It's a fact: I love holidays and celebrations of all kinds. I especially love the delicious, delectable, and decadent foods that go with holidays and celebrations, so it was no surprise that I devoured the new cookbook by Ree Drummond, "A Year of Holidays."
When Harper Collins Canada offered to send me this book to review, I jumped at the chance. I'm so glad I did; this book is absolutely gorgeous and chock-full of wonderful recipes and personal anecdotes.
One thing I love about any cookbook is a personal touch, and Drummond's personality comes through page after beautiful page. The book features twelve holidays throughout the year, starting with New Year's Day and ending with New Year's Eve. The step-by-step recipes are easy to follow and are illustrated by gorgeous photographs. I put this book on my coffee table to review and there it will stay; I cannot relegate it to my cookbook shelf lest it make the other cookbooks feel bad about themselves, it's THAT beautiful.
The recipes are absolutely drool-worthy; I'm already planning ahead for an Eight Layer Dip for the Super Bowl, Chocolate Covered Strawberries for Valentine's Day, Grilled Corn With Spicy Butter for a summer cookout, and Spinach Artichoke Dip for a New Year's Eve extravaganza! Not to mention Blackberry Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo - although I'm not sure I can wait that long.
The recipe I chose to share with you is this one for Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls. I made these rolls for the teachers at my son's school to have with their coffee one afternoon; one hour later they were all gone. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list—it's surprisingly easy to put together. It's also amazingly delicious; the rolls were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and the topping was insanely rich. This would make a wonderful addition to any brunch around the holidays, or a treat to have with coffee and Bailey's.
Combine the milk and canola oil in a large pot. Add the sugar and stir it around. Scald it (heat it to almost a boil), then turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool until it’s warm but not too warm!
Add 4 cups of the flour along with the yeast and stir it around until all combined.
Cover the mixture with the lid of the pot or a dish towel and let it sit for an hour or so, until it’s risen.
Meanwhile, dice up the apples finely, then throw them in a skillet over medium-high heat and stir them around to cook, until golden brown. Place apples into a bowl.
Throw 1/2 cup butter and the 1 cup brown sugar into the same skillet over medium heat and stir it around until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour in the cream, then stir it around and let it bubble up and thicken for about a minute.
Turn the heat down to low, then add the apples back to the skillet and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Stir the mixture and let it thicken for another 1 to 2 minutes, then spoon it into a bowl to cool.
After the dough has had a chance to rise, sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt, and stir gently to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and roll out the dough in a rectangle about 10 x 30 inches. Spoon the caramel apples over the dough and use your fingers to spread them evenly over the surface.
Roll the dough toward you into a nice, tight roll and pinch the seam when you get to the end. Turn the seam over so that it’s facedown against the countertop. Slice the dough into rolls 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
Grease 3 round, disposable foil cake pans with butter. Place 7 to 8 rolls in each pan, being careful not to crowd them. Set aside to rise in a warm place for 20 to 25 minutes.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they’re nice and golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the caramel icing: Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the brown sugar. Let it melt, then whisk in the cream. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat.
Sift in the powdered sugar and salt and stir until you have a smooth icing.
Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately spoon a good amount of icing over the top. Use a knife to spread it evenly and watch it slowly seep into the cracks and crevices.
Copyright Ree Drummond, 2013
Contest has now closed.
And we're giving away TWO (2) COPIES OF REE DRUMMOND'S "A YEAR OF HOLIDAYS" thanks to Harper Collins Canada, just in time for the holidays! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what is your favourite holiday dish. You have until December 2, 2013 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win. Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a YummyMummyClub.ca member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until December 2, 2013. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using www.random.org. See full contest rules.
I’m fairly new to the world of gluten-free baking; I’m more of a gluten-ful girl, to be honest. However, I have friends with Celiac disease and friends who avoid gluten and wheat, and I like to accommodate them when making treats, especially around the holidays. Should we exclude people from holiday cookie exchanges and treat sharing, just because of the inability to eat gluten? No! We should not!
Enter this cookie recipe, which is not only gluten-free, but is also vegan and packed with protein, fibre, and mint chocolatey deliciousness. It’s simple to make with ingredients that are easily found in any grocery store. Whip up a batch of these, and all your friends—the gluten-free and the gluten-ful alike—will be sharing in the holiday spirit, holding hands in a circle like the Whos down in Whoville.
A note about these cookies: they are delicate little snowflakes that require care when storing. They need to be keep in an airtight container with wax paper between each layer of cookies to avoid sticking together, unless you like eating cookies in stacks of fours and fives—in which case, by all means, store them however you wish.
Whisk together ground flax and water; refrigerate for 15 minutes.
In the top of a double boiler, melt together chocolate chips and coconut oil, stirring often. Alternatively, use the microwave and stir every 30 seconds until chocolate chips are melted and smooth.
Remove from heat, if using the double boiler, and stir in the ground almonds and salt.
Whisk together sugar and flax mixture. Add peppermint extract and almond mixture. Refrigerate for 3 hours until firm enough to handle.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into balls 1 inch in diameter, then roll in icing sugar. Space out on baking sheet with a minimum of 2 inches between dough balls. The cookies flatten and spread a lot—you want them to be very spaced out (like Spicoli).
Bake 13-15 minutes until firm around the edges. Allow to cool completely before removing from the baking sheets. These cookies are very fragile! Be gentle!
Yield: 24 marvelous cookies
Adapted from Canadian House and Home
There is one cookie recipe I make without fail every year around the holidays, and that is my grandma's recipe for gingersnaps. I make these delectable cookies annually, for a few reasons: a) I love filling the house with the cozy and warm smell of ginger and molasses on a dark, wintry afternoon, b) gingersnaps seem like a cookie for the festive season, a perfect accompaniment to hot cocoa after a day of sledding or snowman making, and c) these cookies are like crack. They are so addictive that if I made them oftener, I would not be able to fit into any of my clothes.
This is my grandma's recipe, and every time I make these I think of her fondly. This is such a fun recipe to make with kids, especially around the holidays when you're looking for a good indoorsy activity. For years I've recruited my kids to roll the balls of dough in the sugar and arrange the cookies out on the baking sheets properly, and they take those responsibilities SERIOUSLY, as though getting the cookies evenly coated with sugar was an integral part of the space program. It's important to allow for room between the dough balls because they do flatten and spread more than you may expect — although having the cookies stick together and being forced to eat two instead of one is not the worst tragedy. One bite of these gingersnaps and you will sort of wish that the entire sheet of cookies stuck together, just to give you an excuse to eat them all.
It's a matter of taste, of course, but I think that soft and chewy cookies are far, far superior to crunchy ones. I tend to underbake my cookies just the teensiest bit to get that elusive chewiness. If you prefer a crunchier cookie, add a few minutes to the bake time. I won't mind; we can still be friends (more chewy cookies for me!).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream the butter together with the granulated sugar and the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until smooth.
Add eggs and vanilla, beating until very smooth and creamy.
Add the baking soda, ginger, and flour. Mix well. Refrigerate mixture for 15 minutes.
Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls; roll the balls in the sugar until coated. Place on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart — cookies will flatten and spread while they bake.
Bake for 10 minutes for a perfectly chewy, addictive, magical cookie.
Yield: about 5 dozen perfect, chewy, addictive, and magical cookies