My Christmas Baking Cheat Sheet

holiday pretzels I love to bake during the holiday season but don’t have loads of time. So while there are a few things I set aside time to really cook up right, I also rely on simple recipes that have been proven crowd pleasers.

At the top of my list is the Junior Mint brownie. Brownies in general are a great idea because there is so much you can do with them but for whatever reason the Junior Mint brownie always gets the most oohs and aahs. Simply make a fudge brownie (package mixes do fine) and during the last five minutes of baking evenly spread a box of junior mints across the top. When you pull the brownies out take a spatula and spread the melted Junior Mints across the top to ensure a thin, glaze like coating across the entire batch. This is a recipe that can be found all over the internet and is incredibly easy to make.

Another favorite recipe comes from Old Dutch Pretzels. You need the Christmas Wreath/rings pretzels for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Place pretzels on a greased baking sheet. Place unwrapped chocolate kisses in the center of each pretzel ring. Bake for three to four minutes, remove from oven and immediately place an M&M or similar candy in the middle of each ring, pressing down with your thumb so the chocolate fills the ring. A salty, sweet snack easy to make in large quantities ensues. If you search the internet you can find some fancy takes on this little gem.

Trifles have always been a favorite of mine and the easiest is one that involves brownies, chocolate Cool Whip and chocolate pudding. Bake the brownies, then in a large, decorative bowl put a layer of brownies, a layer of chocolate pudding and a layer of chocolate Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Garnish top with shavings from a Hershey chocolate bar.

My “big” holiday cheat is my own version of the brownie mountain that my local super Target carries. I bake a couple of dozen brownies, stack them one on top of the other on a tray two to three layers deep, leaving a hole in the middle. In that hole I place a chocolate or vanilla mousse, then I drizzle chocolate and caramel syrups down the sides. I don’t go crazy with the syrup – enough to decorate but not so much that the brownies become a gooey mess. The center can also be a flavored whip cream like the cinnamon variety Cool Whip has out right now. You can also mix regular cool whip with smashed Oreo cookies for another center. You can garnish the whole with sprinkles or not as you wish. The brownies are then dipped into the center for a really yummy treat. These are so popular with the people I bake for I’ve actually had people call and ask if I will be baking, will they be on my list and may they please have a brownie mountain if so.

My last bit of holiday cheating advice is to check out company websites. Pillsbury has a wonderful veggie appetizer using their crescent rolls as a base. Kraft has some amazing truffle recipes with cream cheese. Jell-O has some great recipes too. All of these sites tend to concentrate on quick and simple.

So what cheats do you use in your holiday baking?

– Maggie AAR

16 thoughts on “My Christmas Baking Cheat Sheet

  1. Leigh

    1 cup light corn syrup
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup peanut butter
    6 cups Kellogg’s® Cocoa Krispies® cereal
    or 6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal
    1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
    1 cup butterscotch chips

    1. Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

    2. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

    Note: Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray–the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.

    Fast easy and good: http://www.ricekrispies.com/#/recipes/chocolate-scotcheroos

    Or this is a little more time consuming because of dipping the balls. . but it goes fast:

    Oreo Truffles

    What You Need1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
    1 pkg. (16.6 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided
    2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
    Make It
    MIX cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.

    SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

    REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.
    Kraft Kitchens TipsHow to Melt Chocolate
    Place unwrapped chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.
    How to Easily Dip Truffles:
    To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet; let stand until firm.
    How to Store:
    Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

    http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/easy-oreo-truffles-95085.aspx

  2. Leigh

    One of my favorite easy recipes:

    Chocolate Scotcheroos Recipe –

    1 cup light corn syrup
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup peanut butter
    6 cups Kellogg’s® Cocoa Krispies® cereal
    or 6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal
    1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
    1 cup butterscotch chips

    1. Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add KELLOGG’S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.

    2. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

    Note: Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray–the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.

    Fast easy and good: http://www.ricekrispies.com/#/recipes/chocolate-scotcheroos

  3. Leigh

    My recipe should say pour the mixture over the Rice Krispies. I don’t believe you are going to get six cups of Rice Krispies in a 3 quart pan. I have never used the Cocoa Krispies- just the plain.

  4. Victoria S

    I don’t bake either. I can cook like no body’s business but the skill of baking (except for box brownies) eludes me. My husband used to take a week off every year and make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies (oddly enough, that’s the only thing he could really do in kitchen well). But he passed last year and that’s the end of that tradition. So, I’m trying to make new ones. I have an 8-year old nephew who has come to live with me, and between school and friend’s holiday and birthday parties, I am usually hard pressed to come up with treats. Those Pretzel Ring thingies sound like just what I was looking for. The nephew’s school 3rd grade party is this Thursday and he has been assigned Doritos to bring, but I think I’m gonna do Doritos and those pretzel things. I mean really, pretzels and chocolate, what 3rd grader could resist that?

    As I have said repeatedly, not only great book reviews but helpful hints too. AAR Rocks!

  5. LeeB.

    Oh Victoria, I’m sorry to read about your husband’s death.

    I agree that third graders will love pretzels and chocolate — as well as Doritos. ;)

  6. maggie b.

    Victoria,

    so sorry to hear about your husband.

    I think the third graders will like the pretzel rings. Most kids do.

    Maggie

  7. Victoria S

    Well, I did make those Pretzel/Kiss/M&M treats for th nephew’s party Thursday, and I think they’re gonna be a great hit. I found the pretzel rings at my local Aldi’s and the nephew and I were happily plunking M&M’s on top of melted Kisses today. Can’t wait to see how the classmates like ‘em on Thursday!

  8. Leigh

    Victoria, you have inspired me. I am working Christmas Day, and we are suppose to bring something so I think I will do the Pretzel along with the truffles. (Holidays are especially difficult after losing someone. I hope that having your nephew with you helps. Sorry for your loss).

    Nicole, do you know that I have never made these (grin)? I just can’t stay away from the dish when someone else brings them. Glad the recipe helped. You have also motived me to make them for Sunday.

  9. Nicole

    They were a hit! I learned not to be stingy with melting the chocolate…made it go by much faster. Also learned to roll the balls before I started dipping. Sigh. But everyone loved that they weren’t too too sweet! Truly a lifesaver!

  10. Victoria S

    Leigh, I too have worked many a Christmas Day in the past, and we always did the same thing, brought something in for our own work celebration. After all, if you gotta work that day there’s really not too much sense complaining about it, just make the most of it you can, right?

    Thanks everyone for the condolences, and yes, having an 8 year old after 30 plus years of marriage then widowhood does indeed help.

    I gotta tell you all the “Christmas Party Treat Story” (he’s never gonna live this down). We made the Pretzel Treats Tuesday night, I packed them into a container, dutifully placing paper between each layer so the chocolate wouldn’t stick, sealed the container and placed it in the garage (the garage being cool and dry, not cold and moist like the fridge) until Thursday morning , the day of the nephew’s party. At 3:30 I am at the bus stop to pick up the nephew, and he comes off the bus WITH THE BAG. He had left it on the bus, and did not take it in for the party!!!! But….God truly works in mysterious ways. My neice, who is a junoir in High School was in the car with me, and she was to bring in a treat for HER party the next day. So, I gave her the bag with the Pretzel treats and two bags of Doritos for her to use. And not only did she remember to take them in, but they were a huge hit! So, they did get eaten, just not by the originally intended group of students . This was also a lesson to me…when your kid is to take something in to school, make sure you drive him that day! Merry Christmas all.

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