Christmas Treats

Kelly Honts, Writer

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For as long as anyone can remember, baking Christmas cookies has been a holiday essential. Whether it’s gingerbread, chocolate chip, or, my personal favorite, sugar cookies; we all have that one Christmas treat we can’t resist. However, after nearly 17 years of making the same treat, even the most delicious one can become boring. The following five recipes are some fun new twists on traditional Christmas desserts, to help sweeten your holidays.

 

1. Gingerbread pancakes- What makes gingerbread pancakes amazing is the fact that you can have GINGERBREAD for BREAKFAST. This treat would be perfect for a large family breakfast on Christmas morning! Not only is gingerbread delicious, but pancakes are quick and easy to make in large quantities.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. light molasses
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Preheat an oven to 250°F.

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, molasses, 2 Tbs. of the melted butter and the water. Add the brown sugar mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. There will be some small lumps.

Place a large griddle or fry pan with low sloping sides over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle and then immediately evaporate. Brush with some of the remaining melted butter.

For each pancake, ladle about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until small bubbles appear and the edges start to look dry, about 4 minutes. After 3 minutes, lift a pancake to check if the underside is done; do not let the pancakes darken too much. Carefully turn the pancakes over and cook until lightly browned on the other side, about 1 minute more. Transfer to an ovenproof platter and place in the oven to keep warm; do not cover the pancakes or they will get soggy. Repeat with the remaining batter and butter to make about 8 pancakes, each about 4 inches in diameter. Serve the pancakes immediately, accompanied by the syrup. Serves 4.

 

2. Peppermint Puppy Chow- For those of you who don’t know, Puppy Chow is essentially Chex cereal coated in layers of sugar. What’s not to love, right? This particular recipe is peppermint flavored to help make it a bit more festive for the holidays. This is the perfect treat to have out during parties for everyone to munch on.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 10 ounces melting white chocolate OR vanilla flavored Almond Bark
  • 1 cup crushed candy canes
  • 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Directions:

Pour 5 cups of Chex Cereal into a large bowl. Melt white chocolate/almond bark according to the package directions. Pour melted chocolate over cereal, stirring and folding until the cereal is completely covered. Fold in the crushed candy canes.

In a large zipped top bag or covered container, add the powdered sugar. Pour the chocolate covered cereal/candy canes into the large bag or container. Seal the bag or container and shake until all the cereal is coated with the powdered mixture.

Discard excess powder. Store at room temperature up to two weeks, if it lasts that long!

 

3. Christmas Cake Batter Truffles– Let’s be honest, cake batter truffles are delicious no matter when you have them. But this particular recipe includes some fun and festive decorations to help get you in the Christmas spirit! Not only are truffles easy to make, but they are the perfect things to hand out to friends!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon Christmas sprinkles + more for decoration
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or vanilla almond bark

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk cake mix, flour and sugar. Stir in melted butter, vanilla, milk and sprinkles. Mixture should be moist and be able to hold its shape easily when formed. Using a cookie scoop, form mixture into even balls and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.

In the meantime, melt chocolate in a double boiler or slowly in the microwave. Using a fork, drop one of the cake batter truffles into the chocolate and roll around to coat. Tap off the excess gently and transfer to cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Top with more sprinkles, if desired.

 

4. Gingerbread Cupcakes- Cupcakes or cookies? It’s the question of the season. This recipe, however, provides the best of both worlds with a combination of gingerbread and cake. These would be a great dessert to serve at a social event, because they are both small and satisfying.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar (or light brown)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (156g) molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (167g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 oz (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until creamy. Beat in the egg until combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the milk, molasses, and vanilla on medium speed. Mixture will be piecey and not fully combined. That’s ok.

In a medium bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice together until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full, no more. Bake for 19-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and 1 Tbsp cream. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 more Tbsp cream if needed to thin out. Beat for 1 minute. Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if too sweet. Frost cooled cupcakes immediately before serving.

Unfrosted cupcakes remain fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 3 days. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

 

5. Peppermint Bark Cookies- I think its safe to say peppermint bark is one of the most tasty treats of the season. So, what could be better then combining it with a cookie. This recipe ties together two classic Christmas desserts and is sure to be a big hit with you and your friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 8 large candy canes, crushed
  • 2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, followed by the egg yolk, beating well between each one. Beat in the peppermint extract and then mix in the flour mixture just until combined.

Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Roll out each disk to about 1/8 inch thick and using a 2 inch circle cutter, cut out the shapes from the dough. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then freeze for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook the cookies for 12 minutes and remove from oven and let cool.

Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Using a fork, dip each cookie in the chocolate, flipping to cover. Let the cookie drip and then scrape the bottom along the edge of the pan. Place the cookie back on the parchment paper and sprinkle with peppermint candy pieces. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

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