Best-Loved Holiday Recipes {a Round-Up}

Each year, as the holiday season begins, I encounter a predicament of sorts: do I use this festive time of family, friends, faith and food to bake new recipes, or do I make my favourites again–the ones that I’ve made (and loved) several times before? It’s a time when I sit and reflect on everything I’ve baked throughout the year and beyond, and decide what baked goods might brighten the holidays even more.  And even though I have some new festive sweets posts lined up for you, I thought it might be fun to share a round-up of some of the recipes that are on my holiday-baking-and-caking list this year. Am I the only one who starts thinking about this stuff somewhere around the day after Halloween? I didn’t think so. #bakerscurse

Winter Delight Peppermint Cake (above): This moist, deep dark domed chocolate layer caked filled with whipped peppermint frosting, crushed peppermint candies and topped with more frosting and sparkly sugar has my heart. I’ve secretly been waiting all year to make this again.

 

Red Velvet & Cinnamon Layer Cake: I have no idea what happened but I am just recently hooked on Red Velvet Cake. It’s rich hue and moist and decadent texture paired with cinnamon filling and classic rich cream cheese frosting is the ultimate holiday indulgence, if you ask me.

 

Double Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes: I think what draws me back to these is the whole gingerbread buttercream thing, but combined with the chocolate cupcakes these were memorable for me. I think I just may need to make these happen again. (It could have something to do with dipping those teeny gingerbread houses into lusciously dark chocolate.)

 

The Perfect Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie: These cookies are truly a blank canvas for countless holiday cookie decorating designs. They keep their shape; they are buttery, rich and chocolatey; and they look so pretty under wintery icing and sprinkles.

 

Little Hands Sugar Cookies & Cards: Speaking of cookies, these were one of my favourite cookie projects to date. Talk about “hands on.” My girls and I had so much fun tracing their hands, baking the cookies, and getting them ready for packaging–Reese loved making the cards to go along with them. We gave them to grandparents and teachers, and they were a hit!

 

And after that little cookie break, we’re back to cake. Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake: So maybe the holidays don’t exactly shout “lemon!” and “blueberry!” but if there’s ever been a time when we can justify a rather time-consuming-but-totally-worth-it-and-dare-I-say-showstopping-cake, it’s the holidays. Since the macarons, lemon curd and the buttercream can all be made in advance, I say it’s a must.

 

The same goes for this Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle: What’s a holiday dinner without a hint of drama? (And the good kind–not the kind Uncle Les creates after too many rum & eggnog.) This cake will forever be a favourite of mine,  and I’d like to make it forever & always.

 

Mascarpone Meringue Cake: I have to admit that sometimes I forget about this cake. I’m not sure how because it was one of the most incredible desserts I’ve ever made (honk, honk). Even my father-in-law claimed this as the “best dessert” he’s ever had. He had never said that to me before, and he hasn’t said it since. So either I need to improve on my baking ability or this cake was extra-special.

 

And let me say that no Christmas in our house would be complete without Cinnabon-Style Gourmet Cinnamon Buns. I started making these while we’re sort of unwinding after dinner on Christmas Eve, let them sit in the fridge overnight and then bake them in the morning while we’re drinking Bailey’s & coffee and unwrapping gifts. I think of these often throughout the year, and although I make them from time to time, it’s not nearly often enough. At least we always have that Christmas batch to look forward to. ♥

Now that we’ve looked back at some favourites, I will see you very soon with some of the new ideas I’ve been working on for this holiday season!

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Sweetapolita’s Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts {Giveaway Winner Announced!}

The winner of Sweetapolita’s Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts Giveaway is . . .

#318 Elizabeth @ The Collegiate Baker: “My favorite baking tool is definitely my grandmother’s kitchen aid mixer. My mom mentioned that it was stored in the basement one day after I’d been blogging for about six months and I couldn’t believe she hadn’t told me about it before! I don’t know what I would do without it, though. :)”

Congratulations, Elizabeth! You will also be notified by email.

I’ll be back later today with another recipe! 

. . . 

1. icemilk aprons 2. i do dishtowel 3. pom pom flower treat boxes 4. pink stripe cupcake box 5. cupcake measuring cups 6. whisk pendant (sterling or 18k dipped gold)

7. yum yum ice cream serving party pack 8. marshmallow madness cookbook 9. turquoise escali baking scale 10. pure vanilla cookbook 11. lite bites candle forks 12. ms. food face plate 13. fete origin iPhone case

Hello, my friends! Today’s a special day here on this little old blog. We’re talking fabulous gifts for bakers (and lovers of pretty things) and to make matters more exciting, one super-lucky reader will receive ALL of these goodies! Not one, or two, but all. Kind of awesome, right?

See, the thing is I love stuff. I love looking at pretty things, I love buying pretty things and I most definitely love giving pretty things–throughout the year and beyond. With the holidays just around the corner, it has me thinking even more gift-giving thoughts, so I figured I’d compile a bunch of my favourites–things that I currently own and adore.

Sweetapolita Loves: 

1. IceMilk Aprons: Aprons are always a hit with bakers, and I positively adore these. I own the monogrammed Frosty Tin Marshmallows style and have gifted several other styles to family. Embracing style, quality and tradition all with an heirloom theme, each apron is packaged in a preserves jar and comes with an apron story card, 3 blank recipe cards and signature heritage tag. These aprons are a truly special gift.

2. I Do Dishtowel: Lovely kitchen linens are always appreciated, but one adorned with confectionery dots and wedding cake? Yes, please.

3. Pom Pom Flower Treat Boxes: Don’t feel that you always have to gift treat boxes filled with treats (although that never disappoints)–pretty treat packaging itself is such a great way to inspire bakers, and is something some of us have a hard time buying ourselves. Besides, you never know–you just might see that treat-filled box back under the tree with your name on it.

4. Pink Stripe Cupcake Box: Again, I love getting and giving pretty packaging for gifts, inspiring the recipient to bake and create. Boxes like this make home bakers feel as though they’re running the sweetest shoppe in town.

5. Cupcake Measuring Spoons: I probably don’t need to explain why these made the list, but I have these and they make every measure that much sweeter. You can find these and at one of my favourite online shops, I’m With Cupcake. With everything from much-loved stripey paper party straws and balloons to milk bottles and pretty packaging, this shop just shouts happy. Sweetapolita readers receive 20% discount off $10+ orders when you enter the promo code “SWEETAPOLITA.”

6. Whisk Pendant/Charm: Where do I even begin? When my talented friend Sweet Paul discovered and shared these from Frances & Co Pendants awhile back, I bought one right away and haven’t taken it off since. The talented artisan, Frances, creates this irresistible whisk in both sterling silver and 18k gold-dipped options strung on an 18-inch box chain, and it simply makes the perfect baker’s gift. I cherish mine and have had everyone from postmen to passersby notice & compliment it.

♥ ♥ ♥

7. Yum Yum Ice Cream Serving Party Pack: If this adorable polka-dotted and striped ice cream serving ensemble from Sucre Shop doesn’t make your giftee twinkle, I’ll give up cake for a year. What better incentive to throw an ice cream party (and invite you) than the sweetest eco-friendly serving supplies all ready to go? Brooke Pratt, the celebrated artisan behind this array of stylish wooden utensils, creates the cutest party designs on everything from ice cream scoops to forks and can customize colours, images and sayings for any event.

8. Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes: I really wasn’t kidding back in this post when I swore by this book. Shauna Sever gives readers the know-how and inspiration to create gourmet homemade marshmallows at home, and I have made them countless times. The recipes are simple, super-fun and delicious. Paired with the puffy pastel marshmallow medley of a cover, this book is total shelf candy.

9. Escali Arti Glass Kitchen Scale: With a rainbow of colours to choose from and state-of-the-art scale design at an affordable price, this scale will take home bakers to the next level and make them smile every time they use it. Throughout this blog I’ve expressed my feelings on how important it is to weigh your baking ingredients for best results, and now we can all do it in colourful style.

10. Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques: Okay, the girl is on a roll. Shauna Sever‘s latest book, and likely the book that holds the record for most recipes I’ve ever made from a single book in a week, Pure Vanilla makes a gorgeous gift. With everything from Buttery Baked Vanilla Bean French Toast to Vanilla Lollipops, as well as endless information on vanilla itself, this book is anything but, well, vanilla.

11. Lite Bites Candle Forks: More awesomeness that I found on I’m With Cupcake. Sometimes quirky candles are all you need to make a classic cake a show-stopper, and I think these make the cutest gifts! Fun candles are another thing that bakers just don’t tend to buy themselves, or at least I seem to neglect them at times, and yet they can totally make the cake.

12. Ms. Food Face Plate: We have the boy version of this plate (you might remember this and this), but I’ve just bought this Ms. version for my cakelets for Christmas. Okay, so this isn’t really a baking-themed gift, but it sure makes life that much more fun. Kids, of course, adore this and every meal yields a different work of art, but sometimes big kids (like me) also love playing with their food.

13. Fete Origin iPhone Case: Last but so, so not least, the most gorgeous iPhone case I’ve seen in all of my existence. And it just so happens to be the one I chose for my newly upgraded iPhone a few weeks ago when I literally went through every one of the thousands of options on Society6. Designed by the super-talented Jacqueline Maldonado, this artsy case may not be a literal depiction of confection, but to me it’s the most delicious looking colour-combination and pattern ever (you can even find her incredible artwork on bedding, shower curtains and more). I may not use my iPhone to bake, but it’s always in arms’ reach providing the soundtrack to all of my baking adventures and ready for snapping Instagrams. With its sturdy impact-resistant and flexible hard plastic case, this is an all-around winner.

Speaking of Instagrams, even though these didn’t make the giveaway (would have been logistically tricky), I can’t leave out the awesomeness that is StickyGram–your Instagram photos printed as adorable square magnets. (Use my friend code FRIENDD5QH and get $2.00 off your first sheet!) Probably one of my personal favourite options for gifting. With free worldwide shipping and only $14.99/sheet of 9 magnets ($12.99 when you use my discount code) you honestly can’t go wrong. I ordered a bunch of these, and can’t wait to order more for holiday gifts. Perfect for grandparents, friends and more.

So onto this super-awesome giveaway of all my best-loved goodies!

Here’s what one lucky reader is going to receive:

Giveaway is now closed. 

TO ENTER:

To enter the Sweetapolita’s Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts Giveaway, simply answer the question below in the comments section of this post:

What’s your best-loved baking tool/item? 

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

 THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear. 
  • Giveaway open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
  • Winners will be announced Wednesday, November 21st, 2012.

Best of luck & happy gifting!

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A Blog Birthday + KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway! {Winner Announced!}

The winner of the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer in what I like to call Sweetapolita Blue (but really Ice) is . . .

#2516 Deidre: “I love your website! My 12 year old uses your recipes for inspiration to make her own treats and is thinking of becoming a baker when she gets older because of it. A new mixer would help her tremendously!!!! It would have to be ice blue because it is an awesome colour! Happy Birthday Sweetapolita”

Congratulations, Deidre! You will also be notified by email.

I’ll see you very soon with another recipe! 

. . . 

Happy Friday to you and Happy Birthday to Sweetapolita!

Well, blog birthday that is. Yes, it’s true–this blog was launched about 460,000 calories (also known as two years) ago! I have a celebratory sweet in the works, but in the meanwhile I want to thank you for your ongoing support and blog love by giving away one KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer in this most delicious Sweetapolita Blue. Okay, it’s not called that exactly, but I couldn’t help but notice that it really is the perfect match to my website & logo. Its given colour is Ice, and it’s as lovely as a dream. ♥

This giveaway is now closed. Winner is posted here on the blog and notified by email. ♥

 

TO ENTER: 

 

To enter this blog birthday giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

If you were a stand mixer, what colour would you be?

Surely there’s a colour that epitomizes your personality: baby pink? black? green apple? red?

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

 THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear. 
  • Winners will be announced Friday, September 28th, 2012.

Best of luck to you!

*This giveaway is sponsored by Sweetapolita. 

We’ll see you very soon with a celebratory blog-birthday recipe!

 

Related posts:

The Year Flew by in an Instagram

So imagine this: Mrs. always-has-to-be-on-the-go, always-baking, always-productive (that’d be me) has been stuck in bed sick for almost 5 days. Yep. The bad news is that I haven’t been able to bake in many days. The good news is that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time on my iPhone and laptop organizing my digital life and going through photos from the past year. I, like many others, have been loving the Instagram app on my iPhone, which is really a fun way to share what you do and see in your day with friends and other Instagram followers, but all through photos (with fun filters and such). Here’s a snippet (and by “snippet” I mean the longest post ever) of my year in review by way of my iPhone’s camera (*Warning: This post is a tad long, so if you decided to go clean your pantry, bake a cake or hand-count your sprinkles right about now, I wouldn’t be offended. Pinkie swear.):

I took a lot of country drives with my two cakelets, Reese and Neve. I mean a lot. Like a whole lot. Turns out that little Neve will only nap in the car (parenting gurus look away, just look away), and so, since I love country drives, off the three of us (or two, if Reese was at school) would go everyday after lunch (with the exception of a few days with grandparents). Yep. In 2011, I took over 350 country drives. That’s a lotta cows.

 


And a lot of grass.

And the occasional storm.

 

Oh, and one enchanting and mysterious pie-selling establishment.

 

I bought and read a whole lot of baking books. Actually, I added 29 baking books to my collection in 2011. Is that normal?

 

I baked copious amounts of cupcakes (among other things) throughout the year–double chocolate, campfire delight, strawberry, vanilla, lemon, marzipan & pear–you name it.

 

Oh, and double chocolate & gingerbread cupcakes–one of my favourites of the year. I would give you a how-many-cupcakes-I-baked-in-2011 total, but then I would have to do the math on how many I actually ate… And we’re moving on…

 

Okay, that one I definitely ate. So I ate one cupcake in 2011, give or take.

 

I baked this cake (my current favourite), and a few other cakes while I was at it.

 

Well, I baked a whole bunch of cakes, come to think of it. In 2011, I used approximately 450 eggs, 200 pounds of butter and 100 pounds of sugar for the blog treats (and experimental blog treats) alone. Turns out I like to bake. A lot. I’m glad you do too, or else I’d have a hard time explaining to Mr. Sweetapolita where all of that butter goes.

 

But, of course I had a pretty cute baker’s assistant.

Or two.

 

And the best part was sharing most of our treats with our enthusiastic friends and family, because that’s what baking is all about.

 

I spent many hours watching little ballerinas and princesses embody innocence and inner peace in a way only children can.

 

Even when they’re sick.

 

Or hurt. There were definitely some hard times.

 

And some welcomed silly times.

Plus a few more silly times.

 

And too many belly-aching-giggle times to count, but never too many to be part of.

 

Heck, there were even some downright kooky times, such as, you know, spotting these goats balancing on wooden planks. Or, the un-instagram’ed moment when Pee-wee Herman tweeted and facebook shared my Asparagus Cake to his million+ fans. Or the time an elephant crossed a busy street directly in the path of my car as I was driving to the grocery store (turns out it was Limba the elephant getting some cardio with her trainer from Bowmanville Zoo for a winter show). 2011, you kept me on my toes.

 

In unrelated news, I also attempted to take an acceptable token iPhone self-portrait in the mirror, however I would never actually look into the camera.

 

Okay, I got a bit better at it as the year went on. Luckily that was the day I had makeup on and my hair done. Vain much?

 

There were many random catch-a-cute-kid-in-action shots, probably more than my girls had the patience for.

 

But they’re great sports.

 

Plus, I bribe them with peanut butter pie and stuff.

 

I bought many pretty things to bake and cake with. Some new…

 

Some old (and serious bargains).

 

And some very old.

 

And I always stopped to admire a few lovely baked goods along the way.

 

I took several drives to the peaceful farm in Prince Edward County (Ontario), to visit my in-laws, you know, to escape the hustle-and-bustle of our 4,000 people-filled town.

 

Where I happily photographed this Mad(ish) Tea Party and enjoyed the sounds of, well, silence.

 

Grant and I both had a busy work year, but we made sure to make as many cottage trips as we could with the kids, to take a break from chiropracting and baking.

 

Where, naturally, I baked more cake…

 

And soaked 3,600 Krispy Kreme calories in one bowl for the life-altering purpose of this bread pudding.

 

The year was also filled with many a cookie. Some simple, some fancy.

 

And a few cakelet-inspired ones along the way.

 

There were many brownies, chocolate-dipped and not, and there were sprinkles.

 

A lifetime of sprinkles.

 

There were many wedding cake projects on the go, big and small.

 

There was even a reason to make more fondant asparagus. Like you can ever have too many fondant asparagus.

 

Little 4-year-old Reese unleashed her inner artist, and managed to make one unnamed mommy teary, with her spirited and inspiring painting of these cakes.

 

I think I hit my yearly glitter quota (‘cuz we all have one, you know) when I created a few sparkly cakes for Wedding Bells.

 

But there’s always room for a little more sparkle, especially in the festive winter months.

 

Finally, we ended the year with a POP!

So that was my year (with a few more details in between). Bye bye, 2011–you were good to us.

Oh, and if you’re an Instagram lover like me, or if you just like cute-as-pie treats, check out these genius Instagrahams crackers from Bakerella.

 

Related posts:

My 10 Favourite Posts of 2011

Image source

For some reason, I can’t stop exclaiming “Happy New Year!” to anyone who will listen, or even just random passersby. I’m really on fire for 2012, and it’s only two days in. As for 2011, it was definitely a busy and fulfilling year. No major life changes, but a whirlwind of baking, cake decorating, writing, sharing, photographing and family time–a dream come true, really. In (even more) review and reflection of my first year blogging and the end of 2011, yesterday I posted Your 10 Favourite Posts of 2011, based on statistics. I always find that sort of thing so interesting, because sometimes the posts that are the most frequently shared or read, are different than the ones that I hold closest to my baked-good-loving heart. This realization came to me when one of my sugar sisters, Melissa, and a few other friends mentioned that I left their favourites out of last night’s list (you guys are too kind!). In most cases, my favourite posts are a combination of the yummiest recipes (for my taste) and, of course, my emotional attachment to each one, for one reason or another–yes, I am a tad sentimental. So, just for giggles, here is a list of 10 of my favourite posts from 2011:

#10. Chocolate-Dipped Brownies with Sprinkles

#9. Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Fluffy Rosewater Frosting

#8. Campfire Delight: 6-Layer Rich Chocolate Malted & Toasted Marshmallow Cake

#7. Cinnabon-Style Gourmet Cinnamon Buns

#6. Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes

#5. Six-Layer Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Buttercream Cake

#4. Licorice Delight: Vanilla Almond & Anise Cupcakes

#3. Ruffles & Roses: A Mad(ish) Tea Party

#2. Autumn Delight Cake

And, maybe it’s the energy, the colours, the peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream or just my little cakelets in action, but my favourite post from 2011 is…

#1. Art is Joy: Painted Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes

See you soon!

 

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