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TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Wreath Cake

You may not feel up to making a Bûche de Noël (Yule Log Cake), but you can certainly make a wreath cake.

While there is trend to pull-apart cupcake wreath cakes, we decided to try a traditional one.

This recipe was adapted by Audra, The Baker Chick from one on It’s the third photo, requires no piping skills, and although it’s not as showy, it’s much easier to serve and eat.


Prep time is 15 minutes, bake time is 50 minutes.

Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • ¾ cup plus ½ cup white sugar, separated
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, separated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
    For The Decoration

  • Frosted grapes
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs (instead of the evergreen† shown)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray or grease a 10-inch ring pan thoroughly‡.

    2. COMBINE the half stick of butter, 3/4 cup white sugar, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted; then add the cranberries, tossing until they are coated in the butter mixture. Pour into the bottom of the cake pan and set aside.

    3. CREAM together the 6 tablespoons of butter with the remaining ½ cup of white sugar and the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time, the rest of the vanilla and the buttermilk.


    Cranberry Christmas Wreath Cake

    TOP PHOTO: A professional wreath cake from Frederick’s Pastry. MIDDLE PHOTO: A wreath of cupcakes from BOTTOM PHOTO: An easier-to-make wreath cake from

    4. WHISK together the dry ingredients and slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until well combined. Pour/scoop the batter over the cranberry mixture and use the back of a spoon to smooth as needed.

    5. BAKE for 35-50 minutes, depending on your oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    6. MAKE the frosted grapes. Garnish before serving.
    *If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar to enough milk to make 1 cup.

    †Fresh evergreen can impart strong sap or needles.

    ‡There is not enough batter to fully fill out a bundt pan.



    RECIPE: Peppermint White Hot Chocolate & Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

    Christmas season is a bonanza for peppermint lovers, from candy canes to peppermint bark to chocolate-peppermint everything.

    Now, have a cup of peppermint white hot chocolate with a dark chocolate peppermint brownie. Both recipes are from McCormick.

    While together they create a chocolate-peppermint symphony, they can be split up and paired with non-peppermint, non-chocolate beverages and cookies.


    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces white chocolate*, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
    *We chop up white chocolate bars from Green & Black’s or Lindt.



    If you’re a big fan of peppermint, this dessert is for you: white peppermint hot chocolate with chocolate peppermint bars. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    1. PLACE the heavy cream and chocolate in medium saucepan. Cook and stir on medium heat until chocolate is melted.

    2. STIR in half-and-half and peppermint extract. Cook and stir until heated through. Pour into serving cups. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

    There’s a recipe for every day of the month. See all the hot chocolate ideas.

    Here’s the difference between hot chocolate and cocoa.



    Top chocolate brownies with peppermint
    cream and chocolate ganache. Photo
    courtesy A Kitchen Addiction.



    This fudgy brownie is layered with peppermint frosting and a rich chocolate glaze. Prep time is 15 minutes, bake time is 15 minutes.


    Ingredients For 36 Bars

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix or your own brownie recipe
  • 2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 7 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Crushed peppermint candies


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the package. Spread in greased foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool in the pan on wire rack. Meanwhile…

    2. BEAT the confectioners’ sugar, 7 tablespoons of the butter (melted), cream and peppermint extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over the cooled pan of brownies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    3. MICROWAVE the chocolate and the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick)pf butter in large microwavable bowl on HIGH, for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownie.

    4. SPRINKLE with the crushed peppermint candies. Cut into bars.



    RECIPE: Christmas Ornament Cookies

    If our recent article on making Christmas tree ornaments from deyhydrated fruit didn’t appeal to you, how about cookie ornaments? Unlike the dried citrus, you can eat the cookies when you take down the tree.

    This is a recipe for people who want to hone their decorating techniques. Marian, cookie decorating expert and author of the blog Sweetopia, has created a tutorial to guide you. Follow her easy steps and master the art of marbling (also called feathering or swirling).

    To marble, you simply add one or more colors of icing to a base coat and then drag a toothpick through the icing to create a marbled effect. Check out the step-by-step decorating instructions

    If you’ve made cookies like these before you, you know that all you need are time and patience. It gets easier with every batch.

    Bonus: You can use the marbling technique on cakes, cocktails with foam top layer, and of course, cappuccino and latte.

    These are gingerbread cookies, but if you prefer, you can make shortbread or chocolate shortbread cookies. Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes. Determine in advance how many colors of icing you want to use.



    Christmas Ornament Cookies

    Hang these ornament cookies on the tree, and eat them when the tree comes down (in theory). Photo courtesy

    Ingredients For 30 Cookies

    For The Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 6-1/2 cups (800 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon baking powder*
    For The Royal Icing

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder (if not vanilla flavored, add 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract†)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2-1/4 pounds (about 5-2/3 cups) powdered sugar
    For Decorating

  • Christmas ornament cookie cutters
  • Piping bags
  • Piping bag couplers
  • #2 piping tips
  • Icing bag ties or rubber bands
  • Toothpicks
  • Ribbon
    *Omit the baking powder if you do not want cookies to spread/rise.

    †Clear vanilla extract is a flavoring used when you don’t want vanilla to discolor a light icing. It is not “real” vanilla extract. Rather, it is flavored with vanillin, which is used to make artificial vanilla extract.


    Ornament Cookies

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/gingerbread ornament step2 GBWB 230

    Christmas Cookie Ornaments

    The three steps to decorating ornament
    cookies. In the third photo, a toothpick is
    used to drag the icing up and down, as
    shown by the arrows. Photos courtesy Go
    Bold With Butter.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, on medium speed, until fluffy. Mix in the spices, then the eggs and molasses. Reduce the speed to low.

    2. WHISK together in a separate bowl the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture, and mix until just combined.

    3. FORM the dough into a disk shape and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

    4. ROLL the out dough on lightly floured work surface or between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out the shapes with cookie cutters and cut a small hole in the top of each cookie for the ribbon.

    5. PLACE the cookies approximately 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.

    6. BAKE the cookies until lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let them cool on the sheets on wire racks.

    7. MAKE the royal icing. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the warm water and meringue powder (and the clear vanilla extract if necessary). Whisk by hand until frothy and thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the cream of tartar and whisk by hand for 30 seconds more.

    8. ADD all the powdered sugar at once. Using the lowest speed, mix slowly with the paddle for 10 minutes. The icing will become thick and creamy.

    9. DIVIDE into portions to tint with food colorings. As necessary, thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.

    1. BEGIN by piping an icing outline around each cookie. Use a piping bag fitted with a coupler and #2 tip.

    2. LET the outline dry for a few minutes to create a solid border. You’ll be able to see the border somewhat when the icing dries, so alternately you could fill or flood your cookie in right after piping the outline. Once you’ve filled the whole cookie…

    3. SHAKE it gently left to right on your work surface, to help smooth the icing out.


    4. ADD your second (or more) layer or color of icing. Work as quickly as you can before the icing sets.

    5. TAKE a toothpick and drag it through the icing, drawing S-like shapes. Each combination of colors creates another look. Just by changing the way you set up your lines and drag the toothpick, completely different designs emerge.

    6. DO as much decorating as you like. Once the marbled icing has set (at least 15 minutes), pipe the icing at the top (crown) of the ornament, representing (use grey or gold). Let that set and pipe a few line details as desired.

    Don’t be intimidated by the piping. You don’t have to make perfectly marbled cookies like an expert baker. You can make abstract swirls, polka dots or whatever you like.



    RECIPE: Easy Gingerbread Cake & More Ways To Enjoy Gingerbread

    Gingerbread is a long-standing holiday tradition, the seeds of which are with the 11th-century crusaders returning from the Holy Land with ginger and other spices. The history is below.

    Beyond those first gingerbread cakes and cookies, ginger has found its way into present day mousse, waffles,



  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • Garnish: whipped cream*
    *Instead of vanilla-flavored whip cream, consider bourbon whipped cream.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and baking soda in a large bowl until combined; set aside.

    2. PLACE the milk in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave on high for 90 seconds. Whisk the butter into the bowl with the hot milk until it has melted. Add the brown sugar and molasses and mix. Stir in the egg.

    3. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients bowl and mix until they are completely combined. Pour the batter into an 8″x8″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until it the cake is firm in the center. Cool the cake completely. Serve with whipped cream.


    Gingerbread Cake


    TOP PHOTO: Easy gingerbread cake made even easier in a disposable Reynolds Bakeware pan. When you’re bringing food to someone’s house, you don’t have to worry about getting the pan back. BOTTOM PHOTO: How about a gingerbread cheesecake? Here’s the recipe from


  • Easy Gingerbread Cupcakes Recipe
  • Gingerbread Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
  • Gingerbread Frozen Yogurt Recipe
  • Gingerbread Latte Recipe
  • Gingerbread Men Cookies Recipe (you’ll need a gingerbread woman cookie cutter to give equal opportunity to the ladies)
  • Gingerbread Whoopie Pies Recipe
  • Gingerbread Pancakes & Waffles Recipe
  • Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
  • Ginger-Lemon Cinnamon Buns Recipe
  • Mini Eggnog-Gingerbread Cheesecakes Recipe
    Even More
    Make a gingerbread sundae with cinnamon, ginger and vanilla ice creams. Add cubes of fresh-baked gingerbread bars or cake, topped with whipped cream, candied ginger and chunks of Chuao Chocolate’s gingerbread chocolate bar. The truly indulgent can add caramel sauce.

    Don’t want to make anything at all? Check out the gingerbread cottages, trains, wreaths and cake pops at

    Check your supermarket, frozen yogurt or gelato/ice shop for a seasonal gingerbread flavor.

    Look for Nonni’s Nonni’s Gingerbread Biscotti. We’re big fans.


    Gingerbread Man and Woman

    Gingerbread Cupcakes

    TOP PHOTO: Equal opportunity: Bake
    gingerbread men and women. Photo courtesy
    WMMB. BOTTOM PHOTO: Make these
    gingerbread cupcakes from Pillsbury.



    At the end of the 11th century, the Crusaders returned to Europe from the Middle East with ginger and other spices. Prior to the 15th century, “gingerbread” referred to preserved ginger. It began to be used to flavor cakes and cookies. Monks baked the first gingerbread cookies for holidays and festivals, which are called Lebkuchen in German.

    Why is it called ginger “bread” in English? The spice ginger, zingebar in Latin, became gingerbras in Old French, gingerbread in Medieval English and Ingwer in German.

    Gingerbread cookies were made year-round in a proliferation of shapes—flowers, hearts, trees and so forth in different sizes. The Medieval German Lebkuchen Guild† transformed gingerbread into a highly-decorated art, crafting the fancy shapes and decorating them with sugar and gold.

    But gingerbread men originated elsewhere. The credit goes to Queen Elizabeth I—or more precisely, an unnamed palace baker who toiled during her reign (1558 to 1603). Her Majesty bestowed “portrait” gingerbread cookies upon important court visitors, decorated in their likenesses.
    Who Invented Gingerbread Houses?

    According to a reference in, the tradition of baking gingerbread houses began in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their collection of fairy tales in 1812.

    Life imitates art: Inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel, who nibbled at the witch’s candy-covered gingerbread house (and inspired our name, The Nibble), German bakers created miniature houses from the already popular lebkuchen (gingerbread). Artists were employed to decorate the houses, which became particularly popular during Christmas.

    “Hansel and Gretel” vastly increased the popularity of gingerbread cookies and other treats. Gingerbread men and animals became popular Christmas tree ornaments.

    The gingerbread tradition crossed the ocean with the German immigration wave that began in 1820. We thank them for the gingerbread.

    A ginger cookie is a soft, molasses-type cookie that is flavored with ginger and other spices. It is larger than, and otherwise differs from, a gingersnap.

    Unlike the fancier gingerbread, a gingersnap is a small, thin, plain round cookie with a hard, smooth texture like a gingerbread cookie. It is a smaller version of the traditional German Christmas cookie known as Lebkuchen. Like a gingerbread cookie, ginger snaps break with a “snap.”

    Gingersnaps contain a larger amount of ginger, and thus are spicier, than the chewier ginger cookies.

    *Only Lebkuchen Guild members could bake gingerbread, except during Christmas, when anyone could bake it.



    RECIPE: Cranberry Crumb Bars

    For a simple dessert or coffee break snack during the holiday season, try these “crantastic” crumb bars from the talented Lauryn Cohen, a.k.a. Bella Baker. See more of her terrific recipes at



  • 1-3/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2-1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries


    Try these crumb bars with a morning cup of coffee or as a snack. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a 9×13 glass baking dish with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick spray.

    2. MIX together in a bowl 1-3/4 cups sugar, the oats, flour, almond meal, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. Use your fingertips or a pastry cutter to blend in the butter. With a fork, mix in the eggs to create a dough that comes together. The dough will be a little crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

    3. STIR together in another bowl the second 1-3/4 cups sugar, potato starch, vanilla and orange juice. Mix in the cranberries. Pour the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

    4. CRUMBLE the remaining dough over the berries and gently pat down so that dough is covering all of the cranberries. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.

    5. COOL completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.



    RECIPES: Christmas Cookies

    December 4th is National Cookie Day, and what better cookies to enjoy than Christmas cookies.

    Some people bake the same family favorites every year, others look for new recipes. We loved these three fun ideas from Pillsbury.

    All three begin with a package of refrigerated cookie dough. With the time you save mixing and cutting cookie dough, you can focus on the elaborate decorations.


    Prep time for these cuties is 30 minutes, total time is 1 hr 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Pillsbury Ready To Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 12 miniature creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 24 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped
  • 1 container (1 pound) vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 12 large marshmallows
  • 48 miniature chocolate chips (for eyes)
  • 2 Dots orange gumdrop candies, cut into small carrot-shaped triangles (for noses)
  • 1 pouch black cookie icing
  • 24 pieces red string licorice, 7-1/2 inches long, clipped on ends for fringes of each scarf


    Melted Snowman Cookies

    Santa Belly Cookies

    TOP PHOTO: Melted snowmen cookies. BOTTOM PHOTO: Santa Bellies. Photos courtesy Pillsbury.


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cookie dough rounds 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack to cool completely. Meanwhile…

    2. MAKE the hats. Remove the creme from sandwich cookies and save. Attach a miniature peanut butter cup to one half of the sandwich cookie, using a small amount of the saved vanilla frosting. Continue for the remaining hats.

    3. CUT the marshmallows in half, and place one half on top of each cookie, cut side down. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the remaining frosting, uncovered, on medium (50%) for 20 to 40 seconds, until slightly warm (stir halfway through). Spoon the frosting on top of the marshmallow/cookie to look like melting snow. Attach a hat to the top of each cookie. Attach the miniature chocolate chips and orange gumdrop candy for the eyes and nose. Allow to set for 20 minutes.

    3. USE black cookie icing to pipe arms on each snowman cookie. Wrap one piece of licorice around the neck for the scarf. Allow to set completely before serving, about 30 minutes.

    Store in an airtight container.

    You can see step-by-step photography and a video of this preparation here.


    Reindeer Cookies

    These reindeer are delicious. Photo courtesy
    Pillsbury. The recipe is below.



    The photo for these is above. Prep time is 40 minutes, total time is 1 hour 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 ounces) Pillsbury Ready To Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 24 large marshmallows
  • 1 container (1 lb) vanilla creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • Red, yellow and black gel food colors
  • 48 white vanilla baking chips (for Santa’s suit buttons)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. On two ungreased cookie sheets, place the dough rounds 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Meanwhile, slightly flatten marshmallows.

    2. REMOVE from the oven and top each cookie with a marshmallow. Return to the oven, and bake 1 to 2 minutes or until slightly softened.

    3. REMOVE the cookies from the cookie sheets; cool completely on cooling racks. Meanwhile, separate frosting into 3 small bowls, using 1-1/4 cups to make red frosting, 1/4 cup for yellow frosting and 1/4 cup for black frosting. Add food color to each, and mix to get desired colors (red, yellow and black). Frost and decorate cookies to look like Santa’s belly, using photo as a guide.

    Store in an airtight container.

    You can see step-by-step photography and a video here.


    Make these reindeer in 30 minutes of prep time, 1 hour 5 minutes total time. See the photo above.

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury Ready to Bake! refrigerated sugar cookies
  • 10 oz chocolate candy coating, cut into pieces (from 20-oz package)
  • 24 small white fudge-covered pretzels, halved (from 5-oz bag)
  • 48 candy eyeballs
  • 24 Junior Mints or other chocolate-covered creamy mint candies (from 1.84-oz box)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place thr cookies 2 inches apart on two ungreased cookie sheets. Shape each cookie into oval, but do not flatten.

    2. Bake 11 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.

    3. MELT the candy coating as directed on the package. Working with one cookie at a time, dip the top side of cookie into the melted candy coating, covering fully and letting excess drip off. Place 2 pretzel halves on top of cookie for antlers, 2 candy eyeballs for eyes and 1 mint candy for nose. Repeat with remaining cookies.

    Store in an airtight container.

    Head here for a step-by-step photographs and a video.



    RECIPES: Cranberry Cheesecake

    We [heart] cheesecake. Every October, we switch to pumpkin cheesecake in its many forms. But as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, we start baking cranberry cheesecake recipes.

    Because cheesecake is such a rich and heavy dessert, we usually don’t serve it following a big dinner, but as a “tea time” snack (and honestly, we’ve been known to eat it for breakfast).

    The first recipe is a plain cheesecake with a cranberry topping, analogous to cherry cheesecake. The second recipe has a different look, with a cranberry swirl inside the cheesecake and a thin layer of cranberry gelée on top.

    Both recipes are made in a nine-inch springform pan. A nine-inch cake yields 12 slices.


    This recipe is Philadelphia Cream Cheese’s classic cheesecake, with a cranberry topping. The result is the cranberry version of a cherry cheesecake.


  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (half of a 12-ounce package)
  • ½ cup water
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon orange zest


    Like cherry cheesecake, but with a cranberry topping. Photo courtesy Kraft.



    1. HEAT the oven to 325°F. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and the butter until blended. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese and 1 cup of the remaining sugar in a large bowl with a mixer, until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over the crust.

    3. BAKE from 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen the cake; cool before removing the rim. Refrigerate the cheesecake 4 hours. (You can leave it in the spring mold for the time being.) Meanwhile…

    4. BRING the cranberries, water, remaining sugar and cinnamon to boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the berries have softened; stir occasionally. Cool slightly; thrn refrigerate until ready to serve.

    5. SPREAD the cranberry topping over the cheesecake just before serving.


    Cheesecake With Cranberry Gelee

    Fresh Cranberries

    TOP PHOTO: Cooked cranberries are swirled into the cheesecake and puréed into a gelée topping. Photo and recipe courtesy Taste Of Home. BOTTOM PHOTO: Fresh cranberries. Photo courtesy USA Cranberries.



    In this recipe from Taste Of Home, cooked fresh cranberries are swirled through the batter; and then strained in a food mill or sieve to create a gelée topping.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 55 minutes plus chilling.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings
    For The Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker or shortbread cookie crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    For The Topping

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Place a greased 9-inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil, about 18 inches square). Wrap the foil securely around pan and place the pan on a baking sheet.

    2. MIX the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl and press onto bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 6 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile…

    3. COMBINE the cranberries, sugar and water in a large saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until the berries pop, about 12-15 minutes. Add the lemon juice. Press the cranberry mixture through a food mill into a small bowl; discard pulp and seeds. Set aside.

    4. MAKE the filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Add the eggs and beat on low speed until just blended; pour into the crust. Spoon 1/4 cup of the topping over filling. With knife, cut through the filling to make a cranberry swirl.

    5. PLACE the springform pan in a larger pan and add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan. (This creates a water bath, or bain-marie, which adds moisture to the oven and keeps the top of the cheesecake from cracking.) Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the center is just set and the top appears dull.

    6. REMOVE the springform pan from the water bath. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides from the pan with a knife; remove the foil.

    7. COOL for 1 hour longer. Pour the remaining topping over cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight, covering the cheesecake when it is completely cooled. Remove the rim from the pan.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Garnish Desserts With Brittle

    If someone gives you brittle—or you’re inspired to make your own—use some of it to garnish desserts.

    Just a few small pieces make almost any dessert even more festive. If you already have “brittle crumbs” at the bottom of the box, so much the better.


    For the holidays, this spicy pumpkin seed brittle recipe is a natural. We also love classic pecan brittle (recipe below).

    You can add dried cranberries to any brittle recipe.

    You can make this brittle in just 15 minutes, plus cooling time. Make sure everything is in its place before you start cooking, because the brittle sets quickly. This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

    Ingredients For 1 Pound/16 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Plain or fancy, almost any dessert perks up with a brittle garnish. Photo courtesy Fig & Olive.


    Pumpkin Pie With Brittle Topping

    Turn a plain holiday pie into a festive one
    with brittle. Photo courtesy Midwest Living.



    1. GREASE a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan with 2 teaspoons of butter; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart, microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for 4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage).

    3. ADD the pecans. Microwave for 4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 300°F (hard-crack stage). The mixture will be very hot. Vigorously stir in the baking soda, vanilla and remaining butter until the mix is blended.

    4. QUICKLY POUR into the prepared pan and spread with a metal spatula as thin as possible.

    5. COOL completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.

  • This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.
  • For a 1,650 watt microwave, adjust both cook times to be 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes.
  • Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.


    FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Lemon Cream Pie Day

    Lemon Cream Pie

    Frozen lemon cream pie with a hit of lemon-flavored vodka.


    National Lemon Cream Pie Day is November 29th. This year, we’re serving up something special courtesy of a recipe from New Amsterdam Vodka: a frozen pie with vodka.

    Don’t want the alcohol? Don’t want a frozen pie? There’s a very creamy lemon cream pie recipe below.


    Ingredients For 1 Pie

  • 2 cups lemon sherbet
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 ounces frozen lemonade
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored vodka or plain vodka
  • 1 pie crust (we used a graham cracker crust)
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Optional garnishes: berries, lemon zest, mint leaves
    *A.K.A. New Amsterdam Frozen Lemonade Pie.


    1. BLEND the ingredients together thoroughly, and scoop into the pie crust. Freeze.

    2. SERVE with whipped cream and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Berries are optional but they provide a nice hit of color.



    This recipe from Pillsbury gets its creaminess from sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream (whippping cream).

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 pie crust (9 inches)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 medium lemons)
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 4 drops yellow food color, if desired

    1. HEAT the oven to 450°F. Bake the crust 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.


    Lemon Cream Pie - Pillsbury

    Now that’s a lemon cream pie! Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

    2. MIX the condensed milk, lemon peel and lemon juice in a medium bowl; set aside.

    3. BEAT beat 2 cups of the whipping cream and the food color in large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, until stiff.

    4. FOLD the lemon mixture into the whipped cream until just blended. Spoon it into the crust. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours until set.

    5. BEAT the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, until stiff. Spoon dollops on top of the pie or on slices of pie when serving. Store the pie covered in the refrigerator.

    The quickest explanation is in the names: sweetened condensed milk has added sugar and evaporated milk doesn’t. It is also much thicker: Evaporated milk pours like regular milk, but sweetened condensed milk pours like molasses. They are not interchangeable in recipes, but both can be used in coffee.

  • Evaporated milk is fresh cow’s milk from which about 60% percent of the water has been removed by evaporation. It’s then homogenized, fortified with vitamins and stabilizers, canned and sterilized. The heat from the sterilization gives the milk a bit of a caramelized flavor, and makes the color slightly darker than fresh milk. Evaporated milk was originally called unsweetened condensed milk, although that term is no longer used.
  • Sweetened condensed milk also has about 60% percent of the water removed, then sugar is added as well as vitamin A. Condensed milk contains 40% to 45% sugar, but it means that no (or less) added sugar is required in the recipe. Condensed milk requires no sterilization, since sugar is a natural inhibitor of bacteria growth. It is darker and more yellow in color than evaporated milk.

    Both were invented by Gail Borden, who subsequently formed the dairy company that bears his name. In 1852 he was traveling transatlantic when the cows aboard ship became too seasick to provide milk (and there was no refrigeration in those days to keep milk fresh). He began to experiment, and two years later produced a canned milk that did not go sour at room temperature for three days after the can was opened.

    Borden received a patent for sweetened condensed milk in 1856 and began commercial production the following year. Unsweetened condensed milk, now called evaporated milk, took more time to perfect since it didn’t have the sugar to inhibit bacteria growth. It was finally canned successfully in 1885.

    In the days before refrigeration, both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk were used more than fresh milk because they were less likely to spoil and harbor harmful bacteria.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Best Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

    The best Thanksgiving leftovers recipes. Throw everything into a galette or onto a pizza, with these recipes from three of our favorite food writers: The White On Rice Couple and Audra, The Baker Chick.

    Todd and Diane, the White On Rice Couple, cleverly tossed the leftovers into a galette. Visit their website and be awed by their recipes and photography.

    A galette is a rustic pie, made without a pie pan. The crust is formed by hand, leaving a bare edge to fold up around the ingredients. The shape can be round, rectangular or freeform; the filling can be be sweet or savory.

    The crust here is shortcrust pastry or pâte brisée (POT bree-ZAY), a flaky, buttery crust traditionally used for pies and quiches, sweet and savory. It has no leavening agent so does not puff up during baking. The dough can be made one day ahead and refrigerated, well wrapped in plastic; or it can be frozen for up to one month. The ball of kneaded dough is flattened into a disc or discs to allow it to chill faster (and similarly, to thaw faster if frozen).

    FOR MORE RECIPES, see Part 2 of this article.

    Ingredients For The Crust

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher/sea salt
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • Fresh herbs

    Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

    A savory galette is a perfect place for Thanksgiving leftovers. Photo © The White On Rice Couple.

  • Egg wash for brushing: 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water (substitute heavy cream)
    Leftovers For The Filling

  • 1 cup mashed* potatoes
  • 1/2 cup gravy
  • 1 cup turkey and/or ham, shredded or diced
  • 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts or other cooked vegetables, sliced
  • 1/2 cup stuffing
  • 1/2 cup cranberry sauce (more to taste)
  • Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
    *If you have potatoes that are not mashed, mash them.


    1. MAKE the dough. Place the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter pieces and with your hands, pinch them together with the flour mix until most of the large chunks of butter are broken up and there is no remaining dry flour.

    2. ADD just enough cold water for the mixture to bind together; forms it into a rough ball. Knead the ball just until the dough begins to become smooth. Never overwork dough or it will be tough when baked.

    3. DIVIDE the dough ball in half and roll each half into a ball, then flatten them into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. When ready to make the pie…

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper.

    5. LET the chilled dough sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Dough will roll out best when is still cold to the touch. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 12″ circle and transfer to the baking sheet.

    6. LAYER the fillings, including any fresh herbs, leaving a clean edge of 2 inches to fold up. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, creasing and folding all the way around. Brush the folded-up crust with the egg wash or cream. Grind black pepper over the filling. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the crust is golden.

    7. SERVE hot, warm or at room temperature with knives and forks. If you have more gravy, pass it so that participants can pour more over the top of their slices.
    Click here to see a step-by-step video.


    Thanksgiving Leftovers Pizza

    Toss those leftovers onto a pizza crust, and
    add some mozzarella. Photo courtesy The
    Baker Chick.



    We adapted this recipe from Audra, The Baker Chick. Our leftovers are different from hers, and we put them in parentheses. See all of Audra’s recipes at
    Ingredients For One 14-Inch Pizza

  • ½ batch of pizza crust (or a 14″ ready made crust)
  • 1½ cups mashed potatoes (substitute mashed sweet potatoes)
  • Optional: leftover gravy
  • 8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled (substitute diced or shredded ham, turkey or other protein)
  • 1 cup of sweet corn (substitute green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or other leftover vegetable)
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin (substitute other onion)
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (mozzarella is best, but you can substitute other shredded cheese)
  • Optional: any other leftovers that work, e.g. arugula, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, raw kale or spinach

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F and heat the pizza pan or stone along with it, for at least 30 minutes

    2. COVER the work surface with a sheet of parchment paper and place the dough ball in the center. Coat your hands with olive oil, then roll and spread the dough until it is thin and shaped. Form a thin crust ridge around the edge. Use a bit of extra oil as needed to spread the dough thinly.

    3. SPREAD the mashed potatoes on top, up until the crust rim. Optional: Drizzle the potatoes with gravy.

    4. SPRINKLE the bacon, corn and scallions on top of the potatoes. Add any other leftover ingredients you want. Then, top with any fresh herbs and the cheese.

    5. USE a cutting board or pizza peel to help transfer the pizza to the hot stone. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

    What about the cranberry sauce?

    You can place dabs of it over the toppings but before the mozzarella, or serve it on the side so people can garnish their own slices.



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