Every family has Christmas traditions. I love hearing about other families’ traditions because they vary so much.
The one tradition my mom always kept alive and well was Peruvian-style homemade hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. In Peru, homemade hot chocolate is cooked over the stove, with Peruvian chocolate chopped into tiny bits and then mixed into milk with cinnamon and cloves; it’s rich and delicious.
Traditionally it’s had right before everyone heads to midnight mass. When we were teeny-tiny, the hot chocolate would come right before bed since at that time we believed that Santa would come down our non-existent chimney and bring us gifts. My dad would tell us he’d sneak in through a window which sort of scared me but whatever.
It was the one time a year when we had dairy because my parents jumped on the non-dairy train so early. We were one of those houses with rice and almond milk only.
This is a mash-up of another dessert my mom LOVED to make; it’s not Peruvian, though they do make it all over South America. Crema catalana is a Spanish dessert that is SO good. It’s a lot like creme brûlée with the big difference being that it’s not baked—it’s simply cooked over the stove-top then chilled in the fridge.
For this post, I teamed up with McCormick spices to add all the goodness to this dessert. It uses McCormick ground cinnamon, whole cloves and vanilla extract.
Apparently, I have fancy Christmas tree taste because my favorite tree at the tree market was called a silver tip and it went for like 75% higher than all the other trees. It’s actually quite tall and sparse looking so when I went to ask for the price, I expected a discount but nope. Expensive tree taste—didn’t even know it was a thing!
I went home with it and had the guy kindly tie it to the top of my tiny car because it’s like when you get something in your brain and you just can’t forget about it. Like shoe-shopping. It’s like that.
I came home and Amelia immediately thought the water in the tree basin was for her so I’ve been constantly catching her drinking it. I yell at her but at the same time it’s so funny and cute that I just fill it up and let her do whatever she wants.
Another thing that has been on my brain for so very long are miso brownies! I saw them in the bakery case of a bakery I can’t actually remember but thought they sounded so good! Sweet and savory and chocolate-y…sign me up.
I wanted brownies that had a super crackly top and after I did some Googling and testing, I figured out that the thing that ensures a super crackly crust is beating the eggs and sugar together for a full 10 minutes (thanks, Martha!). Also, the sugar amount has to be up there for this to really work.
Apparently Kylie Jenner is having a pop-up shop this weekend in the valley and a large, morbid, embarrassing part of me sort of wants to go. I won’t go because shrieking teenagers might drive me to take a vallium, but I want to, you know?
Instead I’m putting on my coziest sweater and going to my friend Teri’s holiday party. I also might watch A LOT of Fixer Upper because I love watching it and seeing people buy houses for 100k. It feels like another world, seeing as I live in LA and all.
When I was little, I didn’t need fancy holiday cookies. All I needed were Keebler Fudge-Striped Cookies. I’d put on my fingers like rings and bite ‘em off.
My mom would go grocery shopping every Friday and it always made my brother and I SO excited because that meant the pantry was filled with cookies and Capri-Suns and Sun Chips (omg remember those?
She always had to regulate our eating because if it was up to us, we would eat all the best food all in one day.
Los Angeles! Just a heads up, tomorrow I’ll be in Echo Park at Shout & About signing books and handing out holiday cookies from 11am to 1pm. Stop by!
Now, for this tiramisu pie! I made this pie a few times to recipe test it, pretty normal stuff, but after I finally nailed it, I loved it SO much that I decided it was going to be my Thanksgiving pie.
It was really easy to make, which is why I made it, and right before I started to make it, I remembered that a friend of mine is gluten-free. Luckily I found out that you can totally make this pie with gluten-free ginger snaps and it’ll be just great.
I needed a tablespoon less butter but it worked! I was pumped to find that out.
The pie goes like this: chocolate cookie crust on the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan. Then it’s filled with an espresso cream custard that is SO good. At the end of making the espresso cream, I mixed in a few tablespoons of rum and it is BOMB. It tastes just like tiramisu. Then, the pie is filled and chilled. Right before serving, you pipe on some mascarpone cream and top it with a bunch of cocoa powder.
I think I’ve been using too many sprinkles lately. I’m sorta insecure about it because I used to not be THAT much of a sprinkle-whore but lately it’s all I reach for.
I think part of it is all the cool looking sprinkles I bought and brought back from Denmark. The colors are so pretty and interesting over there.
A very long time ago, when blogs first started I remember Joy the Baker posting a recipe for minty oreos. I never made them at the time (not sure why, what other non-important things was I doing?) but they have always lived deep in my brain on my to-make-soon list. Well, years later, here we are…except I made them birthday-driven, even though I didn’t know anyone who was having a birthday.
We made these, tested these, shot these AND then I remembered my friend Michael’s birthday was the very next day so I packed them up in the fridge and brought them to the birthday picnic where a 3 year old liked them a whole lot. WIN-WIN!
Summer as a kid meant tennis camp in Big Bear, shorts and tank-tops every single day, Wimbledon, and long, slow days spent mostly outside, playing hide and go seek until the street lights flickered on.
There were also lots of sleepovers where ten girls would pile in someone’s basement or room and we’d watch Sandlot and The Shining and Pet Cemetery, until a parent would force us to go to sleep already! And sometimes, in the middle of the night, we’d sneak into the kitchen and open up the freezer hoping for something awesome. My friends could always count on my freezer being full of lots of ice cream (dad’s favorite) and if we were really lucky, there’d be a few Choco Tacos; I always bought extra from the ice cream truck.
My internal 12-year-old self has always wanted to make Choco Tacos at home and it always seemed somewhat complicated. UNTIL NOW!!
Remember when I made these pumpkin twists? Those were tite. But that was a different time; the air was crisp, fall spices were in the air, everything was cozy…it was fall.
Right now it’s the opposite. It’s all about bbqs and outdoors and picnics and mosquitos. It’s summahtime. I feel like every year I have the urge to push myself to make some different iteration of s’mores. I basically want s’mores in everything. I want to eat all the s’mores.
This year I decided to take on the French tarte de soleil and turn it into the most American summertime dessert ever.
A few weeks ago I hopped in a car and drove 2 hours north to a small town called Solvang where I checked into a cozy little hotel and put on a robe (my favorite part) and was then scurried off to dinner (not in the robe, I put on real clothes) on a vineyard. Not the usual Monday around these parts but I reveled in being outdoors, tasting wine and food for a few hours straight.
This was all in honor of ALDI grocery stores coming to Southern California. I’m visiting my first ALDI store in a few weeks and can’t wait to show you more. I’m excited about the extensive organic products they have, especially organic butter and organic dairy (my two most expensive splurges in any given week).
In the meantime, here’s a little bit about my experience at the dinner and how it inspired this recipe for a Chocolate Bundt Cake with Almond-y Cream Cheese Frosting.
I know it’s not your birthday but I made you a birthday cake. I’m guessing I probably have never wished you a happy birthday because there are a few of you and I’m not exactly sure when all of your birthdays are. And even if we were friends on Facebook, I never check it because it’s filled with a bunch of people’s kids from high school and random political rants that make my eyes roll back very far into my head, so FB isn’t a reliable birthday reminder for me anymore. So….I figured I’d make you this cake and whenever your birthday shows up, you can just look at this post and know I’m wishing you a happy birthday!!
I love making people birthday cakes. If you follow me on snapchat (acozykitchen), you might’ve caught a glimpse of me making Josh’s birthday cake. I wanted to show step by step how I was putting it together. And then I made the biggest mistake: I left the room. I came back and Amelia had somehow managed to get herself up onto the counter and eat half of it! Yes, nearly half. It was actually very similar to the cake you see pictured: a yellow cake with chocolate frosting (luckily i hadn’t frosted it yet when she consumed a big chunk of it).
When Tessa’s beautiful book showed up in the mail, Layered, I was immediately drawn to this classic. I figured I needed to give it another go, with Amelia far far away from it.
Today I’m headed to Santa Ynez (right by Santa Barbara) for a super short trip for the grocery store ALDI (more on dat soon!). I have a few days of eating and drinking and taking lots and lots of photos—-I’m excited.
It’s super cliche but right now I’m really inspired by trips to the farmer’s market. I don’t always go the farmer’s market, which surprises most people since I live in California but my defense is that I bake a lot and many times when I’m recipe testing for the blog, I already have an idea of what I want to cook and many times the farmer’s market is too fickle. sometimes they have stuff and sometimes they don’t, so I usually just buy my ingredients from the grocery store. but recently, walking through the aisles of the markets has been so inspiring.