By D.A. Hawes
Smell and taste are the two senses most strongly linked to memory, so it’s no wonder that holiday baking is so evocative of the Christmas season. The aroma of gingerbread cookies, spiced nuts, warm rum cakes, chocolate, peppermint, and almonds—, or whatever your preferred treat might be— will be sure to conjure sweet memories as you bake and eat your way through the holidays! So whether you dig up those classic recipes that grandma used to make, or forge ahead and try something new, most of us would agree that certain special magic emanates from our kitchens at Christmas.
Making holiday treats is also the perfect solution for gift giving If you are struggling to figure out what to get for Uncle George or Cousin Agnes, or you just can’t decide what to bring to a festive party, consider having some fun in the kitchen and conjuring up the best holiday gifts ever.!
Here are some of our favourite holiday baking recipes:
Classic Rum Balls
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
• ½ cup almond paste
•1 cup sour cream
•¼ tsp salt
•8 cups finely crushed Christie vanilla wafers (approximately 3 – 250 gr. boxes)
•3 cups icing sugar
•1 ¼ cup melted butter
• 2/3 cup baking cocoa
• 1cup rum
•2 cups pecans (finely chopped)
• Chocolate sprinkles for rolling – 4 cups
Mix together melted chocolate, sour cream, almond paste, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together crushed vanilla wafers, icing sugar, cocoa, and pecans. Add chocolate mixture, butter, and rum, and mix well. Knead with your hands until it is blended. Put in the fridge until firm enough to roll into small balls, but still soft enough to pick up the chocolate sprinkles. Form balls and then roll in the chocolate sprinkles and put on parchment-lined trays. Let them harden overnight in the refrigerator. If giving as gifts, put a dozen or so rum balls in a Christmas tin or cello bag (tie with colorful ribbon). Keep cool. These can also be frozen.
Easy Peppermint Bark
• 2 cups milk or dark chocolate chips
• 2 cups white chocolate chips
• Candy canes—crushed
• Red & Green M&M’s (or Smarties)
*Any other toppings you might like (pretzels, chopped Oreo cookies, sprinkles, etc.)
Melt milk or dark chocolate chips and spread over a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cool in the fridge for at least an hour. Melt white chocolate and spread over base. Sprinkle crushed candy canes and M&M’s over top and refrigerate. Once set, break into pieces. Store in fridge.
Christmas Rum Cake
*Easy to make and always a hit!
• 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
• 1 package yellow cake mix
• 1 small package Jello Vanilla Instant Pudding
• 4 eggs
• ½ cup water
• 1/3 cup cooking oil
• ½ cup amber or dark rum
• 1/3 cup butter
• ¼ cup water
• ¾ cup sugar
• 1/3 cup rum
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray Bundt pan with cooking oil and lightly flour. Sprinkle nuts on the pan bottom. Mix cake ingredients together (beat for approximately 2 minutes) and pour over nuts. Bake for 1 hour. Cool and then turn out the cake onto a serving platter. Make the glaze while the cake is cooling.
Glaze: melt butter in a saucepan, add water and sugar, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
Prick the top of the cake and pour glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!
Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies
• 2 cups flour
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• ½ tsp. salt
• ½ cup margarine or butter
• 1/3 cup oil
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ cup icing sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• About 1 cup of red and green sprinkles
Cream together butter (or margarine), oil, sugar, and icing sugar until fluffy—this takes about 3 or 4 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until the dough comes together. Chill dough for about 30 minutes to an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment. Form cookies into balls and then roll in the sprinkles. Flatten balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake cookies until golden at the edges—about 12-15 minutes.
Wishing you a sweet and tasty Christmas!
Photos by Jenny Hawes (IG: @by_jennyh)
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