Goodbye, goodbye 2016! Let’s savor that for a moment and perhaps throw some confetti. There’s never been a year that’s made me feel my humanity – our humanity – more than this one. It felt more heavy than light, and that made me dive head first into my favorite distractions: Netflix marathons of Sci-Fi and Fantasy TV shows and too many baking books - but I was no slouch! It was my 8th year of making sweet things for this blog and I worked more than ever! I felt lucky to collaborate with the likes of HGTV and Food Network and so many others. Here are some highlights and happenings from my 2016.

As I prepare to ring in the New Year, I find myself gravitating toward cheerful things. 2016 felt like a year that took more than it gave, but it wasn't all bad. Still, little creature comforts like sugar pearls and silver leaf on pink champagne donuts makes me smile. They are even prettier perched atop a shot glass of champagne panna cotta and together they taste like a bubbly celebration.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Each year this day is the same for me. I bake all day long while listening to holiday music, then I go to my mom's for her Christmas Eve open house. I get to see my favorite little kids open presents, and then I go home and stay up until 2 a.m. wrapping more gifts. I always put off wrapping until the last minute. Procrasti-wrapping. It's totally a thing!

Maybe you've got your wrapping in order, and instead are a procrasti-baker (also a thing!). If so, you may appreciate this recipe. It's simple and delicious - chocolaty and chewy! It has a buttercream topping that can be made festive with holiday confetti sprinkles.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and that just doesn't seem possible! I've really enjoyed posting these treats for you each day - and so have my well-fed friends and family!

This is a great little recipe that yields a big pan of candy caramels. They are packed with chocolate chips and salty cashews so eating one is a little bit like eating a candy bar!

I'm not sure if this recipe falls in the category of cookie or candy because it's a little of both. It's similar to 'Christmas Crack, which I'm sure you've seen because it is omnipresent on social media and all corners of the blogosphere. Unlike that version which is made with saltines, this one is made with graham crackers which gives the candy a little more sweetness. It lives up to its name - quick - with just 8 minutes of bake time in the oven.

I've been a builder of gingerbread houses for many years but I've never made a sugar cookie house. This was my first, and it won't be my last! To get started I used neon pink food color and my favorite sturdy sugar cookie recipe. The end result was a fun vibrant-hued dough that I felt was destined to create a cozy, mid-century modern cookie retreat.

This is a great recipe when you're short on time and you need delicious, meaningful gifts for your favorite people. I mean, SPIKED. HOT. FUDGE. SAUCE. Who wouldn't love that? You can put it on any sweet thing or eat it from the jar - and you totally should!

There are only a few days to go before Christmas, but the cookie-making is still going strong here! These are so easy to decorate because you don't even have to make frosting. The embellishing is done with a light brush of corn syrup on the cookies and then they get dipped in rainbow nonpareils (my #1 favorite of all the sprinkles!).

I often poach pears in winter months because it's a warming kind of thing to do. I like to sit on a stool right beside the stove with a book in one hand and a stirring spoon in the other. The cook time varies with the firmness of the fruit, but on average it's 30-ish minutes of reading and spiced pear aromatherapy. There are worse ways to spend half an hour, I tell ya!

I've used poached pears in cakes before but I've never used them in quick bread recipes. I adore fruit desserts so I was pretty optimistic about this pear-lager version. It's nice. The batter is less sweet than cake and nuanced with lager flavor. The glaze and poached pears will satisfy your sweet tooth without overwhelming it.

I've dedicated a good portion of this blog's content to baklava-inspired treats. First there was Baklava Cheesecake, then Baklava Pull-Apart Bread (swoon!), Greek Honey-Nut Pie, and finally, Baklava Cigars.  I figure it's about time that I post the genuine article!

Baklava is not hard to make, but filo can be a little fussy to work with sometimes because the dough sheets are so thin. Make sure your dough is properly thawed and cover it with a damp towel once you open the packages. This will greatly help with handling the dough.

My best friend usually gets me a box of fancy chocolates each year for Christmas. It's such a thoughtful and pretty gift. There's always an assortment of shapes and flavors, and I love looking at them almost as much as I love eating them.

I decided to try my hand at making chocolates with a magnetic mold and chocolate transfer sheet. Both are used by professional chocolatiers and together they create the most gorgeous little bites.

This recipe is proof that baking doesn't have to be fussy or complicated to yield delicious results. You'll need 3 ingredients for the macaroons, not counting the dip in chocolate which is optional (but when is chocolate ever optional?).

This recipe marries two of my favorite things in all of baking and pastry: chocolate and bread. These little loaves pack a triple chocolate punch with chocolate incorporated into the batter and mini chocolate chips speckled throughout. The third and final chocolate flourish is on top - making this bread a real looker!

Happy St. Lucia Day! This is the day that our Scandinavian friends celebrate St. Lucy, an ancient martyr with an abiding role as a bearer of light in dark winters. On this feast day young girls dress in her honor wearing white robes with a red sashes. The girls form a procession that is led by a young lady selected to portray St. Lucia, who wears a crown of candles while carrying a tray of baked goods.

Some of you may remember my previous Lucia Day post from 2013. That's when I made traditional saffron buns (Lussekatter). Soon after I was introduced to powdered saffron, thanks to the advice of my Scandinavian readers. I had used saffron threads in the dough and my buns were only slightly yellow. Apparently, you should always need a pair of sunglasses to look at properly-hued saffron bread. In other words, the brighter the better!

(I think I got it right this time!)

It's hard to believe we're almost halfway to Christmas Day and I'm just now getting to the most important classic holiday flavor which is gingerbread!

Scones have always perplexed me. I suppose it's because I'm well studied in southern buttermilk biscuit-making and I'm accustomed to their fluffy texture. Each time I've split open a bakery-purchased scone I've had the same thought: "This is the worst, driest biscuit ever!" Perhaps I need to change my viewpoint on scones but for now I've remedied the problem with this flaky, soft gingerbread version.

'Tis the season for sugar and spice!

I love making a big batch of party nuts for snacking on, even if the 'party' is just at my desk. Recently they became an accidental lunch because I was too focused on work and not very inspired by the thought of another avocado toast.

These definitely make a great gift, especially for people who eschew super-sweet confections like fudge. These nuts are barely sweet with just a kiss of brown sugar and delicately spiced.

Here's another treat that makes a great gift for long-distance friends and family because it ships well. Biscotti are firm, crunchy cookies that are usually enjoyed with hot coffee or tea because their finger-like shape makes them perfect for dipping.

I recently developed a base recipe for biscotti that can be endlessly varied. This zesty orange version is my favorite so far. I've always loved the magic worked by cranberry and orange together, and the crunchy crystal sugar topping puts these head and shoulders above my favorite store-bought version.

Consider these the chocolate-hazelnut cousin of bourbon balls. The two candies have similar virtues, such as they are both made with very few ingredients and they both improve upon standing. They make a great holiday gift - and bonus - they ship well! I love sending these to my out-of-state friends because I know they'll survive the journey and taste even better after two days in transit. This 'snowball' version is covered in powdered sugar and I just love the wintry look it gives them.

Whenever I make hot cocoa for dinner guests or visiting friends, I make it the old fashioned way with whole milk and heavy cream blended with high quality chopped chocolate. It simmers on the stove-top until steamy and then it's poured into extra-large mugs. An obscene amount of whipped cream is usually the finishing touch.

Without guests to serve, I'm more likely to make myself a cup of instant hot cocoa. I'm the only one in the house who drinks it regularly, and I find it's more convenient to make (and there's no pot to clean!). I've developed a powdered formula that can be poured into a mug and roused into a satisfying treat with just the addition of hot water or hot milk.

Hello and welcome to my favorite candy of all time! It's true. Chocolate turtles have everything I need in life- toasty pecans, chewy caramel and rich chocolate. A sprinkle of sea salt on top makes these turtles absolutely irresistible. They are dangerously simple to make and take about 8 minutes in the oven. This crowd-pleasing treat disappears quickly on a candy tray so two batches may be in order!

There's something about these cookies that feels delightfully old fashioned. Maybe it's the unfussy way the dough is patted out into long batons and cut on the bias, or maybe it's that they taste like buttery shortbread which is indeed a very old type of cookie.

The recipe is simple, though it takes a little longer than their 'split second' name implies. I think the moniker refers to how much time it takes to cut the dough into cookies - or maybe how long it takes to eat them!

Have you ever heard of The Famous Peppermint Pig?  It's a Victorian holiday tradition in the form of hard candy molded to look like a pig. The candy is accompanied by a little pouch and hammer so it can be broken it into pieces and shared with friends and family. This tradition has come to symbolize good health, happiness and prosperity. Even though the hard candy pigs are still in production today, I thought a cookie version would be cute, too!

Much as I love to dive into a lengthy baking project (and oh, do I ever!) sometimes simple is best. There's no better example of this than our long-standing holiday favorite - fudge. This recipe uses just four ingredients and it's super quick to make. I always use my microwave to make this candy, but if you don't have one then a stove top will work just fine, too.

One of my biggest joys of the holiday season is making my dogs Christmas cookies. They know exactly what I'm making when I get a special bag of flour out of the pantry - PUPPY TREATS! They immediately start turning circles and barking. Even though they totally boss me around for 30 minutes while I'm making the cookies, I don't mind because I'm hard pressed to find anyone more appreciative of a homemade treat.

These pastel peppermint truffles will add festive color and flavor to your holiday candy tray, and as far as candy-making goes they are some of the easiest! The minty centers are made with the usual buttercream frosting ingredients - butter and powdered sugar - but a helping of cream cheese gives the truffles a delectable tang.

Hello December!

Today begins the advent of treats that I've been planning for all year! Some of you may remember that I did this last year, and the response was pretty awesome so I decided to do it again this year. That means you'll have a new recipe to enjoy each day until December 25th. This year the recipes will range from easy and accessible to creative and unique. Above all, these treats make great gifts! I've always felt that homemade gifts are the best gifts, so I hope you can use these recipes to spread some holiday cheer.

We're kicking things off with these fun and creative Spirograph cookies! Did you ever have a Spirograph as a kid? I did and I loved it! After finding these fine-tipped FooDoodler food color markers, I just knew they'd be fun to use with a spiral drawing tool.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of December and I'm so excited because it begins my month-long posting of Christmas advent treats! Each day until the 25th I'll have a new tasty holiday treat for you to enjoy. The first one is really unique and creative, so be sure to check it out tomorrow.

Now. This pie!

This pie is my family's evergreen favorite. The only good excuse we need to make it is to satisfy a craving - although it shows up at almost every holiday gathering and family function. It's been gifted as an expression of appreciation, but also in times of celebration and bereavement. It is almost our family's currency of love.

We are just days away from Thanksgiving and even though I'm not doing the bulk of the cooking this year, I've got a hefty menu of desserts to make. I'm looking forward to going to my parent's house for the feast. Mom always has a lovely place setting for her dinner guests with colorful leaves and other natural elements. That's what inspired these almond pinecones. You can use them as edible decor at each place setting or bag them as takeaway gifts. Or you could just serve them on a dessert tray next to the pumpkin pie.

This fall I began a new tradition of ordering myself a batch of apple cider donuts from Vermont. I could make them myself (and I have) but the cider mill that produces them "the old fashioned way" makes the luxury too affordable to pass up. They are delicious as-is, but I've found a few new ways to amp up their cinnamon-spiced goodness!

Hello friends and Happy Weekend!

November seems to be slipping by so fast! Things have been quiet on the blog lately because I've been immersed in new projects. One of those projects was this Sweet 16 cake! I made it for a relative that lives in Atlanta, and so when it came time for cake delivery we both drove about 2 hours to meet in the middle. I'd never delivered a cake that required more than a 40 minute drive, so this was a real nail-biter for me! After the cake was handed off for another 2 hour drive I said a little prayer, which I believe worked. It arrived at its destination relatively unscathed.

We're just days away from Halloween, which doesn't seem possible because I haven't carved the first pumpkin! I guess I've been too busy baking up loads of spooky treats like this scary-good skeleton cake. When it's sliced you'll find an eye-popping red velvet interior and a cache of candy bones inside. It makes a frightful centerpiece for those party-throwers with a macabre theme.

How funny are these guys?! I decided to give my favorite popcorn ball recipe a monster makeover. If you have a microwave, the green marshmallow coating can be made in just 2 minutes! I had these salty-sweets whipped up in a flash and they taste like a popcorn version of Rice Krispy Treats.

And what about those toothy grins? Just add plastic vampire teeth for instant monster madness.

Buttermilk biscuits are the house specialty here at... well, my house. I hardly ever deviate from my grandmother's tried-and-true recipe, but ever since I made these pumpkin crescent rolls, I've been itching to try a pumpkin biscuit recipe.

These were such a nice change for us. The biscuits have mild pumpkin flavor and I adore their happy golden-orange hue. And boy, are they ever fluffy! If you need an easy scratch-made breakfast for overnight guests (say for Thanksgiving out-of-towners), then this could be it!

Remember when I told you I had Halloween party treats covered? I wasn't kidding! I've been prolific with my spooky sweets-making this year. This chocolate spider cake turned out to be one of my recent favorites. It's absolutely RICH and delicious and it'll double as a centerpiece for your party buffet.

I think we can all agree that Mr. Spider is more cute that creepy. I'd assumed the chocolate sprinkles would make him look hairy and scary, but honestly he looks more like a furry stuffed animal.

Confession. I'm such a huge nerd for the creepy new Netflix original series Stranger Things. I love the sci-fi genre anyway, but throw in all of the 80's period specific detail and I'm a total fangirl! Its visuals evoke feelings of 80's movies past: E.T., The Goonies, Stand By Me, and so many others. I recommend watching it if you're into nostalgia and don't mind being creeped out. Plus, Winona Ryder's constant panicked face gives me LIFE.

How on earth is it already mid-October!? That means Halloween is just around the corner. Are you ready? I still need to buy bags of candy for handing out to mini specters, but as for cute Halloween party treats - I'm so ready! These four no-bake sweets are easy to make and they'll bring plenty of cute spooky fun to your table.

The arrival of autumn always seems to spark my creativity and experimental nature in the kitchen. Lately I've been tinkering with my favorite hard candy recipe. It's difficult to improve upon the classic candy apple but I'm over-the-moon excited about this new soda pop twist. The flavor is oddly addictive, and I don't think I've ever eaten so many candy apples consecutively!

October is Fair Trade Month, and if you've been reading this blog for very long, then you know each year I join the efforts of Fair Trade USA to help promote this worthwhile cause. Buying Fair Trade means you’re getting high quality products and the people who grow, sew and craft them get fair compensation for their hard work.

Today I have an awesome giveaway of Fair Trade Certified products for one lucky reader, along with something for everyone - a recipe for these sweet mini chocolate-glazed donuts!

Who doesn't love bread fried in butter - right? French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods (second only to Belgian waffles) and I especially enjoy thinking up new ways to serve it.

This recipe is so easy because you start with ready-made angel food cake. It gets the complete French toast treatment with a dip in whisked eggs, then it is sizzled golden brown in a well-buttered frying pan. I finished the cake with homemade caramel sauce and chopped pecans, which makes it truly decadent and fair game for an after dinner sweet treat!

I enjoy dining out occasionally, and if there's a complimentary bread basket involved then I'm the person who descends upon it with much zeal. I've often said that I could live on bread and sweet tea (the latter is a southern habit) and that sentiment rings truer than ever after I made these pumpkin crescents. Gosh, are they ever soft and buttery!

Last week I went to the Tennessee State Fair. It always brings genuine childlike joy to my soul. I love to get my face painted and gawk the giant prize-winning pumpkin. And the food! I must have tried one of everything. It inspired me to create this layer cake, which is an homage to many of my favorite fair foods.

Once upon a time buttered white bread topped with rainbow sprinkles sounded like an odd food combination to me, but its magical name drew me in. Fairy Bread. I first tasted this Aussie treat years ago, and since then I've become its biggest fan (along with its Dutch cousin, Hagelslag.) You can find additional proof of my affection in this Fairy Bread Party Cake blog post.

I was also inspired to cookie-ify it!

I want to share something fun with you today - a 'Naked Cakes' gallery! This un-frosted cake trend gained popularity in 2013 and has hit its stride in the following years. It's all about the beauty of simplicity; uncovered cakes showing off their delicious fillings. The main decorative component is usually on top of the cake. A sprinkle of powdered sugar is the unfussiest decor, or you can go all out with food-safe flowers and sugared berries.

Here's a great little baking project that won't take up much of your weekend!

This no-frills spiced pumpkin bread is tops in my book. It's sweet, tender and speckled with walnuts throughout. The recipe makes two big loaves, which means you can share the love by giving one away to your neighbor. I think that's important. Even if we can't cure the world's ills we can still give a loaf of pumpkin bread to our neighbor, and that's a step in the right direction.

September marks the beginning of apple season and as a baker that makes me so happy! I have a surplus of apples on hand so you can expect lots of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp confections this month.

I'm kicking things off with a recipe that is old fashioned in the best way possible. It's a cake your grandmother might've made. I call it Layered Apple Harvest Cake, because it's usual name - 'Apple Bundt Cake' - seems a bit generic and says too little about it.

Today's post introduces a whole new category in Sprinkle Bakes' recipe index - Savory Bakes!

Now, I don't want anyone worrying that I've fallen off the sugar wagon - quite the opposite! My main focus is still very much on all things sweet, but ever since I posted my trusty unsweet southern cornbread recipe, I've felt encouraged to share more of my of my favorite savory recipes. You can still expect to see mostly dessert recipes tempered with a few new savory bakes limited to breads and pastry (my specialty!).

Just when I think summer is winding down we'll have consecutive 90 degree days with 100% humidity. This month's dualities are making crazy! I've been dreaming of fall baking (especially spiced apple fritters) but ice pops are still totally necessary!

Hello, pumpkin! Are you still reading? Yes? I was afraid the sight of a pumpkin treat so early in the year might've made you close your browser. I hope not because these are totally delicious and my current favorite breakfast.

I keep canned pumpkin in my pantry all year long because the puggy-pies love it. I mix a little in with their puppy food for a healthful treat and sometimes I have 3/4 can leftover with nowhere to go except the refrigerator shelf.

It's mid-August, and at this time each year I get confused as a baker. It's still summer but fall baking is foremost on my mind. I find that if I light my citrus kitchen candle and do an upward salute, then my heart will point me to the right recipe.

Monster cookies! Gosh, how many times have I made these? Many. They are bake sale favorites and since school is already in (seriously, already?), then this seems like an opportune time to post my favorite monster cookie recipe.

August is shaping up to be filled with inspiration and pink frosting here at Sprinkle Bakes. I've been digging through some old cake decorating magazines and jotting down all the things that catch my eye. My notebook is already getting quite full!

I was most inspired by an image of a cake covered with butterflies. A few years ago there was a big trend in wedding cake decorating where wafer paper butterflies were arranged to ascend cake tiers in rainbow colors. I still think the effect is pretty (but perhaps dated) so I decided to seek out edible paper butterflies in all sizes and colors for a different kind of butterfly cake.
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