Actually, that's a lie. I'm not bad at Christmas shopping at all.
I just have some issues when it comes to it.
For example, when I'm Christmas shopping, economic value goes straight out the window. It then becomes what I would like to call the "Aunt" value. In layman terms, what can I buy all my nieces and nephews that can trump the other 20 other uncles and aunts?
Suddenly, it's like I do not see price-tags on anything. Instead, I see a "lame" to "awesome" value of everything I contemplate buying my nieces and nephews. $2 dollar stuffed polar bear at walmart with a funky smell? Lame. Freakin' incredibly huge stuffed polar bear/pillow that smells like victory? Totally awesome.
Christmas. It's a time for giving, loving, family, being thankful... and competition.
Of course, this has put in motion some minor setbacks. Like...buying one niece #1 two things and niece #2 just one thing because I saw something niece #1 might like and therefore grabbed it and rang it up without thinking twice.
And then returning it once I realized I had already bought her a present. And then having a huge argument with myself on whether or not I should just buy everyone two things or just stick with one thing for all. Thus bringing me into a spinning mental state of what I should do ending in me being in the fetal position in the parking lot of Toys'R'Us.
Which isn't really an odd thing to witness this time of year.
Either way, Christmas shopping is both a blessing and a curse. Which is why after I come home from a nights worth of fighting with my brain about the whole Christmas present deal, I go into my kitchen and I bake something that fills the house with a very simple reminder. It's not about who gets the best gift, but about the fact that someone cared enough to get one for you.
I baked this the morning of one of those crazy Christmas shopping days, and honestly, just how beautiful it came out and how wonderful the apartment smelled afterward was enough to get me ready for the day.
It's a Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake. You may think that sounds odd, but pears are often quite complimentary for gingerbread. Right next to apple, it has a fruity sweetness that works in harmony with the spices inside the cake. It is an incredibly fragrant cake that has a glossy brown sugar shine on the top. The white chocolate drizzle is spiced with pumpkin spice, but if you don't have that on hand, a dash each of ground cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/cloves will do the trick just fine. It really does complete the cake, I think. This is incredibly moist. I'm sure if this cake was an aunt, it'd probably win the "awesome" award right off the bat (unless, of course, its competition was a cheesecake). With just the right amount of spices, and caramlized pear slices on top... it makes a perfect brunch, breakfast, or light dessert. Plus, it makes your house smell like heaven. Who wouldn't want that?
Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
(adapted from Gourmet)
2 ripe pears
1/4 cup of salted butter, melted
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of molasses
1 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup of salted butter, softened
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Peel and core pears and cut each into thin slices. Arrange pears in the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together molasses and boiling water in a small bowl. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and egg in a mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes, then alternately mix in one third of the flour mixture and half of the molasses mixture at low speed until smooth, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Pour batter over topping, being careful not to disturb pears, and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
3. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge, then remove sides and invert a large plate with a lip over the bottom of the cake and, using pot holders to hold the pan and plate tightly together, invert cake onto plate. Replace any pears that stick to skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.