A handpicked blend of aromas and flavors to spice up your holiday giving.
- CategoryEat & Drink
We SoCal folk are not confused; we’re adaptable. Jack Frost may not exactly be nipping at our nose, nor do we break out long, heavy, East Coast coats or spend the morning scraping ice off the car windshield. But we do embrace the more subtle seasonal weather changes and everything else that comes with winter. The smell of cinnamon, pine, vanilla, clove and nutmeg … all these scents color the air and fill our homes with nostalgia. Here are a few holiday creations—some traditional and some unexpected—to spice up your season.
SILENT NIGHT CAP
Cozy up by the fire pit with this spicy cocktail.
Makes 1 drink
- 3 ounces Licor 43 Cuarentra Y Tres
- ½ ounce mezcal
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 orange peel quarter round with a clove stud. or an orange peel twist
Shake and pour over a couple rocks ice cubes.
There are an endless number of sweet and savory recipes with winter spices. We share a few of our favorites to dazzle the senses. Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Berry Waffles with Cinnamon Maple Syrup provide that extra early winter morning motivation, and Chocolate Gingerbread Souffle with Eggnog Crème Anglaise adds that needed warming spice for dark winter nights.
Vanilla Cinnamon Buttermilk Berry Waffles with Cinnamon Maple Syrup
These can be made up to a week in advance, frozen and reheated. Follow the recipe below or add ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup sliced frozen strawberries, 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or paste or deseed a whole vanilla bean into the batter of your favorite pre-made waffle mix. Add a cinnamon stick to your favorite maple syrup and let sit overnight in the fridge. Warm before serving.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or beans from 1 deseeded vanilla bean
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 to 2¼ cups buttermilk
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup sliced frozen strawberries (slice while partially frozen)
- Cinnamon Maple Syrup
Preheat the waffle iron. Whisk dry ingredients. Mix yolks, 2 cups buttermilk (add additional buttermilk if batter is too thick), molasses and 3 tablespoons melted butter in a pitcher. Add to dry ingredients and mix until combined. In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix ¼ of the whipped egg whites thoroughly into the batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites and strawberries. Grease waffle iron with oil and add approximately ¾ to 1 cup of batter spread to 1⁄8-inch of the edges. Cook until the steam dissipates and they release easily. Adjust waffle setting as needed.
Vanilla Bean Chantilly Whipped Cream (optional)
Whip 2 cups of cream with 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or scrape the beans of one pod into the cream. Add fine granulated or powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Start with 3 tablespoons sugar and add more to taste.
Chocolate Gingerbread Soufflé with Eggnog Crème Anglaise
Makes 6 (4-ounce) soufflés
Gingerbread and eggnog are the quintessential holiday spice blends. Combine them with chocolate, and the result is pure decadence!
Gingerbread Spice Mix
- 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground vanilla powder or paste
- pinch kosher salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Butter inside ramekins, dust with sugar. Tap out excess sugar and chill
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 ounces unsalted butter
- 1⅓ cup dark chocolate chips (62% cocoa), room temp or slightly melted
- 8 fluid ounces whole milk
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
- 6 large egg whites, room temp
- pinch cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 400º. Combine gingerbread spices and reserve. Slowly whisk the flour into melted butter making a blonde roux paste. Cook 3 to 4 minutes without browning. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips to a warm (not hot) mixture. Stir until fully combined.
Scald milk by bringing to a near boil and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat yolks with sugar until fluffy and pale. Slowly add a small amount of hot milk to the egg mixture and then combine the two mixtures; the idea is to prevent yolks from scrambling. Combine with roux, spices and molasses. Reserve. Can be made a day in advance. Warm over a double broiler until batter stirs easily.
Whip egg whites in a clean bowl on medium until frothy. Add cream of tartar and whip until stiff peaks form. Whip ¼ of the meringue into the soufflé batter until mixed throughout. Carefully fold in the rest of the meringue.
Transfer batter to a piping bag. Pipe into prepared ramekins with a circular motion. Make sure the top 1⁄8-inch of the inside rim of the ramekin is clean. Smoothe top of soufflé with a wet finger or back of a wet spoon.
Turn oven temp down to 375º after the first 3 minutes. Bake soufflés on a sheet tray on the middle rack of the oven until they rise 1 inch above rim, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately with Crème Anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.
Note: Oven temps may vary. Place soufflés away from hot spots and resist opening the oven door till they have risen. If the soufflé is not done inside, turn the oven up 25º and reheat till they rise and are cooked thru.
Eggnog Crème Anglaise:
- 1½ vanilla bean, cut open, beans scraped out
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 16 fluid ounces whole milk
- 2 ounces sugar, divided
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons brandy
Scald milk mixture and reserve. Whisk egg yolks and sugar. Temper egg mixture with warm milk mixture. Heat until nappe, or mixture coats the back of a spoon. Strain sauce and cool over an ice bath.
Add brandy to cooled mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to two days.
Aromatic mini-topiary spice trees, star anise wreaths, spice napkin rings and baked apple spice candles look and smell great and are also unique hostess gifts.
Anise & Cinnamon Spice Wreath
- 1 6-inch mini grapevine wreath frame
- 1 to 1½ cups whole star anise (Indian markets are great resources)
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- juniper berries, peppercorns and/or whole allspice, about 20
- mini pinecones, two per wreath
- hot glue gun with glue sticks or fast-drying, multi purpose, clear-drying glue
- tweezers to position small spices
- optional: ribbon, dark wood stain, mini paintbrush
Line up four star anise pieces to create four even quadrants on the wreath. Glue a piece of star anise one at a time until each section is filled with spice. Add cinnamon sticks in one quadrant and then add additional spices in the opposite quadrant to create asymmetrical balance. Carefully cover any noticeable glue with juniper berries, allspice and cloves and paint with wood stain. Add a pretty silk or organza ribbon to finish the look.
Jennifer Hardaway, founder and creator of Klean Spa, offers a few pro tips on crafting hand-made spice soap and body scrubs with aromas of ginger tea, chai and pumpkin. These beauty items make wonderful gifts and help cleanse away the winter blues.
- Start with a goat milk glycerin to showcase the spices.
- Be judicious when adding scents and essential oils, so the bars retain a firm texture and don’t “weep.”
- Pure essential oils may be irritating for delicate skin, so go easy.
- Inexpensive, pre-made plastic tray molds are simple to use and easier than making and cutting a whole block of soap.
- Follow package instructions on soap base and add whole decorative spices on top after the minimum cure time. Ground spice can be added to the tray before pouring the soap for a unique effect.
Sugar & Salt Scrub
Tutorials and recipes can be found on YouTube, Bramble Berry, Bulk Apothecary and Pinterest. To mix with your sugar and salt, opt for oil-based fragrance and spices or tea accents versus natural ingredients, such as pumpkin puree, which would spoil quickly.
Try a custom blending session at Klean Spa or create your own winter fragrance blend using online tutorials. Enjoy!