5 New Sweet Treats to Make This Winter

Busy working moms don’t have time to waste on fussy recipes that don’t turn out well during the hectic holiday season. They need surefire hits to turn to when they want to connect with their kids while baking a few sweet treats. The festive goodies in The Ultimate Kids’ Baking Book by Tiffany Dahle helps beginner bakers of all ages find success. The book features 60 easy and fun desserts for special occasions all year long that leave plenty of creative freedom for moms and their kids to bake something uniquely special. Here are five of our favorite sweet desserts for the coming holiday season.

1. Snowball Cookies

These white and puffy buttery cookies are perfect for snow day baking. They also happen to be my mom’s all-time favorite Christmas cookie. She shapes them into crescent moons and calls them lady fingers. You can have fun baking snowballs or surprise your mom or grandma with an elegant tea-time treat.
Ingredients
2 cups (220 g) chopped pecans

2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar

1⁄2 lb. (2 sticks [225 g]) salted butter, softened
1⁄4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C, or gas mark 3).
  2. The chopped pecans need to be finely chopped. You can either put them in a food processor for a few spins or you can place them in a resealable plastic bag and break them up with a kitchen mallet. Set them aside.
  3. Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  4. In your large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat them with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat it until well mixed in.
  5. Add the our and the pecans to the butter mixture and beat them in on low speed. Be sure to scrape the bowl once or twice. Once the flour is combined with the butter mixture, scrape the bowl and beaters.
  6. Use a spoon to scoop 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls of dough. Roll them into round balls and place them 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart directly on a cookie pan. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before you roll them in the powdered sugar bowl, or the powdered sugar will melt and become gummy.

2. Crinkle Cookies

If you need a festive cookie that doesn’t require cookie cutters, these crinkle cookies are just perfect for a holiday treat tray. They look frosted and snowy, but are sweet and fudgy inside.

Ingredients
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup (55 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp. salt

3 large eggs
1 1⁄2 cups (338 g) packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 oz. (225 g) unsweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbsp. (1⁄2 stick [55 g]) salted butter
Coating
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C, or gas mark 3). Set out two cookie pans and line them with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk them together.
  3. Crack the eggs into your large mixing bowl and look for shells. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Beat together on medium speed until combined.
  4. Break up the chocolate into small pieces by placing it in a resealable plastic bag and hitting it with a kitchen mallet. Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high in 30-second sessions, stirring in between, until just melted. Use oven mitts to remove the bowl from the microwave. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time.
  5. Once the chocolate is mixed in, stir in the flour mixture. Be sure to scrape the bowl and check for hidden pockets of dry flour. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Next, coat the cookies. Set up your cookie assembly line by placing the granulated sugar on a clean pie plate. Then, place the powdered sugar on a separate pie plate or dish.
  7. Pinch portions of dough and roll them into 2-inch (5-cm) balls. Drop each ball first into the granulated sugar and roll it around to coat it completely. Then, roll the cookie ball in the powdered sugar to coat and place on the prepared cookie pan. Place the cookies 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart on the pans.
  8. Bake the cookies, just one pan at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes. They will puff and crackle around the edges and seem too soft in the center, but you don’t want to over-bake them. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. Giant Birthday Cookie Cake

The easiest birthday treat to take on the go is a giant cookie cake. Whereas cupcakes and cakes may topple over, this perfectly portable cookie treat is great when you need to bring it to a friend. Mix and match the colorful sprinkles with their favorite colors.
Ingredients
Baking spray, for pan 
 8 tbsp (1 stick [112 g]) salted butter, softened 

3⁄4 cup (150 g) sugar 
 1 large egg 
 2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract 
 1 1⁄4 cups (156 g) all-purpose flour

1⁄4 tsp salt
1⁄2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cornstarch

2⁄3 cup (117 g) white chocolate chips, plus more for decoration
1⁄2 cup (80 g) rainbow sprinkles, plus more for decoration 
 1⁄2 batch frosting (optional)

Chocolate candies, for decorating (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C, or gas mark 4). Spray a 9-inch (23-cm) pie plate with baking spray and set aside.
  2. In your large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat them together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl to check for shells. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Scrape the bowl.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cornstarch. Whisk them together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat them together until just combined.
  5. Scrape the beaters and the bowl and add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Stir them in by hand, using a spoon. Press the dough into the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle a small handful of chocolate chips and sprinkles over the top and gently press them into the surface.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookie cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.
  7. Once your cookie cake has completely cooled, you can decorate it. Although the cookie is pretty all on its own, you can decorate the edges with a frosting, if desired. We piped frosting flowers with Wilton tip 2D around the edge and dotted each flower with a colorful chocolate candy.

5. Ginourmous Elegant Elephant Ears

Want to knock Grandma’s socks off this Thanksgiving? Surprise her with a pretty platter of these elegant and amazing elephant ear cookies. She’ll be certain you had to take a special baking class to make them, but it will be just our secret that they only need just a few ingredients! They are perfect for a fancy-schmancy holiday tea, too.
Ingredients
2 cups (400 g) sugar, divided

1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
 1⁄8 tsp. kosher salt

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7). Set out two cookie pans and line them with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine half the sugar, cinnamon and salt and stir them together with a fork.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar onto a large cutting board. Work with one puff pastry sheet at a time. Be sure you don’t let the pastry thaw for too long, or it will become too soft and difficult to work with. If this happens, put it back in the fridge to chill. Unfold the first pastry sheet and lay it onto the sugar. Pour HALF of the remaining sugar mixture on top and use your fingers to spread it evenly over the top.
  4. Use a rolling pin to lightly roll the dough until it is a 13-inch (33-cm) square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry.
  5. Fold the sides of the square toward the center so the edges meet in the middle. Fold the outside edges in toward the middle a second time. Then, fold one side over the other as you would close a book. (See pictures for reference.)
  6. Now you have a long rolled log of dough with six layers. Carefully slice the dough with a paring knife into 3⁄8-inch (1-cm) slices. Place each, cut side up, on a prepared cookie pan.
  7. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry, the remaining sugar on the cutting board and the second prepared pan.
  8. Bake the elephant ears for 6 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized and looks golden brown. Remove the pans from the oven, using your oven mitts. Carefully flip each cookie over with a spatula and bake for another 3 to
5 minutes. When they are golden brown on both sides, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

5. Apple Cider Donuts

My kids look forward to the hot and fresh apple cider donuts at our favorite apple orchard every fall. You don’t need to wait for a trip to pick your own apples; these donuts are great throughout the season. They are baked right in your oven and they still have the classic cinnamon-sugar coating you’ll love.
Ingredients
Baking spray, for pans

1 lemon

1 1⁄2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 tsp. (7 g) baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄3 cup (79 ml) apple cider

1⁄4 cup (59 ml) buttermilk 

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

8 Tbsp. (1 stick [112 g]) salted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup (115 g) packed brown sugar
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
Topping
4 Tbsp. (1⁄2 stick [55 g]) salted butter
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C, or gas mark 4). Spray two 6-well donut pans with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Wash and dry the lemon. Use a Microplane zester to rub the lemon and remove the yellow zest. Zesters can be very sharp, so you might want to ask an adult for help. Place the zest in a small bowl.
  3. In your large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and the lemon zest. Whisk for 30 seconds to evenly mix. Pour the apple cider and buttermilk into a large measuring cup and add the vanilla. Stir them together.
  4. In a second large mixing bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat them with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Crack the eggs into a small bowl to check for shells. Add them to the butter mixture and beat them until
just combined.
  5. Add HALF of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat it on low speed until combined. Add HALF of the cider mixture and beat it on low speed until combined. Repeat with the remaining our and cider mixture.
  6. Pour the batter into a large resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and snip off a small corner with scissors. Pipe the batter into the prepared donut wells so each well is two-thirds full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the donuts bounce back when gently pressed.
  7. While the donuts are baking, prepare the topping. Place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it for 30 seconds on high, or until melted. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  8. Remove the donuts from the oven and turn them out onto a wire rack. Place the rack over a large piece of parchment paper. Brush each donut with the melted butter, using a pastry brush, or carefully drizzle and spread it with a spoon. Then, dip the top of each donut in the cinnamon-sugar.
  9. Let the donuts dry for 10 minutes before serving.