.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I saw this strange fruit the other day at the grocery store and it was tamarillo and since the label said it was from South America I went and picked up some passionfruit and granadilla to go along with it as they all seems to be seedy fruits. My pannacotta came out splendidly and since I was afraid it wouldn’t set I left them in overnight just to be extra sure. It was creamy with the specks of vanilla beans and the rich sauce. I quite enjoyed it and the rhubarb was tart and a touch sweet a great combination and the South American sauce was divine.

Holiday Pannacotta – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Dinner: Showstopper Dessert – Buche de Noel (Yule log)

Christmas Dinner: Showstopper Dessert – Buche de Noel (Yule log) – Candy Coated Culinista

Wow your Christmas dinner guests with this showstopper of a dessert.

Yield/Serving: 12-14
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 10 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, time consuming when decorating if this is your first time decorating

Ingredients
Sponge

• 4 large free–range eggs
• ½ cup confectioners’ sugar , plus extra for dusting
• ½ cup self-raising flour
• 2 tablespoons quality unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
• 2 tablespoons sugar
Filling
• 8oz tin of sweetened chestnut purée
• 1 pinch ground cinnamon
• ¾ cup + 5 tsp heavy cream
• 1 tbsp liquid honey
• 1 Crunchie bar, or 1 ½ oz honey comb
Buttercream
• 5 oz quality dark chocolate (70%)
• 11 tbsp unsalted butter , (at room temperature)
• 1 heaping cup icing sugar

Assembly
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. For the sponge, line a 12” x 10” baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Separate the eggs.
4. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks with a pinch of sea salt.
5. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar, then, one-by-one, whisk in the egg yolks until really pale and light.
6. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, add the vanilla bean paste, then fold everything together with a large metal spoon so you keep in as much air as possible.
7. Spoon the mixture into the lined baking sheet, gently and evenly spread it out, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked through and springy to the touch.
8. Place a large sheet of parchment paper (18” x 12”) on a flat surface and evenly sprinkle over the sugar from a height.
9. While it’s still hot and flexible, turn the sponge out on to the paper.
10. Peel off and discard the baked piece of parchment paper
11. With one of the longest sides in front of you, fold up the excess paper, then roll up the sponge with the paper inside (as it cools, this will set the shape but prevent the sponge from cracking).
12. Leave to cool.
13. For the filling, mix the chestnut purée and cinnamon together.
14. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream to soft peaks, then fold in the honey.
15. To assemble, unroll the sponge so it’s flat, removing the paper.
16. Spread all over with the chestnut purée, followed by the cream, then smash and sprinkle over the Crunchie bar or honeycomb.
17. Re-roll and pop into the fridge.
18. Meanwhile, make your buttercream.
19. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then remove and leave to cool.
20. Beat the butter in an electric mixer until pale, then, with the mixer still running, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and cooled melted chocolate.
21. Take the log out of the fridge, chop off a quarter at an angle – that’s the branch – and position it on your serving board like in the picture, using a splodge of buttercream to keep it in place.
22. Evenly cover the whole log with buttercream, then use a fork to decorate it.
23. Dust with extra confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of sea salt, shaved chocolate, sprinkles, plastic Bambi figures, whatever you like – go to town!

Tips
• Just have fun and don’t worry about the time.
• Make honey comb from scratch or use a crunchie bar. Jamie has a honeycomb recipe also which I haven’t included in this post.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I used Jamie’s recipe for the Yule log portion; but then I felt like I wanted to add a Christmas winter scene and went my own way on the topping (White chocolate hand-decorated bark) and adding the snow laden houses and tree cakes. I have been running ideas and concepts for this yule log through my head for a couple weeks now and I wanted to at least have a non-chocolate top, so I could have some if I wanted. I have officially made the best thing visually baking wise and I’m smiling ear to ear as I type this. I could almost cry at how happy I am with how this turned out; however weird that sounds. I feel like all of a sudden I have hit a next gear in my baking. I got to practice some techniques and enjoy my most favourite holiday. This is going to my God-Kids and their family for Christmas Eve tomorrow when I see them at church. I hope this makes up for the Elf on the Shelf sugar cookies they didn’t get; but saw on my blog and further questioned me as to “where are ours” and “can you make us some too”. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor of the Buche de Noel. I had the most terrible time finding chestnuts, and I had to go the route of water chestnuts and puree them myself. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the exact same taste; but I enjoyed it and I absolutely hate water chestnuts or so I thought. It will be very interesting to see if the God-kids like that or next time I need to put jam in instead. The water chestnuts added a crunch as the honeycomb melted into the whipping cream. I found the instructions a little hard to grasp when it came to the assembly of the log; but I had an idea and it worked out well as I made that failure cake roll a few months back. The amount of batter in the recipe I think wouldn’t have filled the pan size listed, as it didn’t for me. Other than that this is a wonderful end to a Christmas dinner with the family or with friends and it can be put in the fridge, so you don’t have to be baking this on Christmas day. I showed a few friends and they were thoroughly impressed as was I.

***Update. this was a smash with the God-Kids and the parents. I didn’t have to worry about the chestnuts and the flavour at all. The kids loved the crunch and ate away. They even ate the decorative fondant holly’s and poinsettias. A total winner all around and I was told if this is my Christmas present every year I will be more than happy. Will do. I think “Auntie” will be providing Christmas dinner dessert going forward.

Merry Chistmas

Christmas Dinner: Showstopper Dessert – Buche de Noel (Yule log) – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Dinner: Showstopper Dessert – Buche de Noel (Yule log) – Candy Coated Culinista

Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cookies

Elf on the Shelf Giant Cookie – Candy Coated Culinista

I have been on a real decorating kick since the summer and I have seemingly craving to amp up my decorating skills. I don’t know why the sudden push has come upon me, maybe it’s just time and I’m excited to see how I improve and grow. This cookie has been an unused pan in my cupboard for about three years now and this Christmas I’m feeling extra inspired to expand my decorating skills.

Yield/Serving: 3 elves &amp & 6 assorted sugar cookies
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 15 min. per cookie
Difficulty level is: Easy to bake, Medium-Hard for decorating & very time consuming

Ingredients
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
• ½ tsp almond extract
• 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp red, green & white nonpareils
• 1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa
Icing
• ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 tsp milk
• Food colouring, to desired colour

Assembly
Sugar Cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment at medium speed until light and fluffy.
4. Beat egg, vanilla extract and almond extract into mixture.
5. In a separate bowl whisk flour and salt together and combine with butter mixture.
6. Beat until well incorporated.
7. Separate mixture out into 3 equal portions.
8. Press the plain sugar cookie mixture (1/3 of the dough) into the pan filled ¼” deep and bake for 15 minutes or until edges are light brown.
9. Meanwhile add nonpareils to the second portion of sugar cookies and incorporate and then set aside.
10. Finally add the cocoa powder to the finally portion of dough, incorporate and set aside.
11. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
12. Spray non-stick cooking spray over the cookie pan again and add one portion of the dough, cook for 15 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes.
13. Repeat step 12 again with the cocoa powder portion of the dough.
14. Let all the cookies cool completely and then decorate.
15. Prepare the icing and first outline the cookies and let that icing dry before flooding the interior with icing and then let that dry. (Ensure the icing isn’t too runny as it will run off the cookie. There is a subtle balance regarding the consistency of the border icing and flooding icing. You may want to add a touch more milk after doing the borders to get the icing to flood across the cookie easier.)

Tips
• Add more or less milk depending on how your dough is coming together.
• Don’t add vanilla extract to white icing as then the icing will lose its white colour.
• You can make the cookies ahead of time and decorate the next day.
• Remember you will need to set aside a nice chunk of time to decorate.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This was a very time consuming task. It was zen like and yet stressful all at the same time as I decorated it. Mind you this was my second attempt at properly decorating a cookie; so in that regard I am very pleased with my outcome. I’m a little mad that I didn’t realize I don’t have Caucasian coloured food colouring or brown food colouring in the house as the other day I grabbed a whole bunch of gel colourings. I had to opt for a pale yellow skin and black hair and I’m ok with that but not really as it’s the perfectionist in me saying do better. I realized my cheeks were a touch too rosey; but again it’s my second try and I need to give myself a break. This isn’t a skill I’m going to acquire in two attempts late at night after putting in ten plus hours at work. On a plus at the last minutes I thought to split the dough three ways and I’m glad I did as I can experiment in one shot and see the outcomes. The nonpareils cookie turned out the best as it was very festive and the sugar cookie as well. The cocoa sugar cookie was a drier mixture as another dry ingredient was added after the fact. I would suggest adding a little milk or water to just slightly moisten it up. As you can see the cocoa cookie didn’t stay together the best. I was still able to decorate it; but it definitely needed a touch more moisture. These will be given to a co-worker the plain cookies for her and her hubby to split and the nonpareils for the kids. I was worried this recipe had too much sugar; but I was told this was the right amount of sugar and I need to just stop worrying about so much sugar as this is a sugar cookie.

Elf on the Shelf Giant Cookie – Candy Coated Culinista

Elf on the Shelf Giant Cookie – Candy Coated Culinista

Elf on the Shelf Giant Cookie – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Dinner – Potato: Potato Al Forno

Potato Al Forno – Candy Coated Culinista

It’s not Christmas without a side of silky smooth mashed potatoes right? Well how about this year you go a little more rustic and complex.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 1 hr & 50 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

From Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

Ingredients
• 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
• 2 onions
• 2 bulbs of fennel, with herby fronds attached
• 2 ½ cups whole milk
• 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
• 6 anchovy fillets in oil
• 8 cloves garlic
• ½ bunch of fresh rosemary
• 6 fresh bay leaves
• 1 whole nutmeg, for grinding
• 1 ¾ oz Parmesan cheese

Assembly
1. Peel onions. Potatoes and trim the fennel, reserving the fronds .
2. Finely slice the potatoes, onion and fennel just under ¼” thick, using a mandolin with the guard.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
4. In a medium sized saucepan pour milk and cream in and tear anchovies, crush in the unpeel garlic and add rosemary & bay leaves and finely grate in half the nutmeg.
5. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and let infuse for a few minutes.
6. Remove out the rosemary and bay leaves and grate in some Parmesan cheese and season if desired.
7. In a baking dish layer the potatoes, onion and fennel.
8. Pour the cream mixture over and finely grate the remaining Parmesan cheese.
9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes and the remove foil and continue to bake for another 45 minutes, or until tender and golden.
10. Garnish with reserved fennel tops and serve.

Tips
• Swap out fennel for any other seasonal vegetable such as celery root or celery heart.
• I would also recommend rutabaga as that is easy to find in Canada in the Autumn & winter months.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
This is a recipe you could prep the night before and cover in the fridge and cook the morning before your Turkey goes in. This recipe was surprisingly savoury and luscious with all the dairy added. I didn’t notice the anchovies; which I actually love; but some of my guests swear they hate. (When they come to my place it’s in lots of things unbeknownst to them and the eat away) This is a amazing and sophisticated side dish that is also great as leftovers. Add some dill to the top also if you have some in the house.

Potato Al Forno – Candy Coated Culinista

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Gingerbread Molasses Cookies – Candy Coated Culinista

Another year another gingerbread recipe and this year I think I have a decent recipe. Last year I tried a recipe from a cookbook that shall remain a secret; but it was a terrible recipe. I followed the instructions perfectly twice and the cookies looked like a dog’s breakfast and I had so many to make matters worse. I’m so much more pleased with this recipe that I can actually make a post.

Yield/Serving: about 30 cookies
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cook Time: approx. 24 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1/3 cup demerara sugar
• 1/3 cup golden brown sugar
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• ½ tcp cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground cloves
• 1 tsp baking soda
• Pinch of salt

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Using parchment paper, line two baking sheets.
3. Using an electric mixer on low speed with the paddle attachment; beat butter and sugar until it is fluffy.
4. Then add egg and molasses and continue to beat until just combined.
5. In a medium-sized separate bowl wisk flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.
6. Pour flour in the mixer on low speed and mix until just combined.
7. Roll 1 tbsp of the gingerbread mixture into a ball and place on the baking sheets, two inches apart.
8. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes one pan at a time and until edges are just firm.
9. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
10. Enjoy.

Tips
• Store in an air tight container between a layer of wax paper in the fridge for up tp five days or freeze for up to two weeks if you want to make ahead.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts

Now I noticed the shelf life of these cookies was super short; two days maximum in an air-tight container. I do realize the texture of gingerbread cookie is different from the normal cookie; but I enjoy those Starbucks ginger molasses cookies so much. Maybe those are just a touch under baked as they tend to be so soft in the centre. These cookies smelled of Christmas and as my house smells of balsam fir & now gingerbread with the Christmas tree lit and presents under the tree I am officially in the Christmas mood. Nott to mention I got the desired crack in my cookies so that made me happy. Next year I will attempt to make gingerbread men decorated and everything – fingers crossed

Turkey Stock

Turkey Stock – Candy Coated Culinista

Another great make ahead Thanksgiving or Christmas recipe that can be used in stuffing, gravy and day after soup.

Yield/Serving: 1 litre
Prep Time: 15 min.
Cook Time: 4 hours, plus
Difficulty level is: Easy, time consuming

Slightly altered from No Crumb Left

Ingredients
• 6-8 turkey pieces; combo of wings and drumsticks
• 10 cups of water
• 1 large onion. Sliced into rings
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 celery sticks, chopped
• Fresh parsley, handful
• Fresh chives, handful
• Fresh thyme, handful

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place turkey pieces into a roasting pan and bake for 60 minutes. (Just ensure all sides of the turkey are a golden brown)
3. Check every 30 minutes and flip.
4. Meanwhile using a large stock pot add ten cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Once turkey is done, tear apart the wings and place all the turkey pieces along with the vegetable into the stock pot.
6. Scrape the brown bits from the roasting pan with a wooden spoon and add to the stock pot. (If it hasn’t all deglazed; just turn on the burner and add some water and let boil and scrap the turkey pieces off)
7. Gently simmer over low heat for 4 hours. The stock will reduce down.
8. Let cool and pour into jars and chill.

Tips
• Use the leftover turkey for whatever you like. I saved the drum sticks for dinner as they remained whole and the turkey wings were put in a quick turkey soup with the rest of the veg.
• You can also freeze this stock.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Not going to lie here this is a lot of work for stock; but then there are no preservatives, sodium or salt and chemicals. So start this in the morning and go about your day in the house and let this reduce while you’re doing chores and other baking. There is no salt in this recipe so it won’t be as flavourful as you expect; but it’s best to salt whatever dish you put this into after the fact.

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel - Candy Coated Culinista

Caribbean Christmas Sorrel – Candy Coated Culinista

This is my absolute favourite Christmas drink. Once the Christmas season is upon us I know I’m getting Sorrel and I’m elated. Sorrel is made from sorrel leaves; which are from the hibiscus family and with its deep, rich red colour it just screams Christmas to me. Not to mention all of those other Christmas spices.

Yield/Serving: 9 cups
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 20 to 25 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

Ingredients
• 1 cup sorrel leaves
• 9 cups water
• 1 hand of peeled ginger, cut into pieces
• 1 cinnamon stick
• A few cloves
• 2 star anise
• 1 cup cane sugar, to taste
• Lemon to taste

Assembly
1. Place all the ingredients except the sugar and lemon into a large pot and bring to a boil covered.
2. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from heat to allow to steep for a few hours.
4. Strain away the solids and add sugar and lemon to taste.
5. Chill and serve with ice.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
I have tasted two types of Sorrel: the Bajan (Barbados) way; which I am accustomed to and more recently the Jamaican way which a lot of the time has Rum added to it; but I have only enjoyed the rum-free version to date. Both islands ways taste great in their own right; the Bajan having more of that Christmas smell and so dark and dense when the drink is put up to the light, no light is getting through. On the other hand the Jamaican way has a lot more ginger and the addition of orange peel and the drink is not as dense. So when I made my first attempt at this I did a combination of both recipes. This tasted alright to me I was really hoping for it to taste like the originals; but it tasted like a Caribbean Canadian version if you will. I think I watered it down too much. I did get my Bajan & Jamaican recipe originators to taste it and they said it tasted good. I will say it tasted better over the next few days as the ingredients blended more and I will definitely add less water next time.

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole - Candy Coated Culinista

Savoury Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole – Candy Coated Culinista

Is there such a thing as too savoury…I sure think so. I made this recipe well before Thanksgiving thinking this sounds like an amazing unique dish too bad you can really only stomach it around the holidays or at least only I can.

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

Ingredients
• 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
• 6 slices bacon
• ½ cup golden brown sugar
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1/8 tsp black pepper
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp cloves
• 1/8 tsp ginger
• 1/8 tsp cinnamon
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 1 spring rosemary, diced
• 1 stem of basil, diced
• ¼ cup 2% milk
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• Pecans, to decorate
• Bacon, to decorate
• Rosemary, to decorate

Assembly
1. Fill a large pot with water and boil sweet potatoes until tender.
2. Using a large frying pan, fry bacon slices and place on a paper towel and let absorb.
3. Chop bacon (leave some bacon behind to decorate if desired) and place in a large bowl along with brown sugar, flour, walnuts, butter, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, sea salt, rosemary, basil and combine with a whisk.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Mash the sweet potatoes and add in the milk, eggs and sugar and spice mixture and stir until well incorporated.
6. Pour sweet potato into a casserole dish and decorate with pecans along the sides and add bacon bits along with more rosemary in the centre.
7. Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Like eating a very savoury sweet potato pie; the crunch from the nuts and the touch of saltiness from the bacon had me wanting more, the spices though probably a tad too much had me running away and I have altered the recipe accordingly for next time. I’m more of a hint of spices not an overwhelming amount. For awhile I didn’t even remember there was cayenne pepper in it until the slow burn crept up and then that was it I’m was done. This recipe smelt amazing from beginning to end, yet after 5 or so bites I just thought I think this is too savoury. Much like Pumpkin Spice Lattes in autumn and fruit cake or eggnog at Christmas some things are better only eaten at certain times of the year; because you well just don’t enjoy it as much any other time of the year. There is this novelty factor in a way and this is why I’ll be making this for either one of these holidays for dinner and no other time in the year ever.

Christmas Pavlova Wreath

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

A festive spin on my favourite dessert; with the flavours of Christmas in a perfectly light and airy dessert that will put anyone in the Christmas spirit.

Yield/Serving: 4 – 6
Prep Time: 20 min.
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium, time consuming

Inspired by Epicurious

Ingredients
For Pavlova
• 3 egg whites
• 9 tsp granulated sugar
• 1 tsp raspberry balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sugared Cranberries
• ½ cup cranberries
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup water
Cranberry Pomegranate Maple Syrup
• ½ cup cranberries
• ½ cup pomegranate seeds
• 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Remaining sugar syrup
Whipped Cream
• 1 cup whipping cream
Garnish
• Sugared cranberries
• Pomegranate seeds
• Kiwi, cut into thin pieces

Assembly
For Pavlova
1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
2. Using a piece of parchment paper trace one large plate and one small plate inside the large plate into a ring shape and place on a baking sheet.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
4. Gradually add sugar 1 tsp at a time until the meringue forms into stiff shiny peaks. (bowl can be held upside down and nothing falls out)
5. Add balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract and lemon juice until incorporated.
6. Spread meringue within the ring shape and then bake for one and a half hours. When it is ready it will be crisp around the sides and dry on top. Let cool with the oven door slightly open and let remain in the oven overnight.
Sugared Cranberries
7. While the meringue is cooking; using a small saucepan boil water and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.
8. Let the sugar mixture cool down until lukewarm.
9. Put cranberries in a jar and pour the sugar mixture over top and cover.
10. Let the cranberries soak for 2 hours and drain and reserve the syrup for later for the cranberry pomegranate syrup.
11. Using a small bowl pour the cranberries in and mix the sugar until covered and let dry for 30 minutes and set aside.
Cranberry Pomegranate Maple Syrup
12. Combine cranberries, pomegranate seeds, maple syrup, vanilla extract and the remaining sugar syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce temperature down to low and continue to stir until mixture thickens up a bit and then turn off once most of the cranberries have burst.
13. Using a sieve pour the syrup into a bowl and press out any remaining juices from the cranberries and pomegranates through the sieve.
14. Let cool down completely.
Whipped Cream
15. Using an electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream until cream thickens.
Garnish
16. Place meringue on a cake pedestal.
17. Top with whipped cream and then start placing sugared cranberries, pomegranate seeds and kiwi.
18. Drizzle with syrup and serve.

Tips
• You can prepare the meringue the night before, like I did.
• If you need to get the syrup mixture to cool faster, place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Please Enjoy

My thoughts
Pavlova is probably my most favourite dessert to make, even though I don’t make it much because it is time-consuming. The meringue was light and crisp on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside. The sugared cranberries added a tartness and sweetness along with the pomegranate seeds and fresh kiwi all topped on the light and creamy whipped cream. This is a festive and beautiful dessert to look at. I was elated at how this turned out exactly how I envisioned it and once again my dessert was a pre-dessert as my taste testers couldn’t wait to try it including myself. I even had a piece for lunch yesterday.

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath - Candy Coated Culinista

Christmas Pavlova Wreath – Candy Coated Culinista

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