Christmas in November: Treats (and recipes!) from the Holiday Craftacular

photo(8)Well folks, this year I broke my own rule. I have a strict policy of “No Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving”. Even as much as I love Christmas time, I do not indulge in Peppermint Mochas nor do I listen to my vintage holiday albums until after I’ve eaten turkey. But this year, when my friend Crystal of Baby Begonia asked if I wanted to be a vendor at her Holiday Craftacular, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

photo(1)Since I’d never really done an event like this, I wasn’t exactly sure how much to make. I wanted a variety, and I wanted to show off how tasty treats can be adorably sweet, but I also didn’t want to go home with 10 lbs. of leftover fudge on my hands, either. I decided to stick with some tried and true holiday favorites, and I threw in one new treat for fun. Fortunately, I guesstimated correctly; I ended up selling everything I made — hooray! But the best part was seeing all the people enjoy the stuff in person. I had a great time and I definitely want to try and do more of these “live” events in the future!

So now for the good stuff … here’s what I made. You’ll recognize these for sure, and I’ve even linked up the past posts in case you’d like to make some this year. (Just wait until Friday, though – okay?)

photo(6)#1 “Elements of the Holidays” Mini Bread Loaves
Inspired by the Periodic Chart of Elements, I think of certain flavors as elements of the holidays. I usually do Gingerbread and Pumpkin Bread, but since my favorite Gingerbread recipe was more labor-intensive than I could pull off under such a time crunch, I opted for making Cranberry Orange Bread instead. These make such nice hostess gifts if you’re an invited guest for Thanksgiving dinner or even if you just don’t want to show up empty handed at the holiday party. I made some Fall themed loaves with brown hounds-tooth fabric I had, attached an orange bow, and voila – they’re ready for Thanksgiving! I also did my signature red and green stripes/polka dots loaves for Christmas.

Learn to make the no-sew packaging yourself, here!
(The post also includes my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe.)

photo(7)#2 Triple Decker Maple Peanut Butter Pretzel Fudge
Yup, you read that right This stuff is ridiculous. The part I love most is that it’s delicious and pretty. I package huge pieces of it so you can see how rustic the pretzel rods and crushed pretzels look on top, even though it’s so decadent that there’s realistically about 4 pieces per “block”.

Recipe and free download for a tag is here, now go make some yourself!

#3 Festive Holly Berry Cupcakes
These are so. freaking. easy. Use your favorite cupcake recipe and pick up a bottle of these Holly Mix sprinkles by Wilton. Yes, I apply the sprinkles individually with tweezers so I can make them perfect. Really, it’s that easy.
IMG_00139#4 Red Velvet Brownies drizzled with Cream Cheese IcingThese were new for me, but I had to make them, simply because I wanted something red! This is a GREAT brownie recipe – super crackly on top, and gooey on the inside. I used a round cookie cutter to cut the brownies so they’d be a perfect fit inside these red/white striped baking cups I had. But, when I cut them, the tops were so crackly that they weren’t very pretty, so I flipped them upside down and iced the bottoms! Wish I would’ve remembered to take a pic before they were gone. Sorry ’bout it.

This recipe is a keeper. Make your own using this recipe here.

Now it’s time to take a break and gear up for more holiday treat making once the season officially begins! Still trying decide on this year’s goodies. What will you be making?


Sweet Treats: Pumpkin Swirled Brownie Bites

photo(1)I was asked to make some treats for the Sip + Shop event at Fox & Moon Clothing last night and the lovely shop owner Kristen asked, “Can you do something ‘pumpkin-y’?” Of course, I thought about Martha’s Pumpkin Swirled Brownies right away!

For the event, I thought bites would be better, so I used my cute little heart-shaped cutter to make adorable bite-sized pieces. Then, I decided they still needed to look cuter, so I drizzled them with cream cheese frosting.

Visit this post to get the recipe!

These “brownies” are really more like pumpkin bread with brownie batter mixed throughout. They do have a little bit of an after-bite thanks to a dash of cayenne, so be warned — but truly, it’s that bite that make these guys really special. When I serve them as brownies, I like to skip the drizzle, because the brownie/pumpkin swirl is really pretty – but the drizzle on these bites were just perfect!


Four-Eyed Girlie Goes Vegan for a Good Cause!

This weekend, I was proud to be a part of the FNA Foundation‘s 1st ever Pop-Up Food Stand. My friends + I started this foundation to raise funds for various charities supporting better living through food and art, and also because we really wanted to bring cool and exciting events to a city we all love: Long Beach. We are lucky that one of our founding members is Joni Marie Newman, vegan cookbook author and chef extraordinaire – so we used all of her amazing recipes to create 9 unique menu items. We served three kinds of mashed potatoes (Avocado-Lime/Garlic Truffle/Wasabi), three kinds of tacos (Tempeh Adobo/Jackfruit Carnitas/Deep-Fried Avocado), and three kinds of desserts (Avocado Coconut Lime Tarts/Mexicannolis/Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Truffles).

As you can probably imagine, I was especially drawn to making the desserts. All three were delicious, but my absolute favorite were the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Truffles dusted with Cinnamon and Cayenne. These sweet treats have an incredible balance of super-rich and fudgy goodness, mixed with just a touch of heat. It was the 1st time I’ve ever baked a vegan dessert myself, and honestly — I’d dare anyone to try these and exclaim they’re anything but AMAZING. They are so good that I begged Joni to share the recipe with you here. You simply MUST try these! To make these, you’ll need all three components found below: the cake recipe, ganache recipe and the truffle-making instructions.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake Truffles
(adapted from Joni Marie Newman at

To make these truffles, you’ll need to first prepare the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake and the Chocolate Chili Ganache

  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake (see below for recipe)
  • Chocolate Chili Ganache (see below for recipe)
  • chocolate chips
  • cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper
  • In a bowl, smash cake together with ganache until well incorporated and doughy.
  • Form into balls (smaller than golf balls, bigger than a piece of See’s candy)  and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or parchment.
  • Insert a toothpick into each ball.
  • Place in the freezer.
  • Melt chocolate in a double boiler
  • Once balls are cold/frozen dip in chocolate to coat.
  • Return to tray and freezer to harden.
  • Mix together 2 parts cinnamon to 1 part cayenne pepper
  • Once hardened, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon cayenne mixture.
  • Place in a cupcake paper and serve!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake (adapted from Kittee Berns’ Chocolate Wacky Cake)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray pan with nonstick spray.
  • Mix together dry.
  • Mix together wet.
  • Add wet to dry and combine
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool to the touch before mixing with Ganache.
Chocolate Chili Ganache (adapted from Joni Marie Newman at
  • ½ cup vanilla silk creamer
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Heat creamer until it just begins to boil.
  • Remove from heat and stir in chocolate, extract and chipotle powder.
  • Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is silky smooth.
  • Allow to cool enough to touch before mixing into cake.
I was proud to be a part of this event and help execute all this amazing food for such a great cause! To find out more information about the FNA Foundation’s upcoming events, follow us on Facebook.