Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, it is undeniable that the baked goods usually made this time of the year are delicious. To break the monotony of quarantine, how about surprising whoever lives with you with some not so obvious – yet absolutely incredible – desserts, to finish 2020 on a somewhat good note? Or how about taking on a little challenge during this break? I tested some recipes out to provide you with AMAZING desserts to get your holiday cheer on.
Bûche de Noël (Yule log)
This French beaut is for all of you chocolate lovers out there. Personally, I found this the easiest to make, since you really only have two steps: a very thin sheet cake and a chocolate mousse.
It is very fun to make too, because you have to roll into a nice swirl shape – and it is super pretty, so if you're hoping to impress, this can be your go-to. For the mousse, I did add a bit more sugar because I found the original recipe too bitter. I think I could have whipped the mousse a bit more, to get to a more stable, buttery texture rather than a very fluffy one, because mine was almost dripping out of the cake. Also, if you don't have parchment paper (welcome to my college kitchen) grease the pan VERY well and put some flour on top of the butter or it WILL stick. The batter is super light and has no flour in it, so it is a recipe for disaster if you don't prep well. Overall, delicious, pretty and pretty easy. HIGHLY recommend.
This was A RIDE. Honestly, it seemed like the easiest recipe at first but I could not have been more wrong. Because the flan takes quite a lot of eggnog, I felt like I should make my own, rather than buying premade, but I don't think it was my best moment. Because you don't want your flan to get bubbly, adding a store eggnog makes sure it is more liquid and stable. Besides that, I also did not own an adequately deep roasting pan, so there was a portion of the flan not dipped in batter. To fix that, I had to keep refilling the boiling water, so I ended up with a two-textured dessert, rather than the smooth and uniform creation it was meant to be. Sad times. Also, I have a very toxic relationship with sugar: I love it, it hates me. So, of course, the caramel burned in the first attempt. Overall, this recipe has a lot of steps, takes a while to bake and doesn't turn out too pretty or too delicious. I highly recommend it if you LOVE eggnog, because you can really taste it – plus you get some leftovers as you're making it – but I wouldn't say it's a crowd pleaser.
These Italian treats are BIG in Brazil, and I was very sad to find out that the traditional Bauducco one costs 14 dollars (just for reference, that's almost 3 times what I usually pay back home). The original Panettone recipe takes candied fruit, but since those are ~ expensive ~ and my roommates love chocolate, I went for Chocotone instead.
This is a great recipe for people who love making dough (YEEEEAST), and it has a very characteristic flavor because of the combination of orange and vanilla. It pairs well with Nutella, jam and virtually anything spreadable.
A few tips for this recipe: Find a warm place in your house or keep it close to the oven to make the dough grow more efficiently. Considering that, I would add chocolate chips right before baking, to avoid having them melt directly into the dough. I didn't buy the paper "molds" because they are expensive and take forever to arrive, so you should be fine with any 4 inch round cake pan (basically deeper than your regular one). I bought mine for 5 bucks on Amazon and it was fine; I would just be mindful of the size and amount of dough in case you buy something other than what the recipe recommends, because mine ended up being a bit short. The baking is a bit tricky, because it also depends on the size of your Panettone, so try to avoid crispy edges.
I adore Panettone and it is great for Christmas morning (or mornings in general), to kick off the day on a sweet note.
This German dessert resembles gingerbread cookies made honey-y. They are incredibly tasty and the honey and spice combo lends them a really unique flavor.
The hardest part (besides maintaining the self control to not eat the cookie dough during the two days you're supposed to let it set) was finding the right thickness and baking time. If you, like me, need to use both oven levels, keep a close eye on them. The recipe warns you about how it burns easily because of the honey, but it can also get crunchy – as opposed to soft and crispy on edges – so please be vigilant. As for thickness, aim for gingerbread cookies: a little thicker than a cracker, but thinner than an Oreo. Also, the glaze is super thin, so I suggest setting aside wax paper or moving to a surface that you can easily clean when you begin glazing or you'll have an utter mess in your kitchen. The flavor of the spices will leave any taster in awe, so I find this recipe super worth it.
Overall, I loved baking all of these; each of them had unique steps and flavors, so you can definitely make all four of these tasty treats and not be sugared out. I hope these recipes bring some joy to the last moments of your 2020, and if you try them, please share your results with us!