There's something so wonderful about the flavor of tart cranberry in winter months. Is it coincidence that the berries are harvested just in time for holiday baking? I think not! Mother Nature gives us just what we need to wake up sleepy winter taste buds.

These bars hold a tart layer of jammy cranberry between two layers of vanilla-scented oat crust. They would be right at home on any holiday cookie tray, but I often found myself craving them for breakfast with coffee (oats = breakfast, right?).
These items are curated for bakers and confectioners of every stripe. Practical baking basics, creative tools, and special ingredients will make this holiday season sweet for the baker on your gift list!

Practical Baking Basics
CIA 6 Piece Measuring Spoon Set – Perfect stocking-stuffer or tie-on for packages! I have enjoyed this set for years.  My general advice on measuring spoons is to never ever ever, buy plastic spoons with the measurements printed on. They become brittle with repeated washing and will break.
These spicy roasted party nuts are savory-sweet with a coating of brown sugar, sea salt, and chopped fresh rosemary. A dash of ground cayenne pepper makes the flavors zing with just a touch of heat.

I had planned to post this recipe during December but - surprise! It's arrived early. I'm putting together a cheese board for Thanksgiving and decided just last night that these spicy nuts would be a perfect addition. The savory-sweet flavors will pair nicely with most any cheese, and  I can image a big jarful sitting right next to this filo-wrapped cranberry brie.
Rich caramel sauce and diced apples give ordinary monkey bread a fall makeover. It makes a delicious and cozy breakfast for overnight guests.

This sticky ring of cinnamon-sugared sweet dough goes by many names - most famously Monkey Bread - but I've also heard it called puzzle bread, bubble bread, and Hungarian coffee cake. I don't think it matters what you call it, because it's the kind of delectable pull-apart bread that disappears so quickly it barely has a chance to be formally introduced.

This version is a recent favorite. Diced apples are fried in butter and brown sugar (yes!) which creates thick, rich caramel syrup that is drizzled over the dough pieces before baking. The end result is simply irresistible!
Toast-worthy champagne cranberry sauce molded into a ring doubles as table decor for formal Thanksgiving dinners. It's tart and sweet ,which pairs perfectly with savory main dishes.

Cheers to you, friends - with cranberry sauce! Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Our menu is almost set, with just a few minor adjustments to be made. One thing is for certain, we'll have enough food for twice the people attending, which is good for those of us looking forward to leftovers!

This slightly boozy cranberry sauce is tart and delicious with savory fare. It can be served as sauce in a bowl, or if you're looking for a more formal presentation, you can mold it in a decorative pan as I have.
Ancho chile powder gives ordinary pumpkin pie spicy-sweet flavor with just a kiss of heat. Zesty lime whipped cream is tart and cooling, and compliments the pie's peppery flavor.

If you're looking for a new spin on pumpkin pie - and if you love Mexican cuisine - this pie is for you! For those unfamiliar, ancho chiles are poblano peppers (of chile rellano fame) that have been ripened and dried. Peppers that are allowed to ripen from green to deep red are sweeter, which gives them an affinity for all kinds of desserts.

The use of ancho in this pie reveals earthiness without covering any of the pumpkin flavor. It's just different enough to surprise and delight your guests at the end of Thanksgiving dinner.

I'm sharing something a little bit different today, and it's something I love doing - decorating the holiday table! I'll admit that it takes me a while to figure out what I like, so I start thinking about elements for my December table when November arrives. I find that planning this early is a real time-saver during my busiest month! 
Two of the season’s most beloved flavors are combined in one delicious cake! It’s simple to assemble and makes a great alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving Day dessert.

Pumpkin pie recipes are plentiful on the blogosphere right now, but I'd like to draw your attention to this pumpkin cake for just a moment. It's a rustic beauty that isn't too hard to put together, and it's one of the tastiest pumpkin cakes I've ever made. The batter is loaded with pumpkin puree, which is then poured atop a pool of butter caramel and chopped pecans.

At the end of baking you'll have two caramel upside-down cakes with sugar-crusted edges. The two cakes are layered with freshly whipped cream, which balances the sweetness of the pecan praline topping.
Chai Cupcakes are flavored with a medley of aromatic spices that evoke the essence of fall. Ginger, cardamom, and black pepper notes shine in both the cake and vanilla-chai frosting.

The weather is dipping into cooler temperatures this week, which means I'll be cozying up to my favorite spicy beverage - spoiler alert! It's not a Pumpkin Spice Latte (ha!).

Lately chai lattes are my hot beverage of choice. There's something so comforting, almost healing, about their heady spices. I was inspired to use those same flavors in tender, buttery cupcakes.
Lobster Mac and Cheese Baked in Filo makes an elegant side dish, but it's also hearty enough to serve as a main course! It's an indulgent offering for holidays and special dinner parties.

Lately I've been exploring the savory side of baking and enjoying it immensely! There's a whole new world of things to be wrapped in pie crusts, puffy pastry - or in this case, filo dough. Lobster Mac and Cheese is  a favorite here, so I decided to give it the ol' pastry chef makeover. It's just the thing to switch up the usual Thanksgiving side dishes, so I'm making it for our dinner this year.
Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Seed Caramels are filled with autumn's best flavors. Dry-roasted pumpkin seeds give them the perfect salty bite!

Of all the caramel recipes I've made over the years, this one ranks high. It could be my new favorite of all time. Maple syrup and bourbon give the caramels complex flavor, and pumpkin seeds deliver just the right amount of salt and crunch.

After passing these out to friends and family, someone asked if they could purchase more!

In the vast and greatly varied world of molasses cakes, this modest-looking bundt cake is perhaps the deepest, darkest, and most intensely flavored of them all. The batter is given a strong dose of blackstap molasses, and it has two types of ginger: ground and freshly grated. To further underscore its depth of flavor, Guinness Extra Stout is added, which is distinctively bitter-sweet, black, and full-bodied. Altogether, these ingredients produce a cake that is dark, sticky and chewy with flavor that booms like a timpani drum!

We enjoy pillowy yeast rolls year-round, but they are an absolute must at our big holiday dinners. I love this recipe because it yields 24 perfect soft dinner rolls with golden tops and a lightly tangy buttermilk flavor. They're also 'rapid rise' which means a higher amount of yeast is used in the dough, so they are quicker to make than most recipes. Instead of babysitting dough all day (or waiting overnight) you'll have cotton-soft yeast rolls in about 1 hour 30 minutes.
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