The only thing more fun than baking holiday treats is getting the kids involved. Aside from making memories to last a lifetime, getting kids to help out teaches them about ingredients, basic cooking and baking techniques, decision making and nutrition.
It doesn’t hurt that there is a little math involved in preparing recipes. And it’s just plain old fun. From stirring to sprinkling to snacking, kids will love helping to whip up these holiday treats.
Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
These peanut butter cookies only have three ingredients and are a breeze, even for the tiniest hands, to put together.
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
48 mini pretzels
Small, round red candies such as M&M’s or Red Hots
48 candy eyeballs
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl beat the peanut butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and beat to combine.
2. Divide and shape the dough into 24 balls. Place 6 dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press and shape dough balls to make elongated triangles.
3. Press the pretzels into the top of the cookies to make antlers. Bake for 8 minutes, or until just golden and set. While cookies are still warm, press a red M&M or cinnamon candy on the tip to make a nose, and press two candy eyeballs in the top center to make eyes. Let cool completely on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.
— Adapted from Parents.com
Marshmallow Christmas Wreaths
Cornflakes get dressed for the holidays in this classic sweet treat that families have been making for decades.
½ cup unsalted butter
1 16-ounce package regular marshmallows
1 teaspoon green paste food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups flaked corn cereal, such as Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
Red cinnamon candies, for decorating
Holiday-tinted sprinkles and/or nonpareils, optional, for decorating
1. Place a large piece of parchment paper on the counter and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in food coloring and vanilla.
3. Add cereal, stirring until well coated.
4. Portion warm cereal mixture evenly by using a ¼-cup dry measure coated with cooking spray. Using sprayed fingers, quickly shape into individual wreaths. Immediately dot with cinnamon candies, for they will stick better while the mixture is warm. Store in single layer in airtight container.
Makes 3 pounds of dough
After much experimentation in the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living, this has become my go-to recipe for intensely scented and sturdy gingerbread.
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1½ teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Red, white and green decorating icing
Small assorted candies and marshmallows
1. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a ¼-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
— Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Makes 10 cups
What better way to ring in the Christmas season than with a warm blanket, the ‘Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ movie and a big bowl of Grinch Popcorn? Even the grinchiest of folks will love this sweet, salty, green snack.
10 cups of generously salted, popped popcorn
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3½ cups mini marshmallows
Green food coloring (electric green makes a great shade of Grinch)
Red M&M’s, Red Hots or other small red candies
1. Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 cups mini marshmallows to pan and stir until melted. Turn off the heat and add food coloring to the marshmallow mixture, stirring until it is the desired shade of Grinch green.
3. Add marshmallow mixture to the popcorn, stirring until well coated. Transfer popcorn to prepared cookie sheet, add remaining ½ cup mini marshmallows and red candy while popcorn is still warm.
4. Allow to cool completely, break apart and serve.
Easy Whipped Cream
Makes 2 cups
Freshly whipped cream is far better than that stuff out of a can. Use a Mason jar like a cocktail shaker to whip the cream up in no time.
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract in a 1-quart glass jar. Screw the lid on the jar and freeze it for 15 minutes. This helps firm up the walls of the cream’s butterfat cells so they can trap and hold air bubbles.
2. Shake the jar vigorously until semi-soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Buddy the Elf Breakfast Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen
These treats, straight from the Candy Cane Forest, are perfect for a cozy afternoon holiday movie marathon. As Buddy would request, they are full of candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Chocolate syrup, that is.
1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
3 cups chow mein noodles
½ cup small marshmallow bits
1 jar hot fudge sauce, warmed enough to drizzle
1 cup assorted candy cane pieces, sprinkles, candy corn, and other small candies
1. Add chow mein noodles and marshmallow bits to a large bowl. Melt white chocolate in 30-second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between, until melted (about 2 minutes). Pour over the noodles.
2. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3. Top with a drizzle of fudge sauce and a sprinkle of candies and refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.
— Adapted from Delish.com