Holiday Entertaining is Back with Sweet, Savory and Oh So Cheesy Ideas
Real California Milk helps impress guests with the California Cheese Centerpiece and Cookie Exchange Board
(Family Features) This holiday season, entertaining is back on the table and that means endless opportunities to showcase Instagram-worthy ideas. For those looking to impress friends and family, Real California Milk has two unique culinary ideas to take holiday traditions to the next level: The Cheese Centerpiece and Cookie Exchange Board. From fresh food as bountiful décor to camera-ready cookie presentations, incorporating California dairy into your entertaining is a winning holiday strategy.
California Cheese Centerpiece
The mission? Create a holiday centerpiece but make it delicious. Real California Milk partner Jessica Lawrenz, Founder of Monger, Mold and Milk, took the challenge with the California Cheese Centerpiece, the ultimate in edible entertaining with a beautiful display of Real California Cheeses, salami, fruits and vegetables arranged with fragrant herbal garnishes in a display sure to impress family and friends. As a bonus, it creates less waste than a stand-alone floral bouquet (and you’ll have less to clean up!).
Find additional cheese displays and holiday recipes at realcaliforniamilk.com.
Variety of firm to medium (semi-firm) Real California Cheeses (find them here: https://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/cheese-makers)
Shown in arrangement:
- Real California Dry Jack cheese wedges
- Real California Wine-soaked Cheddar wedges
- Real California Triple Cream cheese wedges
- Salumi or salami, made into roses
Fresh fruits and vegetables:
- Mini clementines or kumquats
- Grapes or currants (both shown)
- Fresh figs
- Cucamelons or mini cucumbers
- Cherry tomatoes (tiger stripe tomatoes shown but any small tomato works)
- Bay leaf stems
- Olive leaf stems
- Rosemary branches
- Lavender stems
- Sage bunches
- Chive or garlic flowers or any edible flower with a stem
Tools and Materials:
- Circular tray or plate
- Craft or flora foam (half sphere shape that is at least 1-inch smaller in diameter than your tray)
- Double-sided tape
- Plastic wrap
- Toothpicks, U-shape bamboo toothpicks (optional)
- Cookie cutter shapes (optional)
- Cover foam in plastic wrap to protect food from making contact with the foam.
- Use double-sided tape to secure the foam to the tray.
- Now you can start assembling the centerpiece. Start from the bottom and work your way up to the top of the sphere.
- Use the bulk of your leafy garnishment (bay leaf stems, olive leaf stems, sage bunches) on the bottom layer to create a base and coverage by poking the stems into the foam. If needed you can trim the bottom of the stem in a diagonal direction to create a more pokey end OR use a toothpick to pierce a hole in the place where you want to insert stems.
- For best visual appeal, fruits like grapes and currants should be arranged to kind of flow over the edge of the tray near the bottom as well. PRO TIP: Use “U” shaped bamboo toothpicks to secure the stems of the hanging fruits into the foam.
- From here use toothpicks to secure cheese wedges, salumi roses, fruits and vegetables into the foam. Cut shorter, triangular pieces of cheese (as opposed to longer triangular pieces used for a long/rectangular centerpiece). Use any tall wedges near the bottom where they will be easy to grab but not sticking out too far if placed near the top. You can use cookie cutter shapes as well for the cheeses, if desired.
- Finally, take any of the smaller garnish pieces you have (lavender, chive flowers, rosemary ends, loose leaves) to fill in the spaces between all the items.
Holiday Cookie Exchange Board
If a cookie exchange is on the docket for this year’s holiday or you’re simply looking to upgrade your dessert table, take some tips from this stunning cookie exchange presentation. Mix and match Real California Milk cookie recipes to create a mouthwatering arrangement and decorate with mini candy canes, holiday lollipops, various holiday décor and lights. Add napkins, cookie bags for take-away, and recipe cards for sharing, and let your guests go to town.
- Hot cocoa or coffee
- Milk shooters
- Coconut Walnut Cake Bars
- Chocolate Mint Cookies
- Stroopwafel Cookies
- Mini Gingerbread Cupcakes
Dipped in melted dark chocolate and rolled in crushed peppermint candies or Holiday sprinkles
Leave out ice cream, exchange holiday sprinkles for rainbow sprinkles, and dip in melted white chocolate with color for extra festivity
California is the nation’s leading milk producer and is responsible for producing more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made exclusively with milk from the state’s dairy farm families.
About Real California Milk/California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy farm families who lead the nation in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to nourish the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk, the CMAB’s programs focus on increasing demand for California’s sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs. For more information and to connect with the CMAB, visit RealCaliforniaMilk.com, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Source: Real California Milk
Festive Fun with Cookies and Cocoa
(Family Features) Treat your holiday guests to something special this Christmas. From mouth-watering spritz cookie recipes that will outshine the rest, to delicious hot cocoa boosted with salted caramel and an edible candy spoon on the side, you’ll be the host with the most in no time at all.
Spritz Cookies with a Little Glitz
You know gingerbread and sugar cookie, but do you recall the most impressive cookie of all? Spritz cookies are fast and fun. Use a Wilton Cookie Press to make dozens of delicious, perfectly-shaped uniform cookies quickly. Add a spritz of edible silver or gold Color Mist Food Color Spray to make them shiny and bright.
Santa’s Favorite Spritz Cookie
Indulge Santa’s sweet tooth with decadent chocolate spritz cookie sandwiches filled with a layer of peppermint icing. Take a shortcut by using decorator icing that is already flavored and ready to squeeze, perfect for the time-crunched holidays.
Ho-Ho-Hot Cocoa with a Twist
There’s nothing quite as comforting as a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter day, but add a dash of salted caramel flavor and you’re in for a real treat. Made with velvety Dark Cocoa Candy Melts candy, steamed milk and a splash of Treatology Salted Caramel flavor, this cocoa offers just the right balance of salty and sweet.
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Sugar Cookie Spoons
The delicious taste of sweet, baked Christmas cookies is captured in the Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Flavor Candy Melts candy and made into edible candy spoons with a microwaveable Spoon-Shaped Silicone Candy Mold.
For more holiday ideas and inspiration, visit wilton.com.
Metallic Spritz Cookies
Makes: 10 dozen cookies
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Wilton Imitation Almond Extract
- Silver Color Mist Food Color Spray
- Gold Color Mist Food Color Spray
- Buttercream icing
- Wilton Silver Sugar Pearls
- Wilton Gold Sugar Pearls
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.
- In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and extracts; mix well. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, mixing to make smooth dough. Do not chill.
- Place dough into cookie press using an 8-petal flower disk and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool cookies on pan on cooling grid 2 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on grid. You will need two cookies per treat.
- Use silver or gold Color Mist food color spray to spray cookies. Let dry, about 3-5 minutes. Turn cookies over and spray underside. Let dry, about 3-5 minutes.
- Prepare buttercream icing or use pre-made buttercream icing. Use tip 12, cut disposable decorating bag and icing to pipe elongated beads on bottom of one cookie, following cookie shape. Sandwich two cookies together.
- Use tip 4, cut disposable decorating bag and icing to pipe a dot in center of sandwich cookie. Top dot with either silver or gold sugar pearls.
Chocolate Peppermint Spritz Sandwich Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen sandwiches
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Wilton Pure Vanilla Extract
- 2 eggs
- Wilton Peppermint Decorating Icing
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
- In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough.
- Place dough into cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool cookies on pan on cooling grid 2 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on grid.
- Sandwich cookies together with Peppermint Decorating Icing.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
Makes: 4 cups
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup Dark Cocoa Candy Melts Candy
- 1/4 teaspoon Wilton Treatology Salted Caramel Flavor Concentrate
- In large saucepan, cook milk on medium heat until hot; remove from heat. Whisk in candy and flavor concentrate. Continue whisking until candy is melted and mixture is smooth. Serve immediately.
Sugar Cookie Candy Spoons
Makes: 24 spoons
- Wilton Sugar Cookie Candy Melts Candy (12-ounce bag)
- Wilton Christmas Candy Spoon Mold
- Wilton 12-inch Disposable Decorating Bags
- Break 12 candy wafers in half and place in cavities of mold. Place mold in microwave and microwave at half power or defrost setting for 1 minute. Gently jiggle and lightly tap mold to smooth melted candy. Continue to microwave and tap at 30-second intervals until smooth and completely melted.
- Alternate melting method: Melt candy in disposable decorating bag according to candy package directions. Snip a small tip off end of bag and gently squeeze bag to fill cavities with melted candy.
- Chill filled mold until candy spoons have hardened, about 10-15 minutes. Place mold on flat surface and gently push on bottom of cavities to release candy.