Merry Christmas to All (and a Happy New Santa Bread)!

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Hey guys!

I know that we officially closed out the 12 Days of Christmas series a few days ago but I still wanted to take one last opportunity to throw out a great big Happy Holidays to all of you and your families whatever it is that you’re celebrating. Please rest up, cook lots, eat more, give a bunch, and above all, have fun.

Thanks for tuning in with me for the Christmas goodies series. I hope you got a chance to try some of them out, or at least get to bake up some of your own. And as an added bonus, I thought that I would throw out one extra recipe for ya. I initially was going to just discard this post as an unnecessary extra on the “cutting room floor”, but then I thought, “Hey, it’s Christmas, I can’t cut Santa!” and decided to just make it a bonus recipe instead.

Would you be surprised to know that this entire beautiful thing is made of ¬†a delicious, slightly sweet golden egg bread? Not only that, it really isn’t as hard to make as it looks. It’s a great way to show off to all the family when you bring it out to the table and who doesn’t love to do that?

Well, that’s a wrap for me. I’m off to chill and listen to Christmas carols.

Have an AWESOME holiday you guys ūüôā


Golden Santa Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home



  • 4 to 4-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring


In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120¬į-130¬į. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Beat in eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350¬į. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.

Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle with rounded corners for Santa’s head and hat.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa’s face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat.

With a scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins into slits. Let rise lightly covered with plastic wrap in a warm place for a further 30-40 minutes.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk; carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Brush plain yolk over remaining dough.

Cover loosely with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

(I’m also linking this post up with the 100th Fiesta Friday party, co-hosted this week by¬†Judi, Molly, Steffi, and Suzanne. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays ladies ;-))

Sugar Cookie Cake

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You know the only thing I love more than Christmas?

The build up to the actual day.

I love the period from November 1st to December 24th MUCH more than I love December 25th.

It’s not because I don’t love Christmas. I do. It’s just something about the anticipation to Christmas that I actually love a lot more.

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During that period of roughly 50 or so days, I get to listen to all the Christmas music, watch all the Christmas movies and do all the Christmas baking I want. I get to walk through bustling malls and department stores that are decorated in holiday apparel and shop or just soak up the commercial atmosphere (I am into that kind of thing sometimes, guilty)

I can stretch it out ¬†and milk it for all it’s worth.

And I DO milk it for all it’s worth.

Christmas Day itself is often to me, too busy and sometimes chaotic to really be able to “stop and enjoy”.

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You wake up (sometimes early, but sometimes late). You open presents. You congregate and socialize with family. You cook. You eat Christmas dinner. You clean up the kitchen You go to a movie (or watch football). You come home. You go to bed.

Boom. It’s over. Just like that.

And then, THEN you have nothing but the long, dreary doom and gloom of January/February/March to look forward to until Spring starts to creep back around.

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Every year without fail, I always wake up on Christmas morning wishing that it was November 1st all over again. With-out-fail.

It comes too fast. It leaves too fast. That’s my feeling about Christmas…and, about this series.

Because guess what?

We made it to the end. This post marks the 12 recipe in our 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking is My Sport. We made it to the end.

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Just as it has been for the past two years, when the series is over I really do get a strong sense of nostalgia to go right when it first started. As much work as I have to put into it, I really do enjoy baking. And baking at Christmas for me just somehow feels even better and is even more enjoyable. Yes, even when I have to do it in these great big spurts where I churn out three or four recipes at a time then scramble to photograph/edit/and write posts for them.

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Am I saying that I’m gunning to crank out another twelve of these babies anytime soon? Nahhhhh, I wouldn’t go that far. I’m DEFINITELY going to enjoy a break from the constant baking/photographing grind. As will my feet, I can assure you.

But I do miss the experience already. It’s a blast, and I honestly can’t wait until I get to start it all over again next year.

I thought I make our last recipe go out with a bang.

As you guys already know about me, sugar cookies are my favorite type of cookie to eat, no matter what the season. Give me a sugar cookie over anything. Amen.

And for all the rest of you sugar cookie lovers out there, I think you ought to give this baby a try.

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It’s like, the sugar cookie of our dreams. It’s stupid easy. There’s no chilling or rolling out or cutting out of any dough. It’s thick. It’s soft. It’s chewy.


For a simple holiday dessert that looks every bit as good as she tastes, do try a Sugar Cookie Cake.

I’d like to once again thank everybody who followed along, liked or commented on the posts for this years’ 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog. You guys really are the best. Don’t worry: I AM going to reply to every single comment left on the posts. It’s just something that with the hectic process of baking/posting AND our move to a new place that I haven’t gotten to be as diligent at as I want to be. But I’ll get to it. Pinky Promise.


12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti

Day 12: Sugar Cookie Cake


Sugar Cookie Cake

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn



For the dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for an hour
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (1/4 of a standard cream cheese package)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (14 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Green food coloring (I used Wilton Juniper Green)
  • Red & Green festive nonpareils


Preheat the oven to 350¬įF. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture, bit by bit, to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared cake pan, using your fingers to smooth the surface. Bake the cake until the edges just begin to turn golden, 26 to 28 minutes. (The center should still be soft.) Allow to cool completely. Run a knife along the edges of the pan before turning out and frosting. Store the cookie cake in an airtight container until ready to frost and serve; the cake is best served within 2 to 3 days.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Scoop out half of the frosting and set aside. Add a dollop of green food coloring to the remaining frosting and continue beating, adding more color as necessary, until desired shade of green is reached.

Using a small offset spatula, spread the white frosting over the top of the cookie cake. Transfer the green frosting to a piping bag fitted with a leaf tip. Hold the piping bag so the points of the tip are horizontal, like a bird’s beak, and position just over the edge of the cake. Squeeze hard to create the base against the cake, then quickly raise the tip, releasing pressure at the same time.

Pipe a row of leaves around the perimeter of the cake, then sprinkle nonpareils around the border. Refrigerate cake for about 15-30 minutes, just to let the icing set.

Snickerdoodle Biscotti

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One of the most important things I try to remember about life and people in general is that sooner or later, at some point or other, everybody makes mistakes.

Nobody’s perfect.

Stuff happens.

Sometimes, you just mess up.

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For example: I remember being in the fourth grade and being in a class play of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I had one of the lines Lucy says. I can even remember it now: “Now Linus, I want you to take a good look at Charlie Brown’s face. Would you please hold still Charlie Brown? This is what you call a failure face.”

It’s actually a pretty cruel thing to say, but for some reason, when my cue came, I got a MAD case of the giggles. For about 10-15 seconds, I just couldn’t stop laughing. I got the line out eventually, but it was definitely not one of my finer moments on the stage.

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I watched an episode of the Price is Right where one of the models accidentally gave the contestant playing a game the correct answer in a price guessing game. She literally turned beet red and hid behind the sign in embarrassment. I hoped she got to keep her job.

Every Windows update since Vista has been a mistake. They should really get to work on fixing it.

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I’m sure all of us by now have heard about the Miss Universe pageant last night, where the host Steve Harvey accidentally crowned the runner up as the winner instead of the actual one. I have several personal issues/dissensions of opinion with some of Steve Harvey’s perspectives about women and relationships, but even I kinda felt bad for him for making that mistake.

I think I feel even worse for both Miss Philippines and Miss Colombia.  Miss Colombia must have been humiliated and devastated to think that she won the crown at first, then have to lose it in front of millions of people. Even though she won, Miss Philippines probably felt as though her moment of victory was spoiled by the gaffe that will likely follow her everywhere now.

But like I said, people make mistakes. Stuff happens.

Kinda like with this recipe.

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To be perfectly honest, I had one of those moments when first setting out to make it a few days ago. As easy as it is to put together biscotti, I still actually managed to mess up my first batch. What had happened was, after I put together the dough I was supposed to pat it into 2 separate logs measuring about 6-8 inches long, arranging them vertically on a sheet pan.

But for some reason, I missed that part of the recipe. What I ended up doing instead was making two logs that were actually more like 10-12 inches long and arranging them  horizontally on the sheet pan. About ten minutes after I put it in the oven and I saw how much the dough was spreading, I realized I had DEFINITELY done something wrong. I took a second look at the recipe and heaved a great big sigh. Then, I took out the sheet pan and promptly shoved the whole shebang into the garbage bin, and started again.

As you can see…I got it right the second time. These REALLY do taste like regular snickerdoodle cookies.

If at first you don’t succeed: try, try again.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies

Day 11: Snickerdoodle Biscottti


Snickerdoodle Biscotti

Recipe Courtesy of



  • 2 3/4¬†cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1‚ĀĄ4teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure flour into a large bowl using the scoop and level method. Add 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.

Mix oil, vanilla and whole eggs in a small bowl, and add to the large bowl (your dough will be dry and quite crumbly).

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 7 or 8 times.Divide in half. Shape each portion into a roll about 8 inches long, and place them six or so inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Flatten each roll to 1 inch thick.

Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, then gently brush the tops of the rolls with the egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Remove from the sheet and cool for 15 minutes.

Cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices and lay them cut sides down on the cookie sheet again.Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees F and then bake 10 more minutes, turn over and bake 10 more. They’ll be soft in the middle but will harden as they cool.

While biscotti are in their final bake, combine the remining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small, shallow dish with a fork. When the biscotti are done, dip both flat sides into the cinnamon sugar mixture, then set on a wire rack to cool.

Café Coffee Cookies

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Baking twelve batches of Christmas goodie recipes is no small task, guys,

It’s¬†a whole lot of butter, sugar, flour.


Like, I don’t think you understand how much of those three things you’re going to end up using.

And spilling. And cleaning up.

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Eventually stuff just starts blurring together; the sound of the mixer, the stray sprinkles that fall on the kitchen floor, the empty eggshells and used butter wrappers, the measuring cups and measuring spoons that you continually have to rinse out and dry between recipes, the sound of the oven buzzer going off telling you to take the next ‘batch’ out.¬†You run out of counter space and end up having to get ‘creative’ to find spaces to let your bakes cool off and or set up. You go through countless rolls of paper towel, parchment paper and aluminum foil.

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Also, your feet swell and ache from standing up for hours.

I pretty much turn into a mixing, measuring, baking Elf for this series.

But somehow, I still end up loving it.

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Spoiler Alert, guys: as much as I love doing the series, I actually don’t end up keeping/eating most of the food I bake.

I mean, come on: it would just be a bad idea for me to keep 12 batches of baked goods in my house. I probably wouldn’t be able to fit out the door of my house if I did that. Plus, Christmas is the season of giving, right?

So, what I usually try and do is give away as much of the treats as possible to people I know; neighbors, family, friends. I send it to Christmas parties and potlucks. There’s a lady in my grandparents church who gets the bulk of them to pass out to kids in her neighborhood.

In short, when you do this much baking at a time, it’s just best for you to share the wealth…most of the time.

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Except, that’s not exactly what happened with these. This time around, I didn’t want to “share the wealth”, I wanted to hoard it. So I did.

These cookies, I kept. All for myself. That’s how yummy they are.

It may have something to do with my being somewhat of a coffee addict, but I seriously loved these cookies. They’re soft, fudgy and rich. The combination of chocolate and coffee works SO well here. The flavor really is reminiscent of ¬†your favorite latt√© at a coffee shop. Because I’m such a huge coffee fan, I did bump up the amount of instant coffee in my dough to 4 tbsp. However, because I know that not everyone is as fond of coffee as I am, I kept the printed recipe as I originally found it. (But if you love coffee as much as I do, I recommend bumping it up).

There’s only two more days left of our series, guys. Whoop whoop.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Day 10: Café Coffee Cookies


Cafe Coffee Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker



  • 1/2¬†cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2¬†cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2¬†cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1¬†egg
  • 1 1/2¬†cups Gold Medal‚ĄĘ all-purpose flour
  • 1¬†tablespoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1¬†teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon salt
  • 1/2¬†cup chopped pecans
  • 1¬†bag (11.5 or 12 oz) semisweet chocolate chunks (2 cups)

 For Coffee Drizzle

  • 1/2¬†teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso coffee (dry)
  • 1¬†tablespoon water
  • 1/2¬†cup powdered sugar


In large bowl, beat granulated and brown sugars, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until creamy. Stir in flour, 1 tablespoon coffee granules, the baking soda and salt. Stir in pecans and chocolate chunks. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least one hour, or preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 350¬įF. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased large cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon coffee granules in water. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle cooled cookies with Coffee Drizzle.

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

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I’ve been a pretty busy girl today.

I mentioned that we’re moving to a new place earlier and the hectic to do of packing, lifting, pushing boxes, furniture and whatnot has really been taking it’s toll on yours truly. It’s also making me forget that we now have less than one week until Christmas. I would much prefer to be doing this at a much better and more convenient time than 6 days until Christmas, but as ¬†it’s not up to me, I’ve been keeping a stiff upper lip about it and soldiering on.

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If I could afford it, I’d literally pay for a team of big strong (and preferably very attractive) men to pack and move all the stuff for me, then also unpack it. But unless theyd’d let me pay them in food that they buy and I cook, I doubt that’d be a price I could afford.

Maybe we should go back to the old days when instead of paying for services with cash, you’d barter with somebody with something of value that you could offer or provide them with.

“Hey Chris Hemsworth-lookalike-guy: can you please move this dresser for me? I can bake you a three layer cake that’ll bring you to tears from its sheer deliciousness.”

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“Hey! Dude with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson arms and grin; lift this box for me and I’ll bake you a batch of homemade cookies. Also, take me out on a date.”

You can tell I really hate moving. Hate it with a passion. As huge an undertaking as baking, photographing and writing up these posts for the Christmas series is, it’s a welcome distraction from the strain of moving from one place to another.

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This morning I woke up bright and early to finish photographing the last few recipes for the series. It seems crazy to me that we’re nearing the end but we are. I’m super happy with how it all turned out, and I even feel a little bit proud of myself, considering that I had to squeeze them in while in the process of a move.

Today I’m bringing out more cookies for you guys.

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Butterscotch is a polarizing flavor, I’ve found. It’s very rich and sweet. As such, people either love it, or they…don’t love it. I’m one of the people who happen to enjoy it, which is why I pinned this recipe to try out a long time ago.

This cookie is for the “soft and chewy” cookie fans. The spices of your typical gingerbread cookie meet, date, fall in love and marry with the rich sweetness of the butterscotch chips mixed into the dough. And I happen to think that they make a super cute (not to mention delicious) “couple”.

The party is still going on at this week’s¬†Fiesta Friday #99 Christmas party, cohosted this week by¬† Caroline @ Caroline‚Äôs Cooking and Linda @ La Petite Paniere, so I’ll also be bringing these cookies there.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Day 9: Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Nestle¬ģ



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup mild molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) NESTL√Ȭģ TOLL HOUSE¬ģ Butterscotch Flavored Morsels


Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl.

Beat sugar, butter, molasses and egg in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in morsels. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least one hour or preferably overnight.

Preheat¬†oven to 350¬į F. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Magical, Marvelous, Memorable Cookies

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My favorite cookie in general is still the thick and soft sugar cookie, but I still do have a special place for a good chocolate chip one.

Whether just you’re baking it, just eating it, or baking it AND eating it, I ¬†think all of us are more are less on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I know I am. And as a result, I’ve made a lot of different recipes, many of them claiming to be ‘THE’ one. Some of them actually are VERY good. Some of them…need work.

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I decided that the 12 Days of Christmas was as good a time as any to try out a new chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while. Food 52 is almost always a good source for great recipes in my experience and the name alone was attention-grabbing enough. I had to see what all the ‘hype’ was about.

Now that all is said and done, I guess I can now give my own honest review.

I can honestly say I’ve never made cookies like this before.

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Don’t get me wrong: I actually mean that in a VERY good way.

In a nutshell, the cookies are good. They are however, VERY different than what I had initially expected, and what I think most of us are expecting when we first bite into a chocolate chip cookie.

Should you choose to make this recipe for yourself (and I recommend that you do), I’ll try to give a brief description of how mine turned out just so that you don’t think you somehow did something wrong when these cookies don’t puff up thick and chewy in the oven….because they won’t. At all.

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A florentine is typically thought of as a French biscuit/cookie made with either/and nuts, candied fruit, butter and honey. There’s a very low flour ratio to the recipe, as the cookie is meant to be made quite crisp by the crystallizing of the high sugar content in the cookie as it bakes. They come out VERY thin, either to the point of chewiness, or crispness depending on how long you bake them.

Interestingly enough, florentines have been a recipe I’ve been thus far, too intimidated to try out yet. I’m concerned that because they do bake up so thin, and there is such a high sugar content in the biscuit, I’ll end up burning them or they won’t be the right consistency, etc. So, I’ve stayed away from florentine-making.

Then I made these cookies.

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I wasn’t super worried when I saw that this dough spread a lot in the oven, as the recipe tells you ahead of time that they will, even after chilling. But I was a little surprised that they spread to the extent that they did although when you consider the flour to sugar ratio in the recipe, it should kinda be a given. I finally threw up my hands and said that they’d turn out how they turned out and that was all there was to it.

I took the first batch out of the oven, let them cool a little bit, then broke off a piece of one to sample.

Then I had to laugh and literally say out loud to myself, “It’s a chocolate chip florentine.”

That seriously is the best way I can describe these cookies, guys. If all the flavors of a chocolate chip cookie wanted to cram themselves into a florentine biscuit, that’s what this would taste like.

And I do have to say, it’s very good.

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You don’t miss the amount of flour or the typical ‘cakeyness’ you normally expect in a chocolate chip cookie recipe here at all. All the various other ingredients do more than enough to give contrast textures in the dough. I used chocolate chunks, crushed pretzels and Kashi Go Lean Crunch as my combo, but the recipe does encourage you to experiment with other fill-ins if that trio isn’t to your liking.

The sugar in the cookie thins, and subsequently almost caramelizes the dough so that it has an initial snap at first bite that gives way to a pleasant chewiness that still retains a sugary crunch.

If you like thin and/or chewy cookies as a rule, you will absolutely LOVE these cookies. And even if you’re like me and tend to think that you don’t like thin and crispy/chewy chocolate chip cookies…chances are you’re still gonna go for these. You just will.

Maybe that’s what makes them Magical, Memorable and Marvelous.

Cheers to us all at the Fiesta Friday #99 Christmas bash, cohosted this week by  Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Linda @ La Petite Paniere.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Day 8: Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies


Magical, Memorable, Marvelous Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of



  • 1 1/2¬†cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1¬†teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¬†teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4¬†sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¬†cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2¬†cup light brown sugar
  • 1¬†egg
  • 1¬†teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granola (or other cereal; I actually used Kashi Go Lean Crunch)
  • 1/2 cup crushed salted pretzel pieces (or other salty snack food)
  • 1¬†cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2¬†cup chopped pecans


Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again.

(For this step you can use a wooden spoon or your mixer on slow speed.) Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add granola, pretzels, chocolate and nuts, and mix until well incorporated, ensuring that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed. Restrain yourself from eating the raw cookie dough.

Scoop dough into balls, each about 1 1/2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8-12 per sheet. Freeze at least 20 minutes, or refrigerate at least one hour before baking. (They will still spread a lot.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely before gently moving cookies to wire rack. They will be fragile, especially on the edges.

Aniseed Cookies

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Am I the only one that will buy a particular, somewhat rare, yet hardly-ever-usable spice for ONE recipe…then just¬†let it sit in the cabinet indefinitely because I literally don’t know what else to do with it?


But I’m still guilty of it.

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I bought saffron once. It’s main use was to make St. Lucia Buns, but I told myself I’d use it to make paella later. Did I make the paella? No. But the St. Lucia Buns turned out fantastic, and I have made them again since that first time.

The first time I brined a turkey, I bought a small bottle of whole juniper berries that were supposed to go in the brine. Prior to that, I wasn’t even sure of what a juniper berry was supposed to even taste like. The turkey turned out fine, but I still haven’t touched them since then, which was…November of 2014.

I buy vials of whole star anise to make my favorite Cranberry Clementine sauce. Do I know anything else to do with whole star anise? Heck no. But it gives an irreplaceable flavor to the cranberry sauce, so I buy it anyway.

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When I looked over the recipe to make my Springerle cookies, I saw that I would need something called Baker’s Ammonia. Had I EVER used Baker’s Ammonia before? Nope. But for the sake of my cookies, I bought some. I used 1 tsp for the entire batch. I still have just about the entire 2.7 ounce bottle left….and no idea what else to do with it.

I bought orange blossom water to make my very first batch of Baklawa. I put 2 tbsp worth in the syrup. The problem is that it was from a 10 ounce bottle….and sadly, I still have not touched it since then.

Whole cloves. Whole peppercorns. White pepper. Whole cinnamon sticks. Pomegranate molasses. Sumac. Fennel seeds.

Those are just a few of the spices I currently have in my cabinets that I purchased for maybe 1 or 2 recipes, and have yet to find other uses for.

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Another one I should add to that list would be whole aniseeds.

Why would I buy whole aniseeds?

I bought them for last year’s 12 Days of Christmas series where I made Biscochito cookies…and to my shame, I have not found another use for them since then.

Or should I say, since now– today’s recipe for Day 7 of our series.

Anise is a flavor that people typically either love or hate. If I had to describe it, I would say that it’s mildly reminiscent of licorice. But even if you THINK you don’t really like the flavor of anise, I still think you should give this recipe a chance. These cookies are that good.

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Also, if you’re like me and you have a 2 oz. bottle of aniseed sitting in your cabinet, then allow me to give you just the recipe to put those suckers to good use. It’s well worth the two whopping tablespoons that goes in this dough. I already knew when I rolled it out that I would love these cookies; the dough just ‘felt’ good to me. It’s very smooth and pliable without being too sticky.

The cookie isn’t chewy, but it does have a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture that I just loved. The citrus zest that you choose to include (whether it’s lemon or orange) also gives a very pleasant balance to the flavor of the aniseed. These really remind me of the type of cookies you would serve at a tea party alongside some tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

Or, of course: alongside some milk for Santa.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Day 7: Aniseed Cookies

Aniseed Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Anne Burrell



  • 3 sticks (12 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar,plus more for rolling
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (I did use orange, but that’s just my preference)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. aniseed, toasted
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • About 6tbsp. raw sugar


In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the first two ingredients on medium high, occasionally scraping down side of bowl until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and next four ingredients; beat until smooth. Add the aniseed and half the flour, beat on medium low until just blended. Repeat with the remaining flour.

Turn the dough onto a work surface dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Knead until it just comes together, two or three turns. Shape into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (I let it sit overnight in the fridge).

Preheat oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit. Let the dough soften until slightly at room temperature, about 10 minutes. Place onto a work surface dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Dust dough with more sugar; roll to 1/4 inch thick. Using 2 1/2 inch cookies cutters, cut out shapes. Gather up the scraps; roll again, refrigerating if dough is too soft. Arrange on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets for about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle each cookie with about 1/2 tsp raw sugar. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10 to 13 minutes. Transfer on the parchment to racks and let cool.

Speculoos Truffle Cookies

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I love to bake. LOVE it.

It was a bit of a learning curve, but once I found my stride, I just took off like a shot. I try to get in as much of it as I can. Cake. Cookies. Bread. Pie. You name it, and I’ll probably at least want to try to bake it. Christmas is the best type of year for baking; there”s just SO much great stuff to choose from and I like to give you guys lots of variety for this series.

However, when I was putting together the compilation  for this years Christmas recipes, I was hit with a sudden, jarring thought:

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Baking isn’t for everyone.

Some people love to cook AND bake. I’m one of them.

But then, there are some people who love to cook, but hate to bake.

Then there are people who love to bake, but hate to cook.

And THEN, there are people who hate to bake AND cook. (Note: I don’t understand these people. Not judging. I just don’t get it.)

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I know some people that don’t like baking may feel like they just have to be left out of the Christmas baking season.

Guess what?

You don’t have to feel like that anymore, cause this year, I didn’t forget about you. In fact, I’ve got the perfect recipe for you:

A completely no bake cookie that still tastes JUST as good as a homemade one.

Speculoos Truffle Cookies

On top of that, you’re really only going to a handful of easily accessible ingredients. 5 to be exact, all of which you can almost definitely find in a grocery store.¬†See how easy I’ve made it for you?

Now you’ve got no excuse not to get into your holiday baking spirit.

This recipe calls for graham crackers, but I could also see animal crackers working just as well here. Also, I know that there are some people who are not too fond of white chocolate. I can’t see why you couldn’t sub in milk chocolate instead either. That’s the beauty of “no bake”; you can alter the recipe without screwing it up.

However, I do have to say that made as written, these cookies are pretty darn yummy. And easy. And festive.

Yummy, easy and festive = my kind of Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Day 6: Speculoos Truffle Cookies


Speculoos Truffle Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine



  • 1 sleeve graham crackers (9 crackers)
  • 1 cup speculoos spread (I used Biscoff spread)
  • 1 11 oz. bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable shortening
  • Sprinkles for decoration


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground but not powdery. Transfer 1/2 cup of the crumbs to a large bowl. Add the cookie butter to the remaining crumbs in the food processor and pulse, scraping down the side of the processor if needed, until combined and the mixture starts forming a ball. Add to the bowl with the graham cracker crumbs and mix until combined.

Roll tablespoonfulls of dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Combine the white chocolate chips and coconut oil in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. One at a time, gently drop each cookie into the melted chocolate, turning to coat completely. Remove with a fork, allowing the excess chocolate to drip off, then return to the baking sheet. (If chocolate gets too thick, return to the microwave) Decorate with the sprinkles. Let set 30 minutes (I also chilled mine in the fridge for about an hour.)

Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

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The Day 5 post of the 12 Days of Christmas series is getting up a little bit later in the day/night for various reasons. I didn’t get off work until later in the evening today, and we’re actually in the process of moving to a new place this week. It’s pretty hectic on my end, but in between work, packing our stuff and moving it to our new place, trying to get my Christmas shopping finished and everything else I’m still gonna try my ¬†hardest to get my remaining posts up in a timely fashion.

Knock on wood I can pull it off.

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How many people out there have a family tradition of eating a breakfast on Christmas morning? I know plenty of people that do; they wake up early for the kids, open up their presents, then sit down to a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, breakfasts casserole, omelettes or something else like that.

We don’t. We never really have actually.

In my family, me and my sisters did always wake up early, then wake up the adults early so we could open our presents. We were blessed kids. My grandpa- I mean, “Santa Claus”- always made sure that that process took a pretty long while. By the time we finished, my mom and grandma would give us something small to eat like some toast or fruit while they started cooking for Christmas dinner.

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However, if your family IS one of the ones who like to eat a hearty Christmas breakfast in addition to a hearty Christmas dinner, then needless to say I think that today’s post would be of HUGE interest to you.

Hold onto your butts.

I’m about to blow that old Aunt Margaret’s Christmas morning cinnamon roll recipe that you’ve been eating for years clear outta the water. You’ll forget what you ever saw in that breakfast casserole, frittata or whatever. This Christmas, I predict that you Christmas Breakfast/Brunch eaters will be consuming something else.

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Say hello to my little friend, y’all.



And yes. It tastes every bit as delicious as it looks.

(…that’s what she said.)

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I’ve wanted to make babka for a really long time. A REALLY long time. I think it’s the swirls that got my attention in the beginning- those lovely swirls in the dough have been calling my name, just daring me to pull them off.

A special recipe like this calls for a special occasion, and the 12 Days of Christmas sure counts in my book. For you guys, I think you should put it into consideration for your Christmas breakfast/brunch.

I know I don’t have to “sell you” on it. But I will anyway.

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First off, she’s just GORGEOUS, isn’t she? Before you even slice into it, you can see the lovely swirled braid of the dough across the top. You guys may not be able to tell but the overlap of brown and gold across the top is actually a crunchy caramelized sugary crumble that bubbles up and crystallizes on top and forms a gooey sticky goo on the bottom. On the inside is a beautiful swirl of a pecan dark brown sugar filling.

In all seriousness, this has to go up there with one of the best recipes I’ve ever baked. I don’t say that lightly. ¬†It really is.

You want my advice? Bake this baby up the night before Christmas. Then, serve up thick, buttery  toasted slices of it to your family. OR, even better: make French Toast out of it.

They may just forget all about the actual presents underneath the tree and just ask for this recipe instead.

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Day 5: Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka


Sticky Caramel Pecan Babka

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 1/4 – 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

For sticky filling:

  • 2 1/4 cups pecans
  • 3/4 cups butter (salted)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or cream


Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, and let stand until the yeast is dissolved. Add the milk, eggs, yolk, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and whisk until the yolks are completely combined. Add 6 1/4 cups of flour and stir with a stiff spatula until a shaggy, floury dough is formed.

Using a dough hook, knead on medium-low speed until the dough comes together and is no longer floury, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, begin adding the butter in 1-tablespoon blobs. Mix until one blob is just barely incorporated before adding the next blob.

When all the butter has been added, continue kneading for another 5 minutes until the dough is silky, elastic, and quite jiggly. This won’t form a ball like regular dough ‚ÄĒ it should bunch around the dough hook and clear the sides of the dough hook, but will still be attached in a sticky dough mass to the bottom of the bowl. Add the extra 1/4 cup of flour as needed if the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to your largest mixing bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least an hour or up to 3 days. (This makes the dough easier to roll out in the next step; I recommend letting the dough chill overnight.)

When you’re ready to shape the loaves, prepare the filling before you take the dough out of the fridge. Heat the oven to 350¬įF and toast the pecans until they’re a few shades darker and very fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hot pecans to a cutting board and chop them finely while still warm. Keep chopping until no piece is larger than a grain of barley. You can also do this in a food processor ‚ÄĒ process the nuts in pulses and be careful of over-processing (which will turn the nuts into nut butter!).

In a medium bowl, mash together the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for the filling with a fork or a spoon, then work in the nuts. Keep mashing and mixing until the nuts are evenly distributed and you have formed a crumbly paste. Set this near your work surface.

Line three 8×4-inch loaf pans with long rectangles of parchment, so that the parchment hangs over the sides of the pan. Grease the pans thoroughly with non-stick spray. (If you only have two pans, bake two loaves and leave the third piece of dough in the fridge to shape and bake later.)

Remove the dough from the fridge. Sprinkle your work surface generously with flour and scrape the dough out on top. Pat the dough into a log and then use a bench scraper or sharp knife to cut it into 3 equal pieces (mine were about 21 ounces each, if you feel like weighing).

Sprinkle the work surface with a little more flour, then set one of the pieces of dough on top. Use the palms of your hands to press it into a rough rectangle shape. Rub a little flour into a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a thin rectangle, roughly 10 inches wide and 12 or more inches long (the thinner you roll, the more layers you’ll make).

Scatter a generous cup of the filling over the surface of the dough, then use the back of a spoon to spread and press the filling into an even layer. Leave about an inch of clear border at the top.

Starting with the short end closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a log. If any filling falls out, just tuck it back in. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to gently pry it up. When done rolling, pinch the dough to seal it closed. Dip a very sharp knife in water and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers.

To form the babka loaves, turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Flour your hands and lift the loaf into the loaf pan. If the loaf is a little too long for the pan, just smoosh it a little on either end to make it fit ‚ÄĒ any gaps will be filled in by the rising dough.

Repeat with the other loaves. Cover the shaped loaves and let them rise on the counter until puffy and just starting to dome over the tops of the pans, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

¬†About a half hour before baking (when the loaves are puffy but not yet domed), preheat the oven to 350¬įF.

When the loaves have risen, whisk the yolk and the milk together to make the egg wash and gently brush it all over the surface of the loaves. Transfer the loaves to the oven and slide a baking sheet underneath to catch any syrupy drips. Bake 45 to 55 minutes ‚ÄĒ cover the loaves with foil in the last 10 to 15 minutes if the edges look like they might be starting to burn. The loaves are done when deep glossy brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean of any dough (sticky goo is ok, though!). If you want to check the temperature, the loaves should be around 200¬įF in the middle.

Let the loaves cool in the pan for about 20 minutes to firm up ‚ÄĒ however, don’t let them sit for much longer or the caramel will harden and it can be hard to get the loaves out of the pan.

Run a butter knife around the edges of the loaf to release it from the pan, and use the edges of the parchment to gently lift the loaf from the pan. Place them on a cooling rack and slide the parchment out from underneath.

Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

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We’ve been having a somewhat unusually “temperatured” Holiday season so far here in Michigan.

And by unusual, I mean it’s been predominately in the upper 50’s-60’s. It’s weird having it be this close to Christmas, but without snow or even cold air to give you any kind of sense that it’s winter. Especially when you live in the Mitten State- where we’re used to having snow at Christmas by now.

Not that I’m necessarily complaining either, mind you. I like having snow on Christmas like just about everyone else- but the “other” part of it? The part where I have to shovel snow, wake up early in order to drive slowly on the road and still get to work on time?

That I really don’t mind doing without. At all.

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Granted, I do recognize that the cause of this warm weather is global warming (which is needless to say, not a good thing) and that I should kinda be more worried/concerned/unhappy that we’re not getting the “right” type of weather for this time of year.

Also, any life-long Michigander knows that in this state, it could be a sunny, warm 60 degrees one day and literally a snowy, freezing 20 degrees the next. Our weather is hardly ever predictable, and as such we just may get our White Christmas after all.

But for now, I’m chilling with this warmer weather.

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Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas series is here and boy, did I need this here pick me up. This past weekend I spent in a complete tizzy of Christmas baking, trying to get as much done as I could.  It left me pretty tired as I headed out to work this morning and I literally just walked into the door a few minutes ago before sitting down to crank out this post. I looked at the pictures and just gave a big smile as I remembered this recipe.

Because gingerbread ALWAYS makes me smile. Always.

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I didn’t make actual gingerbread for Christmas last year.

That was a major fail on my part. Major MAJOR fail. My sister Jas called me out for that and rightly so. Christmas to some degree IS about gingerbread, after all.

So, this year I decided to overcompensate for last year’s omission by throwing two gingerbread themed recipes at y’all for the series.

The first was yesterday’s post of gingerbread flavored caramel corn, which is delectably delicious. But today is actually the real thing, with a twist.

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I recently bought a new springform pan because there were two recipes I wanted to try that specifically required it (It was only $9, so I would hardly call that a splurge.) The first recipe was a deep dish chicken pot pie, which I fully intend on following through with.

The second one, was this recipe. And based on the outcome of this gingerbread alone, I can tell you that this was a worthwhile investment.

Pumpkin and gingerbread are a WONDERFUL combination, you guys. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like  chips and salsa. They go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.

(Extra credit points if that last reference didn’t go over your head. It’s from a musical.)

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But back to the gingerbread: one thing that surprised me about this recipe was the method of distributing the butter. It’s meant to go in much in the same way that butter is ‘cut’ into flour for biscuits or pie crust; I literally ran the stick of butter over my box grater like I do whenever I make biscuits or pie crust and it distributed the butter much easier than cutting it into small chunks and trying to dice it up with a knife or pastry cutter.

The smell of this cooking up alone is everything I love about the flavors of baking. That one springform pan baking in the oven perfumed my whole apartment and the hallways outside. The canned pumpkin really adds to the ‘kick’ of the rich, spicy ginger flavor here. Dried cranberries are included in the batter that give it a touch of tartness that it needs. But I think my favorite part is the addition of the crumbly topping to the gingerbread. It’s like a crunchy streusel topping that gives a wonderful compliment of texture to the softness of the gingerbread.

Make this one, guys. It’s one of a kind…Like dip da dip da dip doowop da doobee doo. ūüėČ

12 Days of Christmas Banner Second

Day 1: Springerle Cookies

Day 2: Speculaas Cookies

Day 3: Gingerbread Caramel Crunch

Day 4: Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Cranberry Pumpkin Gingerbread

Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens



  • 2¬†cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2¬†cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2¬†cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1¬†cup sugar
  • 2¬†teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1¬†teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1¬†teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4¬†teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4¬†cup butter, cut up
  • 1¬†15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 2¬†eggs
  • 1/2¬†cup full-flavor molasses
  • 1/3¬†cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons baking soda
  • 1¬†cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan; place pan in a shallow baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Remove 3/4 cup of crumb mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin, eggs, molasses, buttermilk, and baking soda until well combined. Add pumpkin mixture and the cranberries to remaining crumb mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with the reserved 3/4 cup crumb mixture.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a long wooden skewer inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool gingerbread in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove sides of pan.