Holiday Entertaining Made Easy

Foods & DrinksCooking Tips & Recipes

  • Author Michael Mettler
  • Published March 27, 2024
  • Word count 1,778

All of us have a friend or co-worker that makes entertaining seem effortless. While you’d love to hate her, you may not get invited to her parties any longer if you do. Their can’t-miss soirees are productions in which no detail is overlooked. From the elegant champagne cocktails, to the terrines of Pâté de Campagne with house-cured cornichons and stone ground mustards, to the well-appointed tablescapes, to the perfect musical playlist, the gatherings are always spot-on.

Whether you have been nominated (read: badgered/conned into/forced) to host this year’s family Christmas dinner, book club holiday party, Girl Scout gingerbread house decorating social, or a New Year’s Eve cocktail party - you’ve already been given the best/worst gift of the season. This is your chance to prove your mettle at crafting seasonally-inspired cocktails (with gluten-free alternatives, naturally), arranging glitter-covered holiday balls elegantly in crystal vases intermingled with branches cunningly foraged from your neighbor’s yard that you’ve lovingly spray painted metallic hues, and show off your superior understanding of royal icing for the veritable cacophony of nativity scene-themed sugar cookies you’ve spent two weeks baking and decorating.

Luckily, living in the Walla Walla Valley, we have an embarrassment of talent at our fingertips to help make your holiday parties a smashing success at whatever level of involvement you deem appropriate. From butchers, to bakers, to (candy)stick makers – there are more options than one can possibly take advantage of that will help make playing hostess a breeze. Whether you need spaetzle, strudel, truffles or teacakes, the artisans highlighted below (amongst many others) will help you pull off one unforgettable evening after another. For those of you with a bit of Martha Stewart’s spirit in you, these sweet makers have shared their favorite holiday treat recipes with you. For the busier of us (okay…lazier), these delicious noshes, amongst many others, are available at their shops and will certainly help make your holiday season a delicious one to remember.

A Walla Walla classic, Bright’s Candies has been keeping the valley on a sugar high since 1934. Owners Paul and Tiffany Jenes are consummate artisans, churning out hand-forged chocolates, confections of every stripe, candied nuts, artisan popcorn and more in their quaint shop in Main Street in Walla Walla. Guests to the store can watch Paul as he and his team produce chocolates day-in and day-out in their galley-style workspace. As the holidays progress, you’ll often see boxes of truffles and chocolates stacked to the ceiling as the team rushes to meet demand. This year Bright’s is excited to feature Gingerbread Rolled Truffles as one of their seasonal features, and trust me, you won’t want to skip these decadent delights!

Should your sweet tooth have more of an adult proclivity, Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate from Petits Noirs may be the perfect ticket. Founded by Lan Wong and James Boulanger, Petits Noirs melds artisan bakery training with a passion for fine European chocolates. After decades of living and working in New York City and enjoying the finest things life has to offer, Wong and Boulanger moved to the Walla Walla Valley after falling in love with its beauty and launched their boutique chocolate company. Inspired by both the abundance of fresh produce in the region as well as the wines, their sophisticated chocolates, nougats, sauces, drinking chocolates, and toffees are sure to tickle the heart of any true foodie. One of my favorite cool season treats is a glass of their superb hot chocolate spiked with an adult libation of your choice. It certainly will make those long winter nights much more bearable! If you don’t want to go to the hassle of chopping and mixing your own chocolate and herb base, Petits Noirs sells their signature hot chocolate in tins for on-demand use at home.

If you are hosting Christmas dinner for your friends and family and making that perfect pie crust just isn’t your cup of tea, Chef Michael Kline from the Walla Walla Bread Company just may be your favorite person this time of the year. After spending decades cooking in top restaurants across the United States, Chef Kline and his wife opened arguably the top artisan bakery in the region. Kline’s commitment to gluten-filled decadence does not go unnoticed to visitors to the bakery. The long hours and steadfast focus on quality can been seen and smelled in everything that is presented; from the wood fired pizzas, to the rustic French baguettes, to the mouth-watering macaroons and beyond. Kline and his team have an especially deep understanding of pastry crust, and as simple as it may sound, pie crust can be one of the more challenging things to perfect in the kitchen. The classic apple pie he produces is truly a culinary delight, we suggest you enjoy it with a drizzle of salted caramel and some pomegranate seeds at your next holiday dinner.

Bright’s Candies

11 East Main Street

Walla Walla, WA 99362

(509) 525-5533

Monday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Petits Noirs

622 South Main Street

Milton-Freewater, OR

(541) 938-7118

Thursday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or by appointment

Walla Walla Bread Company

225 East Main Street

Walla Walla, WA 99362

(509) 522-8422

Monday – Friday 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Bright’s Candies Gingerbread Rolled Truffles


  • 7 ounces heavy cream

  • 10 cloves

  • 10 whole allspice

  • 1 TBSP molasses

  • ½ TSP cinnamon

  • 1 ½ TSP fresh grated ginger

  • Pinch salt

  • 3.5 ounces milk chocolate

  • 7 ounces 61% semisweet chocolate

  • 2 TBSP corn syrup

  • 2 TBSP butter, soft, but not melted

  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate for dipping

  • Crushed ginger snaps

  • Sifted cocoa powder


  • Sauce pan with lid

  • Wooden spoon

  • Bowl for chocolate

  • Sieve

  • Bowl to pour cream into

  • Cheesecloth, moistened

  • Small cookie sheet

  • Pastry bag with large pipe nose


In your sauce pan, measure out cloves, allspice, molasses, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add the cream to the sauce pan, turn on high, and stir until the cream beings to boil. Remove cause pan from heat, cover and set time for 15 minutes.

Place moistened cheesecloth over your sieve and pour the cream mixture through into your bowl. Clean the sauce pan and measure the filtered cream. Add more heavy cream as needed to bring cream mixture back up to 7 ounces.

Add corn syrup and cream to the sauce pan and turn the heat back to high, boil for 60 seconds while stirring. Remove from heat and pour the cream into a bowl containing 3.5 ounces of milk chocolate and 7 ounces of dark chocolate. Let mixture sit for 30 seconds, then stir to emulsify (if chocolate has not melted, heat briefly, but do not exceed 100 degrees). Add butter to the resulting ganache, stir in and pour onto your small cookie sheet and let it sit undisturbed.

Once at room temperature, scrape the ganache into a pastry bag and pipe into mounds on a tray. Let these sit in the fridge for 30 minutes, then roll into balls and return to the fridge for 30 minutes more, roll again.

Meanwhile, temper your chocolate in a double boiler (small glass bowl filled with semi-sweet chocolate over a boiling pot of water until the chocolate melts). Coat your hand lightly with some of the melted chocolate, roll the truffle in your hand and drop into cocoa powder. Let it sit for 30 seconds or so and then re-roll in cocoa powder, crushed ginger snaps or dip into the melted chocolate.

Petits Noirs Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate


  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, (best quality), finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 ounces of bourbon

  • Selection of herbs and spices to taste, ground (we recommend chile pepper, cinnamon, ginger and cloves)

  • Meringues or hand-crafted marshmallows to top


  • Heavy bottomed pot

  • Wooden spoon


Heat the milk and sugar into a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until it begins to boil, stirring often. Remove the milk from the heat, add the chocolate, herbs and spices and stir until completely melted (it may be necessary to return mixture to the heat for a brief period to melt the chocolate depending on how fine your chop was). Add the bourbon and mix. Pour the mixture into warmed mugs, top with a meringue and enjoy alongside a roaring fire.

Walla Walla Bread Company’s Apple Pie

Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 12 TBSP very cold unsalted butter

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 TSP kosher salt

  • 1 TBSP sugar

  • 1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

  • 6 to 8 TBSP ice water

Pie Crust Directions:

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it does not stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in pie pan and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Apple Pie Ingredients:

  • 12 locally grown Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

  • ¾ cup sugar, plus additional for pie top

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 ½ TSP cinnamon

  • ½ TSP nutmeg

  • Pinch ground cloves

  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1 large egg, beaten

Apple Pie Directions:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place one of your chilled pie crusts in the bottom of a pie tin and return to the refrigerator. In a large bowl combine the apples, sugar, lemon zest and juice, spices and flour. Toss well. Spoon the mixture into the pie pan. Dot with butter cubes and cover with the remaining pie crust. Slice several steam vents into the top of the pie crust and seal the crusts together by crimping the edges as desired. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the additional sugar. Bake the pie until the crust is brown and juices are bubbling out (about 1 hour). Let the pie cool on a wire rack before serving.

Michael Mettler is a brand manager and web designer based in Washington State serving clients across the globe.

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