Top 5 Holiday Baking Must-Dos
by Roxana Moazami
What’s better than getting in the holiday spirit by baking? Nothing! While you curl up by the fireplace, with hot cocoa in hand and Mariah Carey’s voice in the background, get your baking on! With these delicious recipes, you’ll look forward to the holidays every year, just so you can indulge in some delectable treats! Here are the recipes for dark chocolate peppermint brownies, snowball cupcakes, gingerbread cake, candy cane cake, and hot cocoa cookies!
*First is the recipe for the dark chocolate peppermint brownies, which I got to make myself one day. Rich and absolutely satisfying, this was definitely something that I would make again! The recipe was simple and sweet!
- Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a 9- by 13-in. baking pan; set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder into a bowl.
- Microwave butter and bittersweet chocolate in a medium glass bowl, stirring often, until melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Whisk together sugar and eggs in a large bowl until blended. Add extracts and whisk to blend. Stir melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture. Gently fold in flour mixture with a plastic spatula until no streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.
- Bake brownies until a toothpick inserted 2 in. from edge comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
- Put dark chocolate in a resealable plastic bag, snip off a small corner tip, and drizzle half over brownies. Sprinkle with candies and drizzle with remaining chocolate. Let cool until chocolate sets, 25 minutes, then cut into squares.
*Snowball cupcakes are fun and creative, and they’re something that you can make with friends! And a bonus, this is Martha Stewart’s recipe.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 14 cups of 2 standard (12-cup) muffin tins with foil liners. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Let cool completely. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.
- Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Mix in buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the eggs and yolk. Add melted chocolate; mix until smooth.
- 3. Spoon batter into liners, filling about one-third full. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
- Assemble the cupcakes: Spread a thin layer of frosting on each cupcake. Using a 2 1/2-inch ice cream scoop dipped in hot water, place a smooth mound of frosting on top of each cupcake. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand until frosting is set, about 3 hours. Cupcakes can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 day.
*Gingerbread cake is moist and flavorful. Definitely a baking must-do!
- In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in molasses and baking soda. After mixture stops foaming, stir in 1/2 cup cold water; let cool to room temperature, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
- In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs until blended. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and molasses mixtures alternately until incorporated, then beat on high speed until well blended. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch square pan.
- Bake in a 325° regular or convection oven until a toothpick inserted in center of thickest part comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack at least 1 1/4 hours.
- Pour about 1/4 cup crème anglaise onto each plate. Cut cake into pieces (see notes) and set them in sauce on plates. If desired, lightly sift cocoa and/or powdered sugar over each plate and garnish with a mint sprig. Offer remaining crème anglaise to add to taste.
*Candy Cane Cake- a great Christmas treat!
- Preheat oven to 325°. Sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar. Sift again and set aside.
- In a large bowl or standing mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts. Continue beating until egg whites are firm but not dry.
- Sift one-third of the flour-sugar mixture onto the egg whites and, with a rubber or silicone spatula, gently fold the mixture into the egg whites. Add remaining flour in two batches, folding gently after each addition. Turn batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake until browned and firm to the touch, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Invert cake (in pan) on a cooling rack for at least an hour. When completely cool, run a long, thin, sharp knife between cake and pan to loosen, and remove cake.
- Put candy canes in a large sealable plastic bag. Crush them into small pieces with a meat pounder, rolling pin, or the bottom of a small frying pan. Sift crushed candy with a fine-mesh strainer and reserve candy dust for another use (see Notes). Set crushed candy aside.
- In a large bowl, beat cream with remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Frost cake with whipped cream using a spatula to form swirls and peaks. Sprinkle frosted cake with crushed candy canes. (To get candy on the sides, hold your hand about 1 in. from the cake and gently toss crushed candy at the sides.) Serve immediately, using a serrated knife to cut slices.
*Last, but not least, one of my absolute favorites… hot cocoa cookies! Attached is the link that takes you step by step (with pictures) to making these delicious cookies!
The holidays is easily the most festive time of the year, and baking with your friends and family just makes it better! So wear those fuzzy socks, listen to that holiday music, and watch those yearly Christmas movies, but don’t forget to make room for some baking!
Image credit: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/images/blog/JohnLisa/holiday-pantry_800.jpg