Holiday Baking Inspiration

Holiday season is in full swing, and my kitchen has kicked into high gear with lots of baking going on.  In case you are still deciding what to include in your holiday goody bags or just want something to enjoy with your family at home, here are a few of my favorite past recipes.

This cappuccino fudge is one of the two holiday treats I must bake every year.  Even if I’m not making it for others, I always make one batch for us to enjoy around the house.  Fudge is a special treat that I don’t make very often, so I love to savor each piece during the holiday season.

You all know of my obsession with these sugar cookies and decorating them with royal icing.  I just can’t let a holiday pass by without making some festive cookies.  I ordered some new cookie cutters this year and can’t wait for them to arrive so I can get going on this year’s batch!

If you’re looking for a show-stopping holiday dessert, look no further.  This chocolate candy cane cake is beautiful and impressive.  It almost sparkles with the coating of crushed peppermints around the cake.  Even I, a non-mint lover, think this is a pretty tasty cake.

Last year I discovered that I do, in fact, like gingerbread treats and these gingerbread cookies in particular.  In fact I would go so far as to say they were my favorite thing that I baked last holiday season and the thing I am looking most forward to baking this year.  These just taste like the holidays to me.

These chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies are fun to make and to eat.  They are certainly suitable for any time of year, but I think a small sprinkling of colorful sprinkles dresses them up just right for the holidays.

Inspired by the popular Starbucks beverage, these peppermint mocha cupcakes are a popular Christmastime treat.  These are frequently requested by friends and coworkers.  I especially love the red and white swirled frosting!

Homemade hot cocoa mix is a fun and delicious addition to any holiday gift bag and this cocoa is pretty wonderful.  Smooth, rich and very chocolatey, I always make extra for us to have around the house because it is a wonderful treat for a cold winter’s night.

Red velvet cake is often associated with Valentine’s Day, but I love it enough to think it should be enjoyed year-round.  This red velvet cheesecake combines two of my loves – red velvet cake and cheesecake – in one gorgeous dessert that could be easily garnished for a holiday table.

I’ve always enjoyed eggnog and every holiday season I enjoy finding new ways to incorporate it into various baked goods and other treats.  Last year I made this eggnog ice cream and it was fantastic.  I can’t wait to make it again and enjoy a dish while sitting by the fire!

Biscotti are always included in my holiday treat bags because they are so easy to make, go well with hot cocoa, and they keep (and ship) very well.  If you have peppermint lovers on your list, these candy cane biscotti are a great option.

51 Responses

  1. Lovely array of goodies for Christmas. Fantastic!!

  2. all of your desserts look so beautiful, especially the candy cane cake!

  3. Gorgeous! That candy cane cake is going on our list right now…sounds delicious!

  4. These look fantastic! Is there a special store you buy your cookie cutters from?

  5. All of these look so lovely! Thanks for the ideas 🙂

  6. I’ve already got your peppermint biscotti on my list, and I’m making the hot cocoa mix, but now it looks like I need to add the gingerbread cookies as well as cappucino fudge! Everything looks so good!

  7. these all look amazing!!

  8. So many good things here!!

  9. Wow, I can’t decide which looks the best! Those are the best looking trees I’ve ever seen, though!

  10. This post makes me want to put on my apron and spend a week baking! yum!

  11. All of these holiday treats look amazing! Your sugar cookies and royal icing are so pretty. I’m definitely going to try your royal icing recipe this year. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I absolutely love your blog! It makes me want to stay home all day and bake! Thank you for sharing all these wonderful recipes!

  13. Still undecided which treats to put on my Christmas goodie bags for my family. I was also thinking of the fudge among other things, will see.
    Now, that peppermint cake of yours looks unreal, I wish I could dig my teeth into it :-), sure thing your family must be ecstatic at the amazing goodies that they get to eat 🙂

  14. Annie,

    I have been an avid reader of your blog now for over a year and I am impressed everyday with the recipes and tips and tricks you post! I have a question for you about your royal icing tutorial: I’ve tried making it with the buttercream frosting recipe I have, but the icing comes out incredibly lumpy and the texture is almost like the frosting is separating itself from the water I add. I have combed your website for an icing recipe, but I haven’t been able to find one. Is there a specific one you use? I would really love to get this royal icing right so that I can start making sugar cookies for the holiday!

    • The recipe I use is linked within my royal icing tutorial. I’m not sure I understand your question – you can’t just mix in water to buttercream and get the same result. I can imagine that adding water to buttercream would cause separation because it is butter-based.

      • You answered my question perfectly! I guess I just missed the link for the recipe, but I see it now! I can’t wait to try it out this weekend!

  15. this holiday inspiration list was an eyeful to watch and learn from. such simple delights with a tough of colour and variety! love them each and all

  16. I included the cappucino fudge in our Christmas gift baskets last year and it was a huge hit! I am definitely making that again this year and now you’ve given me even more ideas 🙂

  17. Now I know exactly what I’m doing once Christmas break starts!

  18. wow, that chocolate candy cane cake is gorgeous!

  19. Annie, you mentioned you were starting your holiday baking now {early in the month}. Could you tell us which treats in this list FREEZE well, either fully baked or could be frozen as dough to be baked off later? I’m especially curious about the biscotti. Thanks!

    • Actually the baking I have done so far is all for client orders, not for my own gift bags. I will do those next weekend and don’t plan to freeze anything.

  20. Hi Annie, I think I want to attempt the red velvet cheesecake for Christmas this year! I don’t bake too often, is the recipe fairly simple for a beginner?


    • I’m a horrible judge of what is simple or easy. You are the best judge of your own abilities so read through the recipe and decide for yourself.

  21. I would love to have one of each of these on this cold Monday!

  22. Annie everything looks beyond delicious and festive! The candy cane cake??? BEAUTIFUL! And I’m in love with the cupcakes too. Beautiful, just beautiful!

  23. How I would love to be one of the lucky recipients of your treats!

  24. Two weeks till I’m done all my Exams and Christmas Break begins. Which mean 2 weeks before I can tackle your entire list! I can’t wait! Thanks Annie!

  25. Which one to try first? Gosh, Annie, these all look so festive and delicious and full of flavor. You are so talented with baked goods, and I can’t wait to see what other Christmasy confections you come up with this year!

  26. I LOVE this post! I am a huge holiday baker myself, and already started some of it this past weekend. I think I will definitely have to try a few of these recipes. That chocolate candy cane cake looks gorgeous! I want to host a Christmas party, just so I can make it and show it off…but it looks too pretty to eat!

  27. I cannot wait to be done with this semester and be at home with my full kitchen and full spice cabinet. 🙂 I want to make literally everything on this page.
    And we’re hosting Christmas Eve this year, so perfect! 🙂

  28. i seriously don’t know how you do it! after ogling your gorgeous cookies for all these years, i finally tried making your famous sugar cookies with royal icing. i absolutely LOVE them, but they are a serious labor of love. (i made them two weekends in a row — they were that good!) with being a doctor, raising a kid, taking care of a husband AND finding the time to cook & bake, you truly are my hero! kudos to you, annie, for doing & having it all. 🙂

    btw, thank you for this post! so many wonderful & festive ideas. i can’t wait to try some of these goodies.

    • Congrats on conquering royal icing! Believe me, it gets much, much easier with practice. I am so fast with them now, it’s just no big deal. So very different from my first attempt (disaster).

  29. Wow these sound like some wonderful dishes, especially the red velvet cheesecake and the eggnog ice cream! Thanks for helping me get even more into the sugary sweet holiday spirit!

  30. Thanks for the great recipes. Looking forward to trying some of them out!

  31. Congrats on launching your Facebook page! Just joined tonight. Love this round-up – I already have the gingerbread cookies planned for this week (had them bookmarked since last year!)… and I’ve been thinking about the marshmallow ones for a long time too… 🙂

  32. Ahh… holidays are upon us. Maybe I should try one of these recipes early, they look so yummy.. Beautiful snowflakes on gingerbread cookies!

  33. Love the sugar cookies and royal icing recipe! Tried those out last night and they were perfect! Will be a holiday tradition now!

    Will have to try the eggnog ice cream next…any ideas on a good egg nog recipe?

  34. Wow, absolutely WOW! I can’t take my eyes off those sugar cookies and the yummy looking cupcakes. I think I’ll reserve the latter for the valentines but I sure gonna make those cutee trees. Perfect for Christmas! 🙂

  35. annie, youre killing me!!! so so good. cant wait to start baking.

  36. I tried your sugar cookies recipe and they are amazing! Now I’ve printed out your fudge and red velvet cheesecake (red velvet cheesecake!!!) recipes and can’t wait to try them! Your family and friends are very very lucky people!

  37. I tried the “Marshmallow Cookies” this summer and they were really tasty! My brother adored them.
    And I’m planning to do “Candy Cane” Cupcakes to give away to my friends on Christmas 🙂

  38. I seriously think I love you. 🙂

  39. This post is so inspiring!!! I made the chocolate candy cane cake yesterday for a Xmas party. Everybody _LOVED_ it! What an amazing recipe, and yes, I followed your advice and added the candy dust a little bit before I took the cake to the party. It sliced perfectly!

  40. Annie, I made the cappuccino fudge this weekend. Delicious. After cutting the refrigerated pieces, I stored them in a covered container. Later that afternoon, the fudge was soft, not gooey, just on the softer side. Does it need to be stored in the refrigerator till serving? What did I do wrong??

    • Any fudge stored at room temp will be softer than when refrigerated. This is fine kept at room temp but if you don’t like the texture, refrigerate it.

  41. Love the Cappuccino Fudge- so easy & so decadent!!

  42. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and I really love it. Your photos are incredible and everything you make looks so delicious! You inspired me to try decorating sugar cookies with Royal icing, but I have a question about freezing them. I was going to make them today and then freeze, then decorate them on Wednesday. It would actually be easier for me if I could decorate them today. Do you think they would still be fresh by Christmas if I made and decorated them today, and/or is it possible to freeze after decorating?

    • My sugar cookie recipe decorated with royal icing keeps very well (over a week), as long as they are stored airtight. The icing helps seal in moisture. I make mine a week in advance of when needed on a routine basis. You should not refrigerate or freeze once the cookies are decorated. Condensation will form on the icing during the thaw and cause it to melt, messing up your hard work.

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