TMH turned 10 this year and I completely forgot


I am a very bad blog custodian and completely missed the 10th anniversary of The Misanthropic Hostess  (I started this blog in August of 2008).  In fact, it wasn’t until I was doing some longitudinal statistical stuff (technical term) for my day job  that I realized I’d been entertaining myself in written word and recipe for an entire decade.  For what it’s worth I also have a hard time keeping track of my own wedding anniversary (though that I chalk up to the fact that TD and I dated for so long before formally institutionalizing ourselves that the actual date of recognition was just a chance to get together with friends and family, wear awesome shoes and eat cake).

For those of you who are new to this dog and pony show, the Misanthropic Hostess started as a way for me to document an attempt to build my beloved alma mater’s Royce Hall out of gingerbread.  Every weekend  throughout the fall of 2008, as the economy imploded and the world became uncertain, I played with flour, cinnamon and royal icing.   Nobody was more surprised than me when it actually came together: Extreme Makeover: Gingerbread Royce Hall.

Unlike nearly everything else in my life, I’ve never had a plan for The Misanthropic Hostess.  Other professional and  life responsibilities have always kept me from having to take her too seriously.  Instead, we’ve enjoyed our casual but steady relationship as the months turned into years. Here we are, 10 years and 400 or so posts later and I find myself feeling indelibly grateful for this little hobby of mine.

While I don’t know where we are headed, I have no plans to end this carnival.  If you read, thank you.  If you don’t, no biggie.  Here’s to another 10!



Posession with intent to distribute

Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues.  And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.

It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is.  No, I’m not going to stop baking).

Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have.  It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family.   Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!

My analytics weren’t super awesome this year.  I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place,  I offer a summary:

  • 35 pounds of butter
  • 75 pounds of sugar
  • 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
  • 25 pounds of chocolate
  • 3500 units

And some old fashioned visuals.  You’ll find a  list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.


Holiday Baking 2018: The List

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Ginger

Triple Gingersnaps

World Peace Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut butter (schweddy) balls

Almond Butter Crunch

Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)



Cranberry Curd Tart

Curd is an unfortunate word.  Especially for something as lovely as when it comes in fruit form.

This recipe caught my eye by the gorgeousness of the color of the curd alone.  Gem-like and rich, I imagined how good something this pretty might taste.

The original recipe appeared in the New York Times and calls for a hazelnut crust.  However, when I went to buy my nuts, the nice lady restocking the bulk bins informed me that she’d seen nary a hazel or macadamia nut in weeks.  I was undeterred.  As we were chatting, I spied whole blanched almonds.  Skinning hazelnuts is not my idea of a good time so I took it as win-win.

Fair warning.  While this is a beautiful dessert (and delicious each of the three times I tried a square just to make sure), it is fiddly.  It would be a wonderful addition to a holiday meal if it was  your sole charge.  However, if you need a dessert along with everything else you are making, save this one until Valentines day.  Or, get someone else to make it for you.

Because I had an extra bag of cranberries, I decided to sugar some for a garnish.  Not necessary, I promise.

But seriously, this color!  My crust was a little thicker because the recipe calls for a 10 inch tart pan and the one I used was 8.  So, while not as refined as a traditional tart, the trade-off was even more rich almond shell in each bite.

The original version of this tart came from the New York Times.

Like the recipe however, the NYT can be fiddly about letting you behind their firewall for recipe content.  I don’t believe in secret recipes so while I’ve attributed to the original below, I think I’ve made enough changes that they won’t arrest me.

Cranberry Curd Tart


For the (insert your nut here) crust

  • 1 ¼ cups/180 grams raw hazelnuts (I subbed in the same weight of blanched almonds and just skipped the skinning step)
  • 1 cup/125 grams rice flour (I used brown rice flour because that’s what I had)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup/112 grams sugar
  • 6 tablespoons/100 grams softened butter, more as necessary, torn or cut into dice-sized pieces 

For the cranberry curd

  • 12 ounces/340 grams cranberries
  • 1 cup/225 grams sugar
  •  Juice and peel (orange part only) of 1 orange
  • 4 ounces/113 grams softened butter(1 stick)
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

For the sugared cranberries, optional

  • 6 ounces/ 170 grams fresh cranberries
  • 1 C sugar, divided (1/2)
  • 1/2 C water


  1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put hazelnuts (or almonds) on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins darken and crack. Put roasted nuts in a clean towel and rub off skins. Discard skins and let nuts cool.
  2. In a food processor, grind nuts with half the rice flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining rice flour, salt and sugar and pulse briefly.
  3. With the processor running, add-in butter a few pieces at a time until the dough just comes together.  If it seems crumbly, add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons softened butter or a little cold water.
  4. Press dough evenly into a 10-inch French tart pan; use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom. Prick bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).
  5. Make the sugared cranberries (skip ahead if you aren’t doing this).  Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan, stirring until sugar is disolved.  Bring to boil and add cranberries.  Remove from heat and place cranberries on a cooling rack over a sheet pan (or parchment to catch the excess syrup).  Allow to sit for at least an hour.  Add remaining sugar into a small dish.  Toss cranberries to coat.
  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chilled tart shell about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.
  7. Make the cranberry curd: Put cranberries, sugar and orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or medium mesh sieve and press cooking liquid into a bowl. Whisk the butter into the warm liquid.
  8. Put eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk a cup of warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper, then combine both and whisk together. Wipe out pot if necessary, return liquid to pot and cook over low heat until nearly bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. If using immediately, let cool to room temperature. If working ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (press wrap against curd) and refrigerate. (Curd may be cooked up to 1 day ahead.)
  9. Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled prebaked tart shell and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.