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Lift your spirits by getting into the holiday mood


COVID-19 is not going to stop us from enjoy the holiday season. Here’s a handful of treats ranging from a delicious riff on a holiday classic drink to a magical experience with Santa, special food boxes and just where to pick up the perfect tree in Toronto!

SPICED RUM CHOCOLATE CARAMEL EGGNOG

Just recently, famed celebrity Chef Lynn Crawford partnered with the Egg Farmers of Canada to produce this show-stopping riff on a holiday classic in honour of the season. Easy to prepare, serves 8. ( .eggfarmers.ca /)

2 cups (500 mL) whole milk

1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish

1/4 tsp. (1.25 mL) ground nutmeg

1 tsp. (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks (save whites for another festive recipe)

1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

1 cup (250 mL) dark chocolate chips

1 cup (250 mL) heavy cream

1/2 cup (125 mL) spiced rum (optional)

1/4 cup (60 mL) caramel sauce, store-bought or see recipe below*

Whipped cream, for serving

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla slowly bringing mixture to a low boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until yolks are pale in colour. Slowly add hot milk mixture to egg yolks in batches to temper eggs and whisk until combined.

Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until slightly thick (and coats back of a spoon) but does not boil. If you’re using a candy thermometer, mixture should reach 160F (70C). Add chocolate chips and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and, if using, spiced rum. Refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, coat the inside of a mug with caramel sauce. Add eggnog to mug and garnish it with whipped cream and cinnamon.

*Caramel Sauce

Makes 3/4 cup (175 mL)

1/2 cup (125 mL) EACH butter, heavy cream and dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp. (15 mL) fancy molasses

1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla

In a heavy bottom saucepan, whisk together butter, cream, brown sugar and molasses on medium-high heat. Let mixture come to a boil and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla.

FINDING YOUR HOLIDAY TREE IN THE BIG CITY

Getting ready to look for the perfect holiday tree? Starting Dec. 4, you may just find the right one at Toronto’s Stackt market, where you can bring home the right-sized tree for the holidays at a price you can afford. Thanks in part to a donation from Baileys liqueur, the trees will be made available as cashless pay-what-you can (with a suggested donation of $30 with proceeds from the trees benefitting The Stop Community Food Centre). You can place your order online for pick up at Stackt market; trees will be available to Dec. 20.

– Holiday Trees, Stackt market; 28 Bathurst St. stacktmarket.com ; Orders must be placed at clickatree.ca .

POLAR DRIVE – CANADA’S FIRST MULTI-LEVEL DRIVE-THROUGH EXPERIENCE

If you’re looking for a fabulous holiday experience, make plans to attend the Polar Drive — Canada’s first multi-level drive-thru holiday experience. Located at Toronto’s Pearson airport, this event allows you to enjoy a spectacular six-level journey full of colour, lights — and even Santa! There are all sorts of holiday elements interwoven in the roughly 30-minute car ride that’s great for all ages.

Organized by Toronto’s the Concierge Club, the drive starts with an immersive LED light tunnel that leads you into a winter wonderland, followed by a descent into a tunnel reimagined into a crystal cave. And yes, Santa Claus is part of this glittering package, too. COVID-safe.

“We have a team of world-class event producers who normally do prestige events for various clients, from luxury brands to the Bieber family,” said Monica Gomez, president and founder of the Concierge Club, and the creative force behind Polar, in a recent release. “The pandemic has been very hard on everyone. People just want to celebrate the holidays, see Santa, and experience the wonder of the season — safely of course. That was the inspiration behind this event. It was all about creating an unforgettable holiday experience to give people a break from life in lockdown. This marks the first time we’ve produced our own signature event for the general public, and we’re very excited to bring holiday joy!”

Open daily, rain, snow or shine; check the website for ticket prices and additional details.

– POLAR DRIVE, to Jan. 3, Pearson International Airport, 6145 Viscount Rd., Mississauga, .polar-drive.com ; @theconciergeclub; @impactxm. #PolarDriveTO; @VisitMississauga

INDIGENOUS CHEFS TO CREATE FEAST BOXES FOR A WORTHY CAUSE

Executive Chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther, board member of Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (ICAN) and owner of Feast Cafe Bistro from Peguis First Nation, has recently launched a special Indigenous Feast Boxes fundraising campaign. Indigenous chefs across Canada and their teams create special meal kits for Indigenous families and members in their respective communities in need this holiday season. (Feast Cafe Bistro is the first of its kind in Manitoba, serving modern dishes rooted in Indigenous history.)

The ICAN is dedicated to sharing Indigenous food, culinary and cultural experiences from across Canada with the world.

To bring the campaign to life, ICAN enlisted the support of a roster of talented Indigenous chefs and restaurants who will be using local ingredients to inspire the box’s contents; each chef will create Indigenous Feast Boxes for a family or group of four to six people, and the boxes will detail the significance of the ingredients. The chefs handpicked local Indigenous community groups to distribute the Feast Boxes to those most in need.

(In Toronto, the ddcx Indigenous Kitchen and Catering team led by Chef Joseph Shawana with the support of Centennial College will be working with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.)

– Readers can visit IndiginousCuisine.ca for profile blogs, recipes and a map of Indigenous restaurants, food trucks, caterers and culinary experiences across Canada. This campaign runs until Dec. 18 and will be shared via GoFundMe online crowd-funding platform.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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