I am not one of those people.
But one of the things I love most about Tastefully Simple products is that they are so simple and versatile that they allow – even encourage – kitchen muddlers like me to explore my own culinary creativity.
Case in point: I love the taste of maple, especially during the holiday season. There's just something so cozy and welcoming in this sweet flavoring that's like nothing else. Tastefully Simple currently has two products showcasing maple, and I couldn't resist seeing what I could do with them!
As is often the case when I go "off script" with recipes, my tinkering had variable success. But since they were made with Tastefully Simple, even when they didn't turn out quite as expected, they were still delicious! Here's a run-down, ranked in order of how well they worked:
- Gingerbread Torte with Maple Buttercream.
My favorite! And it was so easy to make with Maple Iced Gingerbread Mix. I baked mine in two 6-inch round cake pans (each sliced in half to make four layers), but you could use a 5x7" loaf pan as directed on the package and slice it lengthwise into thirds.
I filled and frosted the cake – in the popular new "naked" style – with easy maple buttercream, and decorated it with sliced almond "pine cones" and sugared rosemary sprigs and cranberries for a rustic look (Check Pinterest for the garnish how-tos.)
- Gingerbread Maple Thumbprint Cookies.
Another simple option for Maple Iced Gingerbread Mix. I "extra'd" the basic cookie with melted white chocolate stripes. Yummy! Easy!
- Maple-Latte Candied Pecans
A super-sweet snack with a hint of coffee flavor. Whole pecans are coated in a maple syrup mixture, then dusted with Spiked Maple Latte Mix.
- Gingerbread Maple Biscotti Sticks.
I loved the easy biscotti I made with Tastefully Simple's previous pumpkin bread mix, and figured I'd try it with Maple Iced Gingerbread Mix. This mix spread more in the pan than I expected, so the biscotti is a little flatter than traditional. But drizzled with the included maple glaze and dotted with crushed walnuts, they are still delightful.
- Coffee Cocoa and Maple Nog.
Festive beverages are fun for holiday gatherings. I added a subtle coffee-maple taste by stirring 1 tablespoon of Spiked Maple Latte Mix into mugs of hot cocoa (I made mine by stirring 3 tablespoons of Heavenly Hot Fudge Sauce into hot milk) and store-bought eggnog.
- Gingerbread Maple Cheesecake.
First of all, this is OMG delicious. A sweetly spicy gingerbread base and mildly maple-flavored cheesecake, topped with maple-infused caramel sauce:How could it miss? Well … I would definitely make this one again, but would make a few changes – most notably, I'd make it in a 9-inch, instead of 8-inch, springform pan. And I'd go easier on the caramel topping. To be honest, with three soft layers, it didn't slice very well (plan to eat it with a spoon). My real peeve with this recipe, though, was the amount of time it took to make it – like two days. But if you're looking for a show-stopping, ultra-decadent, blow-'em-away kind of dessert, this might be just the thing.