This year I’ve decided that I’m not going to take charge of the dessert for dinner on Christmas day. I’ve made it every year for the past ten or so, and instead I’m assembling an assorted cookie platter to serve alongside something that one of my sisters-in-law will hopefully provide.
Don’t worry; I’m not slacking by any means. I make the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce. I also provide an appetizer and the cocktails, and dinner doesn’t even happen at my house, so you can imagine the work involved in transporting everything to another home. It’s a long story as to why our dinners happen this way, but suffice it to say it’s really the easiest for everyone involved, and doing it this way ensures the entire Scott clan can have Christmas dinner together.
When dessert was in my hands, the most popular one to date was a mock croquembouche I made for the kids three years ago. I say mock because there was no piping of choux paste in my kitchen that year, nor any spinning of sugar, and in place of both traditional ingredients I used store-bought frozen cream puffs topped with microwave melted chocolate (should I hand in my food writer card now?). Normally I would hang my head in shame over the shortcut I took to get that dessert on the table, but seeing how excited the kids were about what I had made forced me get over myself pretty quickly. And to be honest, I’ve never looked back when it comes to making cream puff Christmas trees.
Last month, I was approached by M&M Meats to develop two recipes for them for the holiday season. The catch, of course, was that I needed to use a minimum of one of their brand name products for each of the recipes, a task that was surprisingly simple. To start with, as soon as I found mini cream puffs on the menu I knew I would put together another Christmas tree using both of their available flavours. This time I dipped the tops into melted white chocolate and sprinkled them with gold sanding sugar, before stacking them with the chocolate hazelnut cream puffs into a tree-shaped structure supported by a glue made of basic white icing. The result was ridiculously festive, and one that my boys were pretty pleased with.
The second recipe was something Rob and I spent a weekend munching on. Despite being relatively simple to make, it took me four tries to get it just right, and in the end we knew I had a winner. The cheesy spinach and artichoke stuffed baguette is the ideal appetizer for the holidays because it’s both decadent and delicious, and pairs just as well with a cocktail as it does a glass of bubbly (trust me, I tried it both ways). To make them, I mixed the M&M brand spinach, artichoke and cheese dip with more cream cheese to thicken it, and stuffed it into a hollowed out baguette before baking it with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. It really is as good as you’re imagining.
Both of these recipes are simple and seasonal and would be a welcome addition to any holiday fete. Let me know if you give them a go!
Note: This post was produced in partnership with M&M Meats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support Family Bites!