December 2, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
You guys know by now that I have a killer sweet tooth, which makes it only appropriate that today marks the first of several Christmas cookie recipes I’ll be sharing with you throughout the month. Even better? Today, nine of my best blogging buds and I have teamed up for our take on a virtual Christmas cookie swap! We’re talking ten blogs, ten recipes and ten ways to wow all of your friends and family this holiday season. Personally, I’m all about these Italian meatball cookies. Topped with rich dark chocolate ganache, they’re a tradition in my family and my all-time personal favorite Christmas cookie. Think a semi-sweet spiced chocolate cookie and the simplest yet most decadent ganache. That is what I am talking about, friends! Delicious.
I can’t remember a single holiday season in my life that has not involved these cookies. Not a year goes by without taking the time to bake up a big batch or two. In fact, if there is only one cookie I make every year, it’s these bad boys. If you’re feeling frisky, might I suggest a pinch of coarse sea salt on top? Because that would take these right over the top. Keep scrolling to find all of the recipes in our Christmas cookie swap! We’re pretty sure these are the only Christmas cookie recipes you’ll ever need, but we might be a smidge biased.
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups milk
- 2 oz spiced rum
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend in the shortening. Add the milk and rum (whiskey, bourbon or brandy will also work) and combine well. The dough will be very stiff and sticky. Roll into approximately 1″ balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 13 minutes or until they look slightly golden. Remove from the oven, allow them to rest for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, dip in warm chocolate ganache (see the recipe below) and allow cookies to cool slightly before enjoying.
- 8 oz dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 oz spiced rum
Heat chocolate chips, heavy cream, and rum over a double boiler of simmering water until completed melted and smooth, stirring or whisking occasionally. Feel free to sub whiskey, bourbon or brandy for the rum. (But I don’t suggest skipping it – it really enhances the flavor!) Once the ganache is smooth and creamy, dunk each cookie to coat the top completely and then return cookies to the wire rack to cool until ganache sets.
Anyone else have a major cookie craving going on now? Be sure to check out the rest of the Christmas cookie recipes coming your way compliments of my pals and our self-declared Christmas cookie squad! Oh, and we want to check out your favorite cookie recipes, too. Join us over on Instagram and tag your favorite cookies with the hashtag #christmascookiesquad so we can drool together!
Color Dipped Gingerbread Cookies from Studio DIY
Everything Sweet Sugar Cookies from Sugar & Cloth
Peppermint Drops from Julie Blanner
Linzer Christmas Cookies from Freutcake
Elf Quote Christmas Cookies from Lovely Indeed
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Meringues from Paper & Stitch
Cream Wafer Tree Cookies from Inspired by Charm
Almond Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies from The Effortless Chic
Candy Cane Peppermint Bark Fudge from Sugar & Charm
[Photos + recipe by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]
December 1, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
It’s about to get all sorts of merry and bright around here, friends! If I’m honest with you, I am so excited to share this project with you! This is one that has been floating around in my brain for the last couple of holiday seasons but somehow just made it to fruition this year. Enter the DIY marquee Christmas tree! AKA the cutest damn Christmas tree you ever did see. (Or something like that.) Believe it or not, this bad boy is made from super simple supplies (we’re talking foam core and hot glue) and isn’t overly complicated. So let’s do this, shall we? Giddy up!
- Large sheets of foam core
- Clear globe string lights
- X-Acto or utility knife
- Hot glue gun + glue sticks
- Spray paint
- Metal straight edge
To begin you’ll need a large sheet of foam core. You can decide on the specific size of foam core depending on the finished size tree you’d like to have. (A smaller one would be super cute, too!) I used one of the large presentation boards (the kind with the fold-in sides) and ended up with a tree roughly 32″ tall. You’ll start by penciling a tree onto the foam core and then carefully cutting out the tree using an X-Acto knife and a metal straight edge. I simply took my time and used a pencil and the grid pattern that appears on the backside of the presentation board to create a tree shape that I thought worked and then cut it out. Alternately, you could use a stencil of some kind or even just cut out a large triangle and make a simpler, modern tree shape. It’s your call!
Next up it’s time to create the side walls. First you’ll want to measure the size of the lights you’re using to make sure the walls extend out past the lightbulbs. I used large clear globe lights, but if you’re making a smaller size tree you might want to use a smaller light. Then it’s a simple process of measuring the length of each side of your tree shape, cutting it to length and using hot glue to fix it into place. This process can take a bit of time, but it’s really quite simple. Also, you don’t need things to be totally perfect. By the time you glue it down and paint everything, a lot of mistakes will be forgiven so no stressing about perfection!
After your shape is built, it’s time for paint! Spray paint works great on foam core as long as you use thin, light coats. I used a Christmas green in a glossy finish and did about five or six light coats with ample drying time in between. Then the final step is to place your lights! Use your X-Acto knife to cut out holes for the socket of each light bulb. I found it easiest and most effective to use the tip of my knife to drill a little hole, then to cut outward to create a larger hole for the socket to fit thought.
Remove the light bulbs from each socket and then push the socket up through from the back of your tree. You can get really precise with the measuring or just eyeball the placement of each light bulb, which is what I did. Then the final step is to screw in all of the lightbulbs. If you have excess cord, use painter’s tape or masking tape (or whatever tape you have handy) to tape everything down nice and flat on the back of your tree. Then you’re all set! Plug in your tree and your house is ready to go for the festivities.
Call me crazy but I am so in love with this little tree. I think it makes a great addition to your existing holiday decor or would make an amazing alternative to a Christmas tree if you live in a small space or will be traveling over the actual holidays but still want your house to feel all kinds of merry and bright. Don’t forget to share what you’re crafting, making and baking with me this holiday season over on Instagram using the hashtag #thesweetestholidays. I can’t wait to see what you’re working on!
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
The fine print: Please link with love! As with all of our posts, DIY projects featured on The Sweetest Occasion may not be copied, distributed or reproduced without express written permission. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share a maximum of 1 – 2 images from this post, please link to this post directly for the DIY tutorial and do not include the instructions in your own post. Thanks so much! xoxo
November 30, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Hi, friends! I have never been happier nor more overwhelmed to make an announcement in my life. Please welcome our sweet baby girl, Emerson Gray! (Her middle name comes from a hybrid of my maternal grandparents’ names – Gary and Kay.) She arrived right on time a week ago today, November 23 at 8:21am weighing 7lbs 15oz and measuring 20-3/4″ long. She is seriously the definition of perfection. It’s sincerely an understatement to say that her daddy and I could not be more in love if we tried. We are all doing great although I’ll be honest and admit that a week out, those postpartum emotions are proving to be very very real. All of that said, I’m definitely going to be laying low for a while and enjoying all the baby snuggles I can. In the meantime, here’s hoping you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving! We, for sure, have never had more to be thankful for than we do this year. xoxo
November 24, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
This post was sponsored by Alouette. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that
so generously help The Sweetest Occasion keep on keepin’ on!
With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, it’s officially time to chat about holiday parties! In particular, quick and easy holiday party appetizer ideas that will make your guests really really happy without making you go crazy in the process. Are you feeling me? You know you are! By now you’re well aware that beautiful, yet casual entertaining is my favorite way to go and that has never been truer than this year with a newborn joining our midst just in time for the holidays. Enter my new favorite Le Bon Dip flavors from Alouette! Paired with veggies, crackers, crusty bread or chips, they are seriously out of this world delicious.
This holiday season, I am loving the idea of putting together a super simple but seriously scrumptious dip station that takes your basic cruité to the next level! All you have to do is pick up a few flavors of Le Bon Dip (the Fire Roasted Vegetables variety is my personal favorite, but the Basil, Zucchini & Parmesan takes a close second) and serve them up with a big pile of fresh veggies and your favorite crunchy snacks. Toasted crostini, pita chips, tomatoes and scallions make my favorite dippers, but this stuff is also delicious spread thick on a big hunk of crusty French bread. Trust me! Just set out a stack of plates and let guests serve themselves while you pour drinks. We’re talking a major win-win all the way around here, friends!
The best part about a dip station is just how quickly it all comes together! Even if you decide to have guests drop over last minute, you can run to the store and be ready to go in no time flat. Or if you keep your favorite Le Bon Dip stashed in the fridge throughout the season, all you have to do is pull it out and serve it up when friends stop over unexpectedly. Crack a beer or pour a glass of wine and you’re good to go! (But seriously, try the Fire Roasted Vegatables, it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve tried in a long, long time!)
[Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
This post was sponsored by Alouette. Read more about our editorial policies.
November 23, 2015 | by Cyd Converse
Ever a sucker for a great set of printables, today we’re talking about Thanksgiving! More to the point, we’re breaking it down with these super cute printables designed exclusively for you by the super talented Jamie of A Pair of Pears. Thank you cards decked out in turkeys? Yup, we got those. Labels perfect for sending guests home with leftovers? Yup, we got those, too! Or you could use them to label desserts or dishes on the buffet. Totally acceptable!
Clearly I’m biased, but these are quite easily the cutest Thanksgiving printables that I ever did see, wouldn’t you agree? Click below to download, then just print and trim! Hint: The thank you card pairs perfectly with a bottle of a wine as a super cute hostess gift! (Because nobody likes to show up to dinner empty handed, am I right?)
[Design + illustration by A Pair of Pears | Art direction + styling by Cyd Converse | Photos by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]
The fine print: As with all of our printables, these designs are provided for personal non-commercial use only and may not be distributed, copied or sold in any fashion. Love and links are always appreciated! If you’d like to share them, please link to this post directly and do NOT host the file yourself. Thanks so much! xoxo