My 5 Favourite Christmas Baking Recipes
Kitchen and hair are clean. I predict both will last five minutes. I’m about to BAKE up a STORM before my sister arrives with baby nephew Henry. They’re coming to spend the holidays with us, yay!
I love playing with new recipes, but at Christmas, I come back to the classics. I want what was on my Great Aunt Ruth’s cookie plate when I was six. I can remember hiding under her table in my Christmas Eve dress and sneaking an extra mouthful of crumbly shortbread with candied cherry on top.
So much of food tradition is in the flux right now with the mass availability of recipes via the internet, which I typically love. But for a couple of weeks in December, I only want the recipes that were scribbled on an index card by someone who lived through the second world war.
I’ve had the above-pictured Kitchenaid refrigerator for a few months (KitchenAid has partnered with me this year). I’m in love with the look and all of its thoughtful details — from the industrial chic of matte black stainless steel (with PrintShield – a blessing with preschoolers in the house) to the shelf you can retract to make room for tall things to the custom-temp drawer. It basically has all the things I didn’t know I needed but now can’t live without.
In the freezer it has two flat, pull-out drawers where I chill my cookie dough discs and balls.
A trick for better cookies this year.
My best tip for you before you preheat your oven is that the freezer is your BFF when it comes to making Christmas cookies. Any dough that is soft, requires rolling, or is spreading too much in the oven will benefit from chill time. Every time it gets too sticky to work with, or your shapes aren’t lifting neatly from your parchment, pop everything in the icebox for a few minutes. I do this at least six times for one batch of gingerbread or sugar cookies.
My 5 Christmas baking favourites.
This weekend, I’m having friends over to decorate gingerbread men, which is an annual tradition, so I’ll start there with four pounds of dough. Then I’ll make the royal icing. I make both in advance and refrigerate until ready to use.
I stock up on pasteurized egg whites to make safe royal icing, but I’ve indicated a method to sterilize fresh ones yourself in the recipe above.
Next will be shortbread cookies. These are a chocolate-topped version of the classic. I used a box of chocolates, but you could use a big Toblerone or After Eights or your favourite Christmas Treat.
These peanut butter butterscotch bars are a perennial favourite. Sometimes we make them chocolate instead of butterscotch. Which do you like better?
Then, of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without classic sugar cookies. My recipe uses a splash of lemon extract. It is a subtle secret ingredient that makes them next-level delicious.
Nanaimo bars are another non-negotiable Christmas treat. A smooth, creamy filling belies a crumbly chocolate-and-coconut crust. One of these years I’ll share the mint version with you, those are actually my favourite.