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The Art of Holiday Baking

Readers share their Creative Holiday Recipes

Poached Pears with Flair

From the kitchen of Deb Flohr

Poaching Liquid:

  • 2 cups water
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon or orange
    1 cinnamon stick
    4 Bosc pears

Combine water, sugar, zest and cinnamon stick in saucepan and bring to a boil; lower to simmer. Peel and core pears, rub with citrus juice and add to poaching liquid.

Place a round of parchment (pre-cut to fit pan) on top of pears and liquid to keep pears immersed. Poach until pears are tender. Remove from liquid and cool on rack.

Once cooled use citrus stripper to decorate pears (swirls, dots, imagination).

Pastry Cream:

  • 2 egg yolks
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 Tbs cornstarch
    1 cup whole milk
    1 tsp gelatin dissolved in 4 tsps water, heated until melted
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 Tbs liqueur (Calvados, Kirsch, Poire Williams, St. Germain, Gr. Marnier)

Ribbon egg yolks, sugar and salt.

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup milk and add to egg mixture.

Add remaining milk and bring to boil, whisking constantly until boiling. Stain, add gelatin, vanilla and liqueur. Chill.

Berry Puree:

  • 6 oz berries (fresh or frozen)
    1 Tbs liqueur
    Sugar to taste

Puree berries and liqueur; add sugar to taste. If berries are frozen, thaw (saving liquid) and puree with liqueur; add sugar to taste plus additional liquid if needed.

Crème Anglaise:

  • 3 egg yolks
    ¼ cup sugar
    ¾ cup milk
    1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
    Pinch of salt

Heat milk with vanilla bean and seeds until scalded then cool slightly.

Using electric mixer whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt until pale yellow and ribboning.

Pour milk over ribboned egg mixture in steady stream. Return to medium heat and stir constantly until smooth and mixture coats back of a wooden spoon.

Be sure not to boil or mixture will curdle.

Strain mixture into a bowl set over an ice bath.

If using vanilla extract add at this point.


Pipe pastry cream into pear core; plug core with berry. (For a shiny lacquered look melt fruit preserves and brush over pear).

Ladle crème Anglaise in circles on plate; Drizzle berry puree in between crème Anglaise.

Drag toothpick through circles to create design.

Place pear in center of plate.

Garnish with fresh mint and sugared berries.

For more recipes by Deb Flohr visit her website

Old Fashioned Cranberry Tart

From Kathryn Kleekamp's Cape Cod and the Islands ~ Where Beauty and History Meet

Mix together:

  • 1 cup of whole cranberries
    1/2 cup chopped pecans
    1/4 cup sugar

In a separate bowl mix:

  • 1 egg
    Scant 1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup melted butter
    1/2 cup flour, sifted with ½ teaspoon baking soda

Mix together:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 teaspoons sugar

Combine the first three ingredients and place in prepared pie pan.

In a separate bowl, mix the second group of ingredients.

Spread the second mixture over the berries.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Kathryn Kleekamp's Cape Cod and the Islands ~
Where Beauty and History Meet

Available at

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

From Linda Steele's cooking collection Meet Me in my Cape Cod Kitchen

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup fine white sugar
    2 tbsp maple syrup
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/4 cups finely chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels
    1/2 tsp vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy

Add syrup and vanilla

Add flour; mix until just combined

Fold in the nuts

Shape the dough into 2-2inch rolls; wrap each in plastic or a ziploc bag.

Refrigerate for two hours or until firm.

Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices and place 2 inches apart on un-greased baking sheets at 325 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool completely.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the chocolate with the oil and stir until smooth.

Drizzle gently on the tops of each cookie. Enjoy!

For more of Linda Steele's delicious recipes visit her blog:

Spicy Holiday Pear Cake

From the kitchen of Jill Talladay

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    2 lemons, zested and juiced
    3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced thin
    1/2 cup raisins, golden preferred
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 1/2 sticks butter
    1/3 cup molasses
    1 T. ground ginger
    1 t. baking powder
    1 t. cinnamon
    1/2 t. allspice
    1/4 t. cardamom
    1/4 t. salt
    1/4 t. baking soda
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    2 2/3 cup flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Use a sauté pan to heat the wine, lemon juice, zest and 1/2 cup of brown sugar on low.

Once it is warm and the sugar is dissolved add the pears.

When the pears are tender, (approx 10 minutes) remove from heat and add raisins.

Coat an angel food cake pan with cooking spray. Put 1/4 cup of brown sugar in bottom of pan and place pears neatly on top of the sugar (see photo) surrounding the base of the pan.

Beat granulated sugar, butter, molasses and next seven ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer.

One at a time add the eggs, half the milk, half the flour and scrape sides before adding the remaining milk and flour.

Pour the batter over the pears.

Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before overturning onto a large serving plate.

Place the plate on top of the pan and quickly flip it over onto the plate. Replace any of the pears onto the cake that may have stuck to the roof of the pan.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream (vanilla, pumpkin or cinnamon suggested) if desired. This cake is dense so serving size should be small. Serves 18