Every year brings more and more beautiful Jewish design. I like to order several cards each year, then try to remember to send or give them to friends. Check out some of my favorite Hanukkah and holiday greeting cards, many have Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday discounts. Click on the photos to get more information and to purchase cards of your own!
Let me know in the comments if you are or know of a great independent artist making Hanukkah items, I always love learning more!
Years ago, before I started this blog, started reading Hummingbird High. It’s a baking blog with beautiful recipes, photography, and prose by Michelle Lopez. I found myself making her recipes, marveling at her cake decorating skills, and asking many questions of her. She was generous with her time and always inspired me – I absolutely relied on her excellentguides to Portland, OR when I visited several years ago.
Michelle’s new book, Weeknight Baking: Recipes to Fit Your Schedule shows how to fit baking into a busy, 21st century life – short and simple recipes as well as more involved recipes in manageable steps over the course of a few evenings. I am deeply touched and honored to have received an early copy of the book to share and explore. The condition of me receiving this book was simple – share the recipes and book!
I made several recipes and shared the epic Pumpkin Bread on my Instagram, and followed the #WeeknightBakingBook hashtag to see what other people were making from the book. It makes me hungry, and so heartened to see people coming together to promote this beautiful work.
The Weeknight Baking book is divided into categories – cookies, loaf cakes, bars, cakes, frostings, etc. Each of the categories has suggestions and instructions to help the busy baker, and there are reference chapters about ingredients, shortcuts, equipment, and substitutions. The substitutions came in handy when I realized I didn’t have (or really want to have) cake flour in the house. Michelle’s *mathmagical* formula let me use all-purpose flour instead.
The #vegan recipes are especially exciting because of how Michelle approached their development with her admirable curiosity. Additionally, each recipe includes suggestions for ingredient and flavoring tweaks – everything from different spices to how to get tahini in to more things (my life’s goal!).
Every year, I look for a new way to celebrate #Hanukkah’s miracle ingredient – olive oil. This year we have tender chocolate cupcakes featuring my beloved California olive oil with an easy chocolate buttercream. I decorated them with gold sprinkles, disks, and sugar to reference the rededicated temple of the Hanukkah story and the traditional, extremely noshable gelt coins. The mix of sprinkles I bought was pretty, but included tooth-challenging sugar balls, so I linked to another option above and in the recipe. A glitzier option would be using gold cupcake liners instead of the yellow ones I used.
In the spirit of Hanukkah’s story of liberation and self-determination, the cocoa products used in this recipe are fair trade or similarly certified. It’s getting easier to find ethically certified products, and I love featuring them here. If you’re looking for fair trade chocolate coins for the holiday and competitive dreidel, herehereherehere! They are all delicious!
A little confession: this is the first time I have made impressive-looking frosting. The chocolate buttercream frosting in Weeknight Baking is so straightforward, so easy, and so delicious! I piped blobs onto the fully-cooled cupcakes then used a tiny spoon dipped in hot water to spread it out from the center. It took as few tries, but I got pretty good at it!
These cupcake are perfect whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, or just feeling like enjoying some tender, beautiful cake! Happy holidays, and happy cake days to you!
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) natural unsweetened or Dutch processed cocoa, sifted
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the cake:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your cake pan of choice: If making a sheet cake or layer cake, generously spray the sheet pan or cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper (cut to fit, if using round pans). Spray the parchment, too. If making cupcakes, line two muffin tins with paper liners
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined. Slowly pour in the hot coffee. The batter will be fairly runny; use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and side of the bowl. Use the rubber spatula to finish mixing until smooth and well combined, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). If making a sheet cake, bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If making a layer cake, note that this recipe makes around 44 ounces of batter; pour 22 ounces into each cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. If making cupcakes, pour the batter into a large liquid measuring cup and use it to fill each paper liner two-thirds of the way; bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When done, the top of the cake should bounce back when gently pressed and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pans on a wire rack before frosting.
For the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low until soft and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bottom and side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, then beat on medium-high until the frosting is creamy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Use immediately or follow the storage instruction on page 97. The frosting will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Pipe or spoon a mound of frosting onto each cupcake, then using a small spoon (I used a demitasse spoon, which is smaller than a teaspoon, but any will do) that has been dipped in hot water to swirl and spread the frosting out from the center. Practice on a plate if you want to, you can scoop the practice frosting back into your piping bag or storage container.
Food with a side of power play – fine dining in Washington, DC. This time, the restaurateur decided to broach politics: “I told him that I was worried that his policy, the speech that he was writing for the President, would hurt small businesses, especially my restaurant, in the future. My restaurant wouldn’t be open if we didn’t have immigrants.” Miller listened politely. “He smiled and said, ‘You are entitled to your opinions.’ ” He hasn’t been back since.
Ever wonder where ubiquitous things come from? I just learned about the Hills Hoist, our house has one in the backyard!
I’ve been trying to choose a shelf for our hallway bathroom. Both of these Urban Outfitter options are contenders – the Modern Shelf would be cute in blue, and the large Triangle Shelf would be nice and shallow.
Today is my third wedding anniversary and I thought it would be worthwhile sharing one ethical wedding planning hack with the internet. At the time we were planning (late 2015, early 2016), the news was chock-a-block with examples of discrimination against same-sex couples in the wedding industry. Sickening displays of bigotry and self-righteous indignation from bakers, wedding planners, venues, etc. We are aren’t a same-sex couple but this issue is still important to us – even if we didn’t have LGBTQ+ loved ones, the cruelty and injustice of humiliating people would get our backs up.
We asked every vendor in consideration if they had provided or would provide the same service to a same-sex couple. We agreed that we would not hire a vendor if they turned out to be bigoted (no kidding). We felt it was a small step we could take to make our wedding expenditures more ethical. Easy and hopefully a good way to show our support.