Caramel Eggnog with Tiny Spice Cookies

This rich, thick, boozy, yummy drink is a result of my experiments with the holiday classic. I served it in demitasse cups along with tiny honey-spice cookies (sort of my take on German Pfeffernusse; the original German cookies are supposed to be made in advance and aged for at least a week and I forgot to do that on time, so I improvised to get them quicker).

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

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Pistachio Apricot and Orange Flower Water Biscotti

I wish I had more time to bake for my own family and friends this holiday season. I’ve been so busy lately. Biscotti of different kinds are always on my “to-bake” list around Christmas time. They keep well and make a nice gift.

I wish all my readers and fellow-bloggers the Merriest Christmas and Happy Holiday! And thank you very much for your kind comments and warm wishes!

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“Better than a Fruitcake” Cake

This cake is one of my favorite Christmas things to bake. Not a fruitcake, but a buttery almond pound cake with tons of brandy-soaked fruits, it is still can be made well in advance (about a week beforehand is good enough for me). Orange marmalade and Grand Marnier glaze keeps the cake moist and fragrant.

I have made it before, but this year there’re gumpaste Snowmen instead of Santas. The decorations are obviously quite easy (everyone can roll little balls in the palms), although extremely monotonous and time-consuming. I started tilting the snowmen’s heads to the sides to make them not-so-alike and keep myself from boredom. Anyway, decorated or not, the cake is delicious and perfect for the holidays.

And now, I’m announcing the lucky winner of the Top Chef giveaway. It’s… Irene (comment left on December 15th, 2009 at 11:57 am)! Congratulations! There is also a little surprise: I decided to give away the Top Chef Season 5 DVD as well. The second winner is… Grace (December 11th, 2009 at 3:38 am)! Irene, Grace, please, e-mail me your postal addresses and I’ll ship the goodies to you. Thank you everyone for the participation!

Click to see more photos…

Apple Strawberry Crisp with Hazelnut Whipped Cream and Giveaway

At the very bottom there is a layer of lightly spiced sautéed apples. Then goes strawberry puree, followed by Frangelico-spiked whipped cream and, finally, crispy buttery hazelnut crisp. The recipe, with some of my adaptations, is from the Top Chef cookbook.

The delicious and exceptionally easy to put together, originally served with fresh strawberries, this parfait is a perfect transitional summer-autumn dessert. But since the summer time, as well as good fresh berries, has well passed, I replaced the fresh strawberries with the puree made from the frozen ones (but picked at their most ripe). The dish was great; I think it’s very much appropriate for any season.

And now I want to return to the book mentioned earlier. This book and a Top Chef 7” Japanese style Santoku knife are for you to win. For the fans of the show, the fifth season of the Emmy-award winning series Top Chef DVD has been recently released and it includes extended interviews and some never-before-seen material.

I believe everyone knows the drill. You leave a comment on this post before midnight (PST) December 17th and I will make the draw and ask the winner to e-mail me the postal address for the goodies to ship. Good Luck!

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Pomegranate Ice Cream and Cocoa Nib Brownie Sandwiches

I know, the photo turned out a bit scary looking. There was no way to fix it since the rest of the batch was eaten earlier. Oh boy, were they good!

I guess there’s no need to tell you about the antioxidant properties and all other health-benefits of the pomegranate juice – everyone is amazingly educated these days. But if you find juicing of fresh fruit somewhat labor-intensive (honestly, I do) or simply can’t find fresh pomegranate (they are seasonal), there’s a blessed product – POM Wonderful – natural juice which is available year round in any well-stocked grocery store.

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