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How to Dress Up Your Holiday Gingerbread Man

How to Dress Up Your Holiday Gingerbread Man


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Run, run as fast you can — you can’t catch him, he’s the gingerbread man

Emily Jacobs

How would you dress up your gingerbread man? The Daily Meal provides some inspiration.

The gingerbread man has long been a staple of holiday baking traditions. In 1875, the sugary figurine was first introduced to holiday traditions in America through a fairytale published in St. Nicholas magazine, where he was depicted as a sought-after treat that eventually met its demise by way of a hungry fox. Throughout the years, the gingerbread man's taunting phrase about catching him has followed him from holiday table to holiday table, and he remains a hallmark of festive holiday decorations today.

Click here for the How to Dress Up Your Holiday Gingerbread Man slideshow.

Nowadays, the gingerbread man's story is not as damning as it once was, but he still makes a delicious treat at a tree-trimming or holiday party. While his fate remains the same as it did in 1875 (you're not going to be able to resist eating him, after all), decorating him has become one of the most important and fun parts of his tradition.

This year, we’re showing you how to dapper-up your gingerbread man for the holiday. From icing and toppings to themes and design, we’ve come up with some of our favorite ways to decorate a gingerbread man. For the married couple, a gingerbread man would not be complete without his woman, and for the heat-seekers, cinnamon candies make a spicy and colorful way to button up his shirt. We cover these decorations and more for your gingerbread man so that when you finally catch him, he’ll look and taste good.

Gingerbread men are a baking tradition, but if you’re looking for something a little different, yet still with the holiday ginger flavor, try some of these recipes. There are festive recipes like butterscotch gingerbread cookies and a simple, yet flavorful gingerbread cake. There are even a few gingerbread treats for breakfast on Christmas morning, like gingerbread French toast and scones. So, after decorating your gingerbread men, bake some of these holiday treats that use the same warm spices.

This story was originally published on December 18, 2012.


Easy Ways to Dress Up Your Christmas Cookie Recipes

Written by Julia Halewicz

One look at that greasy, crusted-over Christmas cookie recipe and you know it's time to shake things up. With a few small tweaks, you can add some major wow-factor to your dessert presentation without changing too much about some of your favorite Christmas recipes. Choose an icy color palate like mint green and pale blue to dress up your sugar cookies, or pile cookies into a Christmas tree shape for some added wonder on your holiday table. You also can get kids baking with a recipe that calls for using kids' hand prints instead of cookie cutters. A little change in tradition will keep your guests wanting more.

Here are some ways to ramp up your Christmas cookie recipes:

Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Tree

A tower of cookies shaped like a Christmas tree will delight old and young guests alike. Take your favorite Christmas cookie recipe and make an easy change: Instead of one-sized cookie, make three different sizes. Stack them from largest to smallest for a tree-shaped presentation.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Heat oven to 425ºF.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar add vanilla, eggs and cream.
  • Sift in dry ingredients to creamed mixture mix well.
  • Chill dough for 2 hours. On a floured surface, roll out dough.
  • Cut out stars using 3 different sizes of stars (we used 5″, 4″ and 3 1/2″).
  • Using a plastic straw, poke a hole in the center of each cookie.
  • Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6 minutes.
  • Let cookies sit for 24 hours. Decorate with icing.
  • Let sit for another 4 to 8 hours.
  • Using a wooden dowel, place one of the large cookies through the dowel and start stacking. Using the large cookies first, spiral them so the points do not align. Continue to stack largest to smallest.

Making sugar cookies is a no-brainer during the holidays, but a little change in your icing colors can transform your recipe from ordinary to extraordinary. Using icy pastels like mint green and baby blue is a refreshing spin on the classic treat. You can match blue crystals to the icing, decorate with clear crystals, or crush peppermint candy canes for a little contrast. The result is elegant and delicious.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg set aside.
  • Cream shortening and add sugar gradually. Add egg and egg yolk to creamed mixture and beat until fluffy.
  • Combine sour cream, vanilla and lemon extract. Add to creamed mixture. Add dry ingredients that had been set aside.
  • Chill for 1/2 hour.
  • Roll out onto slightly floured board.
  • Cut with cookie cutter. Brush with unbeaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake at 400ºF for 8 minutes (depending on thickness of cookies).
  • Cool and ice with frosting.

Peppermint Twirls

For another twist on the classic sugar cookie, create a pinwheel effect with peppermint flavoring.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chopped peppermint candies.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Beat together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add eggs. Add flour.
  • Divide dough in half. Add peppermint flavoring and red food coloring to one half.
  • Divide each segment of dough in half so you have two red doughs and two plain.
  • Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into an oval. Place a red rope and a plain rope on top of one another.
  • Starting at one side of the oval, roll dough together so it forms a long pinwheel. Repeat with other two sections of dough.
  • Using a knife dipped in flour, cut dough into slices, forming circles.
  • Roll edges of circles in chopped peppermint candy pieces.
  • Place on greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 10 minutes.

Sleigh Ride Cookies

These no-cook cookies are an adorable way to serve up some Christmas cheer. Use them as a centerpiece on the table next to a gingerbread house—if the kids can resist them!

  • 2 red string licorice sticks
  • 1 graham cracker
  • 2 candy canes
  • 20 pieces of small candies, such as jelly beans
  • 2 tablespoons white icing
  • Toy dog figurine
  • Ice the length of the two candy canes and place a large graham cracker on both to make sleigh bottom and let dry to harden.
  • Add icing to sides of sleigh let harden.
  • Place icing on sleigh and pile candy assortment on top of sleigh.
  • Tie licorice to look like ropes from sleigh onto toy dog. Add cotton candy snow around sleigh.

Little Hands Christmas Cookies

Tracings of your kids' hands always pull at the heart strings. Share the joy by making cookies using their hand prints instead of cookie cutters. Grandparents will eat them up.

  • 1 package (2 sheets) prepared cookie dough sheets
  • 8 ounces (1/2 container) prepared frosting
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles food coloring.
  • Remove cookie dough from the package and place on cutting board or clean flat surface.
  • Position child's hand on the dough and trace around hand and fingers with a table knife.
  • Gently remove the cut-out cookie "hand," being careful not to tear it. (If desired, you may also wish to poke a small hole near the base of the palm for hanging as an ornament on the tree with a thin ribbon. Cut the hole before baking.)
  • Place cookie hands on a cookie sheet at least an inch apart and bake according to package directions.
  • Allow to cool on a baking rack.
  • If desired, ice cookies using a prepared frosting, and add sprinkles.

Eggnog Bars

Cookie bars are a favorite for kids and this version incorporates eggnog, which adds a creamy custard layer.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/14 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Line bottom and sides of a square baking pan with foil.
  • Mix together flour, sugar and butter. Press into bottom of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.
  • Beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and golden. Add cream, flavoring, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg mix thoroughly. Pour over baked layer.
  • Return to oven and bake for 50 minutes.
  • Test custard by inserting a knife in the center if it comes out clean, custard is set.
  • Let cool, then sprinkle with additional nutmeg and remove foil. Cut into bars. Refrigerate until serving.

German Sugar Cookies

Gold-dipped German sugar cookies add some sparkle to your holiday table.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Mix vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest and butter together. Add eggs and blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 9-11 minutes.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere.


50 Gingerbread Treats

Pictured above clockwise: Gingerbread Pudding (No. 33), Gingerbread Eggnog (No. 14), Gingerbread Cheesecake Tart (No. 26), Gingerbread Baklava Bites (No. 28), Gingerbread Blondies (No. 21), Gingerbread Peanut Brittle (No. 45)

Pictured above clockwise: Gingerbread Pudding (No. 33), Gingerbread Eggnog (No. 14), Gingerbread Cheesecake Tart (No. 26), Gingerbread Baklava Bites (No. 28), Gingerbread Blondies (No. 21), Gingerbread Peanut Brittle (No. 45)

Gingerbread Spice: Mix 2 tablespoons each ground ginger and cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and finely ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. (Makes about 5 tablespoons.)

1. Gingerbread Scones Pulse 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon gingerbread spice, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Pulse in 1 stick diced cold butter. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots and pulse until just combined. Pat into an 8-inch round on a floured surface cut into 6 wedges and brush with a mixture of 1 tablespoon each molasses and buttermilk. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 425 degrees F until golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Gingerbread Granola Whisk 1/3 cup each maple syrup and melted coconut oil with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir in 2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup each sweetened shredded coconut and crushed hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon gingerbread spice and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet bake at 325 degrees F, stirring halfway through, until toasted, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in 1/3 cup each white chocolate chips and dried cherries. (Makes about 5 cups.)

3. Mini Gingerbread-Banana Muffins Whisk 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 eggs, 1 stick melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup each sour cream, raisins and mashed ripe bananas and 1 teaspoon vanilla whisk into the flour mixture. Divide among 36 lined mini-muffin cups sprinkle with chopped candied ginger. Bake at 350 degrees F, 12 to 15 minutes.

4. Gingerbread-Banana Pancakes Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup milk with 1 egg, 1 mashed ripe banana and 4 tablespoons melted butter whisk into the flour mixture. Cook 1/4 cupfuls in a hot buttered skillet until golden brown. (Makes about 12.)

5. Gingerbread French Toast Sticks Cut 4 thick slices challah bread into 1 1/2-inch sticks. Whisk 1 cup half-and-half, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons each gingerbread spice and vanilla and a pinch of salt. Add the bread soak 30 seconds. Remove and cook in a hot buttered skillet until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

6. Bruleed Gingerbread Grapefruit Combine 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar and 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice sprinkle on 2 halved grapefruits. Broil until the sugar is lightly browned and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.

7. Gingerbread Candied Bacon Put a rack on each of 2 baking sheets arrange 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon slices on each rack. Bake at 375 degrees F until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Microwave 1/2 cup brown sugar with 2 teaspoons water until melted, 1 minute stir until smooth. Brush on the bacon sprinkle with 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice and 1 teaspoon hot paprika. Bake until browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

8. Gingerbread Toast Mix 2 teaspoons sugar with 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice. Sprinkle on 1 slice hot buttered toast.

9. Gingerbread Cream Cheese Beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/4 cup each chopped walnuts and dried cranberries, 2 tablespoons each maple syrup and chopped crystallized ginger and 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice.

10. Gingerbread Danishes Make Gingerbread Cream Cheese (No. 9), omitting the nuts and cranberries mix with 2 egg yolks. Roll out 1 sheet thawed frozen puff pastry into a 12-inch square on a floured surface cut into 4 squares. Dollop each with 1/3 cup of the gingerbread cream cheese. Fold the corners into the center to meet brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 20 minutes.

Insert and Spread_ 50 Gingerbread Treats

Gingerbread Coffee Cake (No. 11)

Gingerbread Coffee Cake (No. 11)

11. Gingerbread Coffee Cake Beat 1 1/4 sticks softened butter and 1 cup granulated sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons each molasses and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and salt beat into the butter mixture in batches, alternating with 1 cup sour cream. Pour into a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Mix 3/4 cup flour with 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice and a pinch of salt work in 5 tablespoons cubed cold butter. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool.

12. Gingerbread Fruit Smoothie Puree 3/4 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup each frozen cubed mango and pineapple, 1/2 frozen sliced banana, 2 gingersnaps and 1 teaspoon each molasses and honey in a blender.

13. Gingerbread Hot Chocolate Heat 2 cups milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon each gingerbread spice and molasses in a saucepan, whisking occasionally, until steaming. Whisk in 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate until melted. (Serves 2.)

14. Gingerbread Eggnog Whisk 6 egg yolks with 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Heat 3 cups milk, 1 cup heavy cream and 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Whisk half of the hot milk into the eggs, then whisk the mixture back into the pan. Continue to cook, whisking, until thickened, 10 minutes (do not boil). Chill. Add rum if desired. Serve drizzled with molasses. (Serves 6 to 8.)

15. Gingerbread Pumpkin Lattes Whisk 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon each gingerbread spice and vanilla in a saucepan. Whisk in 2 1/4 cups milk and 1/4 cup espresso. Bring to a simmer. Serve topped with whipped cream and more gingerbread spice. (Serves 2.)

16. Gingerbread Soda Simmer 2 cups water, 1/2 cup each granulated and dark brown sugar, 1 cup sliced fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, 12 allspice berries and 3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns until syrupy, 25 minutes. Cool, then strain. For each drink, mix 2 to 4 tablespoons of the syrup with 1 cup cold seltzer in an ice-filled glass. (Makes 1 1/4 cups syrup.)

17. Gingerbread Lemonade Make the syrup for gingerbread soda (No. 16). For each drink, mix 1/4 cup each syrup and lemon juice in an ice-filled glass. Add 1/2 cup cold seltzer.

18. Gingerbread Manhattan Make the syrup for Gingerbread Soda (No. 16). Mix 1/2 cup rye whiskey, 1/4 cup of the syrup and 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into 2 martini glasses and add a few dashes of orange bitters.

Insert and Spread_ 50 Gingerbread Treats

Gingerbread Sweet Rolls (No. 19)

Gingerbread Sweet Rolls (No. 19)

19. Gingerbread Sweet Rolls Unroll one 11-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons each gingerbread spice and sugar. Reroll and slice crosswise into 7 pieces. Arrange in a buttered 9-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden, about 18 minutes. Whisk 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar with 2 teaspoons each molasses and water drizzle over the warm rolls.

20. Gingerbread Palmiers Pulse 1 gingersnap, 1 egg yolk, 4 tablespoons diced butter, 2 tablespoons each unsweetened cocoa powder and granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice in a food processor until a smooth paste forms spread on a sheet of thawed frozen puff pastry. Fold in 2 opposite sides to meet in the middle fold into the middle again. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 425 degrees F until golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

21. Gingerbread Blondies Melt 2 sticks butter let cool slightly. Whisk in 2 cups dark brown sugar, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon each gingerbread spice and vanilla. Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Stir in 1 cup chopped pecans. Spread in an oiled foil-lined 9-by-13-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool.

22. Gingerbread Chocolate-Toffee Cookies Whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice and 1 teaspoon each baking soda and kosher salt. Beat 2 sticks room-temperature butter with 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons each vanilla and molasses. Beat in the flour mixture, then stir in 2 cups chocolate chips and 1/2 cup toffee chips. Roll into large balls (about 24). Arrange 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool.

23. Shortcut Gingersnap Cookies Beat one 16.5-ounce tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough with 1/3 cup molasses, 1/4 cup flour and 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice. Drop tablespoonfuls (about 24) 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F until just set around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool.

24. Gingerbread Cake Whisk 1 cup each molasses, sugar and vegetable oil with 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger. Dissolve 2 teaspoons baking soda in 1 cup boiling water add to the molasses mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour with 1 teaspoon each gingerbread spice and salt whisk into the molasses mixture, then whisk in 2 lightly beaten eggs. Pour into a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F until the top springs back when lightly pressed, about 40 minutes. Cool.

25. Persimmon and Gingerbread Trifle Make Gingerbread Cake (No. 24) cut one-third into 1 1/2 -inch chunks (6 cups). Mix 1/3 cup ginger preserves with 2 tablespoons hot water toss with 3 chopped ripe persimmons. Place half of the cubed cake in a trifle dish, then top with 1 cup prepared vanilla pudding, 1/4 teaspoon gingerbread spice and half of the persimmons repeat the layers. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream.

26. Gingerbread Cheesecake Tart Mix 1 1/2 cups finely ground almond biscotti, 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice. Press into the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch tart pan. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 10 to 15 minutes cool. Beat 8 ounces cream cheese with 3/4 cup speculoos (cookie butter) and 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice with a mixer until fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form fold into the cream cheese mixture. Spread in the crust refrigerate until firm. Sprinkle with more gingerbread spice.

27. Chocolate-Gingerbread Macaroons Whisk 3 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Fold in one 14-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut. Scoop tablespoonfuls (about 30) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool.

28. Gingerbread Baklava Bites Bake 15 mini phyllo cups as the label directs cool. Toast 1/4 cup each finely chopped almonds and walnuts in 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons each water and honey, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 1/2 teaspoons gingerbread spice and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes spoon into the phyllo cups. Cool.

29. Cranberry-Gingerbread Quick Bread Whisk 1/2 cup each vegetable oil and sour cream with 1/4 cup molasses and 2 eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon gingerbread spice, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Pour into a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 minutes. Cool.

30. Gingerbread Apple Crisp Toss 6 chopped peeled Golden Delicious apples with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon each flour and gingerbread spice spread in a buttered 2-quart baking dish. Mix 1 1/4 cups flour with 3/4 cup each oats and brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and gingerbread spice. Work in 2 sticks room-temperature butter until crumbly scatter over the apples. Bake at 350 degrees F until browned and bubbling, about 45 minutes.

31. Mini Gingerbread Cherry Pies Mix 1 cup ground speculoos cookies (Biscoff) with 4 tablespoons melted butter and 2 teaspoons each gingerbread spice and sugar. Press into the bottoms and up the sides of 6 buttered muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees F until set, 10 minutes cool. Simmer 1 cup drained jarred sour cherries, 1/3 cup juice from the jar, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in a saucepan until thick, 5 minutes spoon into the crusts. Cool.

32. Gingerbread Bread Pudding Quarter 8 croissants and drizzle with 4 tablespoons melted butter on a baking sheet. Toast at 350 degrees F, 10 minutes transfer to a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Whisk 6 eggs, 4 cups half-and-half, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon gingerbread spice, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt pour over the croissants. Cover bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden and set, 15 minutes. Cool.

33. Gingerbread Pudding Whisk 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in 2 1/4 cups whole milk and 3 egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon each vanilla and molasses. Divide among small bowls. Chill. Top with whipped cream and crushed gingersnap cookies.

34. Gingerbread-Banana Parfaits Make Gingerbread Pudding (No. 33) layer in glasses with sliced bananas, whipped cream and crushed gingersnap cookies.

35. Gingerbread Rice Pudding Combine 1 1/2 cups each cooked rice and half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon each gingerbread spice and vanilla. Cook, stirring, until warm (do not boil). Let cool slightly. Chill.

36. Gingerbread-Raisin Rice Pudding Make Gingerbread Rice Pudding (No. 35), adding 1 teaspoon orange blossom water and 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom with the vanilla. Top with chopped pistachios and golden raisins.

37. Gingerbread S’mores Top 4 gingersnap cookies with 1 marshmallow each top 4 more cookies with 1 chocolate square each. Broil on a baking sheet until the marshmallows start browning. Sandwich together.

38. Gingerbread Applesauce Combine 1 pound each chopped peeled apples and pears, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons gingerbread spice and the juice of 1/2 lemon in a saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer until soft and thickened, about 20 minutes. Puree until smooth.

39. Gingerbread-Lemon Crepes Brush melted butter on 4 store-bought crepes spread with lemon curd and sprinkle with gingerbread spice. Fold into wedges. Heat 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon gingerbread spice in a large nonstick skillet. Add the crepes and cook, turning once, until lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Top with whipped cream and more gingerbread spice.

40. Gingerbread-Rum Icebox Cake Beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold in 2 tablespoons dark rum and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread 1 heaping teaspoon on each of 24 gingersnap cookies, pressing the cookies together on their sides as you go to make a log. Cover with the remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

41. Gingerbread Sundae Syrup Heat 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, 1/3 cup molasses, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, allspice and ginger in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until smooth. Cool slightly. Serve over ice cream.

42. Gingerbread Ice Cream Spoon 1/2 cup speculoos (cookie butter) in small scoops over 1 pint softened gingersnap or ginger-molasses ice cream in a large bowl. Freeze 20 minutes gently fold to combine. Drizzle 1/4 cup caramel sauce and 2 tablespoons molasses over the ice cream. Freeze about 20 more minutes. Stir once or twice, then freeze again until firm.

43. Gingerbread Truffles Bring 1/3 cup heavy cream and 2 teaspoons gingerbread spice to a simmer in a saucepan. Pour over 6 ounces finely chopped milk chocolate let melt, 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 6 hours. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls (about 12) roll in crushed gingersnap cookies.

44. Gingerbread Phyllo Pouches Make Gingerbread Truffles (No. 43) freeze until firm after rolling in the gingersnaps. Generously brush 1 thawed frozen phyllo sheet with melted butter sprinkle with sugar and gingerbread spice. Repeat with 2 more phyllo sheets, stacking as you go. Cut into 6 squares and press each into a muffin cup. Add 1 truffle to each and gather the phyllo together to enclose the truffle brush with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees F until golden, 10 minutes dust with confectioners’ sugar.

45. Gingerbread Peanut Brittle Bring 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 cup water and 3/4 cup dark corn syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Cook until a candy thermometer registers 260 degrees F. Stir in 2 cups salted peanuts and 1 tablespoon butter. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the thermometer registers 300 degrees F. Stir in 2 teaspoons each baking soda and gingerbread spice. Pour onto a buttered baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Let cool completely, then break into pieces.

46. Gingerbread White Chocolate Bark Chop 1 pound white chocolate melt all but 1 cup in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining 1 cup chocolate until melted. Spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with foil, shiny-side up sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. Let set break into pieces.

47. Gingerbread-Bacon Spiced Nuts Whisk 1 egg white with 2 tablespoons each brown sugar and maple syrup, 2 teaspoons each gingerbread spice and chili powder and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Add 2 cups unsalted mixed nuts and 4 slices chopped cooked bacon toss. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 325 degrees F, stirring twice, until dry and golden, about 30 minutes.


Recipe Summary

  • Cookies:
  • 11 ¼ ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup golden cane syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • Icing:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 2% reduced-fat milk

To prepare cookies, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups level with a knife. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, stirring mixture well with a whisk.

Place brown sugar and butter in a bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add cane syrup, molasses, and egg beat 1 minute or until well combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed 1 minute or until just combined. Gently press mixture into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each dough portion to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface cut with 5-inch cutters to form 26 cookies. (Reroll scraps, as necessary.) Place cookies 1 inch apart on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar and milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Spoon icing into a small zip-top plastic bag. Snip a tiny hole off one corner of the bag. Pipe icing onto cookies as desired.


Gingerbread Man Cookies

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and molasses beat until combined. Add vinegar and egg beat well. Add flour mixture beat at low speed until just combined. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Cover and chill the dough for 2 hours or until easy to handle.

On a well-floured surface, roll one-quarter of the dough at a time to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into shapes using a 3-1/2- to 4-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter (is necessary, dip cutter in flour between cuts to prevent sticking). Using a wide spatula, transfer cutouts to lightly greased cookie sheets or parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, placing cutouts 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until edges are firm when lightly touched. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Remove the cookies and cool completely on a wire rack.

If you like, decorate with Powdered Sugar Icing or Royal Icing, colored sugars and decorative candies or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 30 cookies.

While still warm, make a small hole in top of the cookie for a satin ribbon to use as an ornament.


Chocolate Gingerbread men

But we did because it was the best time that worked for us so we didn’t have to wait until the new year.  I am putting an office/craft room in our dining room since we rarely use that room and it is some prime real estate.  So we have been crazy busy in addition to all the Christmas business.  But I am really excited!  I will share some pictures here soon.

So…Christmas baking has not been happening around here.  As soon as we got most of the house put back together I knew I needed to get my bake on.  The first thing I made were these DELICIOUS Chocolate Gingerbread Men.  I have been wanting to try a chocolate gingerbread recipe since last year seeing as how I have an addiction to gingerbread this time of year…and you can never have enough chocolate.  And, I have to say…I really enjoyed these…maybe a little too much…!!

I used a recipe I found from Ghirardelli.

Chocolate Gingerbread Men

Recipe from Ghirardelli.com

Ingredients:

2 ounces Semi-Sweet Baking Bar

1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons ground ginger

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the molasses, egg, and melted chocolate and continue beating on medium speed for an additional 2 minutes. On low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Transfer the dough to a flat surface and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least hour, or up to 5 days.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the chilled dough into four equal quarters, leaving three quarters in the refrigerator. Lightly flour a flat work surface and roll out one piece of dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Using a small (2 to 2 1/2 –inch) gingerbread man or woman cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as possible. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Gather all the dough scraps into a ball and place in the refrigerator. Take out another quarter of the dough, and continue rolling out the dough and cutting cookies until all the dough has been used. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly raised. Using a spatula, remove the cookies from the cookie sheets, transferring to a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are so full of flavor and I like how they had just a nice amount of softness and chewiness to them.  No need to add a lot of extra frosting to them.  Just a few buttons to dress him up a bit should do the trick.  Plus…it is a lot faster that way.

Take these to your next holiday party or gobble them up with a tall glass of cold milk.

And can you even believe that there are only 6 more sleeps till Christmas? I have a few last minute items to finish up this week and then should be ready to celebrate!  I LOVE this time of year!  Now we just need it to snow!

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Amy Huntley is the owner/author of The Idea Room. A mother of five, who enjoys sharing her love of all things creative in hopes of inspiring other women and families. Never miss a creative idea that she shares by connecting with her here, or read more of her posts.

Comments

Oh my! Thank you for the recipe! I can’t wait to try this and I have been looking for the “perfect” gingerbread recipe.

By the way, I once again gave away monogrammed soap bottles from you blog last year. It was a huge hit last year with our family members, friends, and my son’s teachers. I gave away more this year to our daughter’s teachers and my son’s new teacher this year and they LOVED them! They kept raving about how neat the bottles were and couldn’t believe that I made them! Thank you for the tips.

I am so glad to hear that. They are so easy to make but make a great and practical gift. So glad your friends and everyone loved them :) I am also glad you took the time to come here and let me know! Have a great holiday season!

Yum. These look amazing. Can’t wait to try.

Thanks Carol! I hope you can make them and enjoy them too! Thanks for the comment.

What a great recipe….these images are so gorgeous! Happy Holidays.

These look delish! Could you use semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of the baking bar? That’s all I have and I want to save a trip to the store.

I’m making these right now! they look delicious and like the perfect cookie to leave for santa. they are chilling in the fridge– but i’m worried that i made them wrong. my dough is REALLY dry. i hope that after they chill, i will be able to cut out shapes… cross your fingers for me :)

Made these. Great flavor.
Dough was a little crumbly and took patience to roll out.


Easy Ways to Dress Up Your Christmas Cookie Recipes

Written by Julia Halewicz

One look at that greasy, crusted-over Christmas cookie recipe and you know it's time to shake things up. With a few small tweaks, you can add some major wow-factor to your dessert presentation without changing too much about some of your favorite Christmas recipes. Choose an icy color palate like mint green and pale blue to dress up your sugar cookies, or pile cookies into a Christmas tree shape for some added wonder on your holiday table. You also can get kids baking with a recipe that calls for using kids' hand prints instead of cookie cutters. A little change in tradition will keep your guests wanting more.

Here are some ways to ramp up your Christmas cookie recipes:

Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Tree

A tower of cookies shaped like a Christmas tree will delight old and young guests alike. Take your favorite Christmas cookie recipe and make an easy change: Instead of one-sized cookie, make three different sizes. Stack them from largest to smallest for a tree-shaped presentation.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Heat oven to 425ºF.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar add vanilla, eggs and cream.
  • Sift in dry ingredients to creamed mixture mix well.
  • Chill dough for 2 hours. On a floured surface, roll out dough.
  • Cut out stars using 3 different sizes of stars (we used 5″, 4″ and 3 1/2″).
  • Using a plastic straw, poke a hole in the center of each cookie.
  • Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6 minutes.
  • Let cookies sit for 24 hours. Decorate with icing.
  • Let sit for another 4 to 8 hours.
  • Using a wooden dowel, place one of the large cookies through the dowel and start stacking. Using the large cookies first, spiral them so the points do not align. Continue to stack largest to smallest.

Making sugar cookies is a no-brainer during the holidays, but a little change in your icing colors can transform your recipe from ordinary to extraordinary. Using icy pastels like mint green and baby blue is a refreshing spin on the classic treat. You can match blue crystals to the icing, decorate with clear crystals, or crush peppermint candy canes for a little contrast. The result is elegant and delicious.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg set aside.
  • Cream shortening and add sugar gradually. Add egg and egg yolk to creamed mixture and beat until fluffy.
  • Combine sour cream, vanilla and lemon extract. Add to creamed mixture. Add dry ingredients that had been set aside.
  • Chill for 1/2 hour.
  • Roll out onto slightly floured board.
  • Cut with cookie cutter. Brush with unbeaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake at 400ºF for 8 minutes (depending on thickness of cookies).
  • Cool and ice with frosting.

Peppermint Twirls

For another twist on the classic sugar cookie, create a pinwheel effect with peppermint flavoring.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chopped peppermint candies.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Beat together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add eggs. Add flour.
  • Divide dough in half. Add peppermint flavoring and red food coloring to one half.
  • Divide each segment of dough in half so you have two red doughs and two plain.
  • Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into an oval. Place a red rope and a plain rope on top of one another.
  • Starting at one side of the oval, roll dough together so it forms a long pinwheel. Repeat with other two sections of dough.
  • Using a knife dipped in flour, cut dough into slices, forming circles.
  • Roll edges of circles in chopped peppermint candy pieces.
  • Place on greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 10 minutes.

Sleigh Ride Cookies

These no-cook cookies are an adorable way to serve up some Christmas cheer. Use them as a centerpiece on the table next to a gingerbread house—if the kids can resist them!

  • 2 red string licorice sticks
  • 1 graham cracker
  • 2 candy canes
  • 20 pieces of small candies, such as jelly beans
  • 2 tablespoons white icing
  • Toy dog figurine
  • Ice the length of the two candy canes and place a large graham cracker on both to make sleigh bottom and let dry to harden.
  • Add icing to sides of sleigh let harden.
  • Place icing on sleigh and pile candy assortment on top of sleigh.
  • Tie licorice to look like ropes from sleigh onto toy dog. Add cotton candy snow around sleigh.

Little Hands Christmas Cookies

Tracings of your kids' hands always pull at the heart strings. Share the joy by making cookies using their hand prints instead of cookie cutters. Grandparents will eat them up.

  • 1 package (2 sheets) prepared cookie dough sheets
  • 8 ounces (1/2 container) prepared frosting
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles food coloring.
  • Remove cookie dough from the package and place on cutting board or clean flat surface.
  • Position child's hand on the dough and trace around hand and fingers with a table knife.
  • Gently remove the cut-out cookie "hand," being careful not to tear it. (If desired, you may also wish to poke a small hole near the base of the palm for hanging as an ornament on the tree with a thin ribbon. Cut the hole before baking.)
  • Place cookie hands on a cookie sheet at least an inch apart and bake according to package directions.
  • Allow to cool on a baking rack.
  • If desired, ice cookies using a prepared frosting, and add sprinkles.

Eggnog Bars

Cookie bars are a favorite for kids and this version incorporates eggnog, which adds a creamy custard layer.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/14 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Line bottom and sides of a square baking pan with foil.
  • Mix together flour, sugar and butter. Press into bottom of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.
  • Beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and golden. Add cream, flavoring, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg mix thoroughly. Pour over baked layer.
  • Return to oven and bake for 50 minutes.
  • Test custard by inserting a knife in the center if it comes out clean, custard is set.
  • Let cool, then sprinkle with additional nutmeg and remove foil. Cut into bars. Refrigerate until serving.

German Sugar Cookies

Gold-dipped German sugar cookies add some sparkle to your holiday table.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Mix vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest and butter together. Add eggs and blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 9-11 minutes.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere.


Easy Ways to Dress Up Your Christmas Cookie Recipes

Written by Julia Halewicz

One look at that greasy, crusted-over Christmas cookie recipe and you know it's time to shake things up. With a few small tweaks, you can add some major wow-factor to your dessert presentation without changing too much about some of your favorite Christmas recipes. Choose an icy color palate like mint green and pale blue to dress up your sugar cookies, or pile cookies into a Christmas tree shape for some added wonder on your holiday table. You also can get kids baking with a recipe that calls for using kids' hand prints instead of cookie cutters. A little change in tradition will keep your guests wanting more.

Here are some ways to ramp up your Christmas cookie recipes:

Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Tree

A tower of cookies shaped like a Christmas tree will delight old and young guests alike. Take your favorite Christmas cookie recipe and make an easy change: Instead of one-sized cookie, make three different sizes. Stack them from largest to smallest for a tree-shaped presentation.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Heat oven to 425ºF.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar add vanilla, eggs and cream.
  • Sift in dry ingredients to creamed mixture mix well.
  • Chill dough for 2 hours. On a floured surface, roll out dough.
  • Cut out stars using 3 different sizes of stars (we used 5″, 4″ and 3 1/2″).
  • Using a plastic straw, poke a hole in the center of each cookie.
  • Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 6 minutes.
  • Let cookies sit for 24 hours. Decorate with icing.
  • Let sit for another 4 to 8 hours.
  • Using a wooden dowel, place one of the large cookies through the dowel and start stacking. Using the large cookies first, spiral them so the points do not align. Continue to stack largest to smallest.

Making sugar cookies is a no-brainer during the holidays, but a little change in your icing colors can transform your recipe from ordinary to extraordinary. Using icy pastels like mint green and baby blue is a refreshing spin on the classic treat. You can match blue crystals to the icing, decorate with clear crystals, or crush peppermint candy canes for a little contrast. The result is elegant and delicious.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk (reserve egg white)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg set aside.
  • Cream shortening and add sugar gradually. Add egg and egg yolk to creamed mixture and beat until fluffy.
  • Combine sour cream, vanilla and lemon extract. Add to creamed mixture. Add dry ingredients that had been set aside.
  • Chill for 1/2 hour.
  • Roll out onto slightly floured board.
  • Cut with cookie cutter. Brush with unbeaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake at 400ºF for 8 minutes (depending on thickness of cookies).
  • Cool and ice with frosting.

Peppermint Twirls

For another twist on the classic sugar cookie, create a pinwheel effect with peppermint flavoring.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chopped peppermint candies.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Beat together butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add eggs. Add flour.
  • Divide dough in half. Add peppermint flavoring and red food coloring to one half.
  • Divide each segment of dough in half so you have two red doughs and two plain.
  • Using a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into an oval. Place a red rope and a plain rope on top of one another.
  • Starting at one side of the oval, roll dough together so it forms a long pinwheel. Repeat with other two sections of dough.
  • Using a knife dipped in flour, cut dough into slices, forming circles.
  • Roll edges of circles in chopped peppermint candy pieces.
  • Place on greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake about 10 minutes.

Sleigh Ride Cookies

These no-cook cookies are an adorable way to serve up some Christmas cheer. Use them as a centerpiece on the table next to a gingerbread house—if the kids can resist them!

  • 2 red string licorice sticks
  • 1 graham cracker
  • 2 candy canes
  • 20 pieces of small candies, such as jelly beans
  • 2 tablespoons white icing
  • Toy dog figurine
  • Ice the length of the two candy canes and place a large graham cracker on both to make sleigh bottom and let dry to harden.
  • Add icing to sides of sleigh let harden.
  • Place icing on sleigh and pile candy assortment on top of sleigh.
  • Tie licorice to look like ropes from sleigh onto toy dog. Add cotton candy snow around sleigh.

Little Hands Christmas Cookies

Tracings of your kids' hands always pull at the heart strings. Share the joy by making cookies using their hand prints instead of cookie cutters. Grandparents will eat them up.

  • 1 package (2 sheets) prepared cookie dough sheets
  • 8 ounces (1/2 container) prepared frosting
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles food coloring.
  • Remove cookie dough from the package and place on cutting board or clean flat surface.
  • Position child's hand on the dough and trace around hand and fingers with a table knife.
  • Gently remove the cut-out cookie "hand," being careful not to tear it. (If desired, you may also wish to poke a small hole near the base of the palm for hanging as an ornament on the tree with a thin ribbon. Cut the hole before baking.)
  • Place cookie hands on a cookie sheet at least an inch apart and bake according to package directions.
  • Allow to cool on a baking rack.
  • If desired, ice cookies using a prepared frosting, and add sprinkles.

Eggnog Bars

Cookie bars are a favorite for kids and this version incorporates eggnog, which adds a creamy custard layer.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/14 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Line bottom and sides of a square baking pan with foil.
  • Mix together flour, sugar and butter. Press into bottom of foil and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.
  • Beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until thick and golden. Add cream, flavoring, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg mix thoroughly. Pour over baked layer.
  • Return to oven and bake for 50 minutes.
  • Test custard by inserting a knife in the center if it comes out clean, custard is set.
  • Let cool, then sprinkle with additional nutmeg and remove foil. Cut into bars. Refrigerate until serving.

German Sugar Cookies

Gold-dipped German sugar cookies add some sparkle to your holiday table.

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Mix vanilla, brown sugar, orange zest and butter together. Add eggs and blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 9-11 minutes.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere.


Why Cheesecake Is the Perfect Christmas Dessert

At Christmas time, there are cookies galore, but true dessert lovers still crave something more substantial after a festive meal. Pie can seem pass é post-Thanksgiving, and while snowy Christmas Coconut Cake is a great option, it’s a little bit labor-intensive and is best made no more than three days ahead, if that. Homemade truffles are wonderful, but still seem a little snacky compared to a true dessert course. Cue cheesecake—it can be made up to half a year ahead and frozen in the interim (although you’d probably prefer not to plan quite that far in advance), and it’s eminently adaptable to holiday flavors, making it a perfect Christmas (or Hanukkah!) dessert.

Cheesecake is also, of course, delicious: sweet and tangy, rich and creamy, fluffy and smooth. There are lots of different styles to suit you, including super easy no-bake options. It’s perfect plain, but its simplicity can serve as a sort of blank canvas for your holiday decorating ideas, if you enjoy expressing your inner Martha Stewart. And no matter what kind you make, if you’re too full to eat more than a tiny sliver after dinner, cheesecake keeps like a champ in the fridge for about a week, assuming it lasts that long.

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First Things First: What Kind of Cheesecake Should You Make?

You’ve no doubt heard of New York style cheesecake, but maybe you’re not sure how it’s different from regular cheesecake. And what about no-bake? Or cotton cheesecake? We’ve covered the most noteworthy types of cheesecake to choose from.

Now How Do You Make It More Festive?

No matter which kind of cheesecake you choose, there are lots of easy ways to make even a basic recipe a bit more glitzy and holiday-appropriate, or to change the flavor profile so it’s more wintry.

Finesse the Filling

Add seasonal flavor in the form of extracts peppermint is the obvious choice to sub in for the usual vanilla extract. Straight-up eggnog makes another great wintertime addition to cheesecake. For very merry flavor and appearance, you could swirl a homemade cranberry sauce throughout the filling, or if you’re not averse to more texture, mix in crushed candy canes or even brandy-soaked fruit. Conversely, if you want a super-smooth and classically flavored cake with a bit more visual pop, use a little food coloring to give it holiday cheer.

Change Up the Crust

Swap out the usual graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs in the crust for crushed gingersnaps, Biscoff cookies, sugar cookies, Oreos, shortbread, or snickerdoodles. A peanut butter cookie crust would be great for a chocolate cheesecake. If you’re making a no-bake cheesecake, you can opt for more delicate cookies like coconut macaroons or ladyfingers—which also happen to be good choices if you’re celebrating Hanukkah and keeping kosher. Pulverized nuts like almonds, pecans, and pistachios make great crunchy bottom layers if you’re gluten-free. If not, and you want something chewier, try gingerbread or brownies.

Decorate for Christmas (or Hanukkah, or Winter in General)

This is where you can really get creative, whether you want to transform the entire cake or just add a little sophisticated touch of holiday flair. You can do something as low-key as placing a few artfully arranged holly sprigs on top (à la Christmas pudding), scattering some crushed pistachios and dried cranberries around the perimeter, or get way more elaborate. There are lots of great ideas below, but if you get a bit antsy when it comes to making things perfect and pretty, you could just embrace the ugly Christmas sweater aesthetic (à la this Ugly Sweater Cake) and arrange all sorts of cookies and candy on top of your cheesecake, the brighter the better. Think rows of gumdrops and teddy bear graham crackers and candy canes and those red-and-white-striped Hershey kisses and…well, you get the idea. If you’re celebrating Hanukkah and aren’t up for frying dessert, you can still take inspiration from sufganiyot: make a New York style cheesecake with a doughnut crust and fruit jam topping. Or make a chocolate cheesecake, cover the entire thing with edible gold luster spray, and say it’s a giant piece of gelt!

Honestly, your options are almost limitless, but check out these holiday cheesecake recipes for more inspiration.

If you can’t choose between red and green, divide the filling and mix each color into separate portions, then swirl ’em together use a few more drops for more intense shades, and feel free to use whatever crust you like. (If you go with a Japanese cheesecake, you can tint it green—maybe even with matcha—and bake it in a Bundt pan for an edible Christmas wreath! Unfortunately, that won’t generally work so well for other styles, although they they do exist.) Get the Christmas Swirl Cheesecake recipe.

Cheesecake bars require careful cutting if you want perfect squares—while it might seem obvious and/or too fastidious, you can literally use a ruler to measure them out and lightly score where-to-cut marks with a small paring knife before breaking out the big blade (running said blade under hot water for a few seconds also helps with clean, even slices). As for decorating them, just use icing, melted chocolate, or candy melts to pipe a couple lines (one horizontal, one vertical) and a little bow on each, and voila, they’re miniature gift boxes to present to your guests! Christmas sprinkles optional. Get the Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars recipe.

Gingerbread is a classic Christmas flavor—and this cheesecake incorporates it in the crust, in gingerbread swirls throughout the filling, and in the topping too. Gingerbread men make adorable decorations that add even more festive flavor. Get the Gingerbread Cheesecake recipe.

Of course, candy canes are another iconic Christmas taste sensation, and make an equally perfect addition to cheesecake. Even if you skip the food coloring swirl, peppermint extract brings a tingle to the filling, and crushed candy canes look great against the shiny chocolate ganache glaze. Get the Candy Cane Cheesecake.

This cheesecake uses sugar cookies for the crust, and amps up that flavor with a cookie-flavored creamer in the filling and lush top layer. Feel free to get as creative as you like with the decorations, or keep it simple and sleek. Get the Sugar Cookie Cheesecake recipe.

A spill of sparkling sugared cranberries is elegant on any cheesecake, but this no-bake option is especially easy, and brings bright citrus to the mix with orange zest and juice in the filling. Get the No-Bake Sparkling Cranberry Orange Cheesecake recipe.

This cheesecake brings a tropical twist with coconut cream and coconut rum. Shredded coconut on top stands in for fluffy drifts of snow (but you could try grated white chocolate for a similar effect). Take the winter wonderland look to the next level by adding some edible pine trees too candy melt Christmas trees, spun sugar Christmas trees, and rosemary Christmas trees are all great options. Or you could go with edible chocolate pinecones. Get the Coconut Cheesecake recipe.

While strawberries aren’t in season, they do make fetching Santa hats on cheesecake bites (or you can make a ring of strawberry Santas around a full-size cheesecake). Try glazing them with melted strawberry jam to intensify their flavor and give them a little shine, or sprinkle with some powdered sugar snow. Get the Santa Hat Cheesecake Bites recipe.

Christmas stencils make for an appealingly minimal seasonal look, no matter the flavor of your cake. You can use regular powdered sugar or cocoa to make designs on nearly any cheesecake, or if the taste will work well with your chosen cheesecake, use green matcha powder, red freeze-dried fruit powders (raspberry, cherry, strawberry)—or make your own tinted powdered sugar for neutral sweetness in any shade you desire. Get the Eggnog Cheesecake with Piloncillo Cookie Crust recipe.

A uniform shiny mirror glaze (red, green, or otherwise) covering the whole cake is impressive and not nearly as difficult as the end result suggests, but for a similar stunning and surprisingly easy-to-achieve effect, you can make a glossy gel é e layer, and stud it with candied citrus slices for extra oomph. Get the Blood Orange Cheesecake recipe.

Individual cheesecakes are perfect for parties since no one has to cut a cake people can just pick one up whenever they want to eat dessert. Plus, they evoke Christmas ornaments, especially when they’re brightly colored. A little luster dust or gold leaf would not be amiss. Get the Mini Cranberry Pistachio Cheesecakes recipe.

Another entirely appropriate choice is to embrace the general excess that—for better or worse—accompanies the holiday season, and make the most decadent cheesecake you care to, like so. Get the Turtle Brownie Cheesecake recipe.

For more holiday hacks, tips, tricks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas and Holiday Entertaining Headquarters.

Related Video: How to Make Chocolate-Peppermint Cheesecake

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45+ Best Gingerbread Dessert Ideas to Try This Christmas Season

From ice cream to granola, this list has gingerbread everything!

Fact: Gingerbread is to Christmas what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving. You could celebrate without it, but it really wouldn't be the same. And why would you want to? Gingerbread is fantastic! Aside from its namesake ginger, the quintessential Christmas flavor typically features cinnamon, nutmeg, molasses, and other spices, making it rich, warming and spicy. Whether you're a superfan or just a regular fan, odds are that the family will expect at least one or two gingerbread treats on to your Christmas menu. Now, you could just bake (or buy) a few gingerbread cookies, and maybe toss up a gingerbread house and call it a season. But there's so much more you can do with this flavor that we wanted to inspire you to think outside the cookie cutter. So we've rounded up all kinds of easy gingerbread dessert recipes that put a playful spin on the traditional sweet.

Try your hand at our gingerbread cheesecake with pecan-graham crust, opt for something a little more elegant with a gingerbread pear loaf, or introduce children to the flavor with gingerbread-chocolate chunk no-churn ice cream. The wonderful thing about gingerbread is that you can make it the dominant taste of a Christmas dessert recipe, or simply incorporate it as more of a supporting player if your Christmas dinner guests have a more sensitive palate. Whichever route you choose, make sure at least one gingerbread recipe is on your table. It just wouldn't be the holidays without it.

With a gingersnap crust and three different kinds of ginger in the pie itself, this spicy take on pumpkin pie is a surefire gingerbread lover's dream.


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