The tree is decorated, check marks are next to almost everyone on your gift list, more than enough cookies are baked, but are there ever enough… Oh well, there’s always a reason to bake some more, especially if you participate in a cookie swap or enjoy the scent of freshly baked cookies; and who doesn’t? To that end, “Out of the Box Holiday Baking: Gingerbread Cupcakes, Peppermint Cheesecake, and More Festive Semi-Homemade Sweets” by Hayley Parker (2018, The Countryman Press, $21.95) offers recipes with all the cheer and seasonal flavor of the classics, but without all the work. Recipes use easily accessible shortcuts such as a cake mix, cookie dough, or pudding mix. If you are short on time, you’ll appreciate Parker’s quick-and-easy recipes for: seasonal flavors: chai snowballs, white chocolate peppermint cupcakes, cranberry marshmallow cheesecake; classics reimagined: easiest-ever gingerbread men, fruitcake cupcakes, eggnog cream pie (for this recipe please visit https://bit.ly/2rbvov7; regional favorites: maple sugar cream pie, salted nut roll cookies, sticky toffee pudding cake; easy no-bake treats: peppermint mocha chewies; reindeer chow; chocolate cookie cherry truffles. Below are four recipes to get you started.
Have some fun with the kids too, while creating popular character and holiday-shaped treats for holiday parties and events. “Easy Christmas Cut-Up Cakes,” by Melissa Barlow (2018, Gibbs-Smith, $14.99) shows how to bake packaged cake mixes in rectangular, square, and round pans, and then cut them up and piece them back together as iconic characters or holiday shapes such as: a toy train, wreath, snowman, penguin, and Santa.