Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Favorite Holiday Recipes by Margot Justes

It is that time of the year, and my favorite recipes are resurrected for the holiday season.

In many of my baking recipes you will detect an underlying theme-rum-the wonderful aroma of rum adds a festive touch to the baking process, and Myers’s is an excellent dark rum.


1 stick of butter

1 large can of evaporated milk

2 oz bitter chocolate (I only use Ghirardelli chocolate)

12 oz semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 lbs sugar (4 ½ cups) The batch I made yesterday I used 3 ¾ cups of sugar, and it seems fine.

12 oz dark chocolate

½ lb small marshmallows

1 ½ tbsp Vanilla

1 cup of chopped walnuts-Optional (I use 2 cups) 

1 cup of raisins-Optional (I soak them in Myer’s dark rum overnight, and mix the rum into the chocolate-not a drop is wasted) Soaking the raisins is optional, but the rum adds a terrific taste to the fudge.

Combine butter, canned milk and sugar, stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, cook to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and add marshmallows, stir until melted, add the 3 types of chocolate, one at a time, stir until each is dissolved. Add vanilla, raisins with all the rum, nuts and stir.

Line a cookie sheet with saran wrap, extending the edges; pour the fudge into the cookie pan, spread evenly with knife or spatula.

Let dry for at least 2 days. Invert the fudge unto your counter, remove wrap and let dry for another 2 days. Cut into squares and serve.

This recipe makes quite a bit of fudge, I cut it all up and store in tin cans or sealed plastic bags. My family loves the fudge, and it usually doesn’t last very long. Makes a great gift too.

Banana-Nut-Rum Bread

½ cup cooking oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs-beaten

4 or 5 ripe bananas-mashed

2 cups Flour (I use whole wheat)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup of chocolate chips

1 cup of raisins (I soak mine in rum overnight)

Beat oil and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs and banana pulp and beat well. Add the dry ingredients, milk and vanilla. Mix well and stir in nuts, raisins with rum, and chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3) I use lasagna pan, cooks more evenly.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for about an hour. Cool well before cutting.

Rum Balls

2 1/2 cups Vanilla Wafers

5 1/2 cups ground walnuts

1 cup of honey

1 cup of dark rum

1 cup or as needed confectioner’s sugar

Mix all ingredients, form into small balls and roll in sugar. I usually let them sit on foil paper for a day or so and then arrange on platter. You may need to sprinkle them with additional powdered sugar.

Poppy Seed Cake

This one takes time, but if you like poppy seeds, you’ll love this coffee cake.

1 cup of milk

1 package of active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)

1/3 cup of sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

4 1/4 cups of flour

2 tsp vanilla

Scald milk, cool to a warm temp, add yeast and 1 tsp sugar; stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Yeast should puff up in the milk.

Cream butter, add 1/2 cup of sugar, beat in eggs and salt. Add flour alternating with yeast mixture. Knead on floured surface. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled.

Cut dough in half and roll it out the length of your cookie sheet, spread the poppy seed filling and form into a log, sealing the ends. Put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  The two rolls should fit on cookie sheet. Repeat with the second batch of dough. 

Poppy Seed Filling (double the recipe for the two cakes)

1 can of poppy seed filling (I use Solo)

Rind of 1 lemon

3/4 cup of chopped walnuts

11/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 raisins

Mix all ingredients and spread on rolled out dough.

1 egg slightly beaten and 1 tsp of water; mix egg and water and brush on cakes.

Let the cakes rise for a couple of hours, brush again with egg mixture, and then put in pre-heated oven at 350F and bake for an hour. Cool and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate

This is my version, with extra dark chocolate.

1 8 oz glass of milk, I now use2% milk, less sugar. (I conserve calories wherever I can...she wrote laughingly)

1 Tablespoon dark unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa (I like the unsweetened cocoa; the flavor is much stronger)

4 squares Ghirardelli 72% dark or 2 tablespoons Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips


Heat milk and cocoa, make sure cocoa and milk are well blended, use a small whisk if necessary. When the milk is hot take 4 squares or 2 tablespoons of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (to taste) put it in and mix until completely melted. You can sprinkle a bit of shaved chocolate on top. Sweeten to taste, and add a few small marshmallows on top.  

You can of course use sugar or sweetened cocoa, but it's the good cocoa and dark chocolate that gives it the added richness. It is a delicious treat, and easy to make.  

I love hot cocoa, and use the Bialetti machine to speed the process up a little. It heats up and froths the milk at the same time. I even use it to froth a large quantity of milk for cappuccinos, and lattes.

These are among my favorite sweet recipes during the holiday season that starts with Halloween and ends with the New Year.

May your holiday season be filled with love, joy and laughter.


Margot  Justes

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