Three (Delicious) Holiday Treats

So... 11 days until Christmas!!

If you're anything like me, you get in the holiday spirit way too early... and snap out of it way too late in the new year. I'm talking like listening to Christmas music in October and finally taking down  decorations in late February.

Well, where I live the weather has been in the 70s almost everyday this past week. Don't get me wrong, Holiday Traditions has been my top played station on Pandora since Halloween, but it still doesn't really feel like Christmas is coming.

Usually, I start baking and whipping up tons of holiday treats as soon as Thanksgiving ends, but this year I haven't had any free time to, until yesterday.
And then all at once, there were piles of chocolate, caramel, and candy cane coated dishes all over the place.

The reason I only have a handful of baked goods on here is simple. I can't bake. 
I really, really, really hate using recipes, so when it comes to sweets I usually just stick to non-baked goods. Lucky for me, the most delicious Christmas sweets don't need to be baked (besides cookies of course), like peppermint bark, hot chocolate, eggnog, and peanut brittle. 

So I did a little baking, which turned out like how most of my baked goods come out; gooey and fudge-y but not in a brownie way. More like a really dense cake way.
I personally like it dense and gooey. My family, however, isn't that much of a fan.
So I'll give some substitutions for my Gooey Gingerbread Bars w/ Eggnog Icing, to make it a little less dense for those who prefer it that way.

The next recipe is a little bit on the healthy side- Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Crunch Bark.
Chocolate & mint is my FAVORITE combination. Mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream flavor, all of the candy cane bark samples at William-Sonoma are usually gone within minutes of me stepping in, and I basically drink peppermint hot cocoa every night for a month every year... or two.
Even if you aren't a fan of dark chocolate, I recommend using it anyways because of how sweet the candy canes are. 

Finally, this is my favorite- I was trying to think of a fun version of hot chocolate that's not just peppermint or Mexican hot chocolate or Nutella, although those are all delicious. And then I thought of Hot Chocolate Ice Cream. But my dilemma was we ran out of heavy cream. I was already melting chocolate for the hot cocoa so I just started throwing in one thing after another until I came up with something so so sweet, creamy and rich-
Peanut Butter-scotch Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Floats.

Seriously, so dang good.

Fudge-y Gingerbread Cake Bars w/ Almond Butter Eggnog Icing
and Cinnamon Sugar Dust

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour*
  • 1 cup wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour*
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 cup milk*
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs. almond butter
  • 2 tbs. eggnog
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 tbs cane sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350ยบ
Mix all dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, spices, and cream of tartar together until combined. Whisk the oil, molasses, and milk to combine. Slowly, whisk in the liquid to the dry ingredients. Pour into a greased/lined 9x9 square baking pan. 
Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy on top, and a toothpick comes out clean.
While baking, mix the powdered sugar, eggnog, and almond butter to get a smooth thick glaze- add more eggnog 1 tsp. at a time, or 1 tbs. powdered sugar at a time to thicken/thin. Refrigerate.
Mix the cinnamon & sugar separately Set aside.

Let bars cool completely. Drizzle icing over bars and dust with cinnamon sugar before serving.
*For fudge-y-er bars, replace all purpose flour w/ 1/2 cup oat flour & add 2 tbs. almond butter.
**Wheat flour adds a little bit of a richer sweetness to it, if not wanted, replace with all purpose.
* **The coconut flours helps make it fluffier- not mandatory but recommended; replace w/ all purpose flour if needed.
****Any milk is fine to use; whole, 2%, nut milk/soy milk. As long as it's not skim or low fat.
*****Can be replaced with canola oil or melted coconut oil.

Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Crunch Bark

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 tbs. dark chocolate powder
  • 3 tbs. cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil*
  • 2+ tbs. milk*
  • 1 tbs. corn starch
  • 3-4 standard candy canes- crushed.
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract* 
  • 2 tbs. cacao nibs
Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler with no liquids. Once melted, pour into a pot with melted coconut oil, sugar, and dark chocolate powder. Make a mixture of the corn starch and milk. Add to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add peppermint extract if wanted. Add more milk, 1 tbs. at a time if too thick and stir over a simmer to thicken if needed. Once it is a fudge sauce consistency, pour onto a tray lined with wax paper and spread it 1/8 inch thick. Lightly press candy canes and cacao nibs into the bark. Let cool completely over night or for at least 3 hours in the fridge.
Break apart and store in freezer.
*Not optional- helps harden/congeal the bark.
**Again, any milk works as long as it's not skim/low fat.
***Peppermint extract adds a more intense peppermint flavor, but is optional.

Peanut Butter-Scotch Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Float

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips 
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup caramel*
2 tbs. sweetened condensed milk
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tbs. butter
2 cups whole milk

-Whipped cream
-Heath Bar bits
-Melted Nutella & Peanut Butter

Melt all of the chips in a double boiler, careful not to get any liquid in it. Transfer to a pot, over medium low heat. Once fully melted, add the butter, peanut butter, salt, sweetened condensed milk, caramel, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix until all is combined. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time until combined. 
Turn to a simmer to warm fully. If too thick add more milk.*
Place 2 (or more) scoops of vanilla* ice cream in a Christmas glass (mandatory) and place back in the freezer to harden, at least 15 minutes. Ladle warm hot cocoa into the glass. Top with whipped cream, melted Nutella (because peanut butter salted caramel wasn't enough), melted peanut butter and heath bar bits. 
Eat FAST before it melts- which won't be difficult.
*Can use canned caramel/Dulce de Leche.
For homemade:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs. brown sugar
5 tbs. melted butter
-Caramelize sugar over medium-low heat until golden and sticky. Quickly mix in butter and stir until combined. Add cream and stir to thicken. 
**Let sauce thicken until it becomes into a sauce-like consistency and use as a fudge sauce to drizzle over ice cream if preferred. 
***Can use any flavor but I suggest vanilla.


                                                                                                                             -Cecilia A.



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