I’m currently doing two things that are very topical: staring at the new Frank Ocean GQ cover and Marie Kondo-ing (yes, her name is a verb now) my entire kitchen. Or at least trying to. I realize that trying to get a totally aesthetically and pleasing organizational space requires a bit of an investment in buying matching containers, dividers, mini shelves, etc. I’m hoping it pays off in the end. At the end of the year last year, I was terrified to open my drawers because after cooking day in and day out for 3 months straight, things had gotten a little disorderly.
But now that I have a bit of time, I’ve been trying to remove things, wipe things down and begin again. New and fresh. You know how it goes.
Coquito is often described as a Puerto Rican eggnog but I’ve always felt like that comparison doesn’t do it justice. First of all, it’s MUCH better than eggnog. And secondly, it usually doesn’t have egg in it (some families’ recipes do use egg, but most don’t).
Coquito is a coconut-based drink that usually has sweetened condensed milk, regular milk, lots of rum and a hint of spices like cinnamon and cloves.
My family is not Puerto Rican so I didn’t have it until I was a teenager, living in South Florida. I remember someone handing it to me at a party and I was like, DANG WHAT IS THIS?!?!
It’s way better than eggnog in my opinion. The texture and weight is way lighter than eggnog (my usual issue with drinking it), which I love. The combination of rum and coconut is just the best, especially with the spices added in.
I took those flavors and implemented them into this cake! I thought of doing a tres leches but I’ve made a lot of tres leches cakes in the past so I was looking to do something a lil’ different.
This cake is kind of like a soaking cake because of the rum syrup that is brushed it on top. When we were developing this cake, we sort of asked ourselves, How do we put the rum into it? We thought about a lot of options but none of them sounded all that great. Soaking it in a rum syrup sounded like the absolute best way. The butter in the rum syrup, adds a nice gentle richness. It’s like a buttered rum…but not.
The sheet cake itself is a nice fluffy coconut cake that uses coconut cream (a must in coquito). I used the brand Coco Lopez but if you can’t find it, search for Goya. This can is usually sold at liquor stores (a lot of mixed drinks use cream of coconut) or you can check any grocery store in the Hispanic Section.
I also used coconut extract because it really packs that coconut flavor punch that we love so much. (I tested it without the coconut extract and the flavor didn’t come through enough; you really need that!)
Did you ever have a Barbie Dream House? I think I asked for one for my eighth birthday (if I remember correctly) and I imagined myself being a grown-up in it. I had dogs (of course), I had a husband (Ken) whose head I shaved because I thought his blonde hair was ugly (I dunno) and a few kids who were ok. But most importantly, I had a pool with a slide and a trampoline. I also had a siqqq car that was bright pink that I’d use to pick up my friends so we could go to the movies and Disneyland.
When I got the insane idea that I should built a gingerbread house, I started to think: What should it look like? What should it include?
I remembered my Barbie Dream House and decided maybe that should be my inspo? I decided to leave out people because I don’t think I can make realistic versions of gingerbread humans.
Let’s start from the beginning.
The first step to making my gingerbread house was planning the dimensions like the architect that I AM NOT.
I started crunching numbers and decided on making the doors , the sides and the roof
Amazon boxes and an XACTO knife are golden!
I ended up using old Amazon boxes that were in the recycling for my templates. And XACTO knife comes in real handy in this instance.
Gingerbread Dough Erin McDowell’s recipe is by far the best. I thought about developing my own but I was short on time and honestly, hers works wonderfully, no surprise there.
I happened to have shortening in my pantry because of these biscuits and it ended up making life SO much easier. I love that recipe. Her tips, btw, are absolutely brilliant. She overbakes her gingerbread to make it sturdier. I did the same.
Windows I decided on having a few windows on the sides of the house.
I filled a few of the windows on the side and in the front with crushed up Jolly Ranchers. It ended up melting in the oven and making the prettiest pink windows.
Roof If you’re interested in a true zen experience, glue on a million perfectly slivered almonds for two hours. Truth be told, I actually enjoy these types of things. I mediate and zone out and think about my life. Sometimes I even cry—it’s fun!
Pool I made the pool outside from gingerbread that I cut out. I filled it with a piece of foil and crushed blue Jolly Ranchers to replicate the look of frozen water. I added a diving board because that’s what I would want in my own backyard.
Amelia’s Dog House Amelia’s Dog House is obviously just for show because she wouldn’t think of ever sleeping outside. She prefers to sleep on beds and pillows. But it is cute. I used this gingerbread mini house cookie cutter.
I have recently (re)discovered the pleasure of wearing a robe around the house. I have this one, in case you’re curious, and it feels like luxury! I have no idea what I’ve been doing wearing PJs when I could’ve been wearing an incredibly soft robe.
I’m currently parking on the couch (in my robe), editing a huge bundle of photos, trying to get all of my work done for the rest of the year. I’m THISCLOSE and am so excited. I can’t wait. When I’m done I’m going to do fun-to-me things like go on epic hikes with Amelia before I leave for the holidays. This is going to be the first time I’ll be away from her and I’m already SAD!
I think a lot about Christmas breakfast and how epic I always want it to be. I always love a braided situation. I usually use store-bought puff pastry but I love this bread-y version because oh so delicious.
This has hands-down been the most-made recipe out of the entire book. These snickerdoodles are delicious. They’re chewy, perfectly spiced with a combination of black pepper, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. I love giving these away because they have a bit of staying power. They taste delicious even if they’re not straight from the oven.
The chewiness is heavenly. I attribute the cream cheese to their good texture. It’s truly magical in these.
I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t drink a ton of dairy milk but man, with these cookies, a glass of milk is SO GOOD.