A handpicked blend of aromas and flavors to spice up holiday gatherings.
CategoryEat & Drink
Written byKara Mickelson
Jack Frost may not exactly be nipping at our nose, nor do we break out long, heavy coats. But here in SoCal we do embrace the more subtle seasonal weather changes and everything else that comes with winter. The smell of cinnamon, pine, vanilla, clove and nutmeg—scents that color the air and fill our homes with warmth and nostalgia. Here are a few holiday creations—some traditional, others unexpected—to spice up your season.
FIRESIDE CHAT Shake and pour over single rock ice cubes: 3 ounces Licor 43 Cuarentra y Tres, 1/2 ounce Mezcal, a single whole star anise and an orange peel with an embedded clove stud.
Anise & Cinnamon Spice Wreath
Aromatic star anise wreaths look and smell enticing and also make lovely hostess gifts.
- 1 6-inch mini grapevine wreath frame
- 1 to 1½ cups whole star anise
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- juniper berries, peppercorns and/or whole allspice (20 cloves)
- mini pinecones, two per wreath
- hot glue gun with glue sticks or fast-drying, multipurpose, clear-drying glue
- optional: ribbon, dark wood stain, mini paintbrush
Line up four star anise pieces to create four even quadrants on the wreath. Glue pieces of star anise, one at a time, until each section is filled. Add cinnamon sticks in one quadrant and then add additional spices in the opposite quadrant to create asymmetrical balance. Cover any visible glue with juniper berries, allspice and cloves and paint with wood stain. Add a pretty silk or organza ribbon.
CUSTOM CRAFTED Glycerin soaps are wonderful infused with winter spices. These were crafted from recipes provided by Klean Spa in Burbank.
Chocolate Gingerbread Soufflé with Eggnog Crème Anglaise
Makes 6 (4-ounce) soufflés
Gingerbread and eggnog are the quintessential holiday spice blends. Combine them with chocolate, and the result is pure decadence!
Gingerbread Spice Mix
- 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground vanilla powder or paste
- pinch kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
Butter inside ramekins, dust with sugar. Tap out excess sugar and chill
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1⅓ cup dark chocolate chips (62% cocoa), room temp or slightly melted
- 8 fluid ounces whole milk
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
- 6 large egg whites, room temp
- pinch cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine gingerbread spices and reserve. Slowly whisk the flour into melted butter making a blonde roux paste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes without browning. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips to a warm (not hot) mixture. Stir until fully combined.
Scald milk by bringing to a near boil and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat yolks with sugar until fluffy and pale. Slowly add a small amount of hot milk to the egg mixture and then combine the two mixtures; the idea is to prevent yolks from scrambling. Combine with roux, spices and molasses. Reserve. Can be made a day in advance. Warm over a double broiler until batter stirs easily.
Whip egg whites in a clean bowl on medium until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whip until stiff peaks form. Whip ¼ of the meringue into the soufflé batter until mixed throughout. Carefully fold in the rest of the meringue.
Transfer batter to a piping bag. Pipe into prepared ramekins with a circular motion. Make sure the top 1⁄8-inch of the inside rim of the ramekin is clean. Smoothe top of soufflé with a wet finger or back of a wet spoon.
Turn oven temp down to 375º after the first 3 minutes. Bake soufflés on a sheet tray on the middle rack of the oven until they rise 1 inch above rim, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately with Crème Anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.
Note: Oven temps may vary. Place soufflés away from hot spots and resist opening the oven door till they have risen. If the soufflé is not done inside, turn the oven up 25º and reheat till they rise and are cooked thru.
Eggnog Crème Anglaise:
- 1½ vanilla bean, cut open, beans scraped out
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 16 fluid ounces whole milk
- 2 ounces sugar, divided
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons brandy
Scald milk mixture and reserve. Whisk egg yolks and sugar. Temper egg mixture with warm milk mixture. Heat until nappe, or mixture coats the back of a spoon. Strain sauce and cool over an ice bath.
Add brandy to cooled mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to two days.