Why Our Editors Love the Holidays

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

This special time of year brings moments of joy, whether relaxing with family or celebrating with friends. And, of course, there's the food.

Jack Bishop
Editorial Director

My favorite holiday tradition is the making of crème brûlée for Christmas dinner. (We follow the Cook's Illustrated recipe.) Crème brûlée has been a family project for a dozen years and something my daughters look forward to every year. I make the custard, which is perfect for any holiday meal because it can spend several days in the refrigerator. My girls then do the brûlée part of the recipe, right before we sit down to dinner. (The ramekins go back in the fridge to chill while we eat and are the perfect temperature when it's time for dessert.)

When the girls were little, my wife and I guided them carefully. But now that they are nearly adults, they are fully in charge of sprinkling the turbinado sugar over each ramekin and then using the torch to burn the sugar. We upgraded from a mini crème brûlée torch to the real deal from the hardware store a few years back so the works goes quickly. Best of all, the dessert is absolutely delicious and something we make just one time every year so it's special.

RELATED RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Crème Brûlée

Julia Collin Davison
Executive Food Editor, Books

One of our Christmas Eve traditions growing up was to have Chinese food takeout and watch a terrible movie. This sounds strange, I know, but I loved it.

My mother is an Episcopalian minister and was the Rector of our local church for many years. Christmas Eve was her busiest time of year. She usually left the house early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and didn't make it home again until well after the midnight service was over.

So that left my father, my brother, and me in charge of the Christmas Eve celebration at home. We'd order a massive amount of Chinese food (which was a real treat—we rarely ate it the rest of the year) and settle in for some horrible movie. The worse the movie, the more fun we had.

RELATED RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce

We'd then get ourselves cleaned up and see my mother at the midnight service. Christmas Day is when we ate our real Christmas food, which was mostly German fare. Stollen for breakfast, then rouladen, mashed potatoes, and braised red cabbage for dinner. And of course, chocolate-covered marzipan bars from our stockings.

RELATED RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Fluffy Mashed Potatoes

Amanda Agee
Executive Editor, Cook's Illustrated

I am looking forward to coming downstairs to the woodsy smell of our Christmas tree every morning, making ornaments with my daughter, and making some of my colleagues' DIY projects: Seville orange marmalade, preserved lemons, cocktail bitters, salted caramels...

RELATED RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Easy Fresh Fruit Jam

Lisa McManus
Senior Editor, Testings and Tastings

We always make the gingerbread cookie recipe from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It makes the house smell Christmas-y. It's the world's most forgiving dough—kids can re-roll and re-cut it about 200 times and it doesn't get tough; it tastes great (plus there are no eggs in it, so you can safely eat the dough); and it is super fast to whip together in the food processor. We make hordes of gingerbread people (usually wielding candy canes in a gingerbread army, thanks to my martial-minded kids). It looks like we made a crazy amount of cookies, but then they're gone in two days.

RELATED RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Gingersnaps

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN!

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