Holiday Baking Ideas

Jam & Butter Thumbprints fresh from the oven.

Below, you’ll find some of my favorite recipes for the holiday season. I hope you not only find them delicious, but that in making them, you can take time to relax and enjoy the season with those to whom you are near and dear.

Christmas (and every other special day) Cookies

Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing — Lots of sugar cookie recipes are made to look pretty but taste pretty flavorless. You won’t have that problem with this recipe – you can decorate to your heart’s content and know that these cookies will both look and taste fantastic.

Chocolate Cookie Cut-outs & Royal Icing — In a twist on traditional sugar cookies, this recipe lets you decorate pretty little chocolate cut-outs. Decorated cookies are especially dramatic – the icing is a lovely contrast to the darkness of the cookie. I especially love the addition of cinnamon in this recipe (chocolate and cinnamon is not a typical baking combination, and it’s a shame) but if you don’t care for cinnamon in your chocolate, just leave it out.

Lace Cookies — It’s not Christmas in our house if I don’t make these cookies. They’re similar in flavor and texture to the Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip cookies, but they are much more elegant. You can leave them as is or, as I do, use them to sandwich melted dark chocolate.

Outrageous Triple Chocolate Cookies — Words do not do justice to this cookie. It is unbelievably good. If you don’t believe me, just ask Lis!

Italian Lemon Cookies — These are cakey, lemony, and bright. Shake on a few sprinkles to get them into the holiday spirit.

Double Chocolate Cookies — Flat, chewy chocolate cookies are visually perked up by the addition of M&Ms. Tasty little buggers!

Polvorones de Canele — these are a twist on Mexican Wedding cookies; they’re buttery, just like the originals, but they have a spicy cinnamon hit.

Butter & Jam Thumbprints — I love these. Such comfort food, and they bake up like glittering jewels.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies — Crunchy, chewy, chocolaty, pepperminty: terrific!

Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies — Easy to pull together, and perfect for the cookie traditionalist.

Flat-n-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies — Everyone needs an all-purpose chocolate chip cookie recipe, and this is mine. I baked these just before a realtor showed our old house to his client and left a plate on the table for them to enjoy. That same day, we had an offer on our house. Coincidence? I think not.

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies — My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. These are very thin (crisp at first, and then they become chewy) and their flavor is phenomenal. Between the butter and the brown sugar, they cookies take on a deep caramel or toffee flavor. So delicious they could stand on their own without the chocolate chips, but why would you want to do that?

Bar Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars — If you like pecan pie, think how wonderful it would be to add a little chocolate.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies — 10,000 times better than a peanut butter cup.

Grand Marnier Brownies — Brownies aren’t usually thought of as elegant, but this recipe challenges that notion. Chocolate and orange flavors can be found both in the brownie and its frosting. For an extra touch, drizzle melted chocolate on top of the frosting.

Special Occasion Breakfasts

Cinnamon rolls or Sticky Buns — Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to the warm scent of cinnamon (or cinnamon and caramel) wafting in the air. Mmmm! Eating these, you could get coal in your stocking and not care. (For a savory breakfast, try this Vegetable and Cheese Strata.)

Baked French Toast with Praline Topping — Perfect for a holiday brunch, this tantalizing french toast (which is baked in the oven) is loved by all ages.

Faye’s Monkey Bread — Oooey, gooey, sweet and delicious. Yummy in the morning, at afternoon tea, or for a midnight snack.

Raspberry Cream Cheese “Buns” — From the Magnolia Bakery (which insists on calling these muffins buns…) comes a tender and moist muffin enlivened with raspberry jam. They’re fantastic.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins — Kids especially love these muffins — which are dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar — but, c’mon; who wouldn’t love that combination?

Yummy Cakes

November Molasses Cake with Fresh Lemon Glaze — Though the name says “November,” the rich, musky notes of the cake — brightened by the tang of lemon — are perfect for any cold month.

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Cream Frosting — If you stop thinking about pumpkin after Thanksgiving, this cake will make you change your mind. Its crumb is moist and delicate, and its flavor speaks of cinnamon, ginger and clove (plus pumpkin, of course). If you like frosting (and this one is pretty fabulous) you might want to double the frosting recipe .

Tea & Sympathy’s Spicy Ginger Cake — Created to accompany a cup of tea, its spicy, sweet, and sticky. It’s perfect.

Treats — One Difficult, Two Easy

Fudge — A classic, and this recipe yields a fudge that is everything a good fudge should be.

Untitled Pretzel, Marshmallow, M&M Project — Obviously, I still don’t have a name for these guys. But use red and green M&M to tie into the Christmas season.

Brown Sugar Chex Mix — OK, so you’re not really baking anything here, but this is too easy — and too tasty — to leave out! It’s a great little recipe for making in a flash, it’s inexpensive, and– again – very tasty!

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