Tag Archives: baking

Beautiful shot of fresh pastries

5 Expert Food Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

The true hero of every food photo is, without a doubt, the food itself. Since you’ve nailed creating the perfect baked goodies, here are my five tips to take the most enticing photos of them, whether you wield a camera or a mobile phone!

Related: Steve Hodge’s Best Tips for a Successful Bakery

Good Light or Bust

This is my first tip for good reason! The light you shoot your subject in is the biggest determinant between a flat, mediocre photo and a stellar one.

• Natural Light: The good news is, natural sunlight is a great light source for food photos and costs nothing—but you must know how to use it right. Study the light available in your home, bakery or studio and observe how the light looks at different times of day, including intensity, colour temperature (cool versus warm) and shadows. If you have windows facing different directions, compare how the light looks next to each of those too.

• Direct Light:  Strong, direct light can be edgy and dramatic, but it’s trickier to master.

• Diffused Light: Indirect light is the easiest to make food appealing. What is “diffused indirect light”?  Think of the light that comes in through your window mid-morning before the sun’s position and intensity casts shadows inside, or an overcast day when clouds disperse its rays. Another element of light is the direction from which it hits the subject: from the side, behind or above. In general, the most forgiving natural light for a beginner photographer is diffused indirect sunlight coming from the side of the subject i.e. placing your subject at or near table-height beside a window where there are no shadows or harsh sunlight.  A north-facing window, if you have one, is favoured by food photographers because of the softer, bluer light.

• Artificial Light: Be sure to turn off every artificial indoor light. No food looks good with even the faintest bit of icky yellow cast.

Related: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

Gotta Hit Them Angles

There are three commonly-used angles to shoot food:  straight-on from the front, three-quarter downward angle, or overhead.  A good exercise is to look through your camera lens or screen as you move around the subject to figure out which angle showcases the attributes you want to highlight. Below are general rules with practical examples, but be sure to explore all three (and angles in between) to find the best one.

• Straight-On: Ideal to showcase height and/or interesting layers for cupcakes, layered cakes, stack of cookies or bars.

• Three-Quarter: Best for showing off items with layers or fillings in bars, macarons, filled tarts, profiteroles, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls.

• Overhead: Perfect for flat foods or foods with interesting shapes, surfaces or toppings e.g. pizzas, galettes, pop tarts, cookies, doughnuts, macarons, cinnamon rolls.

Overhead shot of a cauliflower pizza
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

See More: Here Are Our Favourite Bakeries Across Canada

Bring Images to Life

Composition: How elements are arranged in your shot to be aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind:

Rule of Thirds: Imagine overlaying a grid of nine boxes over your image, then place your points of interest at the four intersecting points of the grid.

Leading Lines: Use lines to lead a viewer’s eye to the focal point e.g. a cake knife pointing toward the confection.

Repetition: Place multiples of the same item or items of similar shape. Grouping in odd numbers is ideal.  

Symmetry and Asymmetry: There is beauty and balance in symmetry, but be careful it doesn’t look boring or manufactured. Asymmetry can evoke interest. Try using negative space as well, in practicing asymmetrical composition.

Layers: Photos are two dimensional. Introducing layers creates depth and texture. Layers can take the form of the backdrop, linens, plate, cooling rack, a sprig of mint atop a cupcake or a sprinkling of powdered sugar on a tart.

Shot of a cupcake with pink buttercream icing on a plate with a mint green
Cupcake from Bluegrass & Buttercream bakery. Photo courtesy of Project Bakeover

• Colour: Different hues evoke different emotions or impressions. Blue feels calm, orange feels warm, green feels fresh and brown feels earthy. There’s also established guidance for mixing colours in visually appealing ways such as complementary, monochromatic and analogous combinations. Complementary tones sit opposite on the colour wheel i.e. pink cupcake set on a green surface. Monochromatic combos use hues, tints and shades of the same colour i.e. red strawberries on pink frosting. Analogous combo involves three adjacent colours i.e. red, orange and yellow heirloom tomato slices arranged on a vegetable tart. Think about the impression you want your food to make and choose your colours intentionally for the props and elements in the frame.

• Props: Anything that helps your image tell a complete story is a prop. You may use glassware, napkins, plates, pinch bowls, baking tins, cake stands, cutlery, etc. to add interest by way of texture, shape and height. You can also use raw ingredients from the recipe as a prop to convey freshness, such as juicy berries, vibrant herbs, a dribble of maple syrup or a dusting of flour on the table. Scatter bits of the food around it to hint at its texture, such as streusel crumbs or bits of chopped nuts. You can place utensils used in preparation, serving or enjoyment of the food to make the viewer feel part of the experience, such as a used whisk or spoon shattered through the sugary crust of a crème brulée tart. Be sure the prop makes sense and relates to the hero food.

Capture Food At Its Freshest

With some exception, many baked goods look their best when freshly prepared. Think about the shine of chocolate chips on a just-baked cookie, the glisten of freshly dripped glaze on a cake or gooey cheese on a hot pizza. These details make them inherently more drool-worthy! This means you should prepare as much of your set up as possible before the food is ready. Pull the table next to the window, set up any surfaces or backdrops, grab all the props you might need, fire up your playlist, and if you’re using one, have the tripod set up with the camera. Arrange props (sans the hero food) in a way you think will look good, and once the hero food hits the scene, ideally you only need to make a few final adjustments before you click away.

Beautiful shot of various pastries
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

Editing Magic

Brightness, colour saturation, white balance, contrast, shadows: these are some of the basic adjustments you can tweak in editing software to create a more professional and polished result. You don’t need to be an expert photographer or to shell out big money for software. There are powerful mobile editing apps available, some free to download (Lightroom and Snapseed for example). Taking an excellent photo straight out of camera is always #goals, but that rarely happens. Image editing can save a photo or enhance an already strong one. That said, I caution the impulse to over-edit. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with harsh, fake-looking results, so use a gentle touch!

Tune into Project Bakeover Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Two Popular Desserts Join Forces to Make the Ultimate Sweet Treat: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls!

Carrot cake lovers, we’ve got you. These Baking Therapy carrot cake cinnamon rolls combine all the delicious flavours we love in a classic carrot cake: carrots, pecans, coconut (and don’t forget the cream cheese icing!) all rolled up to make the ultimate cinnamon roll. They’re made with bread flour — which gives it that pillowy, but chewy texture — but it can be easily swapped with all-purpose for a cakier treat. Make this any day of the week! You’ll thank us later.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 8 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup milk
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 ¼ active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 cup grated carrots

Filling
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Icing
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Equipment:

Quarter Sheet Pan, Amazon, $34

Stand Mixer, Amazon, $400

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Start by baking the cinnamon roll dough: warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to the touch. Stir in 1 Tbsp sugar and the active dry yeast. Cover loosely with kitchen towel and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture, beaten eggs and butter. Work the dough until it just begins to come together, about 5 minutes. Add the grated carrots and continue on medium speed for another 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise and double in size, about 45 minutes.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls dough

3. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a casserole dish or quarter sheet pan with melted butter and set aside.

4. Now for the filling: in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

Related: The Ultimate Dessert Mashup: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Meets Chinese Fried Wontons

5. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface, lightly flour your rolling pin and roll out to about 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 17 x 14 inches.

6. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly the filling mixture and sprinkle the pecans and coconut overtop. Leave about a 1 cm border to allow the dough to adhere to each other when rolled. Start with the longest edge nearest to you, tightly roll the dough away from you into a firm log. Pinch the seams together and set the log seam side down.

Carrot cake cinnamon roll dough before being rolled up

7. With a serrated knife trim off the ends and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 15-20 minutes, until doubled in size.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls before being baked in the oven

8. Bake for 30-38 minute until golden brown and bubbly.

9. For the cream cheese icing: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream both butter and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the icing sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and beat for 1 minute on medium-high speed.

10. Spread the cream cheese icing over top while the rolls are still warm and enjoy!

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls

Like Sabrina’s carrot cake cinnamon rolls? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

This Easy Make-Ahead Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee is the Dessert You Need

Coffee + condensed milk + creme brulee — need we say more? This Baking Therapy dessert combines the sweet delicious flavours of Vietnamese coffee with the silky smooth creme brulee we all know and love. An easy make-ahead dessert you’ll make again and again!

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours or overnight
Bake Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Rime: 2 hours, 55 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup dark roast coffee, coarsely ground
4 large egg yolks
1 (300 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup granulated sugar for tops

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 6 (3 ½ oz) ramekins in a baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, heat the heavy cream, half-and-half and coarsely ground coffee. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, remove from the heat. Steep for 15 minutes then strain through a fine sieve.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients steeping in pot

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and condensed milk until pale yellow in colour, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add one ladle of the hot cream to the egg mixture, whisk to combine so the eggs don’t scramble. Continue adding and whisking until well incorporated. Pass through a fine sieve again to ensure a smooth mixture.

Related: Tropical Desserts That’ll Make You Forget It’s Still Winter

4. Ladle evenly into the 6 ramekins. Carefully fill the baking pan with about ½ inch of boiling water and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are set, but the centre is still jiggly. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee on cooling rack

5. When ready to serve, working with one creme brulee at a time, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top. Using a kitchen blowtorch, melt the sugar until it gets golden and bubbly. Let sit for 1 minute so that it hardens. Enjoy immediately!

Like Sabrina’s Vietnamese coffee creme brulee? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

Basque burnt cheesecake with raspberries on top

This 7-Ingredient Basque Burnt Cheesecake Recipe is Totally Foolproof

This Baking Therapy Basque burnt cheesecake is a no-fuss, foolproof dessert that requires only seven ingredients and is super easy to make. Yes, it’s intentionally burnt, which gives it a slightly bitter caramelized flavour that pairs perfectly with the creamy interior. The texture is lighter and less rich than traditional cheesecake, ensuring you can have more than a single slice in one sitting.

Basque burnt cheesecake with raspberries on top

Basque Burnt Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups (875 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
½ tsp salt
⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Equipment:

Round Springform Cake Tin, Amazon, $32.

Basque burnt cheesecake ingredients


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with 2 15×18-inch sheets of parchment paper, making sure the parchment comes up the sides all the way around the pan.

Related: Best Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low, stream in the granulated sugar. Cream until the sugar has dissolved, another 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

Basque burnt cheesecake batter

3. Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure it’s fully incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding the next.

4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and stream in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla and salt and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Mix until smooth and creamy, another 10-15 seconds. Remove from the mixer and sift in the flour over top. Use a spatula to fold in the flour until just combined.

Making Basque burnt cheesecake batter

5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the top is deeply golden (resembling a burnt top), the cake has puffed up and the centre is still jiggly.

6. Let cool in the pan for 40 minutes then remove from the springform pan and let cool completely on a wire. Carefully peel off the parchment paper, cut into slices and enjoy!

Basque burnt cheesecake

Like Sabrina’s Basque burnt cheesecake? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or chocolate PB skillet cookie.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

These Vibrant Matcha and Raspberry Mochi Doughnuts Require Just 10 Ingredients

These Baking Therapy matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts are fun, playful and super easy to make. They’re made with glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) which gives them their unique texture: crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. Dip them in your favourite glaze (matcha or raspberry!) or toss them in sugar.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

Matcha and Raspberry Mochi Doughnuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Servings: 8 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
2 cups glutinous rice flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
½ cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
Vegetable oil for frying

Matcha Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
½ tsp matcha
2 Tbsp milk

Raspberry Glaze
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup icing sugar

Mochi doughnuts ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together glutinous rice flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the centre and set aside.

2. Whisk the egg with the water and pour into the centre of the flour mixture. With a spatula, mix until a dough forms. Knead with your hands until the dough is soft and slightly tacky, about 5-8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes.

Mochi doughnuts dough in glass bowl

3. In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat 4 inches of oil to about 375°F. Cut and lightly grease 4-inch x 4-inch parchment paper squares.

4. Transfer the dough to a clean surface. Divide into 8 portions, roughly 65 g each and roll into round balls. Further divide each ball into 8 more portions. Roll the dough into round balls.

Mochi doughnut dough cut into eight pieces

5. Arrange the 8 balls in a ring, resembling a doughnut, making sure the balls are touching each other. They will relax and fuse to one another. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Mochi doughnut dough, formed and ready to be fried

6. Using a spider or slotted spoon, carefully place the doughnuts and parchment paper into the hot oil. After about 20-30 seconds, the doughnut will rise, gently remove the parchment paper backing and continue to fry for 4-6 minutes per side until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

7. For the matcha icing, whisk together the icing sugar, matcha and milk until desired consistency. For the raspberry icing, create a puree by cooking down the frozen raspberry over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. Whisk together the icing sugar and 5-6 tsp of puree until desired consistency.

Related: Best Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

8. Dip each doughnut into the icing and let set at room temperature.

Mochi doughnuts on wire cooling rack

Like Sabrina’s mochi doughnuts? Try her chocolate peanut butter skillet cookie or her baked Alaskas.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Date Night at Home Isn’t Complete Without This Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie

Imagine the perfect cookie. For me it would be crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and loaded with chocolate. Then take it to the next level with salty, nutty peanut buttery goodness. Decadent chocolate + peanut butter make for the ultimate dream team in this delicious skillet cookie recipe. Don’t forget to top it with a scoop of ice cream! The perfect decadent dessert for a date night at home.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Chocolate Peanut Butter Skillet Cookie

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ stick butter, room temperature
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chunks
Flaky sea salt

Equipment:

6 ½ Inch Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet, Amazon, $23.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and cream until light and airy, about 3-5 minutes. Dissolve the espresso powder with water and add to the stand mixer, along with the vanilla extract.

Related: Our Most Popular Cookie Recipes of All Time

4. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Fold in the chopped chocolate.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie dough

5. Divide the cookie dough amongst two 6.5-inch cast iron skillets or one 10-inch skillet. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on top of the dough. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

chocolate and PB skillet cookie in cast iron pan

Like Sabrina’s cast iron cookie recipe? Try her 8-ingredient warm salted caramel lava cakes or caramel apple cheesecake fried wontons.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Two glasses with healthier banana pudding

This Healthier Banana Pudding is the Perfect Make-Ahead Dessert

If you have bananas in your kitchen at this very moment, this recipe is for you. This healthier banana pudding is creamy, rich and delicious without being over sweet. It’s an easy dessert that layers in vanilla wafers (that soften to the perfect cake consistency), sweet bananas and vanilla pudding (which is naturally sweetened with just maple syrup). Seriously, make this now, so you can enjoy it later! And an added bonus? This recipe only requires eight simple ingredients.

Two cups of healthier banana pudding

Healthier Banana Pudding

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 4 hours or overnight
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ cups 2% milk
⅓ cup maple syrup
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 box vanilla wafer cookies
3 bananas, sliced

Healthier banana pudding ingredient on countertop

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, milk, maple syrup and egg yolks, breaking up any clumps. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Strain through a fine sieve, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

White pot cooking pudding, with bananas next to it

2. Once the pudding has chilled, give it a good whisk to loosen the mix. Add in Greek yogurt and whisk to incorporate.

Related: These Banana Bread Recipes Will Provide All The Comfort You Need

3. At the bottom of a glass, break up a few vanilla wafers, next layer the sliced bananas and finally the vanilla pudding. Repeat the layering until the glass is full. Place back in the fridge for another 2 hours or overnight. The wafers will soften and become cake-like. Enjoy!

One cup of healthier banana pudding

Like Sabrina’s healthier banana pudding? Try her 8-ingredient warm salted caramel lava cakes or her healthy apple oatmeal cookies.

Sweet potato blondies on kitchen counter

These Comforting Sweet Potato Blondies Will Defeat Your Winter Blues

Traditional blondies get a comforting, cold-weather twist with the addition of sweet potato.  These Can You Vegan It? fudgy squares can easily be made vegan-friendly by swapping in a few simple ingredients. And the addition of chopped pecans kick things up a notch, adding a nice crunch and a decadent touch. Feel free to sub in different nuts, toffee bits or anything else you might be craving. Tip: serve warm to keep you toasty during blustery winter nights.

Sweet potato blondies

Sweet Potato Blondies

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 75 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Blondie Base
⅔ cup unsalted butter (or vegan butter)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg (or vegan egg substitute)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup of pecans (optional)

Sweet Potato Top
1 small sweet potato
3 Tbsp condensed milk (or vegan condensed milk)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Sweet potato blondies ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and bake the small sweet potato for 40 minutes. To save time, you can peel and cut the sweet potato into large even pieces, then boil until soft. It will cook faster when boiled, but I suggest baking it instead to maintain all the delicious flavour.

2. As the sweet potato bakes, prepare the batter by browning the butter first. Add the butter to a pot on low-heat. As the butter begins to melt, stir and slowly raise to medium heat. Be careful when you increase the heat, as it’s very easy to burn butter. If possible, use a light-coloured pot so you can see the butter clearly as it begins to brown. Stir continuously — and once the butter has reached a golden brown colour, remove and sift into a large bowl.

Related: Comforting Desserts to Battle Bitter, Cold Winters

3. Once the butter has cooled to room temperature, add the light brown sugar and combine. Then add the egg and stir in the vanilla.

4. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder) to the mix and combine well. Be careful not to over mix. Then fold in the chopped pecans and pour the batter into a buttered baking dish. Set aside.

Sweet potato blondie batter

5. Once the sweet potato is soft and fully baked, remove it from the oven and turn down the heat to 350°F (to bake the blondies). Let the sweet potato cool, then remove its skin and mash it up in a large bowl. Next, add the condensed milk, pumpkin pie spice and pecans. Mix until all ingredients are evenly combined.

6. Pour the sweet potato mixture on top of the blondie batter in the baking dish. Spread it on top as an even layer. Add a few more crushed pecans to top it off.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Like Eden’s sweet potato blondies? Try her vegan sloppy Joe sliders or her cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published January 9, 2019, Updated January 2, 2021

The Top 2020 Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

2020 was truly a strange year. With everyone spending more time at home and more time in the kitchen, my hope was that these Baking Therapy treats would inspire you to try something new. I’m sharing some of my favourite recipes from this past year, from my soft and pillowy rolls to one of my all-time favourite carrot cake recipes, that will hopefully ignite the baking enthusiast in you. Happy baking!

East Soft Dinner Rolls

Does the thought of baking bread intimidate you? Don’t let it! These soft and fluffy rolls are easy to make and require just a few basic pantry ingredients that you probably already have at home.

two soft dinner rolls on cooling rack

Get the recipe for Easy Soft Dinner Rolls

Key Lime Pie Icebox Cake

Layers of tart key lime curd, creamy vanilla ice cream and soft graham cracker cookies make up this delicious icebox cake. Did I mention it’s no-bake? Plus: it only requires 30 minutes of prep!

No-bake key lime pie icebox cake on wood cutting board

Get the recipe for Key Lime Pie Icebox Cake

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Start your mornings on a sweet note with these gooey cinnamon rolls. Soft, fluffy and drizzled in the most addictive brown butter cream cheese icing, I promise you will not be disappointed.


Get the recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Pastry Pockets

These pastry pockets will get you feeling nostalgic. Flaky pie crust filled with your favourite jam or jelly and the most delicious cream cheese. To make it even easier, try store-bought pie dough.


Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Pastry Pockets

Ginger Molasses Cookies

The quintessential holiday cookie. These ginger molasses cookies are soft, chewy, full of bold flavours and have the perfect crackly tops. My little secret? Spicy ginger candies to take it to the next level.

Ginger molasses cookies with crumbled candied ginger on top

Get the recipe for Ginger Molasses Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

If you love pumpkin pie, you will love these pumpkin pie squares! Velvety smooth filling with a spicy ginger snap crust.

pumpkin pie squared on cooling rack

Get the recipe for Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato Brownies

No one will ever know these fudgy brownies are made with sweet potatoes. They’re perfectly chocolatey, loaded with nutrients and — surprise! — also gluten-free.


Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Brownies

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is the perfect ending to any dinner. Sweet and spongy cake soaked in a decadent toffee sauce, there’s no passing up this sticky dessert.

sticky toffee pudding on white plate

Get the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

The one cake recipe you will make time and time again. Carrot cake has always been a favourite of mine and since carrots are available year-round, there’s no reason to wait until spring to enjoy it! This one is loaded with coconut, pecans and fresh pineapple chunks.


Get the recipe for Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

12-Layer Chocolate Cake

Impress your family with this 12-layer chocolate cake. Yes, you read that right. But here’s a little secret: it’s made with just one single 9-inch cake pan.


Get the recipe for 12-Layer Chocolate Cake

Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Apples are such a versatile fruit and there are unlimited ways to enjoy them. These Hasselback apples are sliced open like a fan and stuffed with a truly addictive coconut-oat streusel. Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Caramel being drizzled on Hasselback apples

Get the recipe for Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Tiramisu Cream Puffs

You can have more than one favourite dessert right? Tiramisu is one of my weaknesses. Sweet custard layered between coffee-soaked lady fingers — what’s not to love? All the flavours of tiramisu wrapped into a handheld treat.

tiramisu cream puffs on cutting board

Get the recipe for Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Banana Upside-Down Cake

We all have a bunch of brown bananas lying around in our kitchen. Skip the banana bread and make this impressive upside-down banana cake instead! Topped with sliced bananas, caramel and of course — you must always add ice-cream.


Get the recipe for Banana Upside-Down Cake

White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies

Everyone needs an emergency cookie stash. These funfetti cookies are crispy on the edges, chewy in the centre and deliciously nutty from the brown butter.

White chocolate funfetti cookies on white plate

Get the recipe for White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies

Rainbow Crepe Cake

Brunch never looked so good. This vibrant cake has 24 layers of soft, colourful crepes layered between light whipped cream.

rainbow crepe cake with berries on top on white cake stand

Get the recipe for Rainbow Crepe Cake

Like Sabrina’s Baking Therapy recipes? Check out more here!

Anna Olson holds up a ceramic ramekin dessert

Anna Olson’s Genius Way to Use Up Leftover Holiday Cookies

They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure – and this rule certainly applies in the kitchen! From pie crusts to trifles, there are dozens of creative ways to use stale cookies in sweet repurposed recipes. Use Anna Olson’s tip below for any type of cookies you have on hand, or try your hand at one of our other great recipes that make use of your sweet holiday leftovers.

Related: Shop Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Gadgets

Sugar Cookies


To use as a crumble topping, break up leftover sugar cookies into little pieces in a bowl. For every one cup of crumbled up cookies, add two tablespoons of melted butter and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. It’s that easy! After cooling, serve this delicious dessert as you like it – drizzled with caramel sauce, with a scoop of ice cream, or a dash of icing sugar.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Wooden charcuterie board with a chocolate dessert salami cut into small coins

Take leftover store-bought or homemade chocolate sandwich cookies and make a rich, chocolate-y no-bake dessert (that makes a great late holiday gift!). Chocolate sandwich cookies, graham crackers and pretzels stud this dessert salami, making it the perfect recipe to use up all your leftover snacks.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Oreo Salami

Gingerbread Cookies

Milk chocolate bark studded with ginger snap cookies, cranberries and pistachios and drizzled with white chocolate

Got surplus gingerbread cookies or a smashed gingerbread house? Crushed up gingerbread cookies work perfectly in place of ginger snaps in this milk chocolate holiday bark.

Get the recipe for Gingerbread Holiday Bark

Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla ice ccream swirled with strawberries and topped with a cookie crumble

For a sweet, buttery topping, crumble leftover shortbread cookies on top of ice cream drizzled in homemade strawberry rhubarb syrup. It’ll add a little crunchy texture to your sundae.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb & Shortbread Cookie Crumble

Anything Else!

Grasshopper pie with chocolate crust and mint cream filling and a sprinkling of chocolate cookie crumble

Instead of graham crackers, use a cookie of your choice to make a delicious pie crust. For this traditional grasshopper pie recipe, crush chocolate cookies and mix with melted butter. Press into a pan and then fill with marshmallow fluff. Delish!

Looking for more ways to use up leftovers? Check out these tasty ways to use all that leftover turkey, plus these sweet & savoury ways to repurpose pie dough.

Holiday Dessert is Made Easy With These Cute 6-Ingredient Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Need an easy, yet impressive holiday dessert? If you have a package of puff pastry in your freezer and a handful of other fridge and pantry staples, you’re halfway to making these simple apple crumble tarts. This version is mini-sized, perfect for individual servings to snack on during the week (it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to enjoy a homemade dessert!) or for serving at holiday gatherings. Best of all, they come together in no time at all and if you are the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, you can assemble these and freeze them so you’ll only need to preheat the oven when you’re ready to enjoy.

Mini apple crumble tarts on white tray

Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 tarts

Ingredients:

400g (or 2 rolls) frozen puff pastry, thawed but chilled
1 large or 2 small granny Smith apples
3 Tbsp butter, melted + 3 Tbsp cold butter cut into 12 pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
Pouring cream (optional)
Sliced or slivered almonds (optional)

Mini apple crumble tarts ingredients

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.

2. Roll out pastry; use a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter to cut out 12 rounds.

3. Place a round of pastry into each spot in the muffin tin and gently press them into the tin. Prick the bottom of each pastry round with a fork and place the tin in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Irresistible Apple Desserts

4. Peel and core the apple(s) and cut into tiny cubes. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

5. Mix the melted butter, flour, sugar and oats in a small bowl until all the ingredients are wet. Mix the apples with the crumble topping.

6. Divide the filling evenly between the pastry cups. (At this stage you can freeze the assembled tarts. Once completely frozen, you can store in them in airtight containers for two weeks. Bake from frozen — although they might take a few minutes longer in the oven).

Mini apple crumble tart in baking tray

7. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and top each tart with the small cube of butter. Bake for another 20 minutes at until the pastry is golden brown, the apples are soft and the crumble is crispy.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the tins. Serve with pouring cream and some slivered almonds.

Mini apple crumble tart on white plate

Like Mardi’s mini apple crumble tarts? Try her mixed berry galettes or her French butter cookies.

DIY Girl Guide cookies on plate with milk

DIY Girl Guide Cookies: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mints

A Girl Guide favourite just got even more wholesome. These simple, seven-ingredient vegan thin mints are dairy-free, gluten-free and made without refined sugar. The almond flour gives them a rich and nutty flavour that’s still neutral enough to remind you of the real thing — only more delicious. Enjoy them straight out of the fridge with a glass of cold almond or oat milk.

DIY Girl Guide cookies with milk

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mint Cookies

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 24 to 30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup + 3 tsp coconut oil, divided
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ¾ tsp peppermint extract, divided
⅛ tsp sea salt
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips or chunks

DIY Girl Guide cookies ingredients on counter

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, cocoa powder, ¼ cup melted coconut oil, maple syrup, 1 ¼ tsp peppermint extract and sea salt until it forms a sticky, slightly crumbly dough. Divide the cookie dough into two parts and flatten into discs. Cover each disc in food wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

Related: The Sweet Prairie History of Girl Guide Cookies

3. Place one chilled dough disc on a piece of parchment paper and roll out until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut out circles using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, using up all the remaining dough scraps. Repeat with the second disc of chilled dough.

DIY Girl Guide cookies dough

4. Put cookies on the lined baking sheet, spacing evenly and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, about 20 minutes.

DIY Girl Guide cookies on baking trray

5. Once the cookies are cooled, make the chocolate coating. Combine chocolate chips and 3 tsp coconut oil in a small bowl and melt in the microwave in 15-second intervals or on the stove using a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in a scant ½ tsp peppermint extract.

6. Carefully dip the cookies into the chocolate coating with a fork, flipping over to get all sides. Let any excess chocolate drip off before placing them on the baking sheet.

DIY Girl Guide cookies melted chocolate

7. Cool the tray of dipped cookies in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens, about 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Store the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer and enjoy them chilled.

Like Claire’s vegan thin mints recipe? Try her sfenj AKA Moroccan doughnuts or her upside-down apple cake.

salted caramel lava cakes on white plate

These Warm Salted Caramel Lava Cakes Only Require 8 Ingredients (Easiest Holiday Dessert Ever!)

Warm salted chocolate caramel lava cakes — yes, you read that right! These Baking Therapy treats are different from traditional lava cakes: picture a cross between a cupcake and a brownie. They’re chocolatey, fudgy and oozing with dulce de leche! Make a big batch and enjoy all winter long. Added bonus: this recipe requires only eight ingredients and takes just 40 minutes to whip up.

salted caramel lava cakes on white plate

Warm Salted Caramel Lava Cakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Total Time: 40-42 minutes
Servings: 9 lava cakes

Ingredients:

½ cup store-bought caramel or dulce de leche
½ tsp flaky salt
1 stick butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Lava cake ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease and line the bottoms of 9 muffin tins, set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the dulce de leche and flaky salt. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with neutral oil. Dollop 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche on the greased paper, place in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Related: Our Favourite Decadent Chocolate Desserts

3. While your dulce de leche is cooling: in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Mix until mixture is smooth.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high until doubled in size, about 4-5 minutes. Stream in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla and whisk to combine. Fold in the flour.

salted caramel lava cakes batter

5. Once the dulce de leche is cold, lightly grease your hands and roll them into perfect rounds. Set aside.

6. With an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins ⅔ of the way full, reserving about ½ cup of batter. Push the dulce de leche rounds into the centre of each and top the cakes with the remaining batter.

salted caramel lava cakes batter in muffin tin

7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the tops are slightly cracked. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes. Wedge a knife or offset spatula to lift the cakes out, peel off the parchment. Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream.

salted caramel lava cakes with ice cream on top

Like Sabrina’s lava cakes? Try her gingerbread doughnuts or her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies.

Mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

Baked Alaskas Are Making a Comeback — and These Chocolate Hazelnut Treats Are Proof!

Baked Alaskas are totally making a comeback and although they do look a bit intimidating, I promise you — it’s a piece of cake! These Baking Therapy mini baked Alaskas have a layer of moist hazelnut cake, topped with chocolate ice cream and engulfed in the fluffiest meringue. And as an added bonus: these little treats can be made dairy free as long as you substitute in a dairy-free ice cream. Impress your family this holiday season with these cute mini baked Alaskas.

Mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

Mini Chocolate Hazelnut Baked Alaskas

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 15 to 18 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 mini baked Alaskas

Ingredients:

Hazelnut Cake
1 cup hazelnut meal (store-bought or homemade — place whole hazelnuts in food processor or blender and pulse for 10-12 seconds)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup sunflower oil or any neutral oil
½ cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate ice cream (opt for dairy-free, if you wish)

Swiss Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients of mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line and grease a 9 x 13 pan. Set aside.

2. Whisk together the hazelnut meal, flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar on high until it doubles in size, about 5-8 minutes. Stream in the oil, almond milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Desserts for Cozy Celebrations

4. Fold in the dry ingredients in two batches making sure not to over-mix. Transfer to the prepared pan, give it a couple taps on the counter and bake for 15-18 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick when inserted, comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes. Then invert, peel back the parchment paper and let cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Place a piece of plastic wrap in every other cavity of a 12-cup muffin pan, fill with chocolate ice cream, fold the plastic overtop and press to pack the ice cream in. Place into the freezer to set.

Pan filled with mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

6. For the Swiss meringue, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved. Place back on the stand mixer, add the cream of tartar and whisk on high for 6-8 minutes. The meringue is ready when it has tripled in size and the bottom on the bowl is room temperature.

Meringue for mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

7. To assemble, use a 3” round cookie cutter to cut out round cakes. Unwrap a chocolate ice cream puck and place it in the centre. Completely cover the ice cream and cake with Swiss meringue.

Cake of mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

Mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter - assembly

8. Using a blow torch, gently toast the meringue. Enjoy immediately!

Torch browning mini baked Alaskas on kitchen counter

Like Sabrina’s mini baked Alaskas? Try her whimsical chocolate espresso yule log or her 30-minute gingerbread doughnuts.

Yule log finished on platter

This Whimsical Chocolate Espresso Yule Log is Surprisingly Easy to Make

It’s not the holiday season without a lot of chocolate. This Baking Therapy chocolate espresso yule log is a fun way to celebrate the holidays — and it’s surprisingly easy to make. Made with dark chocolate sponge cake and filled with a creamy chocolate cream cheese frosting, this yule log recipe is not only delicious, but it also doubles as a centrepiece!

Yule log finished on platter

Chocolate Espresso Yule Log

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 9 to 12 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 52 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10 pieces of cake

Ingredients:

Yule Log
5 large eggs
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup icing sugar, for dusting

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
2 ½ cups icing sugar
⅓ cup cocoa powder
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp water
¾ cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp heavy cream

Yule log ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line and grease a half sheet pan with a lip (12 x 17) with oil and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, on high speed, whisk together the eggs and sugar until the mixture has tripled in size, about 5-7 minutes.

Yule log ingredients in standmixer

3 In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixture and then stream in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared sheet pan, spread the batter into one even layer. Bake for 9-12 minutes until the cake is set and when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Yule log on baking tray

5. While the cake is still warm, run a knife around the perimeter of the pan to release the cake. Dust the top with icing sugar, place a larger piece of parchment paper and cookie sheet over top and invert the cake. Gently peel back the parchment paper. Starting with the longer end, slowly and gently roll up the cake along with the parchment paper until you have a log. Let the cake cool completely as a log, about 2 hours.

Yule log process

6. To make the frosting: sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder, set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, set aside. Mix together the espresso powder and water, set aside. In the bowl of stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the cream cheese and butter until combined. Add the icing sugar mixture in 2 batches, mixing well after each addition, about 1 minute. Add the melted chocolate and espresso mix and mix on high for 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, 1 Tbsp at a time and continue to whisk on high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Related: Festive Yule Logs for Your Holiday Table

7. To assemble: gently unroll the cake and evenly spread on a ¼ inch thick layer of frosting. Slowly roll up the cake again, without the parchment paper this time. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Once chill, slice off both ends to create clean edges. To create the yule log, slice off ⅓ of the log, then slice that log in half diagonally. Stagger the half pieces onto the longer log to resemble a branch, attach with a bit of frosting. Ice the entire cake with the frosting, leaving the ends exposed. To create the bark look, run a fork gently over top of the frosting to create ridges. Decorate with sugar-rolled cranberries and rosemary sprigs.

Yule log being decorated

Like Sabrina’s yule log? Try her gingerbread doughnuts or her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies.

Young woman using a laptop during Christmas

How to Host a Virtual Cookie Exchange — Plus Tips on Mailing Food to Loved Ones

By this point in the holiday season, festive bakers are busy preparing for a Christmas cookie exchange party or two. Getting together in person this year isn’t an option, but you can still celebrate virtually. Here’s a step-by-step guide for hosting a virtual cookie exchange along with some tips on mailing holiday treats to your loved ones.

Young woman using a laptop during Christmas

Step One: Create Your Invitation and Guest List

First, you’ll want to make a list of bakers to include in the cookie exchange. This can be a small circle of close friends and family or a larger group for ambitious bakers. Then, create an invitation that details how many cookies should be sent to each participant and the timeline that everyone has to bake and deliver their cookies. Invitations can be sent via email or create a Facebook event instead.

Related: Double-Decker Chocolate Cherry Cookies Are Twice the Fun

Step Two: Select Your Recipe

Once the invitations have been sent out, have everyone RSVP with the type of cookie they plan to bake. Bakers should also have a backup recipe to avoid duplicates. When selecting a recipe, opt for a cookie that won’t go stale quickly, like shortbread, biscotti or these stained glass sugar cookies. You might also want to think about creating a digital recipe book to share with everyone or have each participant include a recipe card along with their cookies.

Step Three: Purchase Your Supplies and Start Baking

Check your pantry for baking supplies and make note of what you’ll need to buy for your cookie recipe as well as any parchment paper or other tools. You’ll also want to pick up seasonal cookie tins or boxes to package up the goodies once they’re ready to send. Then, set aside some time to bake your cookies. You could even make your dough in advance and freeze it, then bake them closer to when you plan to deliver or mail them.

Christmas cookie cutters, cookie dough, flour, and beaters from a hand mixer

Step Four: Mail or Deliver Your Cookies

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, divide them into batches for each person on your list. If your plan is to deliver the cookies yourself, package them up in the boxes or tins that you purchased. Line each package with parchment paper and add decorative tissue or a bed of crinkle paper for a bit of fun.

Related: Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks

If you plan to mail the cookies, pack them well in an airtight freezer bag or a vacuum-sealed bag before placing them in the cookie tin or box. The last thing you want is for your friends and family to receive a bunch of broken cookies, so be sure to arrange the cookies so they won’t be shuffling around too much and add padding to both the container and the bottom, top and sides of the box you’ll be shipping it in. Keep in mind timing if you want the cookies to arrive by a specific date. It’s usually best to express ship these so they’ll arrive on time and as fresh as possible.

A box of cookies with a red top, clear window on top, and twine wrapped around it

Step Five: Celebrate!

Once everyone’s cookies have arrived, it’s time for your video call where everyone can celebrate together and sample the goodies. Create a signature beverage that everyone can enjoy along with the cookies and designate someone as the DJ to play some holiday tunes by using the audio sharing feature of your video call software. If schedules can’t permit a virtual party, have each person share a video greeting with them sampling some of the cookies that participants can watch at their leisure.

A silver tray with assorted Christmas cookies including linzer cookies, chocolate snowflakes and rugelach

Finally, invite everyone who participated in the cookie exchange to make a donation to a food cause in their community. If everyone lives in the same town, have everyone chip in for a group donation.

Looking for more holiday baking inspiration? Check out these classic Christmas cookie recipes that will spread holiday cheer.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash, Pexels and Food Network Canada

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Cozy up With a Cup of Hot Chocolate Topped With Homemade Peppermint Vanilla Marshmallows

These Baking Therapy homemade peppermint vanilla marshmallows are soft, fluffy and they melt into the perfectly gooey topping on your hot cup of cocoa. Try different flavours like coconut or almond and make a big batch to gift over the holidays. Once you try homemade marshmallows, there’s no going back to store-bought!

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Peppermint Vanilla Marshmallows With Hot Chocolate

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Servings: 16 marshmallows

Ingredients:

Marshmallows
¾ cup cool water, divided
6 tsp gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
⅔ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp peppermint extract
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup icing sugar

Hot Chocolate
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups almond milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Homemade marshmallows ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Line a 9×9 square pan with parchment paper and grease generously with neutral oil or spray. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add ½ cup water, sprinkle over gelatin and let sit for 5 minutes.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly This Fall

3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water and salt. Once the mixture starts to boil, let bubble for 1 minute. Remove from stove and transfer to a bowl with a spout.

4. With the mixer on medium-low, slowly stream in the hot sugar liquid. Once the liquid is in, turn the mixer to high and whisk for 10 minutes until the mixture is nice and fluffy. Whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extract.

Homemade marshmallows gelatin in mixing bowl

5. Transfer the marshmallows to the square pan, making sure to brush any tools you use with oil to avoid sticking. Smooth out the top using an offset spatula. Finally top the marshmallows with another sheet of greased parchment paper and let set for at least 2 hours at room temperature.

Homemade marshmallows batter

6. Remove the marshmallows from the pan. Brush a sharp knife with oil and slice the marshmallows into 16 squares, making sure to brush the knife with oil after every cut. Dust the marshmallows generously with icing sugar, making sure to cover every surface.

Homemade marshmallows cut on table

7. For the hot chocolate, in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, whisk together coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Once the mixture is hot, add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Continue to heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.

Homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate

Like Sabrina’s peppermint vanilla marshmallows recipe? Try her gingerbread doughnuts or her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies.

An overhead show of sliced marbled banana bread

Why We’re Drawn to Comfort Baking in Times of Stress, According to a Psychologist

If we could sum up our collective baking experience in 2020, it would boil down to two words: banana bread.

When the global pandemic first upended our everyday lives back in March, many of us turned to baking. It didn’t matter whether or not we were seasoned pros, we all seemed to crave the baked goods we cherished as kids. (Think: cookies, muffins, bread and pies). There was something comforting about the familiar smells and tastes — and it had many of us resorting to a form of culinary therapy in a time of uncertainty. You couldn’t scroll through your Instagram feed without coming across dozens of bread loaves conjured up by even the unlikeliest bakers in your friend group.

Get the recipe for Healthy Marbled Banana Bread

So, what gives? Why now, in the midst of the second wave of COVID-19,  have we once again turned to baking — albeit with a distinct holiday sparkle this time around. As it turns out, our desire to bake when the going gets tough actually has deep psychological roots that can be traced back to our childhood.

Dr. Brent Macdonald, of the Macdonald Psychology Group in Calgary, has more than 20 years of experience in the field — and is more than familiar with the various intricacies of the human brain when it comes to food associations.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come Out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

“[Baking or cooking] can remind you of the positive experience of sharing it with family, of being cared for and comforted as children — and that same emotional transference happens in adults,” he explains. “The smell, the taste, the texture, the experience of eating something that brought you pleasure as a child brings up all those positive emotions of comfort and warmth.”

As Macdonald notes, it’s no mere coincidence that we seek out these familiar foods in times of strife. For many, it’s a form of mindfulness — even if we don’t realize it. “We tend not to have [comfort food] when we’re doing well — we typically have it when we’re feeling stressed. That’s our medicine, in a sense,” he says. “The good thing about it is that it works — comfort food and comfort baking makes us feel better. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing — we shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment that we have comfort foods we enjoy. It kind of gets a bad rap because of its association with sugars and carbohydrates — and fair enough. But once in awhile, treats are treats for a reason.”

Get the recipe for Fudgiest Sweet Potato Brownies

But given this whirlwind year where many have faced significant social and professional upheavals, Macdonald says it’s still important to take note of how consuming these baked goods makes you feel — aside from sentimental reminders of Grandma’s kitchen.

“Does [comfort baking] make you feel good and just feel good? Or does it make you feel good temporarily, masking some really unpleasant emotions that come back immediately once you stop eating? Because that’s an unhealthy pattern,” Macdonald says.

So, what’s the actual science behind this feel-good attachment we have to baking? Over the years, researchers have shown evidence that the act of baking triggers various parts of our brain, including the amygdala (the part of our brain where emotions are given meaning) and the hippocampal cortex (memory retrieval) which can ultimately help us reduce stress and anxiety. Therefore, a simple scent — vanilla or melted butter — can take us back to the relative safety and comfort of our childhood, thus inspiring in us the desire to recreate the recipes we indulged in during our “stress-free” younger years.

Get the recipe for Perfect Fermented Sourdough Bread

And with certain scents you can almost feel the power of those neuroreceptors firing off, Macdonald says. “We start to drool, to salivate, as our body prepares to ingest the food. It’s similar to people who have nicotine cravings. All of those things set off an anticipatory response that is waiting for that intake.”

So, with the holiday season upon us and no sign of COVID-19 abating before the end of this strange year, indulge in a little feel-good baking — whether you’re a novice or pro. After all, it’s one of the most budget-friendly therapeutic activities you can engage in — and the end result tastes delicious. Happy baking!

Try your hand at these classic Christmas cookies that will spread holiday cheer or these bountiful bread pudding recipes you’ll make over and over.

Gingerbread doughnuts on white plate

These Gingerbread Doughnuts With a Cinnamon Glaze Can Be Made in Under 30 Minutes

I love nothing more than a quick, easy dessert you can whip together in under 30 minutes. And these Baking Therapy gingerbread doughnuts are just the ticket. They will be sure to get you in the festive spirit, as they have all the flavours and spices of a classic gingerbread cookie — but in doughnut form! All you need are a few essential tools you probably already have in your kitchen and these doughnut pans. Topped with a cinnamon glaze for a hint of sweetness, because let’s be real: who doesn’t love a glazed doughnut?

Gingerbread donuts on white plate

Gingerbread Doughnuts With a Cinnamon Glaze

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 23 to 25 minutes
Servings: 16 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup grapeseed oil or any neutral oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp molasses

Cinnamon Glaze
1 ¼ cups icing sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp vanilla extract
5-6 Tbsp heavy cream

Equipment:
Non-Stick 6-Cavity Doughnut Baking Pans, Amazon, $65.

Gingerbread doughnuts ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 2 doughnut pans with oil or butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in the brown sugar until evenly distributed.

2. In a measuring cup, measure out the grapeseed oil and buttermilk. Whisk in the egg, vanilla extract and and molasses.

Related: Party-Worthy Doughnut Recipes

3. Create a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the wet ingredients. With a spatula, stir the ingredients together until just combined, don’t over-mix. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or simply spoon the mixture into the doughnut pan until just below the fill line.

doughnut batter in doughnut pan

4. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until a toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean. While the doughnuts are still hot, invert the pan and gently tap on the counter to remove the doughnuts. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

doughnuts cooling on wire rack

5. For the cinnamon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla extract. Begin with 4 Tbsp of heavy cream, whisking until well combined. Add 1 Tbsp at a time until the mixture has reached your desired consistency for dipping.

6. Dip the doughnuts, one at a time, into the glaze until the tops are fully coated. Add holiday sprinkles if you’re feeling festive!

doughnuts being dipped in cinnamon glaze

doughnuts with glaze in doughnut pan

Like Sabrina’s doughnut recipe? Try her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies,  sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

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cardamom teff muffins on green plate

These Cardamom Teff Apple Muffins Will Be Your New Go-To Breakfast Recipe

These cardamom-spiced teff muffins make for a delicious fall breakfast or midday snack. Baking with teff flour, a nutrient-rich, gluten-free Ethiopian grain can be tricky as gluten-free grains can be drying. However, the addition of fresh apples and applesauce make for a delicious and moist muffin. Teff should be combined with other flours when baking — and for this recipe, I’ve added oat and all-purpose flour. The oat teff crumble on top adds a tasty crunch and touch of sweetness. The addition of cardamom, cinnamon and pecans pair perfectly with teff’s nutty flavour. Serve this up with sliced apples and a spicy Ethiopian chai tea for a delicious start to your day.

Cardamom teff apple muffins on plate

Cardamom Teff Apple Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

Muffins
1 cup flour
½ cup teff flour (teff grains are incredibly small and can easily be mistaken for teff flour when shopping — be sure to buy teff flour and not the whole grains for this recipe)
½ cup oat flour
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp applesauce
1 Granny Smith apple diced

Crumble
¼ cup butter softened
¼ cup pecans
¼ cup oats
⅓ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
2 Tbsp teff flour
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of cardamom

Ingredients for Cardamom teff apple muffins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, teff flour, oat flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom and cinnamon.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, milk, oil, vanilla and applesauce.

Related:  Our Best Healthy Muffin Recipes for Busy On-The-Go Mornings

3. Dice the apple into small pieces and set aside.

4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients without over mixing. Then fold in the apple pieces.

Cardamom teff apple muffins batter

5. In a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the crumble topping with your hands until you achieve several small clumps.

Cardamom teff apple muffins crumble topping

6. Fill a muffin tin with muffin liners or grease the muffin tin. Fill with batter and top each with crumble topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cardamom teff apple muffins in tray

Love Eden’s muffins? Try your hand at her hearty teff breakfast bowl or comforting sweet potato blondies.