Holiday Baking Recipes

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Holiday Baking Recipes

By Anastasia Rogozinski


While snow falls outside and the temperature drops, cookies bake in the oven, enveloping the house in warmth and the smell of sugar and spice. With the holidays just around the corner, below are some delicious holiday baking recipes sure to impress any visitors and keep you occupied while the snow falls outside. 


Gingerbread Cookies:

Prep: 40 min  Inactive: 15 min  Cook: 10 min Total: 1 hr 5 min

Yield: about 6 dozen cookies


The Foundation: 

  • 1 ½  sticks lightly salted butter, softened
  • 1 ⅔  cups sugar
  • 1 orange, zested

The Dry Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus ½  cup additional for rolling, if needed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground dry ginger
  • ½  teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼  teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt

The Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½  cup dark molasses
  • 1 lemon, juiced

Easy Orange Frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½  teaspoon orange liqueur
  • ¼  teaspoon light corn syrup



  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, add the butter, sugar, and orange zest and beat until smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, dry ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Whisk to blend. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, molasses, and lemon juice.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. When the butter and sugar are integrated, lower the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Add the egg mixture and when blended, remove the bowl from the machine. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press the first half of the dough in between 2 sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Repeat with the second half. This step will make it easier to finish rolling out the dough when it has chilled. It will also mean you only have half of the dough getting warm as you roll it.
  6. Lightly flour a flat surface. Use a floured rolling pin to gently roll the first half of the dough about ½ -inch thick. Lightly flour the cookie cutter(s) and cut the shapes, making as few scraps as possible. Use a metal spatula to gently transfer them, cookie by cookie, (the cookies should be similar size) to a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough and transfer them to another baking sheet. A note about crowding the tray(s): these particular cookies can spread a little. Leave room between the cookies. Better to use 3 baking sheets with fewer cookies than to crowd them on 2 trays. Bake until brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Got scraps? Form the scraps into a ball, press it flat and chill in the refrigerator. These cookies may be a little more “tough” because the dough will have been worked a little more than the others. Why not have a little frosting on your gingerbread?
  8. FOR FROSTING: In a medium bowl add all of the ingredients and whisk together to combine. If too thick in consistency, add a touch more orange juice or water to thin out.
  9. Use a pastry bag fitted with a star tip to pipe the frosting between 2 of the gingerbread cookies. Press the 2 cookies halves gently together.



Penguin Slice and Bake Cookies:

Total: 4 hr (includes chilling & freezing time)  Active: 1 hr

Yield: about 24 cookies


  • 2 ¼  cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (see Cook’s Note)
  • ½  teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼  teaspoon fine salt 
  • 1 ½  sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔  cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg beaten for egg wash
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Orange gel food coloring
  • Black gel food coloring
  • ¼  cup (3 ounces) red melting wafers 
  • 12 mini marshmallows, halved crosswise
  • ¼  cup (3 ounces) white melting wafers 
  • 48 mini chocolate chips



  1. Make the cookies: Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in 1 egg and vanilla until incorporated. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
  2. Turn out all but ¼  cup of the dough onto a floured surface. Add 3 drops orange food coloring to the dough left in the bowl and mix on low until evenly colored a vibrant orange. Flatten the orange dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Wipe the mixing bowl and paddle clean and add ¾  cup of the remaining uncolored dough back into the bowl. Add 4 drops black food coloring and mix on low until evenly colored a deep black. Form the black dough into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. 
  4. Make the penguin’s body: Roll the remaining uncolored dough into a cylinder 9- to 10-inches long and about 1 ½ -inches wide. Wrap in plastic and set aside at room temperature.  
  5. Divide the orange dough into 3 equal pieces (these will be the feet and the nose). Roll into 3 ropes, 9- to 10-inches long and about ⅓ -inch wide. Press one rope into a triangle shape by flattening the sides (a ruler is helpful for this). Wrap the orange pieces separately in plastic and freeze until hard, about 15 minutes.
  6. Slice through the uncolored cylinder lengthwise to make 2 long half-moons. Brush both halves on the cut side with the egg wash. Press the orange triangle rope down the center of the cut side of one of the halves. Cover with the other half and press together to seal and re-form into a cylinder. 
  7. Make the black part of the penguin’s body: On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the black dough into a ¼ -inch thick 9-by-4-inch rectangle, with the long side facing you. Use a rolling pin to flatten each of the long sides out 1 inch more so that the edges are thinner and the rectangle mounds in the center. The rectangle should be 9 by 6 inches. Brush the black rectangle with the egg wash then wrap it around the uncolored cylinder, pushing with your hands to adhere the doughs. There will be a thicker layer of black dough on top of the cylinder (the penguin’s head) and a thinner layer on the bottom.
  8. Adhere the feet: Brush the thinner, bottom part of the black dough with egg wash and press the 2 thin orange ropes along the length of the dough about ¼  inch apart (these will be the feet). Wrap in plastic and use the heels of your hands to form the log into an egg shape; the head should be the narrow end. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. 
  10. Cut ¼  inch off each end of the cylinder with a very sharp knife to reveal the penguin face. Slice the cylinder into about ¼ -inch-thick cookies. Arrange the slices about 1 ½  inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until crisp and just starting to turn brown on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  11. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Melt red candy melts in a small glass bowl in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted and smooth. Dip the top of each penguin’s head in the red candy melts to make a hat; dip the heads slightly off-center for a jaunty look. Put the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Stick a marshmallow on the center of each hat for a pompom and let the candy melts harden, about 15 minutes.  
  12. Meanwhile, melt the white candy melts in a glass bowl in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, until completely melted and smooth. Transfer to a small resealable plastic bag and seal. Cut a very small hole in one of the corners of the bag and decorate the hat as desired. Use the white candy melts to attach 2 mini chips for the eyes. Let the candy melts harden completely before serving, about 15 minutes. 

Cook’s Note: When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)




Loaded Cake Mix Cookies:

Total: 50 min (includes cooling time)  Active: 15 min

Yield: around 18 cookies


  • One 15.25-ounce box yellow cake mix
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chunks or discs
  • ¼  cup rainbow sprinkles
  • ½  cup cornflakes
  • ½  cup crushed pretzels



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Stir together the cake mix, eggs, butter and ¼  cup water in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until smooth and combined. Stir in the chocolate and sprinkles until they are completely coated, then gently fold in the cornflakes and pretzels. 
  3. Scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheets using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop or a large spoon, about 2 inches apart (6 per sheet). Bake, rotating and switching the positions of the baking sheets halfway through, until the cookies start to turn golden brown on top, 8 to 10 minutes Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. 
  4. Let cool slightly and serve, or cool completely and store in an airtight container up to 5 days.