I had a stellar idea this year if I do say so myself. It was the first week of November and I had heard a few friends talk about the holiday season in general, and more specifically about Christmas stockings. The problem was they didn't usually get one and let's face it, stockings are one of the best parts of Christmas day, right?
So I took to email and invited a few girls I know to take part in The Great Steamboat Stocking Exchange. The rules would be simple. Each person buys something to put into each of the girls stockings. The money limit was anywhere from $5 to $15 a person and you could put one or two or three (whatever you wanted) into everyone stocking. Think along the lines of Starbucks gift cards, nail polish, lip gloss, etc. The only real guideline was it had to be something you would want for yourself. Then on a weekend near Christmas we would all get together for a Christmas tea (although we ended up drinking coconut hot chocolate) and swap presents. The idea was so everyone would have a stocking to open on Christmas morning. It didn't work out that way as I seemed to be the only one wanting to wait that long. My friend Danielle was practically foaming at the mouth ready to tear into hers. My friend Kel kept dropping "tic-tac" comments about wanting to open them, which later progressed to a full on talk about the importance of not waiting. Melissa and Caroline seemed neutral about it, but I could tell they wouldn't mind opening them. I'm not sure how Rebecca felt come to think of it, but I decided to put it to a vote. We didn't even get to vote as it was explained to me that I would surely be out-voted. So, we opened them. Right then and there. Danielle was extremely delighted. And I have to agree, it was better that way. We all had fun fawning over our gifts complimenting one another on our outstanding taste. ;) A cocktail ring, one mini grapefruit body butter, a rosebud salve, lip gloss and perfume samples, tweezers that looked like little ladies and cuticle oil, and one guava body gel and hand lotion later we were happy campers. Oh, and Danielle got a wooden spoon in her stocking, compliments of me, who is tired of using heavy metal when cooking at her house. Ha ha.
I guess I should start talking about this cake now that I have gone on and on about the stocking exchange. I adore this cake because it is so unassuming yet fabulous. It is a great breakfast food because it's not too sweet and would go perfect with coffee. I love it because the cake itself is moist, but toothy meaning it feels great to chew. Is that weird to anyone? Maybe it would just suffice to say it has excellent texture. The apples are mildly spiced with cinnamon and the whole thing has a crunchy top due to a nice coating of cinnamon sugar. It's sort of coffee cake-esque but if you dressed it up with some cinnamon whipped cream it would be a fine dessert, anytime. It's made in a cheesecake pan which is a little out of the ordinary, but it makes for a handsome presentation. This is my recommendation on what to serve the family before they leave your house this holiday.
Cinnamon Apple Cake
adapted from Steamboat Seasons
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup (6 ounces) block style cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups chopped Rome apples (about 2 large)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Beat 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl at medium speed for about 4 minutes or until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside. mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat at low speed until blended. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Mix 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture and the chopped apples in a bowl. Stir the apple mixture into the cake batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon mixture. bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm alone or with whipped cream or ice cream.