Out of the Box Holiday Baking by Hayley Parker, EPUB, 1682683257

  • Print Length: 176 Pages
  • Publisher: Countryman Press
  • Publication Date: October 23, 2018
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1682683257
  • ISBN-13: 978-1682683255
  • File Format: EPUB

>>>Download<<<

Preview

To my family—

the best taste-testers around

 

 

CONTENTS

 

Introduction

1

Crazy-Good Cookies

2

Cakes and Cupcakes

3

Blondies, Brownies, and Bars

4

Perfect Pies and Cheesecakes

5

Creative Confections

 

Acknowledgments

Index

 

 

Introduction

 

The holidays are my favorite time of year, and I don’t care who knows it! But chances are, if you’re reading this book, you also have an affinity for the winter season . . . in which case, welcome! I am just crazy about the holidays for many reasons, including but not limited to: giving presents, Christmas shopping, holiday music, and of course, Christmas baking! I feel like the holiday season is basically an approved and sanctioned time to eat all the things, indulge constantly, and enjoy every minute of it. Or at least, it’s my personal sanctioned time to indulge.

Since I’ve always enjoyed this time of year, I decided to write a book about it! Out of the Box Holiday Baking came to be because I always have such a hard time putting away my Christmas decorations and festive sprinkles. I tend to get moody when I can no longer hear Elvis’s crooning voice singing my favorite Christmas tunes, and I really don’t like whoever decided peppermint, gingerbread, and eggnog could only be seasonal flavors. I mean, why deprive yourself of the greatest holiday flavors just because it’s June? Who says you shouldn’t guzzle eggnog by the pool in the summertime? (Okay, I admit . . . that doesn’t sound very pleasant. But that’s the only exception!)

Christmas in the Parker household is notoriously insane. As kids, my parents would force us to stay in our rooms until six in the morning, when we could finally emerge—chaperoned—to our Christmas haul. But over the years and as we’ve grown older, you’d think we would have pushed the waking-up part back to a more conventional hour. Nope, no, nada. For many years, my siblings and I would convene in one of our bedrooms at one, two, three in the morning and whisper excitedly. We’d stare at the clock as it ticked by at a glacial pace, willing it to become six AM so we could open our loot. Eventually, my parents would hear us tinkering about and we’d all gather around the tree in the middle of the early morning to open presents. We’d open them all and then go nap within the piles of shredded wrapping paper until it was time to go to my Grammie Pat’s house at nine AM.

Even though, as adults, my parents would say, “Don’t get up early because the presents we got you aren’t even that good,” I was still so excited to wake up and spend time with my family. On Christmas Day after we opened our presents, I’d get in the kitchen and start baking cookies and candies for all of us to share. Christmas is just my all-time favorite holiday for that reason: sharing and spreading the joy!

When I started my blog, The Domestic Rebel, in January 2011, the holiday season had just passed, but I was also already planning what I was going to share on my blog for the following November and December. Not only do the holidays bring excellent traffic to my website, but I love that everyone is so eager to bake for friends and family—and that people discover my website and choose to make some of the recipes that I created in my little kitchen. It’s humbling and truly flattering!

Since the holidays only happen once a year, Out of the Box Holiday Baking will act as your year-round resource for finding and creating the best holiday recipes. Of course, there’s no hard and fast rule about when you should make each recipe—I’m always down for a peppermint cupcake in the spring or a gingerbread cookie in the summer—but I hope you’ll enjoy flipping through the pages all year long! Whether you’re an avid planner like I am and are seeking out the best recipes for your holiday cookie swap parties, or if you’re just in the mood for some festive flavors, Out of the Box Holiday Baking will serve as your inspiration to baking up whimsical holiday desserts any time of year.

The aesthetic behind Out of the Box Holiday Baking—as well as my other two books, Out of the Box Desserts and Two in One Desserts—is simple: take everyday, ordinary ingredients like boxed cake mix and transform them into unique, extraordinary desserts! Of course, there are some scratch-made recipes in here, too, but I want baking to be FUN and exciting . . . not stuffy and full of rules. If you’re wrinkling your nose at the idea of a cookbook calling for boxed cake, I guarantee you’ll be converted with one bite!

One of the questions I get asked the most often is: “What do you do with all of your treats?” And the answer is, when I’m not scarfing them down at record speed, I enjoy giving them away to friends, family, neighbors, random strangers, ghosts, and really anyone willing to take a large quantity of desserts off of my hands. Of course, I try everything I make (quality control, obviously), but I can’t eat everything I make because, frankly, they don’t make pant sizes as large as I’d be. Also, I would love to be famous one day, but not for being the star of the newest reality show Hayley: The Giant Dessert Lady, in which a camera crew follows me as I waddle around eating cupcakes by the baker’s dozen.

So how am I qualified to be writing my third cookbook, you ask? Despite my wildly popular website, I am a home cook just like you are. I am entirely self-taught because frankly, I didn’t grow up with home-cooked meals. I was a self-proclaimed “drive-thru diva” who knew of all of the specials on all of the drive-thru menu boards. My parents loathed cooking, and I probably had microwave hot dogs for dinner three times a week. My chef skills came out of necessity, because yes, you can eat so many hot dogs in a week that you start to become a living, breathing hot dog yourself.

I turned on the Food Network and caught an episode of a famous thirty-minute meal show and raced to the store to buy the ingredients. I taught myself how to chop, dice, boil, and sauté and realized I truly loved cooking. I have always loved expressing myself, whether it be through my eclectic fashion choices or my crazy-colored rainbow hair, and cooking was just another way to express myself and share my love through food.

So whether you’re a home cook like myself or an experienced pastry chef, I guarantee you’ll find something you love in this book! From White Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes (page 58) to Eggnog Cream Pie (page 112) and Chocolate-Covered Cherry Brownie Bites (page 95) to Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (page 43), there’s truly something for every palate, age-group, and experience level. Everything’s made simply and with love—which, frankly, is what the holidays are all about.

Enjoy, and Happy Baking!

XO, Hayley

 

 

Tips and Tricks

* To make cleanup a breeze, I line my pans with foil or parchment. To easily line a pan with foil, flip over the pan so it’s upside-down. Take a piece of foil that’s larger than the pan and gently wrap the foil around the bottom and sides of the pan, making the foil into the shape of the pan. Gently remove the foil and flip the pan, and then slide the shaped foil easily into the pan.

* To make cakes easier to remove from pans, line the springform or round cake pans with parchment rounds. Simply trace the pan’s outline onto a piece of parchment paper and cut out the circle. Most stores sell parchment rounds, which are even easier as they already come in a 9-inch circle!

* Muffin liners are a must-use for cupcakes and muffins. The best part is, you can customize the cupcake with a fun printed liner!

* I recommend using softened butter for most of my recipes, unless other­wise specified. To soften butter, leave it at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Or in a pinch, microwave it unwrapped for 10 to 15 seconds.

* When measuring dry ingredients such as flour and cake mix, spoon the dry ingredients into a measuring cup and level off the top with a butter knife to ensure the most accurate measurement.

* If you’re melting chocolate, such as chocolate chips or chocolate bars, make sure none of your tools—the bowl, spoons, spatulas, etc.—have water droplets inside or on them. Even the tiniest droplet of water can cause chocolate to seize and harden, rendering it absolutely useless.

 

 

Kitchen Must-Haves

 

* Cake mix—any and every flavor! I always have white, yellow, and chocolate on hand.

* Brownie mix—make sure it’s a fudge brownie mix, which always yields the best results.

* Real butter—a must-have because it’s the basis of so many recipes! And in most cases, there’s no adequate substitution for it.

* Instant dry pudding mix—I always have vanilla and chocolate ready to go! Just make sure they’re instant, as cook and serve will not work.

* Pie filling—an easy way to add fruit to a dessert! I like having cherry, apple, and berry available.

* Canola or vegetable oil

* Large eggs

* Pure vanilla extract

* All-purpose flour

* White sugar

* Brown sugar—dark or light! Dark will yield richer, more molasses-flavored results.

* Powdered sugar

* Baking soda

* Baking powder

* Cornstarch—my secret ingredient for fluffy cookies!

* Sprinkles, because you only live once!

* Heavy cream and milk

* Sweetened condensed milk

* Assorted baking chips—such as semisweet chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, butterscotch, and/or dark chocolate chips

* Aluminum foil and parchment paper

* Cooking spray

* A 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan, an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch square baking pan, two round 9-inch cake pans, a 9-inch springform pan, a Bundt pan, a 12-cavity muffin tin, and baking sheets

* Silicone liners—they make baking cookies easy!

* A cookie dough scoop (I like the tablespoon-size one)

* An electric mixer (stand mixer or hand-held)

 

 

HANDY CONVERSIONS

 

1 cup

8 fl oz

16 Tbsps

48 tsps

237 ml

 

¾ cup

6 fl oz

12 Tbsps

36 tsps

177 ml

 

⅔ cup

5 fl oz

11 Tbsps

32 tsps

158 ml

 

½ cup

4 fl oz

8 Tbsps

24 tsps

118 ml

 

⅔ cup

3 fl oz

5 Tbsps

16 tsps

79 ml

 

¼ cup

2 oz

4 Tbsps

12 tsps

59 ml

 

⅛ cup

1 oz

2 Tbsps

6 tsps

30 ml

 

TO DOUBLE A RECIPE

 

1 cup

2 cups

 

½ cup

1 cup

 

⅓ cup

⅔ cup

 

¼ cup

½ cup

 

1 Tbsp

2 Tbsps

 

1 tsp

2 tsps

 

¾ tsp

1½ tsps

 

¼ tsp

½ tsps

 

TO CUT A RECIPE IN HALF

 

1 cup

½ cup

 

½ cup

¼ cup

 

⅓ cup

8 tsps

 

¼ cup

2 Tbsps

 

1 Tbsp

1½ tsps

 

1 tsp

½ tsp

 

¾ tsp

⅜ tsp

 

½ tsp

¼ tsp

 

¼ tsp

⅛ tsp

 

 

Cookie Tips and Tricks

* I always recommend baking your cookies on parchment paper or silicone liners. Nowadays, they have pre-cut parchment paper sheets made for cookie sheets, so they’re easy and convenient!

* I could not live without my cookie dough scoops! For these recipes, I recommend a variety of sizes. The most standard size is a one-tablespoon-size scoop, but some cookies will require a two-tablespoon size. You can find these scoops at most stores including Walmart, Target, and stores like Crate and Barrel.

* For cut-out cookie recipes, keep in mind that the cookie yield will vary quite a bit based on the size of your cookie cutters. For instance, for my Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies, I got 36 to 40 cookies out of them because I used smaller cutters (around 1 inch). However, for the Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees, which uses the same recipe, I got about 24 cookies because of the varying sizes of the cutters.

 

 

1

 

Crazy-Good Cookies

 

Nothing says the holidays quite like Christmas cookies, and I think Santa Claus himself would agree! In this chapter you’ll find delightful cookie recipes suited for decorating, cookie trays, or late-night snacking!

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Mexican Mocha Cookies

Shortcut Gingerbread Men

Salted Nut Roll Blossoms

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Chai Snowballs

Salted Caramel Macaroons

Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees

Polar Bear Cookies

Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

 

 

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

The original idea for this recipe was going to be a dulce de leche thumbprint cookie . . . and that’s what happened. But then I realized, sugar cookies + caramel + chocolate = Twix bars, and I knew I had to add chocolate. Then again, when has adding chocolate ever been a bad idea? Never, in the history of life. I love the combination of the sweet and tender sugar cookies with the milky, thick dulce de leche and the simple drizzle of semisweet chocolate. 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

One 18-ounce package sugar cookie mix

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

1 large egg

One 13-ounce can dulce de leche

1 cup chocolate bark coating

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Combine the sugar cookie mix, flour, melted butter, and egg in a large bowl and stir until mixed together and a soft dough has formed. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop the rounded dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using your finger, make a depression in the center of the dough ball and fill with 2 teaspoons dulce de leche.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are set and just barely golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets completely.

4. Melt the chocolate bark coating according to the package directions. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over the cookies. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.

 

NOTE: You may not use all of the dulce de leche for these cookies. Not sure what to do with the extra? Melt slightly and pour over ice cream sundaes, spread on top of brownies, or fill cupcakes!

 

 

Mexican Mocha Cookies

Full disclosure: I first made this recipe early on in my blogging career, and it probably hasn’t seen the light of day since. That is a crime against humanity, because these cookies rock my socks off! I originally tasted a version of these at my friend Katie’s Halloween party, but tweaked them to suit my tastes better. The addition of spicy cinnamon adds such a warm kick to the cookies, and the Kahlua helps, too! 48 cookies

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE COOKIES

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso granules

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

FOR THE KAHLUA FROSTING

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened

6 tablespoons Kahlua

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Chocolate-covered espresso beans for garnish

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Cream 16 tablespoons butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and ¾ cup brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and espresso granules. Add in the cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and flour, and combine slowly until a soft dough is formed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls onto the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are light golden brown and just about set on the top. Cool on the baking sheets completely.

4. For the frosting: Beat the remaining 8 table­spoons butter, Kahlua, and confectioners’ sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and combined, 1 minute. Spread the frosting onto the cooled cookies and garnish with a chocolate-covered espresso bean.

 

 

Shortcut Gingerbread Men

So I should clarify that I am by no means a cookie artist. I am friends with cookie artists and they create these gorgeous masterpieces with some royal icing magic and a lot of patience, neither of which I possess. Let’s just say my talents lie elsewhere, like being able to quote The Simpsons episodes or being a dog-whisperer. While my decorating skills are sub-par at best, I am a master at making the tastiest cookies, and really, that’s what counts! You won’t believe how easy these gingerbread people are to make! 20–24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 small box instant butterscotch pudding mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups all-purpose flour

Royal icing, assorted candy, or sprinkle decorations for decoration, optional

 

1. Combine the dry pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream until smooth, 2 minutes. Add in the egg until blended. Add in the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda, salt, and flour, and gently combine until a soft dough is formed. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

3. Roll the cookie dough out until it is a quarter-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Using cookie cutters, cut out gingerbread people shapes. Evenly place them on the prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.

4. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets completely. Once cooled, decorate with royal icing, sprinkles, and assorted candies, if using.

 

 

Salted Nut Roll Blossoms

I know I’m not supposed to play favorites, but let’s face it: sometimes your children make it pretty easy to choose. Don’t blame me for stating the obvious! I tried to be unbiased about all of the treats for this book. I tried to love everything equally. But let me tell you—after making these exact cookies, I died and went to cookie heaven. There, I was able to see it clearly: these are my FAVORITE cookies in the book. I’m sorry, other recipes—you are beautiful and tasty in your own ways. But if you love peanut butter and need a fantastically soft, chewy, ultra-perfect cookie recipe, this is IT! 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar, plus ⅓ cup

½ cup brown sugar

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups all-purpose flour

4 salted nut roll candy bars, cut equally into 6 slices each (24 pieces total)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Cream the butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined, followed by the baking soda, salt, and flour until a soft dough has formed.

3. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, roll balls of cookie dough. Dredge the cookie dough balls into a bowl with the remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar, coating all sides of the dough ball. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until golden brown and set. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then gently press a salted nut roll candy slice in the center of each cookie. Allow the cookies to continue to cool on the baking sheets or a wire rack.

 

NOTE: Wondering what a salted nut roll candy bar is? These are a vintage classic: marshmallow surrounded by salty, crunchy peanuts! I love that the salted nut roll bites give these cookies a fluffernutter flavor. If you don’t like marshmallow or cannot find the salted nut roll candy bars, feel free to use a Hershey’s Kiss candy in the middle for a classic blossom cookie!

 

 

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

I don’t get invited to many parties, but when I do, I fret day and night about what I should bring. Should I make an old standby, or try something new and innovative? Believe me, it’s a battle of heart and mind every single time. But one day while making this book, I decided to make these Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies—you know, to jazz things up a bit—and the result was marvelous! With a simple but elegant white chocolate drizzle, it immediately changed the game for my go-to party treat. 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon red food coloring

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cubed

1¼ cups white chocolate bark coating

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on low speed for 10 seconds so everything becomes combined. Add in the food coloring and cubed butter and pulse again until the mixture is crumbly. Pulse a few more times until the mixture forms itself into a ball.

3. Lightly flour a flat work surface. Roll out the cookie dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of shortbread and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until the cookies are set and very lightly golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets completely. Once cooled, melt the white chocolate bark coating according to package directions. Drizzle the melted white chocolate evenly over the cookies. Allow the chocolate to harden and set before serving.

 

 

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

So I know I said I don’t play favorites with my desserts and then I lied and admitted I liked the Salted Nut Roll Blossoms the best. That’s still true . . . but these Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies are also tied for best in show. I am an oatmeal cookie purist—I don’t like them with raisins OR chocolate chips because the oatmeal/brown sugar/slight cinnamon-spiced flavors need to be put on full display. With a light vanilla glaze, these cookies are seriously mind-blowing! 45 cookies

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE COOKIES

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE GLAZE

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

5 tablespoons milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Pulse the oats a few times in a food processor using short bursts. You want the oats to have different textures—some oats will be completely intact, but others may be more finely ground. Pour the pulsed oats into a large bowl and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix gently to combine.

3. Cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Gradually add in the oat mixture, beating well after each addition, until a soft dough is formed.

4. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets, then move the cookies carefully to wire racks to cool completely.

5. For the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth and pourable. Gently spoon the glaze on each of the cookies and allow the glaze to set, 20 to 30 minutes, before serving.

 

 

Chai Snowballs

I was a precocious young girl when I first tried an iced chai tea latte. My dad used to take me to the bookstore every Friday night and we’d stop in the built-in café for a drink while we browsed books. I saw a really pretty stranger in line in front of me order a chai tea latte, and I figured if I ordered one, too, I’d inherit both her good looks and good taste. I took a sip and was very surprised at how good it was and how a gamble on a stranger’s drink would forever change my café drink order. These snowballs are just like the original but with an aromatic warmth from chai spices. 25–30 cookies

INGREDIENTS

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups ground pecans

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix well. Add in the spices, ground pecans, and flour and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. The mixture will be crumbly but moist.

3. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are golden brown and set. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully coat the cookies in some of the confectioners’ sugar. Return the coated cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled completely, coat the cookies in another layer of the confectioners’ sugar.

 

 

Salted Caramel Macaroons

I am such a fan of coconut macaroons because they’re like the easiest cookie out there. They don’t need any special ingredients or tools, they don’t need to chill, they don’t need to rest, they don’t need cucumber slices put over their eyes while you massage them and whisper that everything will be all right. They’re just here to party and have a good time. While regular macaroons are a staple on your cookie tray, you should also make room for this salted caramel version. One ingredient swap makes these ultra decadent with buttery caramel flavor and a nice sprinkling of salt on top. It only looks and tastes fancy, I promise! 15–18 cookies

INGREDIENTS

5½ cups shredded coconut

⅔ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

One 13-ounce can dulce de leche

Sea salt

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Toss together the shredded coconut and flour in a large bowl until the flour coats the coconut evenly. Add in the vanilla extract and dulce de leche and mix well—mixture will be very thick.

3. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. If any pieces of coconut are poking out of the dough ball, gently wet your fingers to press the coconut into the cookie. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sea salt.

4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets completely before serving.

 

 

Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

So we’ve already established that I am no cookie-decorating aficionado, but that’s okay! I have met many a decorated cookie that tasted . . . anticlimactic and sad. They looked gorgeous and mind-blowing but tasted stale and unappealing. Not these bad boys! The glaze may be simple, but the cookie is for sure the stand-out with its tender crumb, buttery vanilla flavor, and hint of lemon to perk them up. However, if you are feeling a touch feisty, add in a drop of almond extract and prepare to swoon at the flavor. 24–36 cookies

INGREDIENTS

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Zest of half a lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

Royal icing and assorted sprinkles for decoration, optional

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the egg, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Add in the baking powder, salt, and flour, and slowly beat on low speed until fully incorporated.

3. Lightly dust a flat work surface with flour and roll out the cookie dough until a quarter-inch thick. Using your favorite cookie cutters, cut out shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just barely browned—they shouldn’t really have color at all. Cool completely on the baking sheets before decorating with royal icing and sprinkles, if using.

 

NOTE: I love the way almond extract enhances the buttery richness of these cookies. However, my mom’s allergic, so I often omit that when I’m serving them to her. If you can, I recommend using ½ teaspoon almond extract in place of the lemon zest for an added complex flavor.

 

 

Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees

I think we can all agree that as kids, we’d decorate sugar cookies or build gingerbread houses during the holidays, but no one in my family moonlights as a chef. My parents or Grammie Pat would just buy us premade houses or cookies and give us a tub of frosting to work with. Fine by me! As a kiddo, I didn’t care so much that it was premade; I just loved decorating something! These Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees are a modern-day approach to gingerbread house-building but are SO MUCH EASIER! 8 Christmas trees (24 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

1 batch Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookies (recipe on page 31)

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) shortening

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Green food coloring

Assorted sprinkles

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Prepare one batch of the Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookie recipe.

2. Lightly flour a flat work surface. Roll out the sugar cookie dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Using three different size round cutters (I used ¾ inch, 1 inch, and 1½ inch), cut out circular shapes and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set and barely golden brown—the cookies should still be very pale. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

4. Add the shortening and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy, 2 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition, until the frosting is light and fluffy. Beat in the green food coloring to your desired shade.

5. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and attach an open or closed-star tip of your choice. Place the largest cookie on a flat surface. Begin piping the frosting around the cookie clockwise until there is a circle of frosting. Sprinkle the perimeter of the frosted cookie with sprinkles of choice. Gently press the middle-size cookie on top and repeat with frosting and sprinkles. Lastly, gently press the smallest cookie size on top and repeat with frosting, but add a peak to represent the top of a Christmas tree. Decorate with sprinkles.

 

NOTE: If you use different sized cookie cutters than I used, you may get more or less Christmas cookie trees than I did. Experiment with smaller sizes for smaller trees, or jumbo cutters for large trees!

 

 

Polar Bear Cookies

People tell me all the time that I’m super creative . . . and beautiful, and intelligent, and amazing, and humble. KIDDING! But sometimes I feel pressure to do cutesy creative things. I can come up with some wacky-fabulous cupcake flavors, but turning a unicorn into a cake pop is so not my jam. So you can believe my excitement when I created these adorable and EASY Polar Bear Cookies! Kids and adults alike will have a blast creating the little bear faces, and I swear it could not be easier! I don’t mean to humble-brag, but I may be a genius. (Kidding again. Sort of.) 20 cookies

INGREDIENTS

One 16-ounce package white chocolate bark coating

20 vanilla sandwich cookies (such as golden Oreo)

60 white chocolate bark coating discs

40 eyeball sprinkles

20 black jelly beans

Edible bow adornments, optional

 

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil; set aside. Melt the white chocolate bark coating in a large bowl according to package directions, or until smooth and creamy.

2. Using a fork, dip each cookie one at a time into the white chocolate mixture, coating all sides of the cookie. Gently lift the cookie from the melted white chocolate and tap off any excess chocolate. Carefully place the coated cookie onto the prepared baking sheet. Working quickly, press two candy melt discs on either side of the top of the cookie for ears, then stick a candy melt disc on the lower half of the cookie for the snout. Place two eyeball sprinkles right above the candy melt disc for the eyes. If using the edible bow adornments, gently press one against the bottom of the cookie. Let the cookies set.

3. Dip the end of a toothpick into the remaining white chocolate and smear a little white chocolate on the back of a jelly bean. Press the jelly bean gently on the top of the “snout” for the nose. Allow the jelly beans to adhere before serving.

 

NOTE: You can make these into cookie pops by placing the still-wet cookie onto the top of a popsicle stick and allowing it to harden to the stick. Super cute for gift-giving!

 

 

Snickerdoodle Spritz Cookies

Back to the part about my family not being chefs . . . they are most definitely not chefs. If we ever baked Christmas cookies, it came from a tube in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. So the idea of a spritz cookie—those adorable shaped sugar-like cookies made from a spritz press—was a faraway dream. I admit, I’d had spritz cookies before writing this book but I’d never made them until I started the process. Luckily, cookie presses aren’t hard to find and they’re very inexpensive! Plus, since these cookies are so petite, you can make quite a large batch from one basic dough recipe. Score! 70 cookies

INGREDIENTS

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Set out two nonstick baking sheets but do not grease them—the key to making spritz cookies is that they have to go on an ungreased baking sheet.

2. Cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and the egg, mixing well. Add in the flour and salt and beat until a soft dough comes together.

3. Fill a cookie press with the cookie dough using your desired template. Press the cookie dough out onto the baking sheets a half-inch apart. Whisk together the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the tops of the cookies with cinnamon sugar.

4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are very light golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

NOTE: To ensure a successful spritz cookie, follow these tips. Hold the cookie press so that it is upright and the bottom is touching the baking sheet. Force the dough through the press until a cookie has been pushed out, then lift the press upward after the shape has been formed. If your dough is too soft and the cookie shapes aren’t crisp, refrigerate the press briefly.

 

 

Chocolate Crinkles

There’s a cookie bakery here in Sacramento that I happen to adore. They make the best soft and chewy cookies in a plethora of flavors. One of my favorites is their chocolate crackle cookie because it tastes like a cross between a fudgy brownie and a chewy cookie. It’s a game-changer! When I experimented with this recipe, I realized these cookies tasted even BETTER than the original. They’re so fudgy, gooey, soft, and chewy with that amazingly rich chocolate flavor and a light coating of sweet powdered sugar, you’ll ask yourself, “What bakery?” 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Combine the cake mix, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and stir until mixture is soft and combined. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls into a small bowl with the granulated sugar. Toss to coat, then place the sugared dough balls in a small bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Roll the dough balls so they’re completely coated in the confectioners’ sugar, then place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the edges are set. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before serving.

 

 

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

What’s the difference between whipped shortbread and regular shortbread? Once you try whipped shortbread, you’ll never want to go back to boring, basic shortbread again! Seriously—whipping the ingredients together for a longer period develops a lovely, melt-in-your-mouth texture to the cookies and makes them very tender. Top them with sprinkles, candied cherries, or coarse sugar to send them really over the top! 36 cookies

INGREDIENTS

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup cornstarch

Candied cherries, sprinkles, or coarse sugar for topping

 

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whipping on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Slowly add in the flour and cornstarch and continue beating until well blended.

3. Using a tablespoon-size cookie dough scoop, drop rounded dough balls 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Using your finger, make a small depression in the center of each cookie and place a candied cherry inside. If you’re not using candied cherries, simply sprinkle some coarse sugar or sprinkles on the tops of the cookies.

4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until set and the bottoms are very light golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the sheets, then carefully transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

 

 

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

When I made these whoopie pies, I had to get approval from my favorite Texans: my neighbors Ashley and Hayden. With one bite, Hayden exclaimed, “These are the BEST whoopie pies I’ve ever tried!” Needless to say, I was pretty flattered to hear that from a true Southerner who was well-versed in whoopie pies growing up. Try one for yourself and I think you’ll agree! 8 whoopie pies

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE WHOOPIE PIES

1 box red velvet cake mix

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. Combine the cake mix, oil, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until smooth and blended. Drop heaping 2-tablespoon-size balls of dough 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. If parts of the dough ball are sticking up and kind of spiky looking, lightly wet your finger to press the spikes down.

3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the whoopie pies appear set. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

4. For the frosting: Whip the cream cheese, butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, 2 minutes. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition, until light and fluffy.

5. Pipe or spread the filling onto the flat bottom of a whoopie pie half. Gently press another whoopie cookie on top to make a sandwich.

 

 

Cakes and Cupcakes: Tips and Tricks

* I always recommend greasing your pans—even nonstick ones!—before adding in your cake batter. I like using the baking spray that has flour in it for easy release.

* Likewise, you can also line your cake pans with parchment rounds, which are available at most cake decorating and craft stores. This is such a lifesaver!

* The best method to ensure your cakes and cupcakes are finished baking? The toothpick test! A toothpick or cake tester inserted near the center of the cake or cupcake should come out clean or with moist but not wet crumbs.

* I find it is easiest to remove a Bundt cake from the pan when the pan and cake have cooled completely, unless otherwise specified.

 

 

2

 

Cakes and Cupcakes

 

Looking for a killer cake recipe to impress your guests for the holidays? Look no further than this chapter, packed with easy, impressive recipes that are sure to please everyone’s palate!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Maple Icing

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Truffle Torte

Spiced Apple Cake

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Coconut Layer Cake

White Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Fruitcake Cupcakes

Cranberry Orange Crumb Cake

Eggnog Bundt Cake

Red-Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Sweet Potato Sheet Cake

Mimosa Cupcakes

Black Forest Cupcakes

 

 

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Maple Icing

One of the most popular recipes on my blog during the holiday season has to be my pumpkin bread with brown butter maple icing. People go crazy for it because it’s seriously the best pumpkin bread I’ve tried: moist, super pumpkin-y, and EASY! When I was brainstorming recipes for this book, I knew I had to transform that pumpkin bread into a pumpkin Bundt cake complete with the same irresistible icing as the recipe on my blog. You’re welcome! 10–12 slices

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

1 box yellow cake mix

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

4 large eggs

½ cup vegetable or canola oil

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

FOR THE ICING

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

¼ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup milk

2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 10-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray—I like using the cooking spray with flour in it for easier release. Set aside.

2. Combine all of the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat on low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat well until fully combined and smooth. Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist, not wet, crumbs. Cool in the pan completely.

4. While the cake bakes, make the icing: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter has melted, keep a close eye on it as it will brown quickly. Swirl the pan around as the butter pops, bubbles, and foams, until the butter turns a golden amber color and smells nutty and fragrant. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

5. Beat together the cooled browned butter, maple syrup, milk, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth, 1 minute. Invert the cake onto a cake plate or stand. Drizzle the icing mixture evenly over the cake and let set for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

Last Christmas, my family got my younger sister an ancestry DNA kit. We were 100 percent sure it would come back with a German heritage, but instead, it came back mostly British! Now we are all experiencing identity crises and questioning everything we’ve ever known. But in the midst of our existential crises, I realized—we have to make up for lost time by trying our native country’s food, and that included sticky toffee pudding. Once I made this cake, we all came to terms that we’re British now, and newly converted sticky toffee pudding lovers! 15–18 slices

INGREDIENTS

2 cups chopped, pitted dates

2 teaspoons baking soda

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened

1⅔ cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for serving

 

1. Combine the chopped dates and 2½ cups water together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Mixture may bubble as the baking soda is added. Cool to lukewarm.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

3. Cream the butter and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy, 2 minutes. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract, followed by the flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn the machine on low and slowly drizzle in the date mixture until fully combined and smooth.

4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist, not wet, crumbs. Cool completely. Just before serving, top with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle liberally with caramel sauce.

 

 

Truffle Torte

If you’re looking for a dessert to really impress your Christmas company, try my Truffle Torte! It tastes exactly like it came from a fancy-schmancy bakery or an elegant steakhouse because it’s so rich and decadent with a complex chocolate flavor. Of course, it looks just as refined and elegant with a simple chocolate ganache topping, but my motto is: everything can be improved with some fun sprinkles! 10–12 slices

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CAKE

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, cubed

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

6 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant espresso granules

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

FOR THE GANACHE

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

½ cup heavy whipping cream

Fun sprinkles for garnish, optional

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pan and spray the bottom and sides of the pan with more cooking spray; set aside.

2. Combine the cubed butter and chopped semisweet chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave the chocolate mixture for 30 seconds. Stir, then melt for another 30 seconds until completely smooth and melted. Cool for 5 minutes.

3. Whip the eggs and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium power for 5 minutes until the mixture has tripled in volume. Beat in the vanilla extract, then slowly and gradually stream in the melted chocolate. Add in the espresso granules, salt, and flour, and beat until the mixture comes together in a thick batter.

4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is set and crackled. After removing it from the oven, the top may sink into the cake some; this is normal, and remember, it’ll be covered with ganache. Cool the cake completely.

5. For the ganache: Melt the chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a small bowl for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until melted. Pour the ganache mixture evenly over the truffle torte and smooth out the top. Top with sprinkles, if using. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours or until set before serving.

[collapse]

By starting with cake or brownie mixes, ready-made dough and crusts, and other make- it- simple head starts, Hayley Parker makes holiday baking a breeze. She transforms everyday ingredients into one- of- a- kind desserts and puts new twists on flavors like spicy gingerbread, cool peppermint, and creamy eggnog. Here are candies, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies, bars, and more, including:

  • White Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes
  • Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
  • Eggnog Pie
  • Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

From the blogger who makes “even novice bakers feel like pros” (POPSUGAR), these sweet treats are perfect for holiday gift-giving, parties, and unexpected guests―even Santa will be impressed!

>>>Download<<<

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *