Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Sweets and Treats

Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

I never have enough time to bake all the cookies and treats that I'd like to during the holidays. Or perhaps I just don't start early enough. This year, I'm kind of excited because there's extra potential to get help with the baking! My parents are coming for the holidays, and I bet my mom will be more than willing to help do some baking, and if she is helping, then it's more likely that my daughter will too! But we'll see how it turns out, because there's not much time.

Want to know what some of our favorite holidays cookies and treats are? Here's a round-up of some of our most loved holiday recipes, and many of them are perfectly suitable for any time you crave a sweet treat.
Peppernuts and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

These little cookies are called peppernuts, despite them not containing either pepper or nuts. Go figure. Our family recipe, which is actually quite "plain" compared to some that include spices, has never included pepper, and after doing a little research, it seems that just as many peppernut recipes include pepper as leave it out. (If you want to add it, try 1/4 tsp of black pepper.) Peppernuts are associated with the Christmas holidays in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, and among Ethnic Mennonites in North America (that would be my family heritage). The recipe we use is very similar to a cookie called "Kruidnoten", which means "spice nuts". The ingredients are pretty much the same as those used for the Dutch cookie known as "speculoos". All three cookies have been part of St Nicholas Day traditions in Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium; and part of Christmas and Yuletide in Germany.

Peppernuts and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!
3/4 cup margarine or butter
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp water (if needed to make the dough manageable)
2 tbsp corn syrup
5 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugars together; add eggs and syrup, then mix in dry ingredients to make a stiff dough. Roll the dough into long ropes about an inch thick. Freeze on cookie sheets until firm. Slice each rope into small coin-sized rounds (dime sized if you're patient, silver dollar sized if you're not). Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350* until set and starting to brown. Ours took about 10 minutes or so, but it will depend on the size of your cookies. Allow to cool for a minute before removing. Store these crunchy little cookies in tins.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

Shortbread is one of the classic Christmas cookies, and here's my favorite recipe.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
2 cups butter, softened (not margarine!)
2 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 package (12 oz) semisweet or dark chocolate chips

 Cream butter and sugar, then blend in vanilla and salt. Gradually stir in flour until well blended. The dough will be quite stiff. Then mix in chocolate chips. Pinch off dough and shape into 1-inch balls, placing on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake 15 minutes or until light golden in a 350*F oven. Remove from cookie sheet while still warm and cool on wire rack. If you like, you can sprinkle with additional confectioner's sugar.  (This recipe makes about 90 cookies)


These are some of the easiest cookies to bake ever, and also one of my kids' favorites. This is perfect for when you need cookies at the last minute, or if your kids want to do some baking without needing a lot of help from a grown-up.

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box chocolate cake mix (or whatever flavor you like!)
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
confectioner's sugar

Mix cake mix, eggs, and oil by hand.  Roll into 1-inch balls.  Roll in confectioner's sugar and place on non-stick cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly.  Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes.


I have my mom to thank for introducing me to these spicy ginger cookies. She found the recipe in a magazine and was curious; so we baked a batch and personally, I fell in love. It's a ginger/molasses cookie that packs quite a punch thanks mostly to the cayenne pepper! Different!

Cookies with a Kick
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark is best!)
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp ginger (the original recipe calls for minced fresh gingerroot)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or just 1/4 tsp if you want less kick)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom (also 1/8 tsp each of ground white pepper and ground coriander if you wish)
3/4 cup turbinado or demerara sugar (washed raw sugar)

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the molasses, egg, and ginger. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours or until easy to handle.

Roll into 1/2-inch balls; roll in turbinado sugar. Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Store in airtight container.

Nanaimo Bars and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

So what IS a Nanaimo Bar? It's a three-layer dessert bar, believed to have originated in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia. (pronounced nuh-NYE-mo.) The bottom layer is a chocolatey graham crumb crust, and most recipes include shredded coconut or chopped nuts. Personally, I don't include those in my recipe because my kids object to coconut. Go figure. But leaving out the nuts and coconut also make it more likely that folks with nut allergies can enjoy this dessert, so it's all good!

Nanaimo Bars
Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp cocoa
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Melt butter, sugar, and cocoa in top of a double boiler (or a heavy saucepan). Add beaten egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat and stir in graham crumbs. You want it to be moist enough to pack firmly and hold together, but not be mushy. Press firmly into an ungreased 9x9 pan.

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup butter (you can use margarine, but trust me - butter is better)
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Cream butter, milk and custard powder together, then add icing sugar and mix well. Beat until light and creamy. Spread over the bottom layer. I suggest chilling it a bit at this point to help that layer set.

Top Layer:
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate)
3 tbsp butter

Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat. Allow it to cool for a bit, but while it's still pourable, spread gently over the second layer. Chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving. Cut into 36 squares with a sharp knife. 

Cranberry Crumble and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

This dessert is similar to an apple crisp, but it's made with whole cranberry sauce. I often make it with the leftover cranberry sauce after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Cranberry Crumble
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

whole cranberry sauce, about 14 oz or so

Mix together the oats, flour, sugar, and soda; mix in the butter until crumbly. Pack just over half of this mixture into a greased 9x9 pan. (Or use an 8x8 if you're short on cranberry sauce) Spread the cranberry sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Press the crumb topping down just slightly, using your hand. Back at 350*F for 35-40 minutes.

I think it's best eaten while warm, with a bit of vanilla ice cream or cream.

Chocolate Lace Cheesecake and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

Need a dessert that looks fancy? How about this delicious - and not too difficult - chocolate cheesecake?

Chocolate Lace Cheesecake
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups (or a 12 oz package) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup dairy sour cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sugar
1/2 oz melted unsweetened chocolate

Heat oven to 325* and butter a 9-inch springform pan. Blend the crust ingredients and press into bottom and up sides of the pan; refrigerate. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Mix in melted chocolate chips. Add whipping cream, melted butter and vanilla; beat until smooth. Pour into crust and bake for 55-65 minutes, until edges are set. (Center of the cheesecake will still be soft. To minimize cracking while baking, also set a shallow pan half full of water on the lower oven rack.) Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing sides. 

In a small bowl, stir sour cream, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Spread over completely cooled cheesecake. Drizzle with the melted unsweetened chocolate in a lace pattern. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving. 

New Years Cookies and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

When I was growing up, one thing I looked forward to every New Years Eve was 'Niejoashe Koake" (Low German for 'New Years Cookies'). There are two basic versions of Niejoashe Koake - a yeast recipe, and a baking powder recipe. The yeast recipe would be more traditional, obviously, but for simplicity and speed, the baking powder recipe is great and tastes basically the same. The name 'Niejoashe Koake' comes from the Dutch and German Mennonites who immigrated to the USA and Canada. The same basic recipe is also known as Porzelchen (High German), Oliebollen (Dutch), Croustillon (French), or Dutchies (English); and they are simply sweet fritters with raisins. Why are they associated with New Years? I haven't a clue. But I'm hoping Mom will help me make some on December 31st!

Niejoashe Koake (New Years Cookies)
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter
1-1/4 cup milk or cream
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
flour, enough to make a spongy batter (I used about 2 cups)
raisins, lots of them!

Mix the first six ingredients together well, then add flour and mix until batter is spongy, sort of like a very thick pancake batter. (I should have taken a picture of that because I realize now it's hard to explain!) Mix in as many raisins as you and your family like. I like lots, my kids don't like raisins, so I made some fritters before adding the raisins. Drop by spoonfuls into hot oil and deep fry until golden brown. The fritters tend to turn over by themselves as they cook, but they may need a little help. Drain on paper towel, and dust with icing sugar. (Some people prefer them rolled in granulated sugar, but icing sugar is my preference.) I recommend cutting open one or two of the first ones to make sure they are cooked all the way through - if you make them too big (which I tended to do), they may still have uncooked batter in the middle even though the outside looks done. They are best served warm and fresh. 

King Cake and other Holiday Sweets and Treats on Homeschool Coffee Break @ - A collection of some of our favorite recipes for holiday cookies and other seasonal sweet treats!

And then after New Years, there's Epiphany or Three Kings Day to celebrate. This simple version of King Cake can also be enjoyed for Mardi Gras.

King Cake
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup pecans (I used about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups icing sugar

Soak the raisins in hot water for awhile to plump them up, then drain well. Mix all the filling ingredients (cream cheese, raisins, pecans, cinnamon, brown sugar) together in a food processor until raisins and pecans are well chopped and the consistency is smooth. (I 'chopped' the raisins in the blender, and ground up the pecans in a coffee grinder because I don't have a food processor) Open the crescent rolls and overlap them in a ring on a pizza stone. (If you've ever been to a Pampered Chef party, you'll know exactly how that's supposed to work!) Spoon the filling along the center of the ring, then fold the dough over and seal as best you can. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Mix the icing sugar with a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, until you have an icing that is easy to stir but not runny. Pour over the cake after it has cooled a bit. Decorate by sprinkling colored sugar on top.

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Joanne said...

These all look and sound so yummy! I can never decide what to make; we tend to make some favorites like chocolate/ peanut butter balls and Chocolate chip cookies and then trow in some "new" recipes each year. This year I've pinned so many new recipes I'm having a hard time deciding which ones to make!

Michelle Gibson said...

Love all the new to me recipes! I have never heard of Peppernuts and I love shortbread, but like the idea of a chocolate chip shortbread - yum. I think I would love the Cranberry Crumble too and I'm curious about the New Years Cookies, too. Thank you for sharing!

Sandra said...

I love Nanaimo Bars. We were introduced to them when we lived in Canada about 20 years ago and have made them every year since then. A way of honouring my two older kids who were both born while we were there.

Anonymous said...

I am so going to try the "Cookies with a kick!" Thanks for all the wonderful ideas and recipes!

the Mcclanahan 7 said...

My girls love Peppernuts. I have never made them but my neighbor makes a bunch of them every year and she is always happy to share. Maybe I'll try some this year.

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

oh my! So many recipes to write down!!!! Thanks for sharing!

Annette said...

your peppernut recipe is extremely different then mine... you must have "the other" recipe.

Tawnee said...

Great ideas. I love the cake lace cheesecake recipe and my daughter wants to try the chocolate chip shortbread cookies so thanks for new ideas.

Kylie said...

Wow all of those yummy Christmas treats. Now I have never heard of peppernuts, they sound great!

Chris and Dawn said...

I had never seen a Kings Day cake with crescent rolls before!

Kristen of A Mom's Quest to Teach said...

Some great cookies to add into our baking recipe book! Thank you for sharing.

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