I spent the weekend baking (SO MUCH BAKING!) and have decided to do my future self a favour and put all my recipes under one post to find for next year.
Most of these (with the exception of the Candy Cane Cookies) are kid-friendly when it comes to baking and cooking, so give them a try!
Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares
Candy Cane Cookies
No-bake Coconut Christmas Trees
Chocolate Chip Cherry Coconut Drop Cookies
And if you are reading this before December 31, 2017, don’t forget to download your free copy of 12 DATES FOR CHRISTMAS for over a dozen family-favourite holiday recipes, and sneak peeks at twelve holiday romances – including DECKER AND JOY and HOLLIS AND IVY.
I haven’t had these since I was a kid. Then we saw them at a bake sale and decided they were something that needed to be brought back into fashion for Christmas this year.
So far we’ve made two batches. I don’t know how they disappear so quickly. Fortunately, they are very easy (and kid-friendly) to make.
Boiled Chocolate Drops AKA Chocolate Haystacks
1/2 cup butter or margarine (125mL)
1/2 cup milk (125mL)
2 cups granulated sugar (500mL)
1/2 cup cocoa (125mL)
2 1/2 cups rolled/quick oats (625mL)
Put first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 full minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in rolled oats. Drop by teaspoon full onto trays covered with waxed paper. Let harden. Makes 4 dozen.
Coconut fans can replace 1/2 cup of oats with 2/3 cup of coconut.
These harden quickly, so get them onto the tray ASAP.
(The recipe books says is great for first-time cooks, and they are. Easy and quick to make – there is no downtime to get bored.)
This is an old family recipe that I have never managed to get quite right. But this version is almost as tasty.
1 cup soft butter (salted)
1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s/powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Maraschino cherries or slivered almonds
Put butter in mixing bowl. Sift other ingredients every top. Beat at high speed until creamy*.
Drop by teaspoon full on to tray and decorate with a piece of cherry or almond.
Bake at 325 F for 12 minutes.
Notes from Elle
* My recipe actually says “Beat at high speed until consistency changes. You’ll know it when you see it.” It sounds like terrible instructions, but if you are beating it and say “nope, it looks the same” then it hasn’t changed. For some reason, I think it takes 20+ minutes of beating (my mom used at hand mixture.) When the texture goes from cookie dough, to like whipped cream, you’ve got it! I’ve had it happen once. This year my mixer started heating up so much, the beaters got hot and started melting the butter. Folks, that shouldn’t happen! Creamy tastes just fine, and that’s usually where I stop because I don’t have the patience.
(This recipe is also available as part of the free 12 Dates for Christmas cookbook).
½ cup butter or margarine*
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 cups shredded coconut (medium or long strand)
½ tsp vanilla or mint flavoring**
Green food coloring* **
3 oz white chocolate for melting (chopped up baking squares or wafers) * **
Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan or microwave. Remove from heat if using stovetop. Add icing sugar and milk.
Mix in coconut and flavoring. Add enough food colouring to tint mixture green.
Roll into 1” balls. Pinch tops to make into cones.
Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours – preferably longer – to dry and firm.
Melt chocolate in saucepan or microwave. Dip tops of “trees” to give make them “snow covered”. Return to fridge until chocolate re-hardens.
Makes about 3 dozen treats.
Elle’s Notes from experience
* You can get fancy and leave your trees “white”. They look great with brown chocolate topping (melted chocolate chips work fine.) Or leave them as snow balls with white chocolate on top (see photo).
** If you want to go retro to the 80’s, you can make pink Christmas trees (remember those?). Tint the coconut pink, add cherry flavoring instead of mint, and dip in white or regular brown chocolate.
These cookies taste like a pepperminty dream. Making them is a … less pleasant dream. Unlike other recipes on my blog, DO NOT MAKE THESE WITH CHILDREN. As a grown-up, I get exasperated trying to roll and shape the delicate cookie dough. With kids, it will be an exercise in frustration.
But I promise you they are worth every single fiddly minute.
Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp almond flavoring
¼ tsp peppermint flavoring
½ tsp red food coloring
Mix first 4 ingredients together well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
Divide dough into two equal portions. To one half, add almond flavoring. To the other half, add the peppermint flavoring and food coloring. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP)
Roll 1 tsp of each color dough into ropes about 5-6 inches long. Lay side by side. Pinch ends together. Twist to form a spiral. Keep dough and rolling surface cool. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and shape to form a cane. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes until pale gold. Cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes then remove. (Transfer with care; these cookies are delicate.) Makes about 2 to 3 dozen, depending on how big you make them.
Based on recipe from “Company’s Coming: Cookies” by Jean Pare, 1988
Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday baking, so let’s start with something easy to make, and a good way to get the kids involved in baking.
Unfortunately, these can’t be sent to school because they do contain nuts (I’ve heard of a Wow-butter version but have not tried it myself.) They are fine – and always popular – at home and work potlucks.
Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1-300 gram bag of butterscotch chips
1-200 gram bag of mutli-coloured mini-marshmallows (you can use white but why be plain?)
Melt the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips over a low heat. Remove and let cool a little as to not melt the marshmallows. Pour in marshmallows. Coat thoroughly. Press into a 9″x13″ pan. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. (You can line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.) Cut and serve.
CHICKEN PAPRIKA (based on a recipe from Eve Langlais)
3 chicken breasts or 6 thighs (deboned)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 small or half a medium onion
2 – 3 teaspoons paprika
2 chicken broth bouillon cubes
3 cups water
1 cup sour cream (can be lactose- or fat-free)
2 tbsp flour (can be gluten-free)
Cube the chicken and brown in olive oil with minced garlic and onion (a stove-top casserole dish works well). Add paprika, chicken broth bouillon cubes and water. Let it boil down for about 1.5 hrs at a medium heat (until most liquid has evaporated.) Remove from heat and add sour cream and flour. Goes very well with rice.
This is a very fast recipe to make, and you probably have the ingredients in your house already. If you need to kill an hour or two, you should get something tasty out of it.
(If you are on a holiday baking kick, try my Candy Cane Cookie recipe.)
1 cup salted butter, softened (or margarine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
(if using unsalted butter, add 1/3 teaspoon of salt)
Sprinkles and coloured sugar (optional)
Cream butter and sugar. Add flour. Roll out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters (or cut squares with a knife). Bake at 300F for 12-15 minutes. (If your cookies are more than 1/4″ thick, you may need to bake longer.) Let cool on tray for 3-5 minutes before moving carefully to cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen.
Decorate with sprinkles or coloured sugar before baking, or frost cookies after they have cooled.
I see no problem with this picture at all. I fully admit to being a tea snob.
You know those times when you run out of everything at once? The laundry soap, Kleenex, toothpaste, dogfood, and Kraft Dinner? That happened to me a week before Christmas, only I ran out of all my teas at the same time. It was terrible – I had to make do with the old tea bags I had at the back of the cupboard. TEA BAGS, can you imagine my horror?
Anyway, I had to hold out till after Christmas because I knew my lovely parents were giving me a gift card. I made it to the store yesterday and was finally able to stock up. In case you are wondering, here is a list of what I’m drinking these days. They are all black, with one exception.
Top Row: Honey Black (a new-to-me tea, I can’t wait to try it), Assam Banaspaty (classic, long time favourite, strong and clean flavour), Kenyan Tinderet (newer favourite – full, earthy flavour), Guangzhou Milk Oolong (mellow)
Bottom Row: Glitter and Gold (long time favourite, sweet and spicy), Kashmiri Chai [GREEN] (brand new favourite, fresh and spicy), Irish Breakfast (used to drink it bagged, haven’t tried it as loose tea), English Breakfast (used to drink it bagged, haven’t tried it as loose tea).
This is nearly a pound of tea leaves (about 400 grams). I should be good till June.
1. Don’t worry if your “apple juice” (strained water and juice from cut apples) is cloudy. It will clear up a lot as it boils off. Be sure to skim the foam – that helps too.
2. Take the juice and sugar up to a hard boil, not a simmer, or you will be boiling it for an hour.
3. Do not leave the stove when it is at a hard boil because if it boils over you are going to have hardened/burned apple jelly on your ceramic stove top and it is horrible to clean. Really, really stinking horrible.
4. Prep your jars and lids first because when it’s time to go, you don’t have a second to waste.