Chocoflan

I remember the first time I tasted Chocoflan. I must have been around 12 years old at my best friend Misha’s birthday celebration. I grew up in south Texas right on the border of Mexico, so I was no stranger to delicious Mexican cuisine. I was always a fan of flan on its own, and of course, chocolate cake. When I tasted this magnificent creation, I think I had an out of body experience. I remember thinking it was the best dessert I’d ever tasted in my whole life! I would think about Chocoflan all year until Misha’s birthday on March 14th, then I would get the glorious pleasure of eating it once again. When I became really interested in learning how to cook, specifically, cook my favorite things, I was determined to find a recipe that tasted just like that first memory. I tried a few different ones, and this one was the winner. I have been making this recipe for years now, usually around Christmastime. My family asks for it and people ooh and ahh about how cool it is that the flan is on top of the cake. I don’t do anything special, it’s just a magical creation all on its own. Well, scientifically, the volume of the flan mixture is more dense than the cake batter, therefore it sinks to the bottom of the bundt during the baking process, and when flipped after baking, it is on top. Food science, magic, same difference. I am so excited to finally make this for my blog and share it with all of you, it truly is one of my all time favorite recipes and something very near and dear to my heart. I hope all of you enjoy the holiday season with those you love, eating, laughing, and being merry!

Ingredients

  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix and ingredients according to cake instructions (eggs, oil, water)
  • ½ cup of jarred caramel
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F and put rack in the middle. Oil or spray a large (14.5 cup) Bundt pan.
  2. Pour caramel in the pan and tilt side to side to evenly coat. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix chocolate cake according to package instructions with an electric mixer and set aside.
  4. To soften the cream cheese, microwave unwrapped 15 seconds.
  5. In a blender or food processor blend the 4 eggs, cream cheese, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla to make the flan.
  6. Pour chocolate cake batter over the caramel.
  7. Pour flan on top of cake batter. While baking, the flan will sink between the chocolate cake and caramel.
  8. Place the pan inside a roasting pan or large baking dish. Pour hot water in the roasting pan so it’s 1 inch deep (to make a water bath).
  9. Cover Bundt pan with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour. Uncover and cook 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove cake from the roasting pan and allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  10. Put a large plate or cake plate inverted over the top of the Bundt pan. Grip the two together and flip over. Store in refrigerator. Serve chilled.

German Wassail

Central Texas is full of rich German influence and history. Upon moving here, I discovered so many delicious German foods, Wassail being one of them! It is a deliciously spiced warm mulled punch very similar to cider, can be served alcoholic (best with Brandy) or non-alcoholic. Wassail doesn’t have specific German roots, as it comes from many Anglo-Saxon countries celebrated during Christmastime and New Years, with festivals dedicated to the consumption of this drink and celebration of the holiday time. derived from the Anglo-Saxon words for “to your health” – “waes hael”, the recipe of the same name was offered to visitors throughout the festive period, or in some cases taken around the community in a large wooden bowl decorated with evergreen leaves (usually holly and ivy) and festoons of bright red ribbons.  There is no definitive recipe for “wassail” the drink, as it varies from region, and was often dependent on local ingredients and libations such as ale, cider, apple juice and fruit, or whatever was used to “top” the wassail bowl up as it was taken around to individual houses in the local community.

I had a lot of fun looking up recipes of what I thought would be most similar to one I had at a Wassail Festival in New Braunfels, TX last year, and I think I came very close! I hope you enjoy this drink as much as I did. Merry Christmas!

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups water
  • 1 Cup sugar 
  • 3-6 sticks cinnamon
  • 8 whole allspice
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 clump of crystallized ginger, 1/2 inch chunk fresh ginger, or 1 tsp powdered
  • 1 32 oz bottle unsweetened apple juice
  • 3 Cups pineapple juice
  • 2 Cups unsweetened orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup lemon juice

Instructions

  • Bring water and sugar to a low boil
  • With cheesecloth, create a sachet of the cinnamon, whole allspice, whole cloves, and ginger and tie with butcher’s twine.
  • Add sachet to water and sugar, simmer for 1 hour.
  • Remove sachet and add unsweetened apple juice, pineapple juice and orange juice, lemon juice.
  • Heat to desired temperature.
  • Serve warm or cold, optional* add Brandy to each serving to your desired likeness.

Pumpkin Praline Bread Pudding

As pumpkin season comes to an end and we enter December with all things cinnamon and spice, I couldn’t help but think of this divine pumpkin praline bread pudding I made a few weeks back. This dessert is the epitome of decadence, filling you with warmth and happiness. It is very simple to make, but will easily impress anyone who eats it. I love when I discover those “winner” recipes, the ones that you know you’ll keep up your sleeve for years to come. This is one of them. Make it, you won’t regret it!

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • 1 pound loaf day old French bread, torn into small pieces
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 15-ounce can Pumpkin Puree
  • 1-1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tablespoon Melted Butter
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice * (homemade or store-bought)

Praline Sauce

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Toasted Pecans

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and place torn pieces of bread in the dish.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, half and half, pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.
  • Slowly pour the batter over the bread pieces in the baking dish. Be sure to cover all the bread pieces.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for about 1 hour.
  • While the bread pudding is baking, make the praline sauce. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, and stir pecans into the cream mixture. Simmer until the sauce thickens, for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour over bread pudding to serve.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream for extra deliciousness!

Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

Is it even really Christmas if you aren’t drinking hot cocoa and listening to holiday music? I finally found the perfect hot cocoa mix with a hint of cinnamon, it’s so rich and decadent, this made perfect gifts for friends and family in little Mason jars! It’s best with hot milk, a handful of chocolate chips, and marshmallows on top. Make this for yourself or as gifts and it will not disappoint!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Hot milk or water

Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, cocoa, powdered milk, salt, and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

To make cocoa, fill a mug half full of hot cocoa mix. Heat water or milk to boiling and pour into glass to the top. Stir to dissolve with a spoon. Add marshmallows, chocolate chips, and a pinch of cinnamon to top it off!

Serve hot (but don’t burn your tongue)!

Marranitos

These cute little Mexican gingerbread piggies are made with molasses and usually found in your local Pan Dulce bakery. I was very curious to know the history of these pig-shaped cookies and did a little research…these were supposedly introduced in the 16th century in the state of Veracruz after the Spaniards conquered and colonized México. The Spanish brought many new animals to México with them like cows, sheep, horses, donkeys, and pigs. These animals were unfamiliar to native Mexicans, and later when they began making breads, they experimented with different flavors and shapes of bread…this was the introduction of pan dulce as we know it today. One of those shapes they experimented with was the little pig, or Marran, the formal Spanish word for pig. I loved reading the history of this sweet bread, and how we as Texans have enjoyed it for many years; I love Texas for our rich history and blend of culture. This sweet treat goes perfectly dipped into ice cold milk!

Ingredients

•1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (about 1 stick)
•1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
•2 large eggs
•3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
•1/4 cup milk
•1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•5 cups all-purpose flour
•2 tsp ground ginger
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
•1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add the dark brown sugar and mix until well combined. Add in one egg, molasses, milk and vanilla extract. Mix together until smooth.
  • In a separate large bowl, add the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix together to combine. 
  • Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix until well combined. The dough should cleanly pull away from the mixing bowl. 
  • Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3/8 inch thickness (or a little less than 1/2 inch). Use a pig shaped cooked cutter (my friend Chelsea bought it on Amazon) to cut into pigs. Place pigs 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the remaining beaten egg over the tops of the cookies.
  • In a small bowl, crack open the remaining egg and whisk. Brush the beaten egg over the tops of the pigs using a pastry brush.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

Pan de Polvo

This delicioso shortbread cookie has a history of being served during the holidays or celebrations like weddings and quinceñeras, also commonly known as the “Mexican Wedding Cookie”. Growing up, my Mom would always buy 6 dozen or so of these from a local Panadería for Christmas parties. They are always a hit, lightly sweet and delightfully crumbly, you never have any leftovers when the party is over. For many years I’d heard that this dessert was labor intensive and difficult to achieve the perfect texture and flavor like the Panaderías do. So naturally I was discouraged from making them, thinking I would be disappointed in the outcome. After searching for the perfect recipe, I found one that I felt would yield positive results and I was right! The recipe is easy to follow, and the end result is exactly how I remember having them from the traditional Panaderías. Needless to say, I’m proud of this and will continue to make them year after year. Tip: because the dough is so crumbly, it’s recommended to use a small cookie cutter, if you use a larger cut out, the cookies may fall apart. My clever boyfriend suggested using the 1.5 Oz side of a jigger, and it was the perfect small circle cut out I needed!

Ingredients for dough

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 1 3/4 cup of vegetable shortening (I use Crisco) -room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks of cinnamon grounded in a coffee grinder OR 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture

  • 6 Tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (stick or ground)

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl place all ingredients and using hands, mix dough all together, up to several minutes, the heat from your hands is what makes the dough pliable for it to come together. 
  • Once dough comes together, place on counter (NOT the refrigerator) for an hour.
  • Pre heat oven to 375 while you roll out the dough.
  • Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. Roll out the dough thicker than you normally would for sugar cookies.
  • Cut out shapes with small cookie cutters
  • Place close together on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before prying them loose with a spatula or fork. (Do NOT use your fingers or cookies will crumble apart!)
  • In a medium bowl, mix sugar and ground cinnamon and dredge the slightly cooled cookies in the sugar mixture and then using a fork, place immediately on a cookie rack. (You must dredge cookies in the sugar mixture while still hot or sugar will not adhere well to the cookies)
  • These cookies have a long shelf life. Place in a covered cookie tin when finished. Enjoy!

Buñuelos

Buñuelos, a fried dough rolled out like a Tortilla then tossed in cinnamon and sugar, have been a centuries old Latin tradition. Historians believe it originated in Spain and may have derived from Arab influence in that part of Europe at the time. When the Spanish came to the America’s, they brought this delicious traditional treat with them and I’m sure glad they did! Buñuelos are good anytime, but most commonly made during holiday times. I loved making these with my friend Chelsea and my sweet boyfriend Logan who was my designated fryer. This recipe is easy to make, best served hot after frying accompanied with a warm cup of hot cocoa or coffee!

Ingredients

FOR THE BUNUELOS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoons oil, plus 2 or more cups for frying

FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

FOR THE BUNUELOS

  • Add all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix together until combined. 
  • Add warm water and 4 tablespoons oil. Mix together with a spoon or your hands until the dough comes together.
  • Transfer the dough onto a clean working surface and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Roll the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, cover a large plate with paper towels, fill a large saute pan with 1 to 2 inches of frying oil and make the cinnamon sugar topping. Set aside.
  • Divide the dough into 8 separate pieces and roll each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out each ball into an 8 to 10-inch circle. 
  • Heat the frying oil to 350°F. Fry each dough circle for about 60 seconds, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to prepared plate to drain any excess oil. Sprinkle heavily with cinnamon sugar topping.

Boozy Blender Eggnog

I am forever indebted to whoever figured out making homemade eggnog could be achieved in a blender. No separating eggs and whipping egg whites necessary for this simple and delicious holiday treat! You can serve this with or without alcohol, preferably bourbon if you choose to go the boozy route- I used 100 proof Southern Comfort, I think it blends well with the rest of the flavors in this drink. None of that overly sweetened supermarket eggnog ever again in my house I’ll tell ya that!

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs the freshest you can find
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or superfine sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp dried nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 oz bourbon (about 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  • Add whole eggs to blender and blend on MED speed (or LOW if you only have a HIGH and LOW setting option) for 30 seconds.
  • Add sugar and blend another 20 seconds.
  • Add nutmeg, cinnamon, cognac, bourbon, milk and heavy cream and blend until combined, about 10-15 seconds.
  • Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for a day or so to allow flavors to combine and mellow.

TO SERVE:

  • Eggnog may have settled in the refrigerator, so either give it a good shake or two, or pour into a mixing bowl and give it a whisk to get everything combined.
  • Serve with some additional grated nutmeg on top, and an optional cinnamon stick.