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  • Mini Gingerbread Cheesecakes with Candied Walnuts

    How to make Mini Gingerbread Cheesecakes with Candied Walnuts

    Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook: 20 minutes

    If you can’t find Speculoos cookies, feel free to use 20 gingersnap cookies or 9 whole graham crackers.

    Ingredients

    For the crust:

    17 (133 grams) Speculoos cookies
    1/4 cup (20 grams) California walnuts
    3 tablespoons (43 grams) unsalted butter, melted

    For the filling:

    12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
    2 tablespoons heavy cream
    1/4 teaspoon fine salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 large egg

    For the candied walnuts:

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 cup (115 grams) California walnut pieces
    1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

    Melted white chocolate, for drizzling

    Directions

    Make the crust:

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 12 cup mini cheesecake pan with nonstick spray.

    Place the graham crackers and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in the melted butter and pulse until moistened. Divide the mixture among the cavities of the cheesecake pan, about 1 heaping tablespoon in each. Firmly press into the bottom of each cavity (a shot glass or other small object makes easy work of this).

    Bake the crusts for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325°F.

    Make the filling:

    In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla, molasses, cream, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves and beat until smooth. Add the egg and beat until just combined. Divide the mixture among each cavity.

    Bake for about 18 minutes, or until set. Let cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. At this point the cheesecakes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    Make the candied walnuts:

    Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat over medium for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved and the nuts are evenly coated.

    Transfer immediately to a parchment lined baking sheet and separate the walnuts with two spatulas. Allow to cool and harden for 10 minutes, then divide among the top of each cheesecake. Drizzle with melted white chocolate. Allow to set before serving.

  • Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

    How to make Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

    Yield: 4 servings

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook: 10 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the whipped cream cubes:

    1 cup REAL® Seal heavy cream
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar

    For the hot chocolate:

    4 cups REAL® Seal whole milk
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon allspice
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

    Cinnamon sticks, for garnish

    Directions

    Make the whipped cream:

    In a bowl, whip the cream and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until firm peaks form. Line a baking tray about 8 by 8-inches big with parchment paper and spread the whipped cream out into one even layer. Freeze for at least 3 hours, or overnight, until completely firm.

    Use a small gingerbread man cookie cutter to carefully cut out shapes from the whipped cream. For cleaner cuts, dip the cookie cutter into hot water and pat dry in between cuts. If the cream starts to melt, freeze for 15 minutes until solid again.

    Place the cutouts back in the freezer to solidify while making the hot chocolate.

    Make the hot chocolate:

    Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a simmer while whisking. Heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the chopped chocolate. Whisk until melted.

    Divide between 4 mugs. Garnish with the whipped cream gingerbread man and cinnamon stick.

  • Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

    How to make Cranberry Orange Bundt Cake

    Yield: 1 10" bundt cake

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook: 50 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the cranberry orange bundt cake:

    2 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
    2 cups granulated sugar
    4 large eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
    1 tablespoon orange zest
    ¼ cup oil
    1 cup sour cream
    2 cups fresh cranberries

    For the orange glaze:

    1 cup powdered sugar
    2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (or milk)

    Directions

    To make the cake:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs one a time, then mix in the vanilla until well combined. Slowly mix in the orange juice, orange zest, and oil until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream (starting with the dry ingredients and ending with the dry ingredients).  Mix everything until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.  Add in the cranberries and gently fold them into the batter.

    Spray a 10-inch bundt pan well with non stick cooking spray, or grease with butter and flour. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and evenly spread it around.  Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil if needed for the last 5-10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning.

    Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

    To make the orange glaze:

    Once the cake has cooled, place a piece of foil under the wire rack (to catch any glaze that falls off). Pour the orange glaze evenly over the cake and allow to harden for about 10-15 minutes.  Slice and enjoy!

  • Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites

    How to make Red Velvet Cheesecake Bites

    Yield: 36 bites

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook: 50 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the crust:

    12 (185 grams) whole chocolate graham crackers
    1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted

    For the filling:

    16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
    1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
    1/4 cup (57 grams) sour cream
    2 large eggs
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

    For the chocolate coating:

    16 ounces (453 grams) white chocolate
    3 tablespoons coconut oil or shortening

    Directions

    To make crust:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

    In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden and fragrant. Reduce heat to 325°F.

    To make filling:

    Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, add in the sour cream, eggs, cocoa powder, food coloring, vanilla, flour, and salt and beat until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cheesecake is slightly puffed and center is set. If the center is slightly jiggly, that’s fine.

    Let cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze for 3 hours, or until very cold and firm, or overnight.

    To coat in chocolate:

    Once frozen, lift cheesecake out of pan and gently peel away foil. Using a sharp knife, cut cheesecake into 36 bite-size squares. If squares become too soft, freeze until chilled again.

    Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

    Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Dip cheesecake squares, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off and place on prepared sheet. Immediately garnish with sprinkles, if using.

    Repeat for all the squares then refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Serve or store the squares in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

  • Hot Chocolate Pancakes

    How to make Hot Chocolate Pancakes

    Yield: 4 servings

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook: 10 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the fudge topping:

    3/4 cup (128 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
    1/2 cup heavy cream

    For the pancakes:

    1 cup (127 grams) all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup (25 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon fine salt
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 large egg
    1 1/4 cups buttermilk or whole milk
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    Mini marshmallows, for garnish

    Directions

    Make the topping:

    In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chips and cream until melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

    Make the pancakes:

    In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

    In a medium bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined. Do not overmix, it’s okay to have lumps. At this point the batter can rest, covered, for up to 30 minutes.

    Heat an electric griddle to 350°F, or a large nonstick pan to medium heat. Coat with butter. Pour batter by 1/4 cup onto the hot pan, spacing apart. Cook until the edges are set and bubbles have formed on the top, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until done.

    Keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven while you finish the batter and get ready to serve. Stack pancakes on plates and top with the fudge sauce and mini marshmallows.

  • How to Make Easy Snowflake Sugar Cookies

    How to make Easy Snowflake Sugar Cookies

    Yield: about 40 cookies

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook: 10 minutes

    If you don’t have almond extract, feel free to omit. It simply adds an extra element of sweet flavor to the recipe.

    Ingredients

    For the cookies:

    3 sticks (339 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    4 1/2 cups (572 grams) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder

    For the icing:

    2 cups (250 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    4 tablespoons water or milk

    Directions

    Make the cookies:

    In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until well-combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until combined. On low speed, slowly add in the flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated.

    Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Place one dough portion between two sheets of parchment and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining portion of dough. Place the two sheets of dough on a baking sheet and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. You can also freeze for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

    Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter, rerolling any scraps and cutting more shapes. Transfer the shapes to the prepared baking sheets.

    If the dough is warm, freeze for 15 minutes or until firmed again.

    Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and begin to brown. Be careful not to over-bake. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Baked un-iced sugar cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

    Make the icing:

    In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. The mixture should be very thick but still pourable.

    Transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle using a funnel. You can also scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip. Before you begin icing any cookies, take a few moments to practice on a piece of parchment paper to get the feel of the icing.

    Holding the bottle or bag tip directly over one corner of a cookie, create lines and dots to enhance the snowflake shape as seen in the photos. If desired, garnish with edible dragees, glitter, or sprinkles. Let the icing set before serving.

  • How to Host a Cookie Exchange
  • Gingerbread Doughnut Waffles with Maple Glaze

    How to make Gingerbread Doughnut Waffles with Maple Glaze

    Yield: 18 doughnut waffles

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook: 30 minutes

    Ingredients

    For the doughnut waffles:

    1/3 cup dark brown sugar sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon fine salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teapsoon ground nutmeg
    1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    1/2 cup milk
    1/4 cup molasses
    1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour

    For the maple glaze:

    4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
    3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    8 tablespoons pure maple syrup

    Directions

    To make the waffles:

    In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together. Add the egg and yolk, melted butter, milk, and molasses until just combined. The batter will be thick.

    Preheat your waffle iron. Place a tablespoon of batter in each waffle cavity and cook for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and repeat for the remaining batter.

    To glaze:

    In a small bowl whisk together all the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle or dunk the slightly cool doughnut into the glaze. Let sit until set. Doughnut waffles are best served the day they are made.

  • Easy Cookie Icing

    How to make Easy Cookie Icing

    Yield: enough icing for 1 batch of cut out cookies

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook: 1 day 20 minutes

    The iced cookies will need to dry for 24 hours before they can be safely moved or packaged.

    Ingredients

    For the border icing:

    1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons water or milk
    Food coloring, if desired

    For the flood icing:

    1 cup (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 tablespoons water or milk
    Food coloring, if desired

    Directions

    For the border icing:

    In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should be very thick but still pourable.

    Transfer the border icing to a squeeze bottle using a funnel. You can also scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Before you begin icing any cookies, take a few moments to practice on a piece of parchment paper to get the feel of the icing.

    Holding the bottle or bag tip directly over one corner of a cookie, begin tracing an outline of the cookie, squeezing gently and using both hands if needed to maintain consistent pressure. I prefer to allow a little slack in my icing line as I go. If you mess up, simply wipe the icing off and start again. Allow the icing to dry slightly before continuing with the flood icing.

    For the flood icing:

    In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together all the ingredients except the food coloring. Beat in the food coloring, a few drops at a time, until colored to your liking. The mixture should still be pretty thick, but will drizzle more freely than the border icing. If needed, add additional water or milk to loosen until the consistency is pourable. Pour the flood icing into a squeeze bottle or into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip.

    Prepare as many batches and colors of flood icing as you need to decorate your cookies.

    Begin filling the interior of the border drawn on each cookie with the flood icing, being careful not to add too much that it overflows the border icing. Use either the nose of the bottle or a small toothpick to push the icing evenly over the cookie and up against the corners.

    Leave the iced cookie to dry for 24 hours. The cookies are dry when the surface is completely smooth, dry, and resists smudging when touched. Store the dried cookies between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

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