Holiday baking doesn’t have to be stressful and time consuming. Condense your holiday baking into one morning with these timesaving tips.
Tip #1: Use store bought sugar cookie dough, but make your own icing. Save yourself hours of mixing and chilling sugar cookie dough by purchasing the pre-made sugar cookie dough available in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. After baking and cooling the cookies, if you ice them with a homemade icing, no one will ever guess that you didn’t make the cookies from scratch too. My favorite icing recipe combines about 1 cup of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla. I usually judge the amounts by eye since you can’t really mess up any combination sugar, butter, and vanilla. Food coloring can be added if desired. Mix all of the ingredients and spread on cookies with a knife. Decorate immediately. If the icing hardens, add a little milk to thin it out.
Tip #2: Make Peppermint Bark: With only two ingredients, peppermint is super simple to make and retro-cool to bring to parties. All you need are one cup of crushed candy canes and two pounds white chocolate. First place the candy canes in a plastic bag and seal. Roll over the bag with a rolling pin until the candy canes are broken into small pieces, about ¼ inch or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. A double boiler can be created by placing a metal bowl over a boiling pot of water so the bottom is submerged. When the chocolate is melted stir in the peppermint pieces and pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Tip #3: Make a large batch of one or two traditional family recipes. Most cookie recipes freeze well, so you can make an extra large batch and freeze it in several airtight containers and have fresh cookies all season long.
Tip #4: Dip anything and everything in chocolate: Everyone loves anything dipped in chocolate. Melt a bag or two of semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate chips in a double boiler (See tip #2 for instructions on making a double boiler) and dip anything and everything that goes in chocolate. Try dipping dried fruit, store bought cookies, nuts, and pretzels. Set the chocolate covered items on a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet. For an extra festive flair, sprinkle the goodies with Christmas colored sprinkles before the chocolate sets. When the chocolate has set and hardened, put the candy in an airtight container to store.