Monday, December 20, 2021

Sweet Treats for Christmastime

I don't do a ton of baking for holidays, but I do have a few tried-and-true recipes that are always on our list. Below are five treats I make every year without fail.

1. Knock-Off Cranberry Bliss Bars

This is a Starbucks copycat recipe and always gets rave reviews from friends and neighbors. After misplacing my mom's recipe, I pulled together a variety of online versions and combined them to make my own favorite. I always make a double batch (two 9x13 pans) on St. Lucy's Day -- I frost one for our St. Lucy's tea, and put the other unfrosted pan in the freezer to pull out and frost for Christmas.


3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. chopped sweetened dried cranberries
6 oz. white chocolate chips


4 ounces softened cream cheese
1.5 c. powdered sugar
4 T. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
1 T. orange juice
1 T. orange zest


1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries
1/3 c. white chocolate chips + 1 T. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Make cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt, and beat well.  Gradually mix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into greased 9x13 pan (I line with foil also). It will be sticky, so spread the batter evenly across the pan with a wet spatula or hands. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.  Allow to cool completely.

Mix together frosting ingredients with electric mixer. Once cake is cooled, spread frosting evenly over cake.

Sprinkle on 1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries.

Melt 1/3 c. white chocolate chips with 1T. oil on low heat in microwave, stirring frequently, until smooth. Drizzle over top of bars.

Let cake chill in the fridge for a couple hours. Cut into squares; then cut each square in half to make triangles. Store in fridge and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

2. Gingersnaps

This is my mom's recipe for not-too-sweet, gingery gingersnaps. I love that they stay a little soft in the middle but firm up around the edges. They freeze very well also.

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. light molasses
1 egg, beaten
1 T. baking powder
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground cinnamon
1.5 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/3 c. sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients into bowl and set aside. Using mixer, cream butter with 1 c. sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in molasses and egg. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Cover and refrigerate dough at least one hour (can be done a day ahead). Using 1 T. per cookie, form dough into balls. Roll balls in 1/3 c. sugar. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies are light browned around edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely; cookies will crisp as they cool.

3. Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

This is a recent addition that is now a family favorite. Unfortunately, my husband isn't a peppermint fan, so the kids and I have these all to ourselves. ;) They would make a great addition to a pretty cookie platter. Last year I dipped them in regular melted chocolate rather than white and used sprinkles rather than candy cane crumbs. Recipe here at Cooking Classy!

4. Sugar Cookies

This is our family's go-to sugar cookie recipe. We make them year round, but during Christmas, we add festive sprinkles. You could also frost them, but they are plenty sweet without. Recipe here at Life Love and Sugar. Just a couple notes: we make 1 T. balls and cook about 9 minutes, though be sure not to overbake! They do firm up when cooled. We also don't worry too much about overmixing -- we combine everything with the mixer and I can't notice any difference.

5. Last, a breakfast treat: Ina Garten's Easy Cheese Danishes

I have made these for Christmas and Easter brunch for at least a decade. Surprisingly easy and so tasty. I love sweet breakfast foods that pair well with coffee -- this is a winner! It's also simple enough that you could make it for brunch anytime, not just for the holidays. Recipe here at Food Network.


Before I go: are you looking for some gifts for the bakers in your life, or items to add to your own Christmas list? I love my ceramic 9x11 dishes and my silicone baking mats. I also could not do without my gigantic cookie sheet -- I measured my oven and bought the biggest one that could fit. I use it almost daily! It cleans up well and is thicker than other pans I have purchased.

As my children get older and more helpful in the kitchen, I find I'm branching more each year. What are your very favorite Christmas treat recipes?  Leave a recipe or link below and I'll let my girls sort through to find some new treats to try!


  1. My husband, whose birthday is 3 days after Christmas, loves molasses crinkles (recipe from Betty crocker, but I use whole wheat to delude myself into thinking they're slightly healthier ;) hehe) so we make a big batch every year and hope they last from Christmas to his birthday. :) I like to make loaves of bread for all the neighbors, too. It's not a sweet, but who doesn't love fresh homemade bread?

    1. Thanks, Jessica -- that sounds like a cookie I would love. And I used to give loaves of homemade bread to the neighbors too! They always said they were grateful to be gifted a non-sweet baked item amid all the goodies coming in from everywhere else. :)

  2. We love these espresso shortbread sandwich cookies. They look so fancy but are pretty easy!

    I also made biscotti for the first time this year and I think it's going to be a new tea time favorite.

    1. The espresso shortbread with chocolate ganache sounds fantastic -- all of my favorite things in one cookie! :)

  3. I make a bunch of recipes from the Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking book ( you can find a used copy cheap) for years! Nearly every recipe is fool proof and delicious. Some of my favs are peanut butter blossom cookies, peanut butter cup cookies, cherry kuchen recipe, and this year I even made saffron Saint Lucia buns from it. My mom is a huge baker and even has a recipe published in it. :) I can't recommend that book enough for desserts.

    1. Thanks for the cookbook recommendation, Alana! I will definitely check it out. My girls like having one good cookbook to cook from because they can page through it and pick favorites rather than searching online for this or that, so that sounds like a great option for us. And that is so neat about your mom!! :)

  4. I'm from New Mexico so every year I make bizcochitos, which is an anise flavored cookie and very traditional during Christmas in NM. I use the recipe in this post but use butter (

    On Christmas morning we have the tradition of having homemade cinnamon rolls and pecan sticky buns. My husband wakes up early and makes them for us. It started as something he did while I was pregnant with our oldest, and it has continued ever since. He uses Smitten Kitchen's sticky bun recipe.

    The cheese danishes look delicious. I'm going to have to try those! I'm also planning to make gingerbread men and peppermint bark over the 12 Days of Christmas. I hope the rest of your Advent is restful and that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

  5. Those cranberry bars look so good. I almost looked up a recipe after seeing your post the other day, so thanks for sharing yours!

    We always make Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning. (
    As for cookies, we made these chocolate thumbprint cookies with ganache filling for the first time last year... they were a hit! (By the by, everything I've made from this gal's website has been great).

    1. Everyone seems to love the Pioneer Woman rolls! Maybe we will have to do that for Epiphany breakfast. We have made other cinnamon rolls before but never her recipe.

    2. I make her rolls every year, too! If you make the dough the night before and roll them out in the morning it’s much easier to work with! (And I never put all the butter & sugar she calls for the in the center!)

    3. Thanks for the tips, Abigail!