Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? My youngest one has the countdown going and each morning she enthusiastically reports how many days are left. I know it’s exciting for Christmas to come, but I really like enjoying the whole season and making it last.
One of my favorite traditions is baking with family and friends. Although we really try to eat healthy all year, we just can’t resist baking our traditional desserts this month. Sugar gets added as a food group in December. The truth is that we just love making them, and we always set aside at least one day to spend making treats, which we usually share with friends. I thought I would share some of our favorite recipes in case you’re looking to spend some time in the toasty warm kitchen, making memories and some delicious goodies! Note: If you click on the name of the dessert, it will take you to a printable recipe.
I found this recipe many years ago and started making it for everyone, because everyone who tried it loved it. One time not long after I started baking it, I realized I completely forgot to put eggs in it. The pumpkin bread still came out just fine, and everyone agreed it was actually better, so I removed eggs from the recipe. I usually keep a few loaves of this pumpkin bread in our freezer so we have some whenever we need a dessert or snack for guests. We’ve been known to eat it frozen as well, because it even tastes good that way!
• 3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons nutmeg
• 3 cups sugar
• 2/3 cup water
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
• 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Grease two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Blend in the water and oil. Blend in the pumpkin. Fold in the raisins if using. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
If you like chocolate and cherries, you’ll love these. These are one of my kids’ favorites, and Santa loves them too!
• 1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/4 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 egg
• 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 cups flour
Cut cherries in half and let sit. Cream the butter and sugar. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl. Add in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in cocoa powder and flour. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball. Place a halved cherry in each center. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges are firm.
Sugar cookies were my mother’s favorite, and we always made them together using her recipe. We tweaked the recipe to this when we had to cut out eggs because of my son’s egg allergy, and she liked these better than her recipe. The kids have a blast decorating these!
• 2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1/2 cup butter
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• Decorative sugar optional
• Icing optional
Combine all the dry ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar. Blend in sour cream and then the dry ingredients. Form a dough ball. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Roll out 1/2 inch thick on floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutters. If adding sugar/sprinkles without icing, decorate and then bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. If icing cookies, decorate after they cool. You can add sugar/sprinkles on top of the icing as well.
These are so fun and easy to make! I am not an artistic, talented baker. I’m a mess in the kitchen, but I always feel like these come out like little masterpieces, and in no time flat. Bonus – they are delicious!
• 3 cups flour
• 1 cup butter, softened
• 2/3 cup powdered sugar
• 4 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• small bag of chocolate chips and/or raisins and/or dried cranberries
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Sprinkles, sugar, or edible decor
In a large bowl beat flour, butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla until dough forms. Shape a 1 inch ball of dough around a chocolate chip, raisin, or cranberry. Gently roll to form a ball. Place about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until set and bottom is golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cool completely. In a bowl, mix the icing ingredients until smooth. Dip the tops of the bonbons into the icing and sprinkle on or dip them into the sprinkles, sugar, or decor of your choice.
I also call these elf cookies, first because they remind me of elves with the stripes and the shape of an elf hat, and second because they are all about sugar, sugar, sugar (and mint and chocolate)! Yum!
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 cups flour
• 3/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup additional sugar for rolling
• 10 oz. bag Hershey’s Brand Candy Cane Kisses
Beat butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until well mixed. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt separately. Add dry mixture to butter mixture, beating until well blended. Chill dough for 1-2 hours. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in additional sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and place a kiss on each, pressing lightly. Remove from cookie sheet to cool.
These and the next two treats are no-bake desserts. These wreath cookies are my best friend’s and my sister’s favorites. They beg me to make them, and since I like my best friend and my sister, I usually do! These wreath cookies are similar to rice crispy treats but made with corn flakes, and they look like Christmas wreaths. (They are cuter than the picture shows…. I usually display them better but since they go so fast, this was the only picture I have of them!)
• 1/2 cup butter, plus extra for fingers
• 3 cups mini marshmallows
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 tsp green food coloring
• 4 cups corn flakes
• Decorative red sugar or sprinkles
Melt butter in a pot over medium high heat. Add marshmallows, stirring until all marshmallows are melted. Add vanilla extract and food coloring and stir until it is uniformly green. When mixture is smooth, add corn flakes cup by cup. Mix well but try not to crush flakes. Spoon out a little at a time and form into wreath shapes using buttered fingers. Place on sheets of waxed paper or cookie sheets. Decorate with red sprinkles. Chill so they are easy to remove.
If you’re looking for something fun to make, here you go! The larger you make these the easier they are to decorate, but they pack quite a minty punch, so smaller tastes better. I also have used this recipe to make little Easter egg candies, so really the possibilities are endless with the different shapes and candy designs you could do!
• 1 tablespoon butter, softened
• 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
• food coloring
• colored sprinkles or cake decor
Combine the butter, corn syrup, extract, and salt. Beat in confectioners’ sugar. Knead until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough to color with food coloring as desired, leaving the majority plain for the snowpeople. Use the dough to make balls for the people, stacking slightly smaller balls on top of larger ones. Use the colored dough to make hats, scarves, earmuffs, etc. as desired. Add colored sprinkles and candies for eyes, noses, mouths, and buttons.
Easy is good. You could actually microwave this recipe for 3 or 4 minutes if you really wanted to speed up the process! Again, you can use your imagination to add different kinds of candy to make this fudge your own.
• 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
• 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
• 3/4 cup crushed candy canes (optional)
Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in a pot on medium heat. Stir until chips are melted. Stir in nuts or crushed candy if desired. Pour into well-greased 8×8 inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until set, and then cut and serve.
We hope this batch of holidays shapes up to be extra sweet for you and yours!