Posts in GIFTS

There is so much I love about chocolate cake, starting with the fact that I’m sure it’s the first cake I ever ate, the kind of cake my mom always, always baked on our birthdays as children, and later, carted to us across the country (literally) in her double decker Tupperware cake carrier when we moved far from home.

Too often, I find the kinds of chocolate cakes at birthday parties or events spongy and bland, not chocolaty enough to satisfy, not toothsome in the way I believe a cake absolutely should be. Not so this cake, which comes to us from Odette Williams, from her new book, Simple Cake. Skip on down for the recipe, below.

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Imagine your dreamiest chocolate sweet—the thing you’d eat with abandon if you could do so without consequence—if toothaches and stomach aches and snug waistbands were just the made up things of terrible fairy tales. Mine would be a Flødeboller, these chocolate dreams pictured above—though, I only recently learned that is what they’re called. I knew it in childhood simply as a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat—but not just any marshmallow—it would have to be an pillowy, airy, freshly made marshmallow without even the faintest resemblance to the kind you find in a bag (I’ll skip those all together, thank you). And not just any chocolate coating—the chocolate coating would be thin and snappy, and give to the slightest pressure from the tooth—made with the highest quality dark chocolate you can find (I link to one of my favorites for baking, below).

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Every year for Christmas during my childhood, my dad would receive hundreds of holidays gifts from his patients—almost always food— tins of handmade peanut brittle, lush boxes with freshly baked pastry and pies, and cello-wrapped baskets brimming with crackers, cookies, sparkling wine and cheeses galore. It was one of the perks of being a family doctor. For my siblings and I, it was one of the perks of being his kid—those sweet December days when the atrium (where we ate breakfast and dinner every day) ran over with an endless parade of sweets.

I tend to still love food gifts for the holidays—handmade or carefully curated purchased ones—boxes of perfectly ripe pears and tins of caramel popcorn still harken Christmas to me. They speak of love and —even if not perfectly matched to individual taste, thoughtfulness. Maybe you don’t have time to bake this season—I hear you. That’s where this guide comes in. These Eight Practically Handmade goodies can make their way to the houses of your dear ones in just one click. They’re worth every penny.

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I think we all know by now that a cheeseboard (or meat board, or fruit and veg board) is the easiest, fastest way to serve a crowd. It’s the best trick I learned from my own mom back in the 80s, and though the boards have gotten more beautiful (she used carved wooden boards shaped like leaves, with grooves and curves for dips), the concept is the same: fast, easy, filling, beautiful, abundant snacking for all. With the right board, even the simplest spread can ready fancy. Here are my favorite ten (+ accessories) under $100.

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The blush theme continues—then I’m done, promise—because pink and all things feminine are still having its moment, and I’m still totally on board. If you’re rolling your eyes right now, then go straight to GOOP’s brilliantly-titled NOT PINK SHOP, where everything is, actually, pink!

Today we’re applying rose-colored-lenses to your favorite morning ritual—coffee, or tea.

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* GIFT GUIDE || MORE BLUSHY + BEAUTIFUL Ceramics (+ Kitchen tools)

I can’t imagine a better way to start the day than with something beautiful in your hand, making a meal for people you love, or even just yourself. I’m a stickler for practical, usable items in the kitchen—and durable, but if it’s something I’m going to use every day and leave on my counter and look at regularly, I also want it to be lovely to look at. Call me crazy (or frivolous) but I believe the way we start our day matters, and surrounding myself with beauty helps me rise above the fray of urgent-feeling emails, milk spills and a thousand tiny dried rice crumbs on the floor from last night’s dinner.

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I’m all about blushes, cotton and mustard-colored ceramics this year, and my gift guide, admittedly, steers feminine. Consider this your go-to guide for the ladies in your life—your best friend the consummate hostess, your business partner or desk-mate, your mother or mother-in-law, your babysitter, that neighbor you especially adore.

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