Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Secret Santa

Santa visited my house a couple weeks early when I received a surprise package from my Secret Santa.  Shortly after Thanksgiving, Nicole announced Lillyella’s Secret Santa Gift Exchange.  It was so much fun making a gift for another beadaholic!  I won’t reveal the name of my target – I’ll let her do that when she’s ready.

I was so surprised a couple of weeks ago when I received this adorable package in the mail from Genea Crivello-Knable of Genea Beads:

Doesn’t Genea have cute handwriting?

Genea packaged my gift with a “snowy” theme, since she knew I’d be snow-less celebrating Christmas in Florida.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Why, a strand of Genea’s handmade lampwork beads – how cool is that?!!!

Aren’t they luscious?  Thank you so much, Genea – I love them!!!  And thank you, Nicole, for organizing the swap.  It was tons of fun!

My family celebrated Christmas a couple of times this year.  My sister and her family came over last week for dinner and gifts, and then my parents, son, daughter, and I spent the holiday weekend at my step-sister’s house in northeastern Florida.  What a wonderful week!

One of our family’s traditional holiday desserts is Orange Candy Cake.  The recipe makes a very rich, thick batter.  I fondly remember my mother showing me how to mix the batter with my hands when I was a little girl.  The cake looks similar to a fruit cake, but I promise you that it tastes nothing like one!  It’s got great texture from all the goodies inside, and is very rich and moist.  I just enjoyed the second-to-last-slice of this year’s cake with a cup of decaf chai latte.  Yum!  Thought I'd share the recipe with you in case you're so inclined.

Orange Candy Cake
From the kitchen of Lisa Tracy

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
8 oz. package dates, coarsely chopped
1 lb. package orange slice candy, coarsely chopped
2 cups pecans, chopped
4 oz. flaked coconut
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup buttermilk

Orange Syrup:
½ cup orange juice (no pulp)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla extract.

Mix dates, orange candy, pecans, and coconut with ¼ cup flour.  Sift remaining dry ingredients and, alternating with small amounts of buttermilk, fold into the creamed butter mixture.  Then fold in the fruit/nut mixture.  This makes a very stiff batter that may be mixed with your hands.

Spoon batter into a well-greased and floured angel food pan.  Bake at 300°F for 2½ hours.  Remove cake from oven.

While cake is still hot, whisk together orange juice and confectioner’s sugar to make a syrup.  Set cake on cooling rack or a dinner plate and pour syrup over top of the cake.  Allow syrup to soak into cake overnight.  When cake is cool, cover with aluminum foil.

To serve, invert cake onto wax paper lined plate, then invert again onto cake plate so that cracked top of cake is facing up.  Slice with narrow blade knife.

Sorry for the crummy photos -- the lighting was awful!

I hope you had as blessed a Christmas as I did!


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