Homemade holiday treats sound like a great gift in theory. If you aren’t comfortable baking, however, you might find it intimidating to start during this time of year. Suffering from a mild form of hestiaphobia myself, I can sympathize, and that’s why I’m going to share some easy holiday treat recipes with you today. You’ll have overflowing cookie tins and lots of extras to sample yourself!
Pictured at the top of this post, you can find many options for packaging your holiday treats on websites like Amazon.com. The recipes below are ordered according to how long they take to complete. You could bake all of these items in about 4 hours, as I did one weekend, and only two of the recipes require using your oven.
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Clusters
While they make take the longest amount of time, these chocolate-covered peanut clusters are probably the easiest recipe ever. That’s because you make them in the slow cooker. In addition to being easy, they are delicious, addicting, and the yield is enough to feed a small village. The recipe below was adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker.
cooking time approximately 4 hours, yields a ton
- 16 ounces unsalted peanuts (or dry roasted peanuts)
- 16 ounces salted cocktail peanuts
- 1 (12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips
- 2 (10-ounce bags) peanut butter chips
- 2 (16-ounce packages) white almond bark, white chocolate chips, or vanilla candy melts
- Layer all of the ingredients in order in a slow cooker (the best size is between 4 and 6 quarts). Cover and cook on “low” for 2 hours.
- Remove the lid and stir to combine. If not all of the chocolate is melted, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes on low.
- Using a large spoon, scoop mounds of the clusters onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Allow to sit at room temperature until completely set, 1 to 2 hours. The clusters can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. They also freeze very well!
Gingerbread can be a contentious treat, in that some people like it crisp and some people like it soft. Falling on the latter end of the spectrum, I prefer this recipe which is both fluffy and chewy. They are perfect for making gingerbread men, holding up while loaded with lots of frosting and candies. Make sure you factor in at least two hours for the dough to sit in the fridge; otherwise, you may have a hard time rolling it out! This recipe was adapted from Allrecipes.com.
cooking time approximately 2 and 1/2 hours, yields about 3 dozen cookies
- In a medium bowl, mix together the molasses, brown sugar, water and butter until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves and cinnamon, stir them into the wet mixture until all of the dry is absorbed. Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out into desired shapes. Place cookies 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
Peanut Butter Fudge
Lastly, this peanut butter fudge is another ovenless recipe. You make it in the microwave, then let it chill in the fridge. Who knew making fudge could be so simple?! This recipe was adapted from Serious Eats.
cooking time approximately 1 hour, yields approximately 64 pieces
- 8 ounces unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
- 1 1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Lightly grease a 8″ x 8″ baking dish with butter.
Combine the butter and peanut butter in a large glass, ceramic, or otherwise microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high (less if you microwave is more powerful). Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. Return to microwave and cook on high for 2 additional minutes. Remove from microwave.
Add the vanilla and powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture and quickly stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Don’t over beat the fudge. Just as the mixture starts to lose its sheen and becomes hard to stir, add half of the chocolate chips and as soon as they begin to marble the fudge, begin spreading the candy into the prepared pan, distributing evenly.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top of the fudge and cover the top with a sheet of wax or parchment paper, lightly pressing down on the top of the fudge.
Refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Cut into bite size pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
These crumbly snickerdoodles have the perfect ratio of spices and an unusual texture. I know you’re thinking: “Cream of tartar? What is and who has that lying around?” For any recipe that uses baking soda and cream of tartar, just substitute baking powder in place of both (so in this case, 2 teaspoons). The text below was adapted from this recipe.
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg, plus 1 yolk
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2¾ cup flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper, set aside.
- In bowl of stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. With mixer on medium speed add in egg, yolk and vanilla and beat for another minute, scraping the sides as necessary.
- Mix in baking soda and cream of tartar (or baking powder, if using), salt and 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping sides as necessary. Then add in flour, mixing until just combined.
- In a separate small bowl make your Cinnamon Sugar by mixing together cinnamon and sugar, stirring until evenly combined.
- Using a cookie scoop or spoon, measure out about 2 Tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Then roll each cookie dough ball into the Cinnamon Sugar mixture.
- Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Smash them flightly with a spoon or a fork before placing in the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning cookie sheet halfway through baking. Let cool.
Now that you have some ideas for holiday treats, ones that won’t scare you away from the oven, it’s time to get baking! Do you have any recipes that are almost too easy to make? Share them in the comments below.