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Hosting friends and family during the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. Prepare treats—like our simple spin on chocolate éclairs—ahead of time so all you have to do is put on a pot of coffee when your guests arrive.
Chocolate Ginger Fauxclairs
In large bowl, beat 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, with 1 cup granulated sugar until fluffy; beat in 1 egg and 1/3 cup fancy molasses. In separate bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp each baking soda and cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and pinch salt; stir into butter mixture until combined. Roll dough by 1 tbsp into balls; roll each into about 3-inch long log. Arrange, 2 inches apart, on parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in 350°F oven until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes; transfer directly to racks to cool completely. Melt 225 g semisweet chocolate (about 8 oz), chopped; spread 1 tsp over top of each fauxclair. Let stand until set, about 1 hour. Makes about 48 pieces.
Helpful hosting tips
- A thermal carafe is a great investment when you're serving coffee for a crowd. It will keep your coffee hot, prevent overcooking and preserve the flavour, guaranteeing that the last cup is just as nice as the first.
- Before melting chocolate, chop it so that it will melt more quickly and evenly.
- Chilled dough is easier to work with than room temperature. If it starts to become too sticky while you're working with it, pop it into the fridge.
- To make ahead, layer finished treats between waxed paper in an airtight container; store for up to five days or freeze for up to two weeks.
For more coffee recipes and other sweets that pair well with a cup of java, visit canadianliving.com/coffee.
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We speak to a skin-care professional about how to treat a parched complexion.
Preserving glowing, flake-free skin can be difficult at the best of times. In wintertime, when the harsh elements lead to skin-cell breakdown and shorter days mean less patience for skin care, it can seem almost impossible. But trust us: Dry skin needs an effective treatment regimen, especially during the winter.
We spoke to Dr. Nowell Solish, cosmetic dermatologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, for insight into how dry skin operates, what ingredients you should embrace and avoid, and which treatments will faithfully work year after year.
How does dry skin occur?
“Our skin has natural oils and a barrier of protection,” says Dr. Solish. “If we’re in an environment that causes our skin to evaporate more water, or the surrounding temperature is cold and dry and the humidity is low, our skin will get drier.” Moving between a warm interior and the cold exterior aggravates skin, causing it to dry out more during the wintertime. Irritating detergents can also lead to dry skin.
Who is prone to dry skin?
According to Dr. Solish, the oilier you are, the less parched your face will get during the winter months. Age is also a factor. While teenagers have high hormone levels that lead to oily skin, postmenopausal women see a drop in hormone levels, causing oil glands to shrink and resulting in less sebum production.
What body parts experience the worst dry skin?
Commonly, the arms or the tops of the hands tend to easily become dry, but this varies as everyone’s skin has different abilities to absorb moisture and adapt to climate changes.
How can we prevent dry skin?
The most effective method is staying hydrated, so drink a lot of water throughout the day.
The next step is to select an appropriate moisturizer. “A moisturizer itself is a barrier,” says Dr. Solish. “It stops water from evaporating out of the skin. The best ones actually grab water and try to bring water into the skin.”
Keep in mind that facials are simply a temporary solution to a problem that has the tendency to reoccur. “Skin looks better and younger after a facial, but the effect is temporary because you’ve added moisture to that area.”
Certain fabrics against the skin can also affect skin moisture levels. Ideally, wear cotton or sweat-wicking fabrics to allow the skin to breathe. Avoid polyester, which can increase sweat buildup, which can cause irritated skin.
What products combat dry skin?
Look for soapless cleansers, such as Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser, that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Avoid acne cleansers for this reason; effective as they are in treating acne, they will dry out your skin faster. “They have salicylic acids that help break up the skin because they’re treating the acne,” says Dr. Solish. “But they’re very drying.”
When it comes to choosing the right moisturizer, a thick cream contains the most oil and will also be the most hydrating. However, some people will break out when using cream that contains too much oil. To determine how much oil your moisturizer contains, apply a small amount of the product to your skin and pay attention to how your body reacts. If the skin becomes warm, there’s a lot of oil in the moisturizer; if the area feels cool and refreshing, the moisturizer contains a lot of water and not much oil.
When choosing a cream, look for ingredients such as ceramides, natural lipids that help to build up the skin’s barrier that can be broken down by unforgiving weather or lactic acid.
When does dry skin turn into something more serious?
If you still find that you’re experiencing itchy, red or irritable skin after testing several moisturizers, you may be developing eczema. Consult your doctor who can prescribe a topical steroid.
What products can treat a dry scalp?
To treat pesky dandruff, which is so prevalent during the colder season, your best option is to use a specially formulated shampoo that exfoliates dry skin on the scalp. “Dandruff itself is not always due to dry skin,” says Dr. Solish. “It can be due to a naturally occurring yeast buildup on the skin, so a lot of dandruff shampoos contain ingredients to kill the yeast that is making your scalp flaky.”
If worst comes to worst, apply a leave-in oil treatment at night and shampoo it out the following morning. Look for leave-in treatments, or even nourishing hair masks, made of natural oils such as coconut or olive.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
It's the most wonderful time of the year and these cats may or may not be ready for all that holiday cheer. We'll let you decide!
...with this tie.
...the perfect ornament?
...I can possibly walk in this thing!
...got me feeling sleepy.
... at the camera.
...to help with decorating.
...as these lights!
...or an elf? Make up your mind.
...for the milk.
...gift you'll ever need.
..a new toy!
...Santa's little helper!
...time I'm wearing this.
...hang out here, if you don't mind.
...not a reindeer.
...much better from this angle!
...taking the photo?
...it's cold outside.