Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Southern Living's Christmas All Through the South

Published by Oxmoor House

Yes, we're right in the middle of the Christmas season. There's really something magical about this time of the year. I just want to freeze it and dwell in it for as long as possible. With the Christmas movies and music playing on the television and radio since the beginning of November, the season does seem like it is expanding past the Thanksgiving to Christmas time frame. Some people may think that it's too much, but I'm loving it!

One of my personal Christmas traditions is spending quiet time looking through my Christmas cookbooks by the light of the Christmas tree. I have several Southern Living Christmas books that I enjoy reading around this time every year. I was so excited to find out that there is a new book this season, Southern Living Christmas All Through the South, published by Oxmoor House. This is a massive book, close to 400 pages, that is filled with gorgeous photographs of Christmas scenes, decor, and recipes, and personal essays that touch on the true spirit of Christmas.

Christmas All Through the South takes its readers on a journey through some of the most beautiful cities and small towns that the south has to offer and shows them off in their full, holiday splendor. I am fortunate that I am able to easily travel to two of the south's most beautiful cities, Savannah and Charleston, and view this Christmas spirit for myself. However, you don't have to travel to view lovely Christmas decor. This book features beautifully decorated homes to inspire you to turn your own home into a holiday showcase.

When I think of the holidays, I always think of food. What am I going to bake? How much do I need to cook? The holidays are a time for special indulgences. The holidays wouldn't be complete for my husband without a cheese ball and crab dip. For me, the holidays are a time to pull out all of those dessert recipes that I've been collecting and go on a baking marathon.

Anyone who is a fan of Southern Living knows that the recipes featured in the company's magazines and cookbooks are top notch. I've made many of these recipes over the years and have always been pleased with the results. There have been times when I've unveiled a dish at a gathering and someone would gasp and say, "That's a Southern Living recipe; I saw it in the magazine." As you can imagine, the recipes in this book are especially designed to create awe-inspiring moments at your Christmas gathering.

There were so many gorgeous recipes that I had a hard time deciding which one to request to feature in this review. Yes, there were mouth-watering bowls of shrimp and grits and majestic Christmas cakes. But, how could one resist a plate of German Chocolate Pancakes? I can't even imagine...

Southern Living Christmas All Through the South is more than a book. It is now part of my Christmas traditions and I can't wait for all of the holidays to come when I will cozy up with this book to discover and rediscover all it has to offer year after year.

Photo and recipe provided by Oxmoor House

German Chocolate Pancakes
Makes about 20 pancakes • Hands-on 35 min. • Total 55 min., including syrup

2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa
11⁄2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
2 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄2 (4-oz.) sweet chocolate baking bar, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
German Chocolate Syrup
Garnishes: coconut flakes, chocolate curls

1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together milk and next 4 ingredients in another bowl. Gradually stir milk mixture into flour mixture just until moistened.

2. Pour about 1⁄4 cup batter for each pancake onto a hot, buttered griddle or large nonstick skillet. Cook
3 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cooked. Turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until done. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200° oven up to 30
minutes. Serve with German Chocolate Syrup.

Note: When using a griddle, heat it to 350°.

German Chocolate Syrup
Makes 11⁄2 cups • Hands-on 15 min. • Total 20 min.

2⁄3 cup chopped pecans
2⁄3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 (5-oz.) can evaporated milk
1⁄2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup butter, melted
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans and coconut in a single layer in a shallow pan  5 to 7 minutes or
until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

2. Cook evaporated milk and next 3 ingredients in a heavy 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture bubbles and begins to thicken. Remove from heat, and stir in
vanilla, pecans, and coconut. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

To reheat: Microwave syrup in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir
until smooth.

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

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