Christmas Baking


On the list of my Top 10 Pet Peeves is going to a recipe blog and having to “read” (aka: scroll as fast as possible) for seventeen minutes until I reach the bottom of the page and find the actual recipe.


Today I’m changing the rules!! Recipes are at the top of this blog post! That said, keep in mind, I’m a blogger (NOT A FOOD BLOGGER) and I still want to write something and share a story. So, if you’re here for my blog and my stories, start scrolling; you’ve got a ways to go (not seventeen minutes’ worth but a couple)!


If you’re here for the recipes, look no further...






RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE BROWNIES


166 grams (2/3 cup) butter

300 grams (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate

300 grams (1 1/2 cup) granulated sugar

4 eggs

5 milliliters (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour

3 grams (½ tsp) salt


250 grams (1 cup) cream cheese

67 grams (1/3 cup) granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

100 grams (1/3 cup) raspberry jam


1. Melt butter and chocolate over medium heat in a large saucepan with heavy base, stirring constantly. Take off heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Stir sugar into cooled chocolate/butter mixture until combined.

3. Add in eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla.

4. Gently fold in the flour and salt.

5. Pour batter into parchment-lined 9x13 baking pan, reserving 1/4 cup of batter.


6. With a hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat the softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg yolk, and raspberry jam in a medium bowl until completely smooth.

7. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter. Drizzle with the last 1/4 cup of brownie batter. Glide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern.

8. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 35 minutes.

9. Allow brownies to cool and set completely before cutting into squares, at least 4 hours.








GINGER SNAPS


150 grams (3/4 cup) shortening

200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar

1 egg

85 grams (¼ cup) molasses


240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour

10 grams (2 tsp) baking soda

5 grams (1 Tbsp) ginger

3 grams (1 tsp) cinnamon

3 grams (½ tsp) salt



1. Cream shortening and sugar together. Add egg(s) and molasses.

2. Add flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Fold in until combined.

3. Roll into small balls and coat with sugar.

4. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 12 minutes.








SHORTBREAD COOKIES


250 grams (1 cup) butter

62 grams (½ cups) icing sugar

2.5 milliliters (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract

30 grams (¼ cup) cornstarch

2 grams (¼ tsp) salt

180 grams (1½ cups) all-purpose flour


Optional - sprinkles or halved maraschino cherries



1. Using an electric mixer whip the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until creamy and fluffy.

2. Gradually beat in the cornstarch, salt and flour. Continue to beat the batter until it looks like slightly overbeaten whipped cream, about 10 minutes.

3. Drop the cookie dough by teaspoon onto parchment-lined sheet pan.

4. Top with sugar, sprinkles or a half a cherry in the centre.

5. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven just as they start to brown on the bottoms.

6. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.








MAGIC BARS


200 grams (2 cups) graham wafer crumbs

250 grams (1 cup) butter

300 milliliters (1 can) sweetened condensed milk

85 grams (½ cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

85 grams (½ cup) butterscotch chips

70 grams (1 cup) flaked coconut



1. Combine graham crumbs with melted butter. Press evenly into parchment-lined 13 x 9" baking pan.

2. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb crust.

3. Sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips and coconut. Press down firmly.

4. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

5. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars.








NANAIMO BARS


125 grams (½ cup) butter

50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar

37 grams (5 Tbsp.) cocoa

1 egg

175 grams (1 3/4 cups) graham wafer crumbs

50 grams (½ cup) almonds, finely chopped

90 grams (1 cup) coconut


125 grams (½ cup) butter

37 milliliters (2.5 Tbsp.) cream

20 grams (2 Tbsp.) vanilla custard powder

250 grams (2 cups) icing sugar


115 grams (3/4 cup or 4 - 1 oz. squares) semi-sweet chocolate

30 grams (2 Tbsp.) butter



1. Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in a large saucepan with a heavy base.

2. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in graham crumbs, almonds and coconut. Press firmly into a parchment-lined 8" x 8" baking pan.

4. Set aside and chill for at least one hour or until firm.


5. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light.

6. Spread over bottom layer. Chill until firm and set, about one hour.


7. Slowly melt chocolate and butter over low heat.

8. Pour and spread evenly over second layer. Chill in refrigerator until chocolate is set.








CHOCOLATE COCONUT COOKIES


125 grams (½ cup) butter

125 milliliters (½ cup) milk

400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar

5 milliliters (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract


225 grams (2 ½ cup) oatmeal

90 grams (1 cup) coconut

60 grams (½ cup) cocoa

3 grams (½ tsp) salt



1. Melt butter in a large saucepan with a heavy base. Add milk and sugar.

2. Bring to a boil for precisely two minutes. Take off heat and add vanilla.

3. While mixture is boiling, combine oatmeal, coconut, cocoa and salt in a mixing bow.

4. Gently stir dry mixture into saucepan after adding vanilla. Don't over mix.

5. Working quickly, use two teaspoons to drop cookies onto parchment-lined sheet pan.

6. Chill and let set for 2 hours.









The month of December and Christmas holidays has never been as magical for me as it is for some others. I don’t have many (if any) traditions, no one has ever kissed me under the mistletoe, my favourite Christmas music is "too intense" for most people, and most years the expectations and demands placed on me only increase during this season, leaving me even more stressed out and exhausted. Just once, I'd love for someone else to cook Christmas dinner for ME!


But I'm realizing very quickly that it's up to me to ensure Christmas is magical for my kids! I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what the best Christmas moments and memories have been for me over the years. And seeing as I don't personally have many traditions, perhaps it's up to me to establish some new ones for my family, so that when my kids are older, they will return home with their own families buzzing with excitement eager to continue these traditions.


One vivid memory I have of December is how much baking always occurred. This is hardly a unique memory, as I think its safe to say MOST families enjoy a surplus of Christmas baking every December. It started with my mom filling the freezer with a variety of cookies, bars, squares, tarts and treats. But then we would often travel to my grandparents house, and grandma would have even more baking waiting for me - which grandpa (much to his chagrin) had not been allowed to touch prior to us arriving.


The last week before school ended was always filled with Christmas baking in my home. If we could finish before Friday, it made a perfect gift for teachers and friends at school before going on separate ways for two weeks. Then the remainder was set aside and used for when guests arrived or dropped in over the holidays.





This year, I challenged myself to revive that tradition. With my kids in school this year, I knew I had a few teacher gifts to assemble, as well as the desire to spread some joy and good cheer to some of the other parents I've become friends with during drop-offs and pick-ups. Furthermore, with us planning on hosting the family Christmas again this year, I knew that just like when I was growing up, having an overabundance of these treats stashed away in the freezer for our guests, would never been seen as a problem.


So, I began baking. I selected six of my favourite childhood recipes. Actually, these were all treats that I loved so much growing up, I learnt how to bake them myself while I was still a preteen. I know most food bloggers (which I most certainly AM NOT) feature trendy, eye popping recipes for frosted gingerbread, nutty biscotti and quintessential macaroons. As you have likely seen already, my recipes are basic, traditional comfort foods. But I figured that if these were the treats I fell in love with as a child, the chances are pretty high that MY kids will enjoy them too.


To be honest, I don’t even know where these recipes came from. Some probably were passed down from my Grandma, others my mother probably clipped from a “Taste of Home” magazine, the Mennonite Treasury or perhaps the church cookbook. But regardless, I’ve tweaked them, tested them (over and over again) and am confident sharing them with you.





It has been fun this year to discover how much Liam loves baking. He has already befriended the owner of the local bakery, taken a tour of the business - including the basement (bakers... you know what I'm talking about!), and has secured a job offer for when he turns 14 years old. So with all that being said, it's exciting for me to be able to teach him the basics. He is naturally very precise, which is a phenomenal trait and characteristic needed to make cakes, baking, pastries and sweets. With that being said, I don't think it will be very long before he is baking these recipes AND MORE on his own.


Perhaps this will become a tradition for my kids, like it was for me growing up. Perhaps I will need to ensure my pantry is well stocked with butter, flour and sugar every December. But for now, if you're looking for some super simple, quick and basic recipes for the Christmas holidays - scroll back up to the top and sample some of my favourites. Or if you're in the neighbourhood, stop in for a bit... I've got lots of extras stashed away in the freezer now.


Recent Posts

See All

Exposed