The Best Food & Drink Pairings for Your Favorite Holiday Movies
Michael Bublé comes out of hibernation the day after Thanksgiving, and so do I. Christmastime is when I thrive. I am the local Christmas expert. I'm currently writing three articles to show you how you can incorporate more Christmas into your life every single day until December 25th. From now until then, I only listen to holiday music (nothing after 2005) and I live off of candy canes and spiked eggnog. I'm in my element.
As I come down from my festive, peppermint-infused sugar high, I compiled a list of the 10 most popular Christmas movies and the best recipes – food and drink! – to pair with them, just like I match my Christmas socks with my Christmas sweater. Side note, I did not drink all of these drinks...just the Mulled Wine, White Russian, Manhattan, and Hot Chocolate...but I definitely ate all of these desserts.
I originally just came up with a list of desserts for these movies on my website, but decided that everyone needs a little bit of extra, um, holiday cheer? No, alcohol. Everyone could use some alcohol.
This just a couple of my favorite Christmas movies. You have no idea how long it took me to write this, what about The Year Without a Santa Claus? What about Santa Claus is Coming to Town? The freakin' Grinch!? SO many classic movies, so little time.
World's Best Cup of Coffee
That's right, this is actually the World's Best Cup of Coffee! (Congratulations! You did it!) This drink could definitely be enjoyed hot, but I went for it cold. Iced coffee (cold brew, if you're hipster like that) (I'm not) mixed with Kahlua, a hint of maple syrup – how could I not?! – and light cream. It's like a flavored iced coffee, only better.
Maple Pecan Bourbon Bars
Buttery, soft, and gooey...what else could you want when watching Elf? This base recipe is my very own, but Elf it up by adding some bourbon into the egg and vanilla mixture, and cutting out two tablespoons of the brown sugar and replacing it with maple syrup.
Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
I 10/10 made this recipe up. It's great, seriously. Grab some Fireball, some cranberry juice, drop in a cherry, and drink up. I don't believe in measurements, I just believe in anything that will help my body tolerate the disgusting taste of Fireball. This will have your nose redder than Rudolph's in no time.
Red Velvet Cookies
Really hammering home here Rudolph's red nose. After all he's been through, might as well let him shine (haha see what I did there.) Anyway, this recipe comes from one of my favorite Food Network men, Geoffrey Zakarian. He makes these into sandwiches, stuffed with a tangy cream cheese filling. I chose to keep them simple, but definitely stuff them, or make a thin cream cheese glaze and drizzle that on top. I wish I did that. Ugh, baking regrets.
It's A Wonderful Life
Such an old school classic needs an old school classic cocktail. Hot toddies are so easy it's almost absurd: boil some water, throw in some bourbon, a touch of honey, and a slice of lemon. Sometimes I even put in a teabag if I'm looking to amp it up (or get rid of a cold...)
I love this movie almost as much as I love Elf. My dad and I watch it every year without my mom, because she thinks it's the saddest thing and ugly-cries throughout. Anyway, these eggnog madeleines are delicate and delicious, and are perfect when dunked in tea...preferably a spiked one. They're a beautiful classic, like this movie.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Throw some bourbon and eggnog in a moose cup, shave some nutmeg and cinnamon stick on top, and drink up. You'll definitely be able to handle whatever family craziness comes flying your way. In the words of Clark Griswold, "Hallelujah! Holy shit!"
Salted Raspberry Pinwheels
I tried to make these cookies in my incredibly tiny NYC apartment. My radiators, which are constantly on, made the kitchen SO HOT that the dough literally melted after I took them out of the refrigerator. So make those cookies, but look at this picture of my mom's recipe for raspberry pinwheels. I made them at my parent's house and watched Christmas Vacation immediately afterwards. For some reason, they just really go hand in hand. Quick, kooky cookies with flavors that have become classic at Christmastime, for an incredibly kooky movie that's a classic in my house at Christmastime.
My girl Ina has you covered for this delicious winter classic. I feel like this is such a great hot drink for a movie that's almost completely based outdoors. If you haven't seen this incredibly underrated Christmas movie, I recommend doing so. Bing Crosby is so dreamy.
Peppermint or Fruit Bark
Another classic movie! Another classic wintry treat! This is the second easiest recipe in this list (keep reading to find out which is #1). Melt chocolate – I use a mixture of bittersweet and dark chocolate – over a double broiler, spill in some peppermint extract, pour on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet. While the chocolate sets, melt some white chocolate in the same fashion, pour some more peppermint, and pour on top of the not-quite-set chocolate, top with candy canes, and chill for a couple of hours. Go through this same process with the fruit bark, exchanging the peppermint for Fiori di Sicilia, and top with a mixture of dried fruit, nuts, and sea salt.
Frosty the Snowman
Peppermint White Russian
I drank this faster than it took to make it. Grab a glass and coat the bottom in chocolate syrup. Then pour in one part Kahlua, two parts vodka, and three parts cream. Crumble some candy canes on top and you have dessert in a glass. This would make Frosty melt.
I'm not going to tell you the recipe for these. I'm serious. Just make your favorite snowball cookie. This is my favorite (and the simplest) cookie ever, and I only eat them the week leading up to Christmas and then the week after. Then no more for the rest of the year. But this recipe is a secret, only kept within my family. Sorry not sorry.
A Christmas Story
Hot Milk Punch
It might sound pretty questionable, but it's pretty damn good. I was inspired by the scene when Little Orphan Annie totally screws Ralphie over by sending him a cheap marketing campaign from Ovaltine. Get twisted like Ralphie did with this hot drink. Pro tip: replace the milk with eggnog. (It's basically just a spiked eggnog then.)
Cinnamon Bun-dt Mini Cakes
24 hours of A Christmas Story? Classic. My family watches this all day on Christmas, and I mean it's on each of our TV's all day. But it starts with breakfast, which is usually some sort of a cinnamon bun. These cute little cakes are quicker and much more fun. I followed this recipe, except I added 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the streusel and 1/2 tablespoon of salt and cinnamon to the cake batter. I also baked them in mini bundt pans, and covered them in a powdered sugar glaze.
Miracle on 34th Street
This drink pairs perfectly with the dessert to follow, but also what better way to showcase a classy Manhattan-based movie than with a Manhattan cocktail? This one is super simple, and my all-time favorite cocktail. Mix 2 oz. of your favorite good-quality bourbon (my favorite is Woodford Reserve or Widow Jane, but Maker's Mark works incredibly well, too), 1 oz. of Italian sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of bitters to a mixing glass with ice. Stir, strain, and enjoy! I also like to throw in a dash of homemade bourbon cherry syrup and a cherry. (Find that recipe under the Bourbon Cherry Pie recipe!)
Bourbon Cherry Stuffed-Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate cupcakes are a classic. But chocolate cupcakes with bourbon buttercream frosting, and stuffed with cherries soaked in bourbon?! Amazing. I use my favorite chocolate cake recipe with a standard buttercream with two tablespoons of bourbon added in place of some of the milk. Buy or make your own bourbon-soaked cherries!
The Polar Express
Spiked S'mores Hot Chocolate
There was nothing better than getting to drink half-warm hot chocolate and watching The Polar Express in elementary school at Christmastime. Except now it's better because we can get drunk from it. Get decked like the halls with this decadent and incredibly boozy hot chocolate.
Chocolate Peppermint Meringue Cookies
These cookies and s'mores hot chocolate?! Ride that sugar train! These cookies are incredibly light and chocolatey. I followed this wonderful recipe but added 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract to the batter. It might seem like a lot, but it bakes off. I think melted down a mixture of bittersweet and dark chocolate and drizzled it on top, because everyone needs more chocolate. (Oh yeah, and they're gluten free.)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Charlie Brown
This one comes from Absolut, and yes, it is actually called the Charlie Brown. I threw in some cream liqueur on top, just to give that dramatic seeping effect in the glass.
How could you not eat peanut brittle when watching The Peanuts?! This is the easiest recipe in the roundup – it's literally two cups of both peanuts and sugar and two tablespoons of water and salt. Make it everyday – you're going to have to because it'll be gone within 24 hours.