It’s therapeutic. You can’t really blow it. If you drop icing, you put on a snowflake.
-Judy Taylor, gingerbread queen
Meet Judy Taylor. Architect* by day, gingerbread queen by, well, all hours left when it comes to the holiday season!
Judy’s gingerbread houses are works of intricate design, down to the chocolate masonry. Yup. The bricks are edible.
As one of my with love and sugar baking team, Judy’s offerings would put all of the candidates on The Great Canadian Baking Show on their toes. Ask her to whip up a batch of something you need for your book launch and this talented baker delivers a plate of beauties. Tonight the remaining bakers competing for the title of best amateur baker in the country will tackle gingerbread in a special holiday baking episode. I’ll be watching their attempts with the Queen herself.
Moms do it all. Ask kids what they remember and often it is the wee maternal gestures, not the big strokes, most embraced. Sharing themselves. That’s it. What a load off all of us. Be yourself and extend your arms.
That’s it, that’s all.
To celebrate my new spring cover of with love and sugar♥*, I asked some fun personalities to share something awesome from their mother’s kitchen. Try to guess which story belongs to my own lovely mom.
To order a copy for your own mother, other bakers in your circles, or a copy for your own kitchen, a simple order form is here.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. (yes, that’s my mom above, on her honeymoon 60 years ago)
“Mother of all bombs” dropped this week. Did you shake where you stood as I did hearing the terrifying physics of this first-ever weapon deconstructed on a radio programme? I was in my kitchen, chopping carrots.
Far away is right here in 2017. There is no far away.
Be relentless about peace where you stand if you’re lucky enough to live in Canada.
To all my readers: Happy Easter.
More on Easter:
Three years ago:
Four years ago:
Now I’m serving up some inspiration from a few of the couples who responded to my query about their romantic habits. Read More
Family reunions and feasts are part of many rituals, as is ditching both for a sandy beach and a margarita. How you end the feast is as individual as the gorgeous light show up and down our city streets.
We’ll be having chocolate mocha yule logs at our Christmas dinner mostly because it’s the only time of year I’m crazy enough to make them.
If you prefer something simpler, these buttery gems are just the thing to enjoy with your cognac. They’re as simple to make as any cookie recipe in your collection. The trick is to chill the dough, then slice up the little sticks of dough quickly and bake. Don’t forget to toast the nuts ahead of time. Leave some for snacking later. You can eliminate the chocolate dip. You can also ditch dessert altogether and go straight for the hard stuff. Santa understands.
Toasted Pecan Shortbread
What you need:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
⅔ cup golden brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
sea salt flakes
4 oz bittersweet good quality chocolate, melted
What you do:
Beat butter and brown sugar together in mixer thoroughly. Add vanilla and mix again.
Sift flour and salt together in separate bowl. Add to mixer with speed on low and then increase speed to medium to blend.
Stir in toasted chopped nuts.
Turn the dough out onto wax paper and form it into a rectangle about one inch thick, 6 inches by 8 inches. Wrap the block up tightly with plastic wrap and chill for two hours. You can also make it a day ahead and just leave in fridge until you’re ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Move oven racks to top and bottom third position in oven. Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment.
Cut the chilled dough lengthwise into two equal pieces, then cut crosswise into slices about a quarter inch thick. Place on cookie sheets 1 inch apart. Press a few flakes of sea salt on each cookie.
Bake for 15 minutes, rotating pans midway through baking. Let cool on racks.
Melt chocolate in double boiler set over simmering water. Dip each shortbread into chocolate, or if you prefer, drizzle it over. Let it dry before adding to your holiday cookie plates.
For all my readers: I wish you plenty of music and merrymaking, be it a with a modest repast or a magnificent spread.
Don’t forget the pets.
I hope Santa is good to you all. Hope your toys don’t require batteries. Whatever your quibbles, however weighty your beefs, leave them outside with the snark chorus.