Easy and delicious Holiday breakfast recipes

Four easy and delicious Holiday breakfast ideas
Easy and delicious Holiday breakfast recipes

Oh I love holiday breakfasts. No one is in a hurry to get things on the table, no one is in a rush to finish, and there is time for another cup of coffee, and may be another.

Holiday breakfasts are for lingering.

Is that the pace at your house over the holidays?

I suspect for most the joy in lingering is all about timing. There are things that need doing first thing in the morning before you can really enjoy a long sit down.

I have friends who, as children, on Christmas morning had to eat a full breakfast before even so much as getting a peek at the tree in the living room. In our house growing up we had to wait for my eldest sister – the family sleepy head – to wake before we could all line up and file down the stairs. Now with my kids all I ask is that I have time to make myself a cup of coffee before the mayhem.

(Someday I’m sure we’ll be sipping our coffee waiting for our kids to wake on Christmas morning but for now we’re still crossing our fingers that they’ll sleep until 5:00 or so.)

Easy & delicious breakfast ideas

Since breakfast is often the most rushed meal of the day, taking a leisurely breakfasts feels a bit like an indulgence.

If that suits you just fine I have four breakfast ideas meant for lingering and suited to appetites big and small:

Molasses flax waffles:

 

molasses flax waffles

Molasses sticky buns:

Molasses sticky buns

Molasses walnut scones with vanilla glaze:

molasses walnut scones with vanilla glaze

 Blueberry pancakes:

blueberry pancakes

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Classic German spice cookies – the beguiling Pfeffernusse

 Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

 

I’m beginning to think that there are two Christmas cookie camps: there’s the very sweet, sometimes gooey, chocolate-usually-included camp and there is the often spicy, been-around-for-hundreds-of-years, goo-less camp.

A simplified view, I know, but the idea of special Christmas cookies covers the gamut.

For me, simple is beautiful. I love traditional cookies with complex flavours and pleasing textures, exotic spices and no food colouring.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

I eat more than my fair share of chocolates over the Holidays and I won’t turn my nose up at gooey sweets but when push comes to shove it’s the unassuming cookie on the tray that catches my eye.

Take these Pfeffernusse for example. These German Spice Cookies of my childhood are a humble-seeming biscuit that didn’t really catch my eye until I was in my 20s.

I have no German roots but my mom is an adventurous baker and was always drawn to European treats. I grew up eating Saint Lucia buns on December 13, Lebkuchen decorated with candied angelica and Vienna crescents rich with ground nuts. We devoured cardamom gingersnaps, Linzer cookies and pfeffernusse alongside shortbreads and Aunt Mary’s sugar cookies.

Pfeffernusse German spice cookies

 

This isn’t the exact recipe I grew up with though. Since pfeffernusse translates to “peppernuts” I was wondering about the “nut” bit. My recipe has lots of ground pepper but no nuts so I went hunting for other recipes and came across this version, complete with ground almonds, citrus zest and rolled in spiced icing sugar.

Slightly chewy and very aromatic these cookies became a new family favourite, especially for my 13-year-old who also has a fondness for Timbits.

 

German spice cookies – Pfeffernusse

Adapted from Chow.com

 For the cookies:

  • 3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour and two cups of white flour)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 medium lemons)
  • 2 tsp. packed finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses

For the spiced sugar:

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice

Directions:

For the cookies:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour through almonds).
  2. In a large bowl beat together the butter and lemon and orange zest. Add the brown sugar in three batches and mix until well combined.
  3. Beat in the egg then the molasses.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing until just combined.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Roll the dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet (at least an inch apart).
  7. Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. (Don’t let the bottoms get too dark).
  8. Let them cool a bit then drop warm cookies into the spiced icing sugar and cool on a rack.

For the spiced sugar mixture

While the cookies are baking, sift all ingredients together into a large bowl; set aside.

To freeze, don’t roll them in the sugar mixture until they’re thawed and ready to eat.

Do you have favourite Holiday recipes that you make year after year? I’d love to hear all about them.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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 German spice cookies pfeffernusse

Cardamom scented gingersnaps

 

Cardamom scented gingersnaps

Do you have any cookie recipes from your childhood that can transport you back in time?

This recipe does it for me. The smell of these cardamom scented gingersnaps baking makes me feel like I’m about five years old again and nibbling one takes me back to the kitchen table, a few days after Christmas, drinking hot chocolate out of big red Christmas mugs.

Cardamom scented gingersnaps

The reason why I recall eating them after Christmas is because this is a giant recipe. I always cut it in half but my mom would make the full batch. That’s nine whopping cups of flour. She’d stay up half the night rolling, cutting and baking, and if weren’t for the fact that these are so delicious, she would never have bothered.

It’s the cardamom that does it. There is something about the scent of cardamom that makes me think it should have a place in history right alongside gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Cardamom gingerbread cut out cookies

There are no eggs in this recipe and it includes whipped cream. Don’t let that throw you off. The texture of the dough is lovely to work with and the crispiness of the cookie can’t be matched.

These cookies are lovely in their simplicity. Use your favourite cookie cutters and cut holes in the cookies before baking if you’d like to hang them on the tree.

 Cardamom gingerbread cut out cookies

Cardamom scented gingersnaps

  • 1 ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 9 cups flour (lightly spooned)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Beat together butter and molasses.
  3. Beat in sugar and spices.
  4. With a wooden spoon fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Whisk together flour and baking soda then add to creamed mixture in three additions.
  6. Mix until just combined.
  7. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
  8. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half.
  9. On a very lightly floured surface roll to ¼” thickness. Cut into Holiday shapes.
  10. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 5-6 minutes. Watch closely.

Do you have favourite Holiday recipes that you make year after year? I’d love to hear all about them.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top right hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

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Christmas crafts for kids: Painting cookies with tinted frosting

Decorating Christmas cut-out cookies with kids

This month’s topic for The Canadian Food Experience Project is all about regional Christmas traditions.  Because molasses is such a  part of the culinary history of Atlantic Canada, gingerbread cut-out cookies definitely have their place in our Region’s Holiday traditions.

The great fun in the tradition comes when you let your kids paint these Christmas cookies with tinted frosting…

If you’re looking for Christmas crafts for kids, painting cookies tops my list. After all, what’s better than an afternoon spent at the kitchen table painting great gobs of tinted frosting onto cut out cookies, applying candy sprinkles with abandon and listening to Christmas records?

If you asked my kids they’d tell you that Christmas cookie painting is just about the best Christmas tradition in our house.

I grew up painting gingerbread cut out cookies with my brothers and sisters. It was always an afternoon of fun, Christmas music and way too many silver candy balls.

Mom would roll, cut and bake dozens of cookie stars, angels, trees, bells and chubby gingerbread men, and as fast as they cooled we’d decorate them, using real paint brushes (reserved for cooking painting only) and varying amounts of skill and patience. My sister Martha was always the most creative. I remember her painting blue denim overalls on stars, complete with contrasting pockets and stitching. Once the frosting hardened (and believe me, it hardened) we’d hang them on the tree where they’re go stale and somehow get more delicious.

Decorating Christmas cut-out cookies with kids

Is painting gingerbread cookies a New Brunswick tradition? Haven’t a clue but among my family, eating spicy gingerbread cookies under a blanket of tinted frosting is an enduring tradition that helps to define the Holidays. Painting cookies fuels the fire of anticipation with my kids and is the most delightful family activity.

Here are two great recipes for gingerbread cut-out cookies that are just right for painting:

Whole wheat gingerbread cut-out cookies.

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies.

(We use basic kids craft paint brushes with stiff bristles. )

Decorating Christmas cut-out cookies with kids

How to paint Christmas cookies with kids:

  1. Make a big batch of simple white icing
  2. Divide into four bowls and tint three of the bowls primary colours (red, yellow, blue)
  3. Let your kids mix their own secondary colours (green, orange, purple)
  4. Have on hand your choice of edible sprinkles.
  5. Have on hand children’s craft paint brushes with stiff bristles.

The rules of painting cookies with kids (in our house):

  1. There are no rules and no limits.
  2. Licking paintbrushes is discouraged but won’t get you kicked out of the fun.
  3. Wait for the frosting to harden before attempting to hang cookies on the tree.
  4. Red and green frosting swirled together makes swampy brown frosting. Don’t swirl if you don’t want brown.
  5. “The works” cookies are usually too heavy to hang on the tree.

 

These cookies are for kid consumption only.

Aside from the fact that the cookies are usually overloaded with frosting, there is a lot of paint brush licking and fingers in the frosting, so no one but their creators want to be eating them.

That of course is part of the fun. A whole tin of cookies for kids only plus those that pass the weight test so get hung on the tree (only to be nibbled like worms on a hook as they slowly go stale.)

Is cookie painting a Holiday tradition in your house?

 

Here are two great cookie recipes for extra fun painting:

Tip: If you want to hang your cookies on the tree, make a hole in the top of the cookie (using a skewer or straw) before baking. When the frosting has dried thread a piece of ribbon through the hole.

Whole wheat gingerbread cut out cookies

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

 

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. The idea is to share our collective stories through our regional food experiences, to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

 

Do you have favourite Holiday recipes that you make year after year? I’d love to hear all about them.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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20 recipes for Holiday treats in a free e-book

Festive cookies and homemade gifts - 20 recipes for Holiday treats
Have you ever spent an afternoon digging through recipe folders and books to find a particular recipe, a family favourite that you make every year?

It’s usually in one particular spot, but last year you remember saying to yourself, “I’m going to tuck it here so I don’t have to go digging through everything again next year to find it.”

I do it all the time and I swear it’s by sheer luck that I manage to find all of my Holiday recipes every December.

Festive cookies and homemade gifts - 20 recipes for Holiday treats

What I have managed to do, however, is gather my favourite festive molasses recipes together in our Holiday Book. This is a collection of 20 seasonal recipes, including classic cookies and bars, homemade gifts and finger food for Holiday entertaining.

Originally published last year (e-book only), this year’s version has been updated with new recipes that are just right for the Holidays.

This e-book has been created in a simple-to-view format. Just click to open the book, or right-click to print or download the book. No e-reader required.

Festive cookies and homemade gifts – 20 recipes for Holiday treats:

Holiday eBook 2014

 

Do you have favourite Holiday recipes that you make year after year? I’d love to hear all about them.

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Glossy pecan toffee bars – because the Holidays are for indulging

 

Glossy pecan toffee bars are a Holiday indulgence. A buttery toffee thick with pecans layered on a barely-sweet shortbread base. They’re gorgeous but not over the top. They’re festive and beyond delicious.

All that to say: they suit the fun and festivities of the Holiday season in both looks and taste.

Glossy pecan toffee bars

I can’t believe that I was going to drizzle these bars with melted white chocolate.

I would have, but the white chocolate seized in the pan when I was melting it, so was eaten by my kids instead.

The toffee-coated pecans are so glossy and pretty on their own who would want to cover them?

They are rich and sweet — one iota more of anything might make you forget about the pecans and toffee, and that would be a shame.

This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. She dips each square in dark chocolate and if your body can tolerate that extra layer of sweet, then go for it.

Glossy pecan toffee bars

Glossy pecan toffee bars

Adapted from Ina Garten

Base:

  • 1 cup + 4 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt

 Topping

  • 1 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 lb. pecan halves

 To make the crust:

  1. Beat together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt and stir into the creamed mixture. Stir just until combined.
  3. Press into a 9”x13” pan that has been lined with parchment paper. (Ensure that the parchment goes up the sides too).
  4. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. The base will be set, but this will bake again once the topping is added so don’t worry.
  5. Leave the oven on.

To make the topping & complete the bars:

  1. Combine butter, brown sugar and molasses in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Stir to combine as the butter melts. Raise the temperature to medium and bring to a boil. Boil for three minutes then remove from heat, stir in the heavy cream and pecans.
  2. Combine well with a rubber spatula then carefully pour, scrape and spread over the baked crust.
  3. Return to the oven for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.

 

Are you a fan of pecans? Try our Pecan Pie Bars. They’re crazy delicious.

Pecan pie squares

 

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Gluten free gingerbread cut out cookies

Gluten free gingerbread cut out cookies

Christmas has a lovely smell…

It’s a combination of evergreens and gingerbread that can still make my stomach flutter. It’s a cosy smell that carries with it a lifetime of warm memories and a touch of anticipation.

Take away the gingerbread smell and you lose the feeling. A  Christmas without snow I can handle but a Christmas without gingerbread cookies?

Because everyone has the right to a home that smells like gingerbread cakes and cookies fresh out of the oven we asked blogger and gluten-free baker Jeanine at The Baking Beauties to develop gluten-free versions of our favourite gingerbread recipes for us to share.

 

Here’s what Jeanine has to say about her gingerbread cookie creation:

“This dough makes the perfect gingerbread men. Loaded with all the right spices, these cookies, which hold their shape well during baking, are also still soft and slightly chewy. Would they work to make a gluten free gingerbread house? A small one – Maybe. But for a large house, I don’t think these cookies would hold up to the weight – they are a little too soft for that.”

Gluten free Gingerbread cut out cookies

This dough requires at least 1 hour of refrigeration time after mixing. Take that into account when planning your baking! Adapted from granma.com

Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Visit The Baking Beauties blog for the full recipe, including instructions…

 

Love all sorts of Gingerbread cut out cookies? Try our chocolate gingerbread cookies or our whole wheat gingerbread cookies. Both recipes are perfect for cutting into shapes and decorating. (They’re not gluten free).

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Whole wheat gingerbread cut out cookies

 

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Baking gingerbread cookies is the most enduring tradition in my household.

I grew up baking cut out cookies with my mom and then we’d paint them with a simple milk and icing sugar frosting. My brothers, sisters and I would spend half a day at the kitchen table with bowls of tinted frosting, red and green sprinkles and little silver balls, decorating dozens of cookies and listening to Roger Whittaker’s Christmas album. To this day the song Darcy the Dragon takes me back to the kitchen table in the house where I grew up.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

I still love painting Christmas cookies and my kids consider it a sacred Holiday tradition so there is at least one day before Christmas when we all sit down to an afternoon of painting, usually with a few friends.

My kids are masters of the one-tonne cookie, a cookie that is so loaded with icing and sprinkles that you need a spatula to lift it off the table and onto a plate to dry.

cookie painting

Whatever you bake for the Holidays, you’ll notice that it’s not so much the finished product that creates the memories, but the whole process…

For me it’s digging out the cookie cutters, and having my kids by my side at the counter as we roll, press and lift the cut-outs onto the cookie sheet.  It’s the sweet and spicy smell of the house when the cookies are in the oven and the giggles in the kitchen as we paint and sprinkle away.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

This chocolate gingerbread recipe is a new take on gingerbread cut-out cookies. They have an intense chocolaty flavour but aren’t overly sweet, making them perfect for decorating and sandwiching. The dough is soft and barely needs flour for rolling. If you want the cookies to be harder just bake them a little longer.

chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

From Food & Wine magazine

  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 lg. egg
  • ½ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

 

  1. In a medium bowl whisk the flour with the cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl beat the softened butter with the brown sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then molasses, then melted chocolate.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three batches, incorporating well between additions.
  5. Scrape dough from bowl and divide into three equal pieces. Pat each piece into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled.
  6. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼” thick.  (You really won’t need much flour.)
  7. Place cut-out cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 F for about 7 minutes.

This lovely dough is a synch to mix and roll:

 Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

Chocolate gingerbread cut-out cookies

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Gingerbread cravings: 18 recipes for gingerbread cakes in a free e-book

Gingerbread cravings - a free e-book featuring 18 recipes for gingerbread cakes and bars

It’s gingerbread season, as good a reason as any to celebrate chilly weather.

Not that I’m celebrating…I always have trouble adjusting to the November cold.

I pull on my long down coat when it’s only -3 outside  and fear I may run away to Spain when January arrives. But then I remember, by then -3 will feel balmy…

18 recipes for gingerbread cakes

In the meantime, I fend off the chill with warm and spicy baking.

Gingerbread in all shapes and sizes is my favourite — It reminds me that there is much to love about November and the Holiday anticipation it brings.

Comforting gingerbread is a welcome treat in our house and we have more than enough recipes to fill a book. In fact, we have updated our Gingerbread e-book with a year’s worth of gingerbread recipes from our recipe blog.

This new version includes 18 recipes for gingerbread cakes and bars plus sweet toppings to dress them up.

Get all the gingerbread recipes you crave in this new, free e-book. Just click to view and download. No e-reader required.

 

Gingerbread cravings - a free e-book featuring 18 recipes for gingerbread cakes and bars

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top left hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

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Sparkly chocolate ginger cookies

I wasn’t intending to write a post today but I can’t resist sharing this recipe that molasses fan Emily sent me yesterday.

It’s for chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies, from the Queen of Cookies herself, Martha Stewart.

I was down to the wire yesterday putting teacher gifts together when this recipe landed in my inbox. I  didn’t get a chance to mix them up until late last night so I cut some corners in the method. (Chill dough for 2 hours? Nix. Form into balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes? Nix). It was 10:00 pm when the flour hit the bowl so as soon as everything was combined they went in the oven. I even managed to stay awake long enough to dip them in melted chocolate.

Sparkly Chocolate ginger cookies

Slightly adapted from www.marthastewart.com

  • ½ cup chocolate chips (the darker the better)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted (for dipping)

Directions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
  3. In another bowl beat butter and grated ginger.
  4. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  5. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water.
  6. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture.
  7. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.
  8. Mix in chocolate
  9. Chill if you have time
  10. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; roll in granulated sugar.
  11. Bake at 325 F until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes.
  12. Cool and dip in melted chocolate.

Makes about 3 dozen

 

Cranberry walnut brittle – the delicious & nutritious in one sweet bite

I have never been much of a candy maker but I love the look of shiny brittle so figured that it’s worth making once a year.

And as far as homemade gifts go it’s pretty spectacular. Glossy and filled to the brim with good stuff, Cranberry Walnut Brittle lets you have the delicious and the nutritious in one sweet bite. Feel free to mix in your favourite nuts and seeds.

I found the original recipe on the food blog Adventures in Cooking. They made it with honey, which I’m sure is delicious too but there is something about molasses that smells and tasts of holiday celebrations and special times spent with family and friends.

Holiday Brittle (Cranberry walnut brittle)

Adapted from www.adventuresincooking.com

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. In a large pot combine the sugars, molasses, water and salt.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over low to medium heat, stirring from time to time.
  3. Using a candy thermometer heat the mixture to 302 F. (On my stove this took close to an hour).
  4. While the sugar mixture is boiling, place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking pan.
  5. Lightly grease the parchment paper.
  6. When the sugar mixture reaches 286 F, quickly remove from heat, stir in the butter and nuts and turn out onto the prepared pan.
  7. Use a rubber spatula to spread as thinly, and evenly as possible. The mixture will start to seize up immediately so you’ll have to work fast!
  8. Cool and break into pieces.

For more Holiday gift ideas check out our Holiday Book, a free e-book full of our favourite Holiday recieps.

This candy is chock full of good stuff!

Five-spice candied nuts – quick to prepare and delicious

Less than a week ’til Christmas. “Homemade gifts in under 20 minutes” sounds good to me…

I’m a sucker for spiced nuts. Ever since my sister started making these years ago I have been eating more than my fair share over the holidays.

They’re sweet, a little spicy and crispy with a light candy coating. They don’t stick in your teeth.

I make them to give as gifts but always make extra so there are left overs for use to nibble. They’re a practical snack to have around the house, store well and have a whiff of healthiness about them.

Better yet, they take almost no time to prepare.

Find this recipe and more in our little Holiday e-book.

Here’s a tip: If Chinese Five Spice powder isn’t your thing try chili powder or your favourite spice blend. And mix up the nuts too. Sometimes I make these just with almonds, or walnuts and sometimes I mix the two and throw in a few pecans.

Five-spice candied nuts

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups mixed nuts (raw)
  1. In a large saucepan or wok, melt butter.
  2. Add sugar, molasses, water, salt and spices. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add nuts to the mixture and cook until syrup thickly coats nuts, stirring frequently (5 minutes or so).
  4. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 F until nuts are lightly toasted and a little crisp (10-15 minutes).

Test while baking to ensure you don’t overcook the nuts and the syrup doesn’t burn.

Nuts about nuts? Try Gingerbread spiced almonds.

What are your favourite homemade gifts to give (or receive)?

Edible gifts – gingerbread biscotti

Gingerbread biscotti

 

Biscotti seem like the ideal cookies to give as a gift. Aside from the fact that they’re beautiful, they’re good and sturdy, remain great for dunking even when they have been around for a while and they aren’t overly sweet so are satisfying in a biscuit sort of way. Plus they’re impressive and that’s a nice touch in a homemade gift.

Don’t let the fact that you bake them three times scare you off. The dough is quick to mix up and the baking steps are simple.

Gingerbread biscotti

I find that biscotti are especially pretty when you leave the nuts in larger pieces. The problem I have though is that they crumble on me when I slice them. That’s why I whirr the nuts into smaller pieces in the food processor. But if you’re good with a knife (and have really sharp knives) you’ll have no trouble at all slicing through the larger chunks of nuts.

 

Gingerbread biscotti

Gingerbread biscotti

Adapted from joyofbaking.com

  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped or whirred in the food processor (can also use pecans or walnuts)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs (large)
  • 1/4 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Glaze:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk or cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, whir ½ cup of the rolled oats until finely ground.
  2. In a large bowl combine the ground oats with the remaining ½ cup of rolled oats, the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices.
  3. In another bowl whisk the eggs, molasses, oil and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well blended.
  5. Add the hazelnuts and dried cranberries.
  6. Divide dough in half and on a lightly floured surface roll each half into a 12” log.
  7. Flatten a bit.
  8. Transfer logs to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
  10. Carefully move logs to a cutting board and cut into ¾ “slices on the diagonal.
  11. Place the slices back on the baking sheet, cut side down.
  12. Bake for 6-8 minutes, flip the slices and bake another 6-8 minutes.
  13. Cool and drizzle with melted white chocolate or glaze (Combine ingredients and drizzle from a spoon.)

 Whirr half of the rolled oats in the food processor until they look like this:

The dough will look very pretty, studded with chopped nuts and dried cranberries.

Roll the dough into logs and space them about this far apart. Flatten them a bit more if you want a longer biscotti.

Once they have baked the first time, slice them on the diagnal, very carefully. If you want a longer biscotti, slice them on more of an angle.

Once they’re sliced, lay them face up on the cookie sheet and bake again. Flip over and bake for the final time.

 

When cooled, drizzel them with white chocolate or a simple glaze.

 

 

Orange spice molasses cookies a homemade gift idea

I love giving delicious gifts. And I like practical gifts too, the sort of thing that’s not going to get tucked in a closet and forgotten about. That’s where homemade edible gifts come in handy. With all of the bustling of the holidays and friends popping over, it’s great to have a sweet treat that’s easy to pull together in a snap.

I’ll fess up — I don’t have great stamina for shopping so it’s easy for me to fall back on homemade gifts. I’d much rather spend the day in the kitchen than the mall, especially when I have cookies like these in the oven. Scented with holiday spices and oprange zest, your house will smell festive and delicious when these orange spice molasses cookies are baking.

If you’re giving a jar of these cookies as a gift, don’t forget to include the full recipe with the instructions.

 

Orange spice molasses cookies

Orange Spice Molasses cookies in a jar

These cookies would be especially good on a snowy afternoon alongside a cup of hot chocolate, or may be a cup of chai tea. Recipe adapted (ever so slightly) from www.best-cookie-jar-recipes.com

Ingredients for Jar:

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Grated zest of one orange (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions for Jar:

  1. Place brown sugar in 1-quart jar and pack down firmly and evenly.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour with baking soda, orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice.
  3. Stir well to mix.
  4. Spoon flour mixture over brown sugar, pressing down with each addition.
  5. Place cranberries over flour mixture and press down to fit all in jar.
  6. Place lid on jar to close.

Ingredients for baking:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Sugar for rolling (optional)*

Instructions for Baking:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Empty contents of jar into large mixing bowl.
  3. Add egg, butter, molasses and vanilla.
  4. Beat on low speed or by hand until dough is thoroughly blended.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Or form into balls and roll in sugar if you prefer more of a crackle top cookie.*
  7. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until set.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Looking for more homemade gift ideas? Try these recipes:

Gingerbread spiced nuts, molasses shortbread, festive gingerbread cut out cookies. All of these recipes are in one place in our new Holiday cookbook that you can download for free!

Ginger shortbread with molasses – a holiday classic with a twist

Molasses ginger shortbread

Ever since I was a kid one of my favourite holiday treats has been my mom’s ginger shortbread squares. Soft, buttery and loaded with candied and ground ginger they are the first thing I look for on a plate of Christmas cookies at my mom’s.

I never believed that they could be improved upon until I came across this recipe for ginger shortbread with molasses. Adding a bit of molasses and a few more spices to a classic shortbread cookie makes them taste unmistakably like Christmas.

And their simplicity stands out amidst all of the over-the-top cookies and squares that are popular at cookie swaps. They may not look as snazzy as say, triple layer marshmallow snicker-doodle squares, but they are distinct in their own quiet way.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Not that a cookie can’t really teach life’s great moral lessons, but I do believe that simplicity is key to the true substance of the holidays.

Ditto for cookies.

As with any shortbread cookie, I prefer to use my hands to pull the dough together after the butter has been cut in. That way the dough doesn’t get over mixed.

Shortbread-cookies-boxed - sm

Ginger shortbread with molasses

Adapted from Threadbare Bakery blog

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, powdered sugar, and spices in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or your fingers, until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. With a fork or your hands mix in the molasses. Knead until mixture forms a ball and divide in half.
  4. Roll ¼ to ½” thick and cut into shapes.
  5. Prick with the tines of a fork, brush with a little milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms just start to turn golden brown (be careful not to overcook)

The dough will look crumbly like this, but keep working it (I use my fingers):

Before you know it your dough will come together, like this:

You can roll it out immediately or pat it into tidy packages and refrigerate: