Chocolate and beets are a natural pair. The earthiness of the beets contrasts with the richness and sweetness of chocolate. The milk chocolate frosting on this cake is laced with orange zest—orange tastes great with both chocolate and beets.
Milk may not seem a likely braising liquid, but it works beautifully, tenderizing the meat and combining with the chicken juices and spices to create the sauce. You can brown the meat in advance, assemble the braise and refrigerate it, then pop it into the oven just before you want to eat; in under an hour you’ll have a comforting main course that’s perfect for a snowy evening.
Slow-cooking a “roast” chicken yields moist, juicy meat but flabby skin—the easy fix is to run the carved chicken under the broiler to crisp the skin before serving. The miso-honey mixture that’s drizzled on before broiling helps the skin get deep caramelization, and it also reinforces the salty-sweet miso flavor you added in the beginning, which will have mellowed.
This is a slow-cooker adaptation of Marcella Hazan’s famous 3-ingredient marinara sauce. The butter makes the sauce plush. Good-quality canned tomatoes are a useful pantry staple year-round but especially in winter when fresh tomatoes seem a lifetime away.
Sticky toffee pudding is a rich British dessert that’s basically an exceptionally moist date cake with caramel sauce poured over the top. Steaming in the slow cooker is an absolutely foolproof way to make it. The maple syrup in the easy caramel sauce is an unorthodox American addition—but maple goes so well with dates.