Gift Ideas for the Holidays
Plus recent posts you may have missed, like Thanksgiving desserts, cranberry coffee cake, and more!
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The holiday season is upon us! It should come as no surprise that in my house this is a time of year for desserts and baked treats (as if there is a time of year that isn’t). It’s also a time for gathering with friends and family and sharing some of your favorite meals and baked goods.
I always feel like the best gifts are ones that share experiences with others, and food is one of the best ways to share. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of my essential tools for baking—to add to your wish list or to gift to the bakers in your life. There’s also food gift ideas, jewelry, and must-have cookbooks. If you ever wonder what I use in my own kitchen, head on over to my Amazon shop to find absolutely everything.
Gift Idea: Homemade Vanilla Extract
It is SO easy to make your own vanilla extract and I love hearing how so many of you are doing this after watching me use my giant bottle of homemade extract on my Magnolia Network show, Zoë Bakes. Package it in pretty bottles and adorn it with a ribbon and tag and you have a lovely gift for anyone this holiday season. Here’s where I buy my vanilla beans.
Gift Idea: Cookbooks
There are so many incredible cookbooks to choose from, so check out this list of all the books I have baked from recently and for decades. Or choose from one of the eight books I’ve authored over the years:
Zoë Bakes Cakes (2021)
Recipes Featuring Fall Spices
When I think of fall flavors, it’s the spices that really set this time of year apart. There is something warm and inviting about baking with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, clove and so many more. Sometimes one spice is featured and other treats have a combination. Pumpkin spice mix may be the most famous blend, but really the possibilities are endless and delicious. Today I have a guide to some of my favorite spices and the recipes that showcase them. I had to start out with cinnamon, because it may just be the official flavor of fall.
Rustic Almond Coffee Cake with Cranberries
This is a cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes and in the book, I baked it with grapes; juicy, sweet, but slightly tart, table grapes. Both are a perfect match for almond paste, an ingredient with which I’m more than just a bit smitten; there are so many ways to play with the slightly creamy, earthy flavor. Together with the olive oil, the combination makes a gorgeous cake that’s just as suited for a holiday table as it is for a Tuesday-morning coffee cake. The moist cake is also one that lasts for days, so if you need a cake you can bake ahead for your holiday morning, this is the one!
The Thanksgiving meal, of course, has plenty to offer, but what stands out more to your guests than the grand finale? Whether you are looking for simple or classic fall flavors, or want to try something a little different this year, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Thanksgiving Desserts, including plenty that don’t feature pumpkin. Of course, if you want to keep it simple, you can always make a classic apple pie. Or better yet, if your guest list is big enough, make the apple pie and one or two of these recipes.