It’s that time of year again. It’s the time for shopping, decking, and my favourite—baking family favourites. But just because I love to bake doesn’t mean I love to spend hours and hours in the kitchen doing it. Whether I’m baking for a crowd, a workplace cookie exchange, or simply something special for my kids’ and husband’s lunches these are my go-to-super-easy favourites and I hope they’ll become some of yours too.
During a recent Twitter party one of the questions was what is your favourite holiday cookie? Shortbread was the fan favourite hands down. While I prefer the old-fashioned rolled flat and cut into shapes shortbread (like so many others it seems) I can never seem to perfect the dough despite having my grandmother on the other end of the phone walking me through each step. Thankfully, Grandma decided to share this much easier Whipped Shortbread recipe and I’m happy to share it with all of you.
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 ½ cups flour
¾ tsp. vanilla
Holiday themed sprinkles or small slices of candied fruit (optional)
Using an electric mixer or stand mixer, cream butter well (I use my Kitchen Aid with paddle attachment).
Add corn starch and icing sugar a little at a time.
Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time and mix until the dough looks like whipped cream.
Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, top with sprinkles or fruit (if using) and bake in preheated 350F oven until golden (not brown!) for approximately 12-15 minutes.
Yield: 5-6 dozen
Note: This recipe easily doubles (no need to make two separate batches!)
These are hands-down the new fan favourite in our house this year because the kids love dipping them into their hot chocolate on lazy weekends. As an added bonus this kid-friendly twist on biscotti makes fantastic hostess and friend gifts when packaged with premium hot chocolate and marshmallows.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
16 Oreo Cookies, coarsely chopped (I throw them in a Ziploc bag and give the kids the rolling pin)
2 squares white chocolate or ½ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
In large bowl mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until combined.
Stir in chopped Oreos.
Pour dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide in half.
Shape each half into loaf (approx. 9-inch wide x 1-inch thick) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake in pre-heated 350F oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Cool loaves 10 minutes, transfer to cutting board and cut each loaf into 16 slices (approx. 1/2 –inch thick).
Place each cookie cut side up back on baking sheets (you may need another one here) and bake 10-12 minutes, carefully turn over onto other side and bake another 10-12 minutes.
Let cool completely on wire rack.
Optional: When completely cooled, melt chocolate in microwave on 50% power for approx. 1 minute (checking to make sure it does not burn) then drizzle over cookies or brush tops of cookies.
Yield: approx. 32 cookies
Adapted from Kraft Canada
When I put the call out on Facebook asking for favourite go-to cookie recipes my friend Catrina shared this one with me. I couldn’t wait to make them and was definitely not disappointed. While this cookie is fairly basic, Catrina adds her own special little twist – rum extract! Who needs rum balls when you have Rum Butter Cookies that taste like slices of toffee bit heaven?
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp rum extract
1 package Skor Toffee Bits (approx 2 cups)
In small bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugars and rum extract until well blended. Add the eggs and beat well.
Add the flour mixture gradually, beating until well blended.
Stir in toffee bits.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated 350F oven for 9-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack until completely cooled.
Note: Do not over-bake these cookies as they are best when soft and chewy.
Yield: 5 dozen
Adapted from Hershey Canada
These cookies made their debut in the Kraft Canada’s What’s Cooking Magazine many years ago. I remember being so excited to make them for my very first Christmas Cookie Exchange and ended up having to make double the amount of batches I needed because my husband and I kept “sampling” them. Just remember (in case you’re tempted to start whipping up a batch right this second), this dough needs to chill in the fridge for two hours after you mix it all together (but I promise, the waiting is the hardest part).
1 pkg. (6 squares) Bittersweet Chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup chopped candy canes (I put them in a Ziploc bag and roll the rolling pin over them)
Microwave chocolate and butter on medium power until butter is melted (approximately 2 minutes but check at least once to make sure you don’t burn your chocolate). Remove from microwave and stir until chocolate is completely melted.
Add sugar and stir until combined.
Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing until combined after each.
Add flour and baking powder and mix well.
Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.
Using a teaspoon and your hands, roll dough into 1-inch balls (think truffle size) and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (approx. 2-inches apart).
Bake in 350F preheated oven for 9-11 minutes but do not over bake (believe me you want these soft and chewy). Immediately sprinkle with chopped candy cane and allow to cool on baking sheet for approx. 2-3 minutes. Transfer to wire rack until cooled completely.
Yield: 6 dozen
Adapted from Kraft Canada
1 pkg. white chocolate (6 squares)
12 Oreo Cookies
12 pieces of candy corn
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Melt half the chocolate in microwave on medium power (approximately 2 minutes but check at least once to ensure you don’t burn your chocolate).
One at a time, coat 6 Oreo cookies completely in chocolate and place on baking sheet lined with wax paper.
Working reasonably quickly, place one piece of candy corn on its side in the middle of the cookie and using mini chocolate chips make eyes and smiles on your snowmen.
Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Chill in fridge until hardened (approx. 1-2 hours).
Yield: 1 dozen cookies
Maija is a busy mom to three busy children – children who insist on eating every day. Between shuttling kids to dance or cheer practice, tae kwon do, hockey, or baseball, she often finds herself in the kitchen looking at three hungry children (and a husband) and a clock ticking towards dinner time.