A hunger for the holidays

A collection of treats that use seasonal tweaks to customize classic favourites

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During the restful, post-exam stretch of the holidays, it’s easy to be lazy and forgo making homemade treats.

Take a step away from the store-bought cookies to try your hand at these classic treats with a holiday flavour.

This series of holiday baked goods and drink is sure to please. By combining peppermint with year-round sweet tooth favourites, these treats are what you’ve been missing out on this year.

So with the wide expanse of free time ahead of you, try these recipes and be sure to share with friends and family — or keep them all to yourself. It’s the holidays, after all.

Mint chocolate cupcakes

Turn the original chocolate cupcake recipe into the perfect seasonal treat. A rich mint chocolate experience makes it a holiday favourite, leaving your taste buds ultimately refreshed. Its deep rich moisture with a minty tinge gives them an overly satisfying aftertaste. I guarantee they’ll be gone within seconds and returned with only compliments.

INGREDIENTS

Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 bar (100g) Lindt Excellence Intense Mint Dark Chocolate (or 1 tsp peppermint extract, for those with nut allergies)
1/2 cup of margarine, softened 3 small eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ cup milk (or water)
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting:

Betty Crocker Creamy Deluxe French Vanilla icing
1 drop of green food colouring
Red and green sprinkles or candy canes

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pans with liners or non-stick spray.
2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk or water.
3. Melt the margarine and mint dark chocolate, then add it to the mix.
4. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Gradually add to large bowl mixture.
5. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
6. Let cool for 15 minutes.
7. While cooling, add a drop of green food colouring to the icing for the minty colour and stir well together.
8. Finish it off by frosting cupcakes and garnish with crushed candy canes or festive sprinkles.

— Tiffany Lam
Adapted from: withsprinklesontop.net, Paula Deen

Peppermint white hot chocolate

I decided to try replicating an old Starbucks standby for this year’s holiday drink. The smooth flavours will come together nicely in this sugary drink that’s perfect for those of us with a holiday sweet tooth.

INGREDIENTS

3 ½ cups milk
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or substitute with 8 finely-crushed peppermint candies Additional coarsely crushed peppermint candies
Whipped cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring milk to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium to high heat.
2. Add white chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Bring to simmer, whisking constantly.
3. Mix in peppermint extract or crushed peppermint candies. Ladle into four mugs.
4. Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with additional coarsely crushed candies and serve.

— Janina Enrile
Adapted from: epicurious.com

Caramel popcorn

My undying love for popcorn translates well into this easy-to-make snack. Before you start, keep in mind that you’ll need three sets of 9x13 pans for this recipe. Fear not, though. The sweet, rich taste of the caramel is enough to make anyone want more.

INGREDIENTS

3 bags of salted, buttery popcorn, popped with unpopped kernels removed
3/4 cup butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup light corn syrup
1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
Red and green food coloring

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil over low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla.
3. Place a bag of popcorn in each pan coated with cooking spray. Pour approximately 1/3 of the caramel over one pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.
4. Place half of remaining caramel in medium bowl and add red food coloring until you reach the desired shade of red. Immediately pour over second pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.
5. Add green food coloring to the remaining caramel until you reach desired shade of green. Immediately pour over third pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.
6. Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pans and stirring each pan with a spatula coated with cooking spray every 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

— Janina Enrile
Source: bakedperfection.com

White chocolate pomegranate cookies

Pomegranates aren’t only super good for you, they add a delicious burst of fresh flavour to these sugary delights. Not into pomegranates? Try craisins or other dried fruits instead; almost anything goes with white chocolate. I added a dash extra of vanilla for my own personal preference and a pinch more salt to offset the super sweet taste of the white chocolate. Never get boxed in by a recipe and have fun, it’s the holidays!

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup old fashioned oats 1 cup white chocolate chips 1 cup pomegranate arils (the seed part of the fruit)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. You can line your baking sheets with parchment paper, but the cookies contain so much butter there is no need to worry about possible sticking.
2. In the bowl, cream butter and sugars together by beating on high until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three parts. Mix until just incorporated.
4. Stir in the oats and white chocolate chunks. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to incorporate ingredients.
5. Make dough balls — about 1 tbsp of dough per cookie. Tuck about 6-8 pomegranate arils in each cookie dough ball, reshape and flatten slightly onto cookie sheets.
6. Bake cookies for 11 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for one minute. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

— Rachel Herscovici
Adapted from: twopeasandtheirpod.com

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