The easy guide to baking holiday treats that will be the hit of the desserttable
When you think of holiday baking, you think of peppermint flavored treats, tins full of cookies, and goodies you used to make with your grandmother. I am sure you remember an abundance of ribbon all over the kitchen table as you tried to make treats for your school teachers, music teachers, mailman and hair dresser.
These treats I make are anything but cliché and will have your recipient thanking you for a delicious and unique edible gift. Not to mention, you’ll feel like a kid when you make these. If you have children, these recipes are very kid friendly.
- Chocolate Marshmallow Logs
This is a family tradition at the holidays that I have made with my mother since I was a young child. We had weekend marathons of baking these logs and delivering them to friends or school parties. Now, my sister and I make them each year too.
Ingredients, makes two logs:
- 1 stick margarine or unsalted butter
- 1 package colored marshmallows (I can only find them at Kroger each year)
- 1 C chopped pecans
- 1 egg, beaten
- powdered sugar for dusting
- 12 oz milk chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)
- heavy duty tin foil
- On the stove, melt one stick of butter and the chocolate chips. Add the egg and stir quickly so it doesn’t curdle. Let cool slightly.
- In a separate bowl, combine marshmallows and chopped nuts.
- Pour the chocolate over the marshmallows and stir to combine.
- On a long foil sheet (18 inches), sprinkle powdered sugar on a diagonal. Spoon half the mixture over the powdered sugar about two inches wide and one inch tall.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on top too.
- Fold the foil over the log and tuck in the corners. Freeze for a few hours or overnight. You can also leave in the log shape until you're ready to slice.
To get ready for presentation:
- Take the log out of the freezer and let defrost slightly (10 minutes) so you can cut through the log.
- Unwrap the foil and cut log into ¾ inch pieces.
- Place in aluminum tin, lined with parchment paper or foil, or in plastic jar. Tie with ribbon and attach a tag.
- Tell your recipients to keep frozen so they’ll last longer.
2. Gingerbread Cookies
(recipe by Simply Recipes)
This year, I wanted to bake gingerbread cookies from scratch. This recipe is a little time consuming because it involves a lot of chilling, rolling, cooling, and decorating. And a lot of cleaning up too. But the little men are so cute and delicious that the compliments you’ll get are worth the effort.
- 3 1/4 C sifted all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 T ground ginger
- 1 T ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 C unsulfured molasses
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add flour mixture; combine on low speed.
- Divide dough into thirds, wrapping each in Saran Wrap. Chill for at least one hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If the dough is too soft to roll (or is sticky), add in more flour.
- Heat oven to 350*. Place a dough third on a large piece of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll to 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes. Use a cookie cutter to make shapes, lay on ungreased cookie pan. Press raisins or chocolate chips into dough as buttons.
- (baker’s note: My dough was a little sticky, so I added flour and worked it in, then rolled it, and then put it in a ball and added flour and rolled it again. Just do what you need to do to get it rolled pretty. I also thought parchment paper was annoying but then I transferred the sheet to sit in the refrigerator, and that was easier than lifting and placing on a tray to refrigerate.)
- I tried greased and non-greased cookie sheets, both worked fine.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp. Let sit until cooler and move to a wire rack. Decorate only after it completely cools. Icing instructions below.
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 3/4 C confectioners sugar
- Combine egg white and lemon juice and mix in electric mixer. Add powdered sugar slowly and incorporate fully, scraping down sides too.
- Spoon into piping back or sandwich bag and cut an end in the bag to pipe. You can’t wait to do this or it will dry out quickly.
3. Cake Batter Chocolate Bark
(Recipe from How Sweet It Is)
This recipe is a new one to me this year. It would be great wrapped in cellophane, or served in a big bowl at a holiday party. And it has three ingredients, so what can be so hard about that?
- 6 oz Lindt Dark Chocolate (or Nestle semi-sweet chips are fine too)
- 12 oz Lindt White Chocolate (Nestle white chocolate chips work too)
- 1 tsp yellow cake mix
- colored sprinkles
- In microwave safe dish or on stovetop, melt chocolate for 60-90 seconds until smooth. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
- Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Freeze for 20 minutes until hard.
- In a double boiler (pot with simmering water with a glass bowl on top not touching the water) on low heat, melt white chocolate. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
- Stir in one teaspoon of cake mix until well incorporated.
- Pour white chocolate on top of dark chocolate and add sprinkles.
- Freeze again for 30 minutes, or until hardened.
- Remove from freezer and break into pieces.
Best served frozen.
These recipes are fun to make, great for crowds, and more exciting than gifting a fruitcake. They all can be kept in the freezer to enjoy long past December. That is, if you still want the sweets in your house in January.