Every year I hand make gifts for the holidays. Whether it’s homemade vanilla extract, cookies, truffles, ornaments, or even bread, I think that the extra effort and thought that goes into making something yourself is priceless.
This year, while looking through the Bon Appétit Holiday Issue for possible Christmas cookie inspiration, my boyfriend said “you should make this.” I looked at the recipe and agreed – I would absolutely have to make this delicious looking homemade nutella.
The recipe was very straight forward (though if skinned hazelnuts existed in my area, I’d be much happier) and I made cute little recipe cards to go along with the gift. I only send recipe cards with edibles when I know they taste delicious and the recipient most definitely will be recreating on their own. Which they will, because this spread is delicious. It might taste better because I skinned those hazelnuts with my own two hands, and worked my biceps while attempting to whisk the thickening ganache. But I think it tastes better than the stuff in the store because I know exactly what’s in it. Cream, butter, nuts, good quality chocolate, sugar, and a dash of salt. Not to mention that my packaging is super cute.
Here are some pictures that went out with my family’s holiday card this year. Every year it takes us a while to figure our how to use the timer on my mom’s fancy camera. Every year we have to take a bajillion re-takes while trying to pretend it’s Christmas even though it’s Thanksgiving. But it’s tradition, and it’s worth it. Just like these precious bundles of perfection.
It’s also my sister’s birthday today – Happy Birthday Ariel!
I made these cupcakes last year and they were gone so quickly that I didn’t get a chance to take pictures. Luckily, everyone loved them (some people ate two!), so I knew what I was going to make when it became peppermint season again this year. I love peppermint mocha lattes and get them whenever I get a chance. I’ve had the version from Starbucks, but I actually prefer one made by a local smoothie shop called South Block where they have tons of alternative milks. I get my peppermint mocha with almond milk and Intelligentsia espresso and it hits the spot.
This year I upped the decadence and dipped the cupcakes in a dark chocolate mint ganache before frosting them. The secret ingredient in these cupcakes is the type of coffee I used in it. Instead of using regular coffee, I used some very special Kopi Luwak that my friend Elly gifted me. For those that don’t know, Kopi Luwak is a rare and expensive coffee that is made from coffee berries that a tropical jungle cat has digested. Some people were a little put off by the idea of cat-poo-treated coffee, but surprisingly, most everyone embraced it and loved the quirkiness of it.
I used a few different recipes combined together, and the end result leaves nothing to be desired – this really is an edible peppermint mocha! Coffee-infused chocolate cake with mint pieces folded in, dark chocolate mint ganache, a mint cream cheese frosting, and a chocolate drizzle. Some lucky snackers picked some out that had mint chocolate penguins on them that I purchased from my Girl Scout troop.
I also tried something new with my Martha Stewart cupcake liners. The liners look pretty, but bake horribly! To solve this problem I lined them with a white liner before putting the batter in and was very pleased by the result.