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Entries in christmas (3)


Buche de Noel - The #1 It's not Christmas Without recipe...



     This sponge cake is from Betty Crocker circa 1986. It’s the only recipe I’ve used and it’s never, ever failed me. This is really basic, so it’s easy to tweak it any way you like to suit your own tastes. For instance, instead of Chantilly cream you could make a peppermint whipped cream, or add Chambord instead of vanilla to the cake. The variations are endless, just not in this house.



4 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3-cup water

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

1-teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Confectioner’s sugar

     Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15x10x1 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

     Beat eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until thick and lemony in color (this could take up to 5 minutes). Gradually beat in sugar on low speed. Then beat in water and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Pour batter into prepared pan, spread to corners using a spatula.

     Bake 12-15 minutes until center springs back when pressed with finger. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with confectioner’s sugar. Loosen edges of cake from sides of parchment paper and turn upside down onto a tea towel. Peel away paper; trim any stiff edges from rectangle. While hot, roll cake and towel up from the narrow end. Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes.


½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1-tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Beat cream, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


½ cup butter, softened

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4-4-½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1-tablespoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

     Whisk flour and cocoa together in a medium bowl. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Gradually beat in sugar mixture on low speed until blended. Gradually beat in vanilla and enough milk until the frosting is smooth. If the frosting becomes too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar, if it too thick, add milk by the teaspoon.





     Panforte is cross between nougat and fruitcake, a bread and a candy. I think this is one of the Christmassiest desserts ever. For me it's the aroma that wafts around the kitchen when it's baking.

     There's nothing to be intimidated by, it's not tricky to make just a bit sticky to make. The honey syrup hardens really quickly so you have to move fast from mixing to getting the batter into the pan. What’s nice is that this Italian spiced “bread” keeps for ages, easily a month or two wrapped well at room temperature.


2 cups toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 cups candied citron mixture (like lemon, lime, orange, cherry)

Grated zest from one lemon

¾ cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-cup sugar

¾ cup honey

     Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spay paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.

     Mix the almonds, citron, zest, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

     Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth, bubbles slightly and reads 240°F on a candy thermometer. Pour honey syrup into nut mixture and stir well, the batter stiffens quickly, so work fast. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula or your fingers when it’s cool enough to handle. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center feels like soft custard and your finger comes away clean. Do not over bake. The panforte will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen, remove pan and cool completely. Remove the bottom and parchment paper, sprinkle heavily with confectioner’s sugar.

It's All Delicious note: I mushed two recipes together; one from David Lebovitz and the other from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.



Pecan Brandy Cookies



Pecan Brandy Cookies

     Over the holidays this year I invented the “six days of cookies.”  The name is self-explanatory – each day Sophie and I made a different type of cookie.  Easy right?  Well not really.  Our first cookie from “Tasteofhome Cookies” was a total disaster.  If you have the magazine don’t bother with the “tender Italian sugar cookies,” they were tasteless even with doubling the vanilla (actually I think I tripled it) and they were anything but tender (very dry and floury).  The only way we sort of saved them was by dipping them in mint chocolate.  I was so spooked by our first attempt that I chucked the magazine in the bin and went back to my tried and true books; Cookies by Nick Malgieri, my ages old Betty Crocker’s Christmas book, and Martha Stewart’s Holiday Handbook.  So while the holidays are over and the cookies are gone the recipes are here…finally.


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons brandy

2 ¼  cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons

1 ¼ cup finely chopped pecans

½  cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling

¼  teaspoon salt

     Cream butter and honey until fluffy in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle

attachment.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add brandy,

and beat to combine.  Whisk flour, pecans, confectioners' sugar, and salt together in a

medium bowl.  Add to butter/brandy mixture and beat to combine.  If dough is too soft,

refrigerate for 30 minutes.

      Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.

  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into balls using 1-tablespoon

measure or small ice cream scoop.  Place on baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake until just

browning about the edges about brown 12 to 13 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the

bottoms.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Roll cookies in confectioners' sugar to coat.

Store in an airtight container. 


  It’s All Delicious Notes:  This cookie melted in your mouth and would be a perfect

 treat for Easter as well!  Adapted from Martha’s recipe for Noel Nut Balls.