Since it’s a special recipe kind of season, I made my first baklava

15343999244 24ef78a303 b - Since it’s a special recipe kind of season, I made my first baklava

I feel like the closer we get to Christmas, the more people are prone to becoming a bit frazzled by the holiday grind. We all have to keep track of the parties, and whether or not we’ve already bought gifts for everyone on our list. Add to that there is some form of anxiety for people who are planning to cook their own Christmas feast or host their own parties. Even if you do it every year, it can still be daunting.

Personally since I’m more party-goer than party-hoster, I like to take this opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and try out recipes that I feel are really special. The sort that would be fun additions to any potluck party or fitting to hand as a gift to the host. Somehow when the holiday season comes around, I also have more energy and enthusiasm to attempt recipes I normally wouldn’t make on any regular old day. You know, recipes that kind of require more effort like cupcakes with fluffy Swiss meringue frosting, or the show-stopping Buche de Noel. I also allow myself to gravitate towards those really rich and sinful desserts, such as the baklava.

15346649413 98ccac2c3f b - Since it’s a special recipe kind of season, I made my first baklava

We often order baklava for dessert when we eat at Greek restaurants and my impression was always that it is something difficult to make. It’s not the chopped nuts but the golden layers of phyllo pastry (or filo/fillo) that looks rather challenging to replicate.

I don’t really know how to make phyllo so all I can rely on is a secret ingredient called frozen store-bought phyllo pastry! This recipe is not traditional by any means and I can’t vouch for authenticity at all since one, I’m using frozen phyllo, and second, I’ve never seen how real baklava is made. So apologies to those who might feel offended by this shortcut recipe. I’d love to learn how it’s done properly though.

The thing about baklava for me is that it is massively impressive. I imagine if you brought one to a Christmas potluck party- at least locally- people would oooh and aaah because it’s a rather uncommon dessert to bring to a Christmas party. The next thing they always seem to ask is if it was difficult to create it. Truth be told this particular recipe takes less than 20 minutes, though you are going to need to make this ahead of time because it needs a good deal of umm… sponging time. I’ll explain later.

15778979040 a43407e05e b - Since it’s a special recipe kind of season, I made my first baklava

Since it’s not at all too late yet to add this to your holiday menu or gift list, maybe you’d want to see for yourself how easily it can be done? And by the way, this ain’t just any baklava recipe. It’s a chocolate baklava recipe. I mean, it’s Christmas, so basically you have the license to go all out with the good stuff, yes?

{Countdown to Christmas} A Holiday Wreath for hanging in your tummy

Holiday Wreath Bread

Is it just me or does my title sound just a tad morbid?

Anyways, since we were on the subject of yeast breads coming from my previous post, I was contemplating on doing some sort of Christmas yeast bread that is not a panettone. It wasn’t until I caught this very interesting-looking wreath bread on the cover of a local food magazine that I decided I would.

It’s a little bit like a panettone in that it makes use of dried fruits, some of which inevitably end up within the bread. However half of the dried fruits do end up speckled all over the top as in bright red decorations, which gives this wreath bread a definitely more festive appearance compared to a panettone. Even my very traditional grandmother who doesn’t like anything that is not Chinese commented on how festive this bread looks in between bites. So I suppose I could declare this a success!

{Countdown to Christmas} Cranberry Bliss Bars for the sweet tooth

Bliss Bars

If you’re the type to frequent Starbucks not just for its coffee but also for its snacks, then you’re in luck with today’s post. I don’t go to Starbucks at all but I’ve been told they serve up something like this around the holiday season: a spiced bar dotted with white chocolate chips; filled with the aroma and tang of orange zest; topped with cream cheese icing and a sprinkling of the colours of Christmas, all thanks to the green of pistachios, the red of dried cranberries, and shaved white chocolate. Now how does that sound?

In truth, it’s really the festive appearance of these bars that captured my attention. These have been on my radar for quite some time, but I’ve never actually made them because I knew they were going to be on the sweet side. I do not have much of a sweet tooth, so I don’t normally make things that might be a bit too sweet for me to enjoy. But because it’s Christmas-time, I thought, what the hey! I mean, it must be called Bliss Bars for a reason!

{Countdown to Christmas} Minty Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate Bundt Cake

By appearance, it would seem that this bundt cake isn’t quite as Christmas-y as most holiday treats. There are no red or green splashes of colour nor intricate Christmas designs and shapes, but simply a rich, dark chocolate cake with an equally rich and dark glaze. The thing that adds a decidedly Christmas twist to this cake is the touch of peppermint extract I applied to the glaze. Small as that may be, I do think this is a good kick-off post for the series of holiday recipes I am excited to share!

I’ve been eyeing this recipe awhile mostly because of this photo. I just love how the glaze created this sort of shiny dark outer skin on the cake, hugging the surface of the cake like a blanket with a lovely sheen. The contrast of colours is stunning, and I could almost taste just how moist this cake is from the photo.

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