Favorite Christmas Treats (+ Cocoa Recipe)

This is one of my favorite times of the year. My birthday is on January 5th, so I guess loving winter is in my blood! Christmas and New Year’s Day used to be fairly quiet events in my life. Once my siblings got married and had kids, my family moved our Christmas to New Year’s Day and Christmas Day was spent at my in-law’s house. Christmas morphed from piles of presents to  an amazing amount of family members! This year we’re having Christmas day at my parent’s house and the day after at my in-law’s. Luckily, they only live 20 minutes apart. I’m currently buried in school, with two more finals to finish this week. Plus I get to go to the dentist on Thursday…yay. So, instead of creating a ton of Christmas recipes, I’ve been using some tried-and-true favorites, as well as a few new ones. I thought I’d share my family’s favorite Christmas treats and the changes we’ve made to them. I hope you enjoy this magical time of year!

BRUNCH

Taste Of Home Cappuccino MuffinsCappuccino Muffins. These have a hit of coffee flavor and are perfect for our traditional Christmas brunch! The swirl of cream cheese that’s been spiked with espresso powder is a must-have. The muffins themselves are loaded with flavor and mini chocolate chips for a texture that’s irresistible. My sister and I have made these for years, and we don’t have to change a thing! Source: Taste of Home

Chocolate Swirl BunsChocolate Swirl Buns. I can never resist making these at Christmastime! The cinnamon in the chocolate mixture adds just a hint of spice, and the bun itself is soft and buttery. These take some time, but overall are simple to make, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get at them. These are a bit like chocolate pastries, and are more of a dessert than breakfast. What’s Christmas without indulgences, right? Source: Smitten Kitchen

Gingerbread WafflesGingerbread Waffles. I made these for the first time ever last weekend, and I am so in love.  I used this recipe, from Smitten Kitchen (which  is amazing) but the waffles stuck so badly to my waffle maker that I searched for a different recipe. It had to include spices and plenty of molasses and taste amazing…I found nothing. So use this recipe but beware that it’ll stick to your waffle maker possibly, and don’t try making pancakes with it. But the taste is unparalleled by any other waffle you’ve ever had. Fresh whipped cream can cover up your mess of a waffle, anyways. Make a trifle! Also, I did cut the sugar in half and I think it helped. Definitely plenty sweet still! Source: Smitten Kitchen

PARTY TREATS

Annie's Eats Marshmallows

Flavored Marshmallows. I’ve been making marshmallows every summer for several years now. They make s’mores so much tastier! I also make some fabulous hot cocoa (it’s my mom’s recipe, so I think I can cal it that safely), which was in desperate need of these marshmallows! I made a full recipe and cut the batter in half. I stirred the espresso powder into half (which was very tricky) and a teaspoon of peppermint extract into the other half, plus some red and green food coloring. After they set, Michael and I cut them with mini cookie cutters into wintery shapes and tried them out in cocoa. They’re way too flavored to just eat, but in hot cocoa they melt and are the perfect subtle hit of flavor! Source: Annie’s Eats

Muddy Buddies

Muddy Buddies, Puppy Chow, White Chocolate Chex. Call it what you will, this addicting mix is a necessary item on the list of favorite Christmas treats. My best advice after making this crunchy, peanut butter snack is to mix it up in a giant bowl with a lid, so that when you put in the powdered sugar, you can just put the lid on and shake the bowl for all you’re worth! Also, put it in disposable cups if you’re taking it to a party. A bunch of hands in a big bowl of food is not so appealing once everyone gets colds and/or the flu virus! Source: Betty Crocker

Rocky Road Fudge

Rocky Road Fudge. My sister, Amy, and I always make this insanely easy recipe. It’s one of those that’s low effort, high reward. This year Michael helped me make it, and he did a fantastic job! The only way to adjust the sweetness in this recipe is to use dark chocolate. I used 72% and it wasn’t as cloyingly sweet as some fudge recipes are.  I also used a bar of chocolate instead of chocolate chips, and that worked just fine since it gets melted anyways. Source: Meals

COOKIES

Toffee Shortbread Cookies

Toffee Shortbread Cookies. I made these for my toffee-loving husband, and they were right on the money. Crisp, buttery, simple to make, and the dough freezes if you need to save it for later. I mixed in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips because, well, I need chocolate, and my toffee chips had no chocolate on them. I loved it! Next time I make them, I want to leave out the chocolate chips and instead dip the cookies in some melted chocolate and sprinkle with more toffee chips. They’d be so pretty! Source: Mom On a Timeout

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps. I’ve always used an old family recipe for these classic cookies, but when I tried this recipe I just fell in love! With the addition of brown sugar and molasses, this version gets a good depth of flavor and bakes up perfectly to be a soft cookie with slightly crisp edges.  The edges crackle, and anyone with a love of molasses will love you forever for making these. I also like to roll a bunch out in the sugar and then freeze the dough balls to bake later. Otherwise I’d have eaten dozens by now! Source: Perfect Gingersnaps

Sugar CookiesSugar Cookies. I’m not sure there’s any way to beat sugar cookies for favorite Christmas treats. My mom used to make dozens for me and my sister or friends to decorate. We made gingerbread men ninjas and purple stars, angry Santa and reindeer…we were ‘creative’. Now I make a bunch of cookies, freeze them, drive them to my parents’ house and let my nieces and nephews decorate them and generally make a huge mess on the kitchen table. Their creations are always awesome, and my only advice is to add red hots for a cinnamon/texture enhancement. I’ve tried a lot of recipes, but this one has never failed me. Source: Annie’s Eats

My Mom’s Cocoa Ingredients
This is as simple and delicious as it gets. For me, there is no other!
*Makes 3-4 servings

⅓ c. cocoa
⅓ c. sugar
⅓ c. water
3 ½ c. milk
1 t. vanilla
Sprinkle of salt

Mix cocoa, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until almost boiling, 3-4 minutes. Add milk and heat on low until hot but not boiling, 10-15 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Stir before re-heating.

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