Sweet Endings

Every year, I start brainstorming in early October for my neighbor and friend holiday gifts. I try to come up with something that is as fun to make as it is to receive, and this year’s treats certainly fit the bill. All three of these sweet bites will put you in the holiday mood, whether you make them or receive them.

Photos and recipes by Leslie Byars Register

Mini Red Velvet Bundt Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons red liquid food coloring
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Assorted white and gold sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350°. With a handheld or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on high until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. In a medium-size bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt with a whisk to make sure thoroughly combined. Set mixture aside.

In the mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, beating until combined, and oil; beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and food coloring; add to the mixer, adjusting color as needed. 

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in whipped egg whites, and pour into greased pan about two-thirds of the way full. 

- Sponsors -

Bake about 18 to 21 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Drizzle with Cream Cheese Frosting, and decorate with sprinkles. Makes 6 mini Bundt or 12 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Combine cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a mixer. Beat on low speed
1 minute; increase to medium-high until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually add milk until frosting is at drizzling consistency. 

Gingerbread Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup whole walnuts
¾ cup whole pecans
¾ teaspoon fine table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup coconut oil
¹/³ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
¹/³ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¹/³ cup chopped dried cranberries
¹/³ cup chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 12-inch by 17-inch (half baking sheet) with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, nuts, salt, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Stir to combine.

Stir in oil, maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla. Turn the granola out onto your prepared pan, and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from the oven, and top with coconut flakes. Stir up the mixture to make sure the granola cooks evenly. 

Return the pan to the oven for 8 to 11 more minutes or until the granola is lightly golden on top. It will continue to crisp as it cools. 

Top the granola with the chopped cranberries and candied ginger. Let the granola cool before breaking it into pieces. 

Store the granola in an airtight container. It should stay fresh for 1 to 2 weeks. Makes 8 cups.

Dark Chocolate Pistachio-Almond Bark 

3 (3.5-ounce) good-quality dark chocolate bars
¼ cup chopped shelled pistachios
¼ cup sliced almonds
½ teaspoon flaky salt, such as Maldon

Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a small overhang. 

Break chocolate bars into several pieces, and place in a small bowl. Fill a saucepan with water (about 2 inches); heat on medium-high heat. Place bowl with chocolate inside saucepan, and stir until melted. A double boiler will also work for this.

Pour chocolate onto parchment-lined pan, and smooth with a spatula into an even layer. 

Sprinkle with pistachios and almonds; then sprinkle with salt.

Chill in refrigerator until completely set, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Peel off parchment, and break into pieces. Serves 8.

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!