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Leave room for dessert

Stacy, Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy a slice of eggnog cake with a cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa.


Most of the time, when my family gets together for a holiday meal, we are all stuffed by the time the dishes are cleared. There are many groans to be heard when we hear the question, “Who’s ready for dessert?”

We all know that the dessert choices are going to be very delicious, but there just isn’t enough room left in our tummies (not for a while, anyway).

Dessert doesn’t have to wait all that long to make an appearance, though. Once all the dinner dishes, pots and pans are washed and dried (or the dishwasher loaded), dessert plates are soon being loaded with slices of pie, cake and cookies.

Speaking of washing dishes after a big feast, do other families also have at least one person who conveniently disappears until that chore is over? It is kind of a family tradition at this point, good for a few laughs.

May the holidays your family observes bring much joy and togetherness for all.

Peppermint brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon peppermint extract

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Crushed candy canes or peppermint hard candy, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides; lightly butter the parchment.

2. Melt butter and bittersweet chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir sugar into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Stir in the peppermint extract. Add the flour and gently stir until completely combined.

4. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly. Tap pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool until firm enough to easily lift from the pan using the parchment paper, about 25 minutes. Lift out of the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

5. Put chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 50 percent power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over the brownies and sprinkle with crushed candy. Let set before slicing. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Chocolate cake mix cookies

1 box (15 to 16-oz.) devil’s food cake mix

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup red and green sprinkles (not the colored sugar crystals kind)

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the cake mix and baking powder in a large bowl to get rid of any lumps. Add eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until the dough just begins to firm up, about 30 minutes.

2. Spread the sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Scoop and roll the dough into balls (about 2 tablespoons each), then roll the balls in the sprinkles. Place on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until the tops of the cookies are slightly puffed and cracked and the edges are set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to racks to cool

completely. Makes 18 cookies.

Eggnog cake

Nonstick baking spray

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup eggnog

2 tablespoons bourbon or aged rum

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

For the icing:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons eggnog

1 tablespoon bourbon or rum

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1. For the cake: Prepare a 12-cup standard Bundt pan with non-stick baking spray. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until smooth and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. With the mixer on low, add one-third of the flour, and all of the baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add one-half of the eggnog, and all of the bourbon and vanilla bean paste. Add another one-third of the flour, then the remaining eggnog, and the remaining flour, mixing well to combine between each addition.

4. Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn cake onto a wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

5. For the icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, eggnog, bourbon and vanilla bean paste until smooth. Spoon the icing over the cake and let stand until hardened, about 15 minutes.

Coffee toffee cake

Lots of butter in this recipe.

Cooking spray

3 cups flour, plus more for the pans

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 sticks salted butter

1/3 cup instant coffee granules

1 1/2 cups boiling water

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

For frosting and topping:

2 1/2 sticks salted butter, room temperature

1 box (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup instant coffee granules

3/4 cup heavy cream, more if necessary

4 chocolate-covered toffee bars (such as Heath)

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350. Coat three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Whisk the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, combine the instant coffee and boiling water in a medium bowl and stir to dissolve. Once butter has melted, add coffee mixture to the saucepan. Let it come to a boil for about 10 seconds, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until well combined. Pour the butter-coffee mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently. Add the buttermilk-egg mixture and stir gently until well combined. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out almost clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes in the pans on a rack, then remove the cakes from the pans, remove parchment and let cool on racks.

4. For the frosting: Beat the butter in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and beat on low speed to mix well. Stir the instant coffee into the heavy cream in a small bowl, then pour it into the mixer. Beat on low speed until combined, then beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, adding a little more cream if needed to make the frosting spreadable.

5. Assemble the cake: Finely chop 2 of the candy bars. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Spread 1 cup frosting on top and sprinkle with half of the chopped candy. Top with another cake layer, more frosting and the rest of the chopped candy, then top with the final cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of the cake. Roughly chop the remaining 2 candy bars and sprinkle around the edge of the cake.


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