Favorite Baking Recipes for the Holidays

By Becky Warren

Every winter, I search for new and interesting recipes to try out during the holiday season. I thought I would share some of my favorites from the past few years. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Yum! I love these cookies. They are so moist, I sometimes make them without the “whoopie”. They are a great dessert to serve and fun to eat.

 (From Rachael Ray Magazine, October 2007By: Silvana Nardone and Christina Stanley-Salerno)

 6 Servings

Prep 35 min Bake 10 min

 Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, 1 stick melted, 1/2 stick softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt
  • 1-2/3 cups flour
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

 Get ahead
Freeze the whoopie pies for up to three days.

 Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the baking powder, the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop 12 generous mounds of batter, spaced evenly, onto each baking sheet. Bake until springy to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter with the cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 pinches salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; mix on low speed until blended, then beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Spread the flat side of 12 cakes with the cream cheese frosting. Top each with another cake.

German Chocolate Pecan Pie

I love pecan pie and love chocolate so this is a perfect combination. I have added a twist to this recipe – I use the pre-packaged mini Keebler graham cracker pie crusts to make mini pecan pies. I think the mini pecan pies are actually better than the large one as the chocolate to pecan ratio is perfect. (Note: I often leave out the coconut and it still tastes delicious.)

 (From Rachael Ray Magazine, November 2007 By: Silvana Nardone)

Be the first to rate this recipe 8 Servings

Prep 20 min (plus chilling) Bake 55 min

 Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 stick chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flake coconut
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 Directions:

(The first three steps are only if you want to make your own pie crust or you can skip these steps and buy pre-made pie crusts or the mini graham cracker pie crusts)

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until coarse crumbs form, about 5 seconds. Drizzle in the ice water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap; flatten to form a disk. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round; transfer to a pie pan. Cut the excess dough to leave a 1/2-inch overhang. Using your fingers, roll the dough edge under and crimp. Prick the bottom of the pie shell with a fork; refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  3. Line the shell with foil and pie weights or dried beans; bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, reduce the heat to 375º and bake for another 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. In a heavy, medium saucepan, whisk together the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt with the brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat until melted and smooth. Whisk the sugar mixture into the beaten eggs. Stir in the nuts and coconut.
  5. Spread the chocolate chips in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and bake until set, about 25 minutes. Let the pie cool completely before slicing.

 Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

I just tried the recipe out this year and I found it to be easy, fast and delicious. I usually resort to pre-made peanut butter cookies but these I found to be moist and delicious. Plus the chocolate dipping is fun!

 (From Back to the Cutting Board: http://backtothecuttingboard.com/dessert/irresistible-peanut-butter-cookies/)

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Optional chocolate dip:
  • 1 1/2 tsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Process

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Combine peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, milk, vanilla and egg in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well-blended.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Add to creamed mixture at low speed.  Mix just until blended.
  3. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet.  Take a fork and dip it in some vegetable oil, then dip into a bowl of sugar.  Flatten a drop slightly in a crisscross pattern with the fork.  Repeat with each drop, dipping the fork in the sugar again after each one.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown.  Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack.
  5. After the cookies have cooled, melt chocolate chips and butter on the stove or in the microwave.  Use a smallish pan/container, something that you can fit the cookie into, but that’s not too wide (or you won’t get enough chocolate on the cookies, aim for 1/4 to 1/2 submersion).  Dip your cookies in one at a time and lay out on wax or parchment paper to cool and set, 30 minutes to an hour.

 Note: Cook time depends on when you plan on eating these.  If you want to eat these straight from the oven, it is recommended that you add 2-3 more minutes or else they will be gooey to the point of being undercooked.  Adding the time will make the outside darker and a bit crispier, but they will be more done in the middle.  However, if you plan to serve either recipe at a party or event the next day, do not overbake them, because once they sit overnight they will be set and will still be very soft and chewy, while the overcooked ones will be harder and crispier.

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