Christmas Favourites

I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Again. I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with this time of year. The good? Warm drinks, family gatherings, delicious baked goods, Christmas trees and my birthday! The bad? I'm not a fan of the the cold. I only like to see snow falling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Once December has past, I've pretty much had it with the winter. Lets not focus on the negative! This post is all about the positive--Christmas favourites! And I mea, Christmas baked goods, of course. I have compiled a little list below of my all time favourite holiday goodies that help to remind me of all the good things happening this time of year.

1. Shortbread Cookies
I know what you're thinking... boring. Just like sugar cookies, shortbread cookies are somewhat overrated, but, they're a classic, especially for Christmas! When I was young, my mom would make dozens of her famous shortbread cookies and I couldn't get enough. We would top them with green and red sugar sprinkles and they were always baked to perfection. Just the right balance of crumbly meets melt-in-your-mouth. She would make so many that we were eating them well into February and March. I never complained. Sadly, she doesn't make them much anymore, but I'm thinking I may need to dig up her recipe and give them a shot this year!

2. Fruit Cake
You either love it or you hate it. Fruit cake is filled with tons of dried fruits and nuts and it's pretty boozy, so, what's not to love? My family is divided--half of us love it and the other half, not so much. Fruit cake reminds me of my Nonni. Her recipe is the best and it is true what they say, it really does get better with age. My dad recently found one in the back of our freezer that was dated from 2010. Even though it was seven years old, it was so damn good. I've perfected a recipe of my own that's a little less fruity, and a little more cakey. It's on my holiday menu this year! Check it out here. ^_^

3. Panetone
Panetone also reminds me of my grandma. She's been making panetone for as long as I can remember and she always puts a mini one in our Christmas gift bags every year. They are moist and fluffy with a hint of citrus and raisins. Obviously the best right out of the oven. Believe it or not, I actually love the store bought panetone, too! (The right brand, of course). There's something about the flavour that I just love. Not to mention, it stays chewy and fresh for so long. I haven't tried making panetone on my own, but it's definitely something I've been meaning to try. Now that I think about it, I should ask my grandma for a lesson!

4. Gingerbread
Whether it's gingerbread cookies, gingerbread loaf or gingerbread cake, I love it. I'm a huge fan of the flavor combination of molasses with all of the wintery spices--cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, all spice, cardamom. There's just something about gingerbread that screams Christmas. Gingerbread is to winter what pumpkin is to fall. Definitely.

5. Candy-Cane Cookies
This one sounds a bit vague, but I am thinking of a very specific cookie. The cookie is made up of two pieces of cookie dough--one red, one white--that are twisted together and formed into the shape of a candy-cane. Every year around Christmas time, my old neighbor would bring over a tin of her homemade cookies. My brother and I would fight over these candy-canes. We didn't care about anything else in the tin. I don't know why we never tried to make them ourselves. We should have asked our neighbor for the recipe. Unfortunately, she moved last year, so it looks like we have no choice but to make them if we want to get out fix this Christmas! 

FALL FLAVOURS

I have compiled a list below of my five favourite flavours for fall. Whether these flavours are used in cakes and baked goods, for something hearty, or in warm beverage, they are tasty! Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating this year and it still feels like summer outside. However, I am going to write this post anyway because fall is my absolute favourite season and it's already the end of September. The best thing about fall, besides the fresh air, leaves, and Thanksgiving dinner, is the in-season produce! Pumpkin! Squash! Apples! Yum.

1. Pumpkin. Obviously. 
I just baked a vegan pumpkin pie cake and I can't wait to ice and serve it. It's a hearty two-layered pumpkin spice cake made with brown sugar. I'm going to ice it with vanilla "buttercream" and add a twist--graham cracker crumbs! There's no way this cake can be anything but amazing. Pumpkin also reminds me of when I used to live in Toronto--I would buy the pumpkin loaf from The Abbott Coffee Shop everyday. No joke!

2. Chai
There's nothing like a warm chai latte on a crisp autumn morning. Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. All my favourite spices. I recently developed a chai latte cupcake recipe that is to die for! And to top it off, literally (lol), I add cinnamon vanilla frosting. Yum.

3. Sweet Potatoes
I recently came across a recipe that even my dad loves, and I don't hear that too often. It's a sweet potato chocolate layer cake with molasses buttercream. I add caramel to the mix, too! Just for a little something extra. Check out the recipe here

4. Apples!
There's so much you can do with apples--sweet or savory! My aunt makes one of my favourite Thanksgiving dishes. It's a sweet potato bake with fresh apples, red onions and oregano. It's super simple to make and I look forward to eating it every October! For your sweet tooth--apple pie is a must and I have been making a vegan deep dish apple pie crumble over and over again for the Green Bean the last couple weeks. You can never go wrong with homemade apple butter either, especially if you've just gone apple picking and are looking for something to make with your big haul! 

5. Pears
I know you can get pears in the summer and in the winter, but they go so well with all of my favourite fall spices, specifically cardamom and ginger. I love a hearty pear coffee cake early in the morning with a hot tea. Pears also go well with cinnamon, walnuts and molasses! Not to mention, maple syrup mixed into a scone recipe with pears is to die for!

Check out the fall favourites page to see our featured products this month! ^_^