Carla’s Christmas Challenge

Celebrity Chef Carla Hall decorates for the Christmas Holiday
Celebrity Chef Carla Hall's Pecan Pie
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As the holiday season approaches, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of my AMAZING fans for your continued support! To show my appreciation, I’m doing an extra special holiday giveaway. That’s right, IT’S TIME FOR A GIVEAWAY, Y’ALL! ????⭐️ The winner will walk away with a swag bag complete with all of my cookbooks, a few handpicked surprises, and an hour-long private cooking lesson via video chat with ME! From December 1-26, 2019, I will be posting links to my 10 favorite holiday recipes. To enter all you have to do is:

1️⃣ Follow @carlaphall on Instagram

2️⃣ Tag 2 friends in the comments of any Carla’s Christmas Challenge post on my Instagram including “#sweepstakes

3️⃣ Cook your favorite recipes (You’re free to cook as many or as few as you’d like)

4️⃣ Post a picture of the finished results with the hashtag #CarlasChristmasChallenge

Every dish you post counts as an entry!

The winner will be chosen at random and announced on December 30th, 2019. Maximum of 10 entries per person. No purchase necessary. By entering, you are permitting me to share your photos with the tag #CarlasChristmasChallenge on my account. The cooking lesson will be given to the winner remotely via video call. Residents of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and US territories) 18 years or older. Ends December 26, 2019, at 11:59 PM ET. This sweepstake is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with Instagram.


Peppermint White Chocolate Meringues

Snow Day Cocoa

Ombré Potato and Root Vegetable Gratin

Spicy S’mores

Cooked-to-Death Green Beans with Potatoes 

Pecan Pie

Recipe #1: Peppermint White Chocolate Meringues

Makes about two dozen meringues

2 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup red-and-white-striped candy canes, broken up into pieces (or peppermint hard candies)

1/2 cup white chocolate, broken up into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Put the candy canes into an electric spice grinder (or coffee grinder) and grind into a fine powder, then set aside.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into a stand mixer and mix on high until they become glossy and white and form stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the ground candy canes until completely incorporated. Put the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ round tip and pipe 1-inch circles of meringue onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, about one inch apart.

Put the baking sheet into the oven and then immediately turn the oven off. Let the meringues sit in the oven with the door closed for several hours, or overnight, until the meringues are set and the oven is completely cool.

When the meringues are cooled, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, then put the melted chocolate into a piping bag with a 1/8″ tip. Drizzle narrow stripes of white chocolate across the meringues, then put them in the freezer for a few moments just to allow the chocolate to set. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Carla’s tips:

• Piping meringue can seem intimidating, but it’s a snap. Be sure to position the piping bag directly over the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and keep the tip close to the surface. Hold the tip down very steady right against the surface and just squeeze out a dollop, then pull straight back up, to get a “chocolate kiss” effect, or you can move the tip in small circles, pulling up as you go, to create a swirled pattern.

Recipe #2: Snow Day Cocoa

Makes 1 cup

for the cocoa:

6 ounces milk

3 ounces dark chocolate, broken up into pieces

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 2-inch piece of fresh orange peel

for the whipped cream:

2 ounces heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Toast the ground cinnamon in a small saucepan for a few seconds, then add the milk, dark chocolate, and sugar. Whisk lightly over medium heat until combined and heated through. Pour into a mug.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks (this will happen very quickly, so don’t overwhip it or it’ll turn into butter!). Mix in the ginger and sugar until combined, then spoon it onto the hot cocoa and garnish with the fresh orange peel.

Carla’s Tips:

• Substitute almond or another plant-based milk for a delicious dairy-free version.

• If you want to make the cocoa even richer, pour about an ounce of heavy cream (or coconut cream, if you want to keep it vegan) into the bottom of the mug and add a teaspoon of cocoa powder. Whisk together until combined, then add the hot cocoa and stir well.

• Spice is nice! When you toast the cinnamon for just a few seconds in a warm saucepan, it helps it to “bloom” and release its essential oils. You can do the same thing with the ginger before you add it to the whipped cream as well!


Recipe #3: Ombré Potato and Root Vegetable Gratin

Serves 12

Unsalted butter, for greasing

2 cups heavy cream

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (5 ounces)

1 pound red beets, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

1 pound turnips, peeled and sliced on a mandoline 1/16 inch thick

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cream with the garlic, shallot, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese.

In a large bowl, gently toss the beets with one-fourth of the cream mixture. Arrange the beets in the baking dish in an even layer, overlapping them slightly. Scrape any remaining cream from the bowl over the beets. Repeat this process with the sweet potatoes, Yukon Golds and turnips, using one-fourth of the cream mixture for each vegetable. Press a sheet of parchment paper on top of the turnips, then cover the dish tightly with foil.

Bake the gratin for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Uncover and top with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes longer, until golden on top. Transfer the gratin to a rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Recipe #4: Spicy S’mores


Serves 4

1 spiced chocolate bar (Olive & Sinclair’s Salt & Pepper Chocolate Bar is my favorite)

8 gingersnap cookies

4 marshmallows

Toast up a marshmallow and sandwich it between two gingersnaps with a piece of that peppery chocolate. The result is divinely spicy, and a perfect way to warm up on a winter evening.

Recipe #5: Cooked-to-Death Green Beans with Potatoes 

Serves 4

2 teaspoons rendered bacon fat*
1 large onion, halved and very thinly sliced
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
3 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought unsalted broth
1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes (about 18), a strip peeled from each**
1 pound green beans, trimmed

Heat the bacon fat in a 5-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chile flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the stock, potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are just tender enough to be pierced with a fork, but are still firm.

Add the green beans, cover, and simmer until very tender, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes and green beans to a serving dish. Bring the liquid to a boil and boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Spoon over the vegetables and gently fold to mix. Serve hot.

*If you don’t have rendered bacon fat on hand, you can cook 4 strips to get the fat needed in this recipe. You can then crumble the cooked bacon on at the end too

**Here’s how Granny always peeled her spuds for this dish: she removed just one strip of peel the width of the peeler around the center of each potato. So, the rounds are naked in the middle, but have caps of peel on two ends.

Recipe #6: Pecan Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 disk pie dough, fitted into a deep-dish pie plate and frozen 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Line the frozen dough with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until dry and set, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil with the weights and bake the dough until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Let cool completely, then place on a half-sheet pan.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F

Cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. While beating, add the eggs in a steady stream, then beat in the corn syrup, vinegar, salt, bourbon, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour into the cooled pie shell.

Bake until golden brown and mostly set but still a bit jiggly, about 45 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.