Sweet treats for holiday gifting

Peppermint Bars


  • 1 family-size package fudge brownie mix

Peppermint Filling: 

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 14 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon red food coloring 
  • Chocolate Glaze: 
  • 12 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • Crushed peppermint candies, optional 

To make brownies: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package instructions. Spread on greased, foil-lined, 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan.

Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

To make peppermint filling: In large bowl, using electric mixer on medium speed, beat powdered sugar, melted butter, cream, peppermint extract and food coloring until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over cooled brownies. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

To make chocolate glaze: In large microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and butter on high for 2 minutes, until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownies. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, if desired. Cut into bars.

recipe courtesy McCormick 

Skillet Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce

Ornament Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup golden sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Royal Icing:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons, warm water, divided
  • Desired food coloring

To prepare cookies: In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat until well combined. Add flour and salt; beat until just combined.

Dump mixture onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape each half into disks and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Working on lightly floured surface, roll dough 1/2-inch thick. Cut cookies using ornament-shaped cookie cutter. Place cookies on prepared pans and bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature.

In large mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, meringue powder and 1/3 cup water. Beat on low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 8 to 10 minutes, adding 2 to 3 tablespoons warm water, as necessary. Icing should be stiff enough to hold peak when tested. Color icing with food coloring and decorate cookies.

recipe courtesy Family Features

Triple Chocolate Gingerbread

  • 1 package (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 package (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground 
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • Nonstick baking spray with flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, using electric mixer on low speed, beat cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, sour cream, vegetable oil, molasses and water until moistened. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into 10-cup Bundt pan prepared with nonstick spray. Bake 50 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and springs back when touched lightly. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack and allow it to cool completely.

recipe courtesy McCormick

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