Tag Archives: cookies

Cookies and candy spilling over countertop

The Owner of Toronto’s Craig’s Cookies Shares His Secrets to Sweet Success

Cookies make everything better. Craig’s Cookies though? Those treat-stuffed morsels are a stamped, pink box of downright joy. It’s not just that they’re crammed with nostalgic childhood treats like peanut butter cups, shortbread or Snickers. It’s that each cookie is crafted with feel-good principles: love, inclusivity and the power of putting yourself out there. It’s no surprise that people are eating it up.

Craig Pike, the founder and namesake behind the famous Toronto cookie empire, epitomizes those traits. This sweet journey wasn’t his original life plan, but it grew organically — first from wanting to pay his phone bill and then from the unexpected joy it brought him.

“I saw how happy people got when their cookies were delivered to the door,” he says. “I’m a queer man who owns a business. My ethics and my morals and what I stand for are mirrored in the business. So while I was building the company and the brand, it was a no-brainer to try my best to make sure that it is a representation of who I am.”

The Early Days

The base of that business started five or six years ago when the actor and musician was out of work. To foot the bills he asked if anyone on Facebook wanted some of his potluck-famous cookies delivered. He fired up his Parkdale oven, busted out a top-secret version of his mom’s cookie recipe and hopped on his bike.

“One day I was at FreshCo in Parkdale buying butter for cookies and Pop Tarts were on sale. I thought that might be fun to put in a cookie. So I bought some Pop Tarts, put them in a cookie and it worked out,” he says. “So then I thought, well maybe if that works then anything would work. So we started with the Mars Bar and the peanut butter cup and the brownie — and now the sky’s the limit.”

Related: No-Bake Recipes Starring Peanut Butter, From Cookies to Cheesecake

Before Pike knew it, he was pumping out a dozen cookies every 12 minutes, selling his goods at local markets and eventually, at a six-month pop-up partnership with William Sonoma at Yorkdale Shopping Centre. “From there I had enough confidence to take a risk and open my first brick and mortar in 2018,” Pike says. “At that time, there were two employees: myself and one other person. The goal was a two-year lease and just go sell some cookies.”

Pike’s shop in Parkdale is a space inspired by his grandmother’s home in St. John’s, Newfoundland, a place where he grew up. Pike chose simple blue tiling to represent the Atlantic Ocean (customers have since pointed out it’s also the perfect Cookie Monster blue) and he hand-picked all of the art on the walls. “It feels like you’re going your grandmother’s or your grandfather’s or your loved ones’ home,” he says. “And you get to have a cookie, you get to meet somebody who’s going to give you the cookie, have a little chat with them. The only difference is that you pay for it.”

For the Love of Cookies

Not even three weeks after launch, a local news outlet shared a video featuring Craig’s Cookies that exploded with 1.4 million views in a single week. Suddenly Pike went from selling $360 worth of cookies a day to more than $1,000 a day. He eventually opened up a location in The Village, followed by locations in Leaside and Leslieville during the pandemic. Now, Pike says he has 86 employees, he ships goods to all corners of the country and he is on track to sell $10 to $12 million worth of cookies in the next four years.

Today, there are more than 100 types of cookies to sample at Craig’s Cookies, all made from that same base recipe he learned in his mom’s kitchen. Pike unabashedly uses familiar products that are fun and delicious to stuff those cookies with, rather than coming up with recipes for fillings. Even the shortbread-stuffed cookies are made with chocolate shortbread cookies from Cookie it Up, which Pike first fell in love with on a flight at Billy Bishop Airport.

Pike also regularly hosts creativity sessions where employees can come into the kitchen and just experiment with whatever they want. It was during one such session that they may have finally cracked a birthday cake cookie, something he says customers have been asking for. Sour Cherry Blasters, Mini Eggs, Nutella, apple pie and a slew of other options can also be found on the rotating menu and of course there is a Pride cookie, which is available year-round and is a featured item during Pride Toronto.

Related: Steve Hodge Shares His Best Tips on How to Run a Successful Bakery

“There’s maybe one trained baker in our entire company,” Pike says of his employees and overall philosophy. “It’s a group of amazing, incredible people — a lot of them work in the arts — who love home baking, who just want to be part of a community that is inclusive and who just celebrate the joy and happiness of what a cookie can bring to somebody.”

An Artful Future

Looking back, Pike isn’t sure he would have grown Craig’s Cookies the way he did had the pandemic not forced him to. It wasn’t just that he had to find ways to pivot, it was also that his first loves, theatre and music, were also shut down. So he doubled down with cookies and looked into how far he could push the business while exploring wholesale opportunities, a frozen cookie dough and other potential ventures.

Pike says there’s a lot of room for growth, but he’s also at the point where he wants to ensure he has a grasp on the business and not the other way around. He’s an entrepreneur with no formal business training (one of his project managers recently insisted he learn about profit margins, for example) and he feels the company is at a point where he needs someone else to help him explore future potential. Until then, he’s not in a rush.

Related: Our Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes for a Better Week Ahead

Instead, he finally feels as though he’s in a place where he can fund other passion projects and give back to the community while exploring some of the other things he loves. That includes kicking off an arts organization in the fall and producing a play, expanding the Toronto choir he conducts and creating a youth program where underprivileged kids in the city can express themselves through theatre and music.

“Five years ago, when I was baking by myself in my apartment in Parkdale, exhausted, baking like a dozen cookies every 12 minutes for nine hours, to try to get some cookies to sell on the sidewalk, I was like, ‘There has to be a means to an end here,’” he recalls. “Because I’m an artist. I’m an actor. I’m a musician. Now the pandemic is kind of shifting and we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel. But these initiatives are all possible because of Craig’s Cookies. All the hard work is coming to fruition in a really great way.”

Photos courtesy of Craig’s Cookies

The Healthy Loaded Oatmeal Cookie You’re Meant to Eat for Breakfast

Cookies for breakfast? You heard us right. Think of these healthy baked goods as chewy (portable) granola, sweetened with maple syrup and packed with wholesome ingredients, like chia seeds and walnuts. The cookies are also gluten-free – the batter uses oat flour instead of all-purpose, but you’d never know it!

Don’t have oat flour on hand? Make your own by grinding whole oats in a food processor until the mixture resembles a flour consistency. Just be sure to measure the oat flour after you grind it, not before. To turn this recipe into a dairy-free breakfast, simply substitute the butter with equal parts coconut oil. Pairing these cookies with your morning coffee will make everything that much sweeter.

Related: Healthy High-Protein Oatmeal, Dressed Up 3 Delicious Ways

Gluten-Free Breakfast Oat Cookies

Prep Time: 18 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup maple syrup
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups gluten-free old fashioned oats
1 cup gluten-free oat flour
1 Tbsp chia seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup pumpkin seeds

Related: Green Banana Flour is Here to Stay, And This Pancake Recipe Proves It

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, maple syrup, egg and vanilla until well blended.

3. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the oats, oat flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder and salt until combined.

4. Fold in the cranberries, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

Related: 3-Ingredient Breakfasts That Will Make Mornings a Breeze

5. Using a large ice cream scoop, evenly divide mixture into 12 rounds. Let chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

6. Transfer dough to a prepared baking sheet and press each round to flatten.

7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

8. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For more inspiration, here are our best high-protein breakfast recipes, the only make-ahead breakfast ideas you need, and a look into what healthy people eat for breakfast.

anna-olson-icing-a-cake

Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails

When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers like the talented teams on The Big Bake have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.

Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.

Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?

There are two main reasons why your chocolate chip cookies are too soft and meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.

Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.

How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?

A common culprit for why your cake is too wet (AKA raw in the middle) or sinking is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.

Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.

Anna Olson's lemon cake with coconut frosting and shaved coconut, a slice cut out and plated

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake

What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?

There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.

See More: Watch Baking 101 With Anna Olson

How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?

When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.

Anna Olson's chocolate banana muffins on a plate

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins

Can I still use curdled custard?

Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!

Ready to get even more advanced? See more baking tips from Anna Olson.

What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?

If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.

If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.

Craving a chocolate dessert? Try Anna Olson’s chocolate recipes for every skill level.

Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?

Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).

If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.

Anna Olson's flaky savoury pie crust

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Savoury Pie Crust

Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?

All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.

If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.

Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?

Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.

Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.

How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?

The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.

Anna Olson's lemon meringue squares with graham cracker base, lemon curd and toasted meringue top

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares 

For more with Anna Olson, watch The Big Bake and Junior Chef Showdown. 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

Anna Olson Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level

Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes for Every Skill Level: Easy to Advanced

Has Great Chocolate Showdown inspired you to try out some new skills in your kitchen? Not all chocolate recipes are created equal, so we asked Canada’s most beloved baker and Great Chocolate Showdown host Anna Olson to help us break down which of her recipes would be best suited to your skills.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, here are Anna Olson’s best chocolate recipes for bakers of all levels.

Related: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

Easy Chocolate Recipes for Baking Beginners

If you’re not sure where to start your chocolate baking journey, look no further than this classic bake — cookies. “Chocolate chip cookies are a great basic because it gets you into the chocolate world,” recommended Anna.

Anna Olson's classic chocolate chip cookies cooling on a wooden trayGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

For a serious sweet tooth, fudgy brownies are another great option for new home bakers, and as a bonus, they use items you probably already have in your kitchen. “Brownies take minimal equipment. If you’ve got a pot, a pan, and a whisk, you can make brownies,” said Anna.

See More: Anna Olson’s Top Baking Tools

Anna Olson's fudge brownies studded with a pecanGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Fudge Brownies

Intermediate Chocolate Recipes if You Have a Few Baking Skills Under Your Belt

For home bakers who have the basic chocolate skills down and want to give themselves a challenge, Anna provided some delightful options.

“You can get into fun things like chocolate crinkle cookies, a good, rich chocolate cake, a flourless chocolate torte, or vegan chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting,” Anna shared.

Anna Olson's 6-layer chocolate fudge cake with one slice on a plateGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Advanced Chocolate Recipes for Baking Masters

If you’re ready to face the ultimate home baking challenge and show off your chocolate technique, Anna had a couple of ideas.

“I have a delicious chocolate mousse cake: chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and it’s got a dark chocolate mirror glaze, which is really hot right now,” she divulged.

Related: Cynthia Stroud’s Expert Decorating Tips

A slice of Anna Olson's rich chocolate mousse cakeGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

“[My] chocolate souffle is another very challenging recipe,” she also shared. “It takes confidence, and you have to feel positive that you know how to get it just right.”

Anna Olson's chocolate souffle in a ramekinGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Souffles with Salted Caramel Sauce

Tune into Great Chocolate Showdown on Mondays at 10 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

Save That Leftover Pie Dough and Make These Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies!

Several pie crust recipes yield enough dough for the top and bottom of a pie, but not all pies require both. When you find yourself with leftover pie dough, don’t let it go to waste. Turn it into a new dessert with this Love Your Leftovers cinnamon pinwheel cookie recipe. They’re simple to make and are so good that you might just find yourself going out of your way to have “leftover” pie dough. We’ve forever changed your what to do with leftover pie crust dilemma.

Leftover Pie Dough Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 15 minutes
Total Time: 27 to 30 minutes
Servings: 12 pinwheel cookies

Ingredients:

½ batch pie crust, chilled
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch fine salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 12 by 8 inch rectangle.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well blended.

Related: Start Your Morning on a Sweet Note With These Gooey Cinnamon Buns

4. Spread the prepared filling evenly over dough. Tightly roll the dough, beginning from the 12 inch side. Press the seam to seal. Trim and discard the ends, about ½ inch on each side. Cut log into ¼ inch thick slices and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

5. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to chill. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.

Like Marcella’s cinnamon pinwheel cookies? Try her leftover turkey pizza recipe or her pink beet pancakes.

Published April 30, 2020, Updated March 23, 2021

The Sweet Prairie History of Girl Guide Cookies

When the Girl Guides of Canada come a-knockin’, the gut reaction for many Canadians is to pull out their wallet and loosen their belts. Few Canucks can resist a box (or two) of Girl Guide cookies, famed for their chocolate and vanilla icing, squeezed between crunchy cookie layers.

But did you know that the now famous cookies were invented on the Canadian Prairies? It started in 1927, when one Girl Guide leader in Regina, Saskatchewan baked and packaged batches of cookies for her troupe to sell, hoping to raise funds for uniforms and camping equipment. Little did she know that her tasty treats would kick off a feeding frenzy spanning close to a century! Seeing the sales of the Regina troupe, Girl Guides of Canada joined the party in 1929, making  cookie sales the official fundraising activity for the organization.

However, the types of treats have evolved throughout the decades, starting with vanilla creme, maple cream and shortbread cookies in 1946. It wasn’t until 1953 that the classic chocolate and vanilla-flavoured sandwich cookies first made a cameo on the sweets scene. Finally, in 1995, a new kid on the block was born: crunchy, chocolatey cookies with a cool mint filling. But one thing hasn’t changed; the cookie craze across Canada continues almost 100 years later, with several million boxes of cookies sold in Ontario alone. If the boxes were laid down on a road, it would reach from Windsor to Timmins. That’s a lot of cookie love!

DIY vegan Girl Guide thin mints

Get the recipe for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mint Cookies

Ever since Girl Guides started selling door-to-door, Girl Guide cookies have become one of Canada’s best-loved food traditions — one that’s held a special place in Canada’s culinary history. During the Gulf War in the 1990s, every Canadian soldier was given a box of cookies upon arrival in Saudi Arabia and there are photographs of Canadian astronaut (and former Girl Guide) Roberta Bondar juggling vanilla and chocolate cookies in space.

The best part? Snacking on these crunchy and creamy cookies benefits more than your belly. The dough (no pun intended) goes towards supporting Girl Guides of Canada’s programming, which provides opportunities for girls to discover, explore, be adventurous and make a difference, while building the leadership and life skills.

Do you want more delicious Canadian food history? We roundup the history of Classic Canadian foods, from poutine to Hawaiian pizza.

Published March 16, 2017, Updated March 1, 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!

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

Glass of milk next to pile of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies

These Chocolate Eggnog Sandwich Cookies Will Surely Get You in the Holiday Spirit

I can’t help but get excited when I start to see the store aisles fully stocked with sweet eggnog, as it signals the most magical time of year! And what better way to get in the holiday spirit than whipping up a batch of these Baking Therapy chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies? They’re chocolatey, soft and filled with a creamy eggnog frosting. Put on your favourite holiday playlist and get baking.

Glass of milk and stack of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies

Chocolate Eggnog Sandwich Cookies

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 33 to 35 minutes
Servings: 15 cookies

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cookies
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Eggnog Filling
1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
3 Tbsp eggnog
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar for about 1 minute. Add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Related: 20 Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, scrape down the bowl again and mix for another 10 seconds. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop balls on the lined cookie sheet. Round out the cookie balls by rolling them between the palms of your hands. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.

Chocolate eggnog sandwich cookie dough rolled into balls on baking sheet

4. Place the cookies 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies have spread and tops begin to crack. Let cool on sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate cookies cooling on baking tray

5. While the cookies are cooling, whip up the frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the butter until airy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, gradually add the icing sugar. Add the eggnog, nutmeg and vanilla extract and whisk on high for 1 minute until light and fluffy.

6. Transfer filling to a piping bag with a star or round tip. Pipe the filling on the bottoms of half the cookies, place another cookie on top to create sandwiches.

Glass of milk next to a pile of chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies on wire cooling rack

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

These Ginger Molasses Cookies Will Warm You up on a Chilly Fall Day

One of the first recipes I turn to when the weather starts to shift are these soft and chewy ginger molasses cookies. They have warming spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves, are dotted with spicy candied ginger and rolled in raw sugar for a bit of crunch. My secret to the rich golden colour? Blackstrap molasses! It’s bold and robust in flavour — everything I want in a ginger molasses cookie. But feel free to swap in regular molasses if your taste buds aren’t quite ready for it.

Soft and Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 13 minutes
Total Time: 17 to 18 minutes
Servings: 16 cookies

Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (about 10 wheels) diced ginger candies
½ cup turbinado or raw sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, water and blackstrap molasses. Scraping down the sides as needed.

Related: 25 Healing Ginger Recipes for Cold and Flu Season

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. On low, add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix until just combined. Fold in the diced candied ginger.

4. Pour the turbinado sugar in a shallow dish. Scoop the cookie dough into 1 ½ inch balls and roll in the turbinado sugar until completely coated.

5. Place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet to allow the cookies to spread. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes until the tops have slightly cracked. Remove from oven and let rest for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her no-bake key lime pie icebox cakedessert wontons and easy peach plum cobbler.

Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is a Birthday Treat to Remember

Many of us have elevated our at-home baking game in recent months, seeking solace in the nostalgia that comes with revisiting quintessential desserts. But what happens when you combine two sweet tooth classics – chocolate chip cookies and cake? Well, it’s a whole new level of dessert that you’ll want to add to your repertoire ASAP, birthday or not.

Almond flour, brown sugar, hazelnut flour, chocolate chips and colourful homemade buttercream frosting come together beautifully in this mouth-watering dessert that comes straight from Molly Yeh‘s oven. It’s as delicious as it is gorgeous and can be enjoyed year-round.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Show-Stopping Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yields: one 8-inch cookie cake

Ingredients:

Cookie Cake
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
1 cup almond flour
1 cup hazelnut flour
1/2 cup lightly-packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Buttercream
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp heavy cream

Related: Our Best No-Bake Desserts That Won’t Let You Down

Directions:

1. For the cookie cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the almond and hazelnut flours, brown and granulated sugars, salt and baking soda. In a small bowl, combine the vanilla and almond extracts and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, add the chocolate chips and stir to combine. It may seem dry at first but keep on stirring. Pat the dough out evenly in the prepared cake pan.

3. Bake until golden brown on top; begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes. Let the cake cool fully in the pan.

4. For the buttercream: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Once combined, beat in the heavy cream until smooth.

5. Remove the cake from the pan. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag and decorate the cake as desired (or spread on the cake to decorate).

Special Equipment: a piping bag, optional

Get to know the cookbook author and blogger behind Girl Meets Farm with 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Molly Yeh.

Watch Girl Meets Farm and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies Make for the Perfect Emergency Cookie Stash

There’s one thing I always have in my freezer: an emergency cookie stash. These Baking Therapy white chocolate funfetti cookies are the perfect sweet treat, especially when you have a sudden sugar craving. They’re the ideal cookie: crispy edges and chewy inside. Start your emergency cookie stash today, you’ll thank me later.

White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 12 to 14 minutes
Total Time: 52 to 54 minutes
Servings: 13 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more as needed (approx. 2 Tbsp)
1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
1 tsp hot water (optional)
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup sprinkles
1 cup white chocolate, chopped

Directions:

1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high. Cook the butter, swirling occasionally until it turns golden brown. Transfer the brown butter to a measuring cup and add more butter, one Tbsp at a time, to reach 1 cup mark (about 2 Tbsp). Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tsp of hot water.

Related: Our Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes for a Better Week Ahead

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the brown sugar, white sugar and brown butter. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until well combined. Add the espresso and vanilla extract.

5. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the sprinkles and white chocolate. With an ice cream scoop, portion the dough onto the cookie sheets leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Place cookies in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes.

Tip: If you’re freezing the cookies for later, put the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then transfer to a freezer-friendly bag or container. When you’re ready to eat them, bake straight from the freezer for 13-15 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F.

7. Bake the cookies, straight from the fridge, for 12 to 14 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. Cool on pan for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her easy recipe for soft rolls, along with her gooey overnight cinnamon buns and fudgy gluten-free sweet potato brownies.

Watch out for Sabrina’s baking videos on the Food Network Canada Instagram account.

Sarah Britton’s Keto Salt and Pepper Tahini Cookies = Our New Favourite Treat

In the new Food Network Canada Facebook series The Substitute Baker, celebrated Toronto-born holistic nutritionist Sarah Britton shows us just how easy it can be to adapt your favourite recipes to suit any occasion or special dietary needs.


This time around, she’s elevated the humble cookie and transformed it into a salty and sweet keto-friendly treat that you’ll want to make on repeat.

Related: Homemade Bread Recipes You’ll Want to Make Again and Again

Salt and Pepper Tahini Cookies

Homemade Tahini Ingredients: 
Makes about 2 cups (500ml)

4 cups / 300g un-hulled (brown/variegated) sesame seeds
½ tsp. fine salt
½ cup cold-pressed sesame oil (olive oil works too)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread sesame seeds out on two rimmed baking sheets and place in the oven to toast for 15-20, stirring a couple times during cooking to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Place sesame seeds in a food processor and blend on high until smooth, adding the oil as needed. Add salt and blend.

3. Store tahini in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Related: 20 Comforting Baking Projects That Deserve a Pat on the Back

Cookie Ingredients:

2 cups / 220g almond flour
½ tsp. flaky sea salt, plus more for garnish
1 ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup / 175ml tahini
½ cup / 125ml yacon syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup / 50g chopped dark chocolate
2 Tbsp. crushed cacao nibs, plus 2 Tbsp. to garnish

Related: 10 Surprising Foods That Boost the Immune System

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 170°C. Lightly grease, or line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, black pepper and salt. Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan whisk tahini, yacon syrup, and vanilla together over low heat until runny. Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The dough will be thick and you may need to use your hands to finish mixing. When the dough has cooled, fold in chopped chocolate and cacao nibs.

4. Roll about a tablespoon and a half worth of the dough in the palm of your hands, into a ball. Flatten slightly, then place on the prepared tray, sprinkle with a few more cacao nibs and a pinch of flaky salt. Lightly press the toppings into the dough.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

6. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to a week.

For more baking inspiration, Sarah Britton’s Bold and Beautiful Raspberry Cashew Cheezecake is an instant dessert classic, or learn how to make her easy Gluten-Free Everything Bagel Loaf.

Watch The Substitute Baker Wednesdays at 4ep on the Food Network Canada Facebook page.

Your New Favourite Shortbread: Petits-Beurre (French Butter Cookies)

If you’ve travelled in France, you might be familiar with the ubiquitous Petit-beurre cookie. It has been around since 1886, when it was invented by Louis-Lefèvre Utile in Nantes. The cookies are still imprinted with his initials (LU) and are the best-known product of all the Lefèvre Utile range. This recipe is the closest I can get to my store-bought favourites.

Butter Cookies (Petits-Beurre)

Active Time: 45 minutes
Chilling Time: 1-3 hours
Bake Time: 11- 13 minutes
Servings: 50 cookies (approx.)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup (113 g) cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (60 mL) heavy (35%) cream

Read: 20 Delicious French-Canadian Dishes to Make at Home

Directions:

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

2. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cream and continue to pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly soft.

4. Gather the dough into a ball, divide in half and form each half into a disk. If you don’t want to use it immediately, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Roll each disk between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Keeping the dough flat and between the two sheets of parchment, place it in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.

Read: These Classic French Dishes Are the Definition of Comfort Food

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. Remove one of the rolled-out pieces of dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

6. Cut out cookies using a rectangular cookie cutter that measures 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6 x 5 cm). Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking trays. They will not spread, so you can place them fairly close together—just make sure they are not touching.

7. Repeat with the second sheet of dough.

8. Place one tray in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, switching the trays from the top to bottom rack and turning them from front to back halfway through the bake, until the cookies are golden around the edges but still pale in the centre.

9. Remove the cookies from the oven and, using an offset spatula, immediately place them on wire racks and allow to cool completely. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For more irresistible baked goods, check out these 20 make-ahead options for your holiday bash, Anna Olson’s very best cookie recipes, or our most popular cookies of all-time.

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Flour 101 holiday cookies

Flour 101: Your Guide to Mastering Holiday Baking

Although most home bakers are working on a smaller scale than the sky-high creations seen on The Big Bake, there’s still a lot of pressure around the holidays, especially when it comes to baking family favourites and traditional holiday treats. Set yourself up for baking success by choosing the right type of flour for a number of applications, from homemade cookies to gingerbread houses. This expert advice will cover some helpful tricks and recipes to help take the stress out of holiday baking. Please remember to have fun and make holiday baking a family event. Also, always ensure that safe food handling of flour is followed. Enjoy!

The Basics

In general, paying attention to the protein level in flour and applying it accordingly will give you the best results, as the higher the protein content, the more structure the final product will have. Hard winter wheat and hard spring wheat flour are primarily used for yeast leavened products like breads, pizzas and tortillas. You may see this flour called All-purpose, bread, pizza or no-time dough. Soft wheat flour is primarily used for sweet baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, cake donuts and biscuits and is often called pastry flour, cake flour or hi-ratio cake flour.

See more: Ardent Mills’ complete flour portfolio including definitions and best-used-for applications.

Cookies

A large batch of cookies is the perfect plan-ahead project to have stashed away for unexpected company, gifts, office cookie exchanges, or just enjoying in front of the fire (don’t forget to save some for Santa!). Typically for cookies where a tender touch is required such as the traditional Linzer cookie, softer varieties such as a cake or pastry flour are used to give a lighter, melt-in-your-mouth tender texture that still has enough structure to hold a filling like jam or icing.

For sturdier cookies,  like those used for constructing gingerbread houses (like this very Canadian gingerbread cabin) a lower protein hard wheat flour, like  All-purpose flour can be helpful.

Tip: Most cookies will freeze well, making them a true timesaver for the busy holidays. Make large batches early and freeze them in airtight containers to ice or decorate later. You can also prepare the cookie dough ahead of time and freeze, to quickly bake fresh, as needed.

Cakes

Both all-purpose flour and cake flour play a part in cake baking. To get Bundt cakes (such as this festive orange-cranberry version) to stand tall and withstand a filling of vibrant berries, all-purpose flour helps add heft. A bûche de noël (yule log), on the other hand, requires that the cake be soft enough to roll around a creamy filling without cracking, which is where cake flour shines.

When baking gluten-free cakes (like this gluten-free marble pound cake) there are many options in terms of gluten-free flour, including naturally gluten-free ancient-grains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff available from The Annex by Ardent Mills. Or you may consider using an organic flour to replace the conventional flour in the recipe. Ardent Mills has organic offerings under the brand Simply Milled by Ardent Mills™ in both all-purpose or pastry flour that are suitable for cakes. This will certainly appeal to the health-conscious members of your family to bake cakes made with organic flour, without having to adjust the entire recipe.

Tip: Be sure to cool cakes completely before adding frosting to avoid runny icing and peeling tops. Chill cakes and ensure frosting is firm before wrapping and freezing to avoid ruining decorations.

Holiday Pudding

Depending on which side of the pond you hail from, pudding can mean either a post-meal sweet, a cake-like sponge or a custardy creation. Steamed British-style puddings — such as the plum and figgy pudding made famous through Christmas carols — use trusty all-purpose flour and a bain-marie (water bath) to keep them moist throughout baking. Often referred to as “instant-blending” flour, granular flour can be used to thicken custards and other pudding-style confections, without creating lumps or the need for a roux.

Tip: Puddings are perfect to make ahead for the holidays. Try this luscious caramel and salted butter pudding, which uses a boil and chill setting method,  as an easy plating or topping option.

Breads

The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air makes any home feel cozy for the holidays. Bread flour packs a powerhouse of protein and plenty of stretchy gluten, making sure your loaf has a firm interior and crispy brown crust. Ciabatta bread takes advantage of this stickiness to produce an artisan bread with a chewy texture. Whole wheat, whole grain, rye and barley flours can also be used in bread baking, producing a loaf with a deep flavour and dense crumb.

For sweet breads, such as the perennial holiday favourite panettone, a lighter texture is preferred. All-purpose flour can be used to help the dough create the distinctive and desired dome-shaped structure.

Tip: Bake your festive creations ahead of time (be sure that you have a lot of room in the freezer) and defrost the bread in a low temperature oven for an easy savoury or sweet fruit-studded snack.

Pies

Perfect pie crust is an obsession for many bakers and with good reason — it is often viewed as both a science and an art. Although one of the many debates tends to be about whether to use lard, butter or shortening for the crust, the type of flour can also make a difference. Some recipes, such as this sugar pie, call for unbleached flour, according to the taste preferences of the baker. Pastry flour, which is often confused with cake flour, differs due to its slightly higher protein content. The added protein in this flour lends a bit more support for baked goods that need to have some structure while keeping the flaky texture, making it perfect for filled pies such as this mincemeat pie.

Tip: Prepare pie dough ahead of time and freeze in pre-portioned containers ready to thaw and roll out. The filling can also be prepared ahead of time to use later, or, depending on the pie, the crust can be blind baked, filled and frozen.

Safe food handling of flour

For safe food handling of flour, please make sure to follow these safety tips.

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Bake products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.

Looking for more holiday baking ideas? Check out full episodes of The Big Bake.

Need-to-Know Tips for Freezing Cookies and Bars

During the holiday season, that overworked oven has a lot to do, like churning out batch after batch of Christmas cookies. Instead of freezing dough and stressing on the big day, get the hard work out of the way now and enjoy the baked fruits of your labour all season long. Follow these simple steps for bars and cookies and you’ll never get (freezer) burned again.

Choose Wisely
To set yourself up for success, it’s best to stick to sturdy cookies and bars — no architectural spun sugar flights of fancy here. A big batch of classic chocolate chip, shortbread or even gluten-free cookies will keep you stocked for future cookie exchanges. Bars, on the other hand, are generally pretty low maintenance to begin with, and often feature a solid shortbread crust, so you’ve got more options to let your imagination run wild.

Contain Your Excitement
Whether using a serviceable plastic container or a sparkly snowflake cookie tin, the key to storing cookies and bars is keeping them air tight. Even a plain resealable freezer bag (or two, to double-bag) is fine, as long as you get the air out first — oxygen is your enemy when trying to avoid freezer burn or staleness. Fill containers to the top, and use a straw to suck out the air from bagged cookies to avoid crushing your creations.

Related: Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes That’ll Spread Holiday Cheer

Give Yourself Space
On bake day, make sure you have enough room on your counters or tables to cool your baked goods properly — before the first batch even hits the oven. Ensuring cookies and bars are sufficiently cool avoids taxing your freezer, and prevents soggy, broken pieces.

Flat Out
If your freezer is packed, a little shuffling before bake day to give yourself a nice, flat surface for freeze your cookies will make your life much easier. If you’re using freezer bags or soft-sided containers, don’t just toss your creations carelessly into the freezer. Try chilling the cookies or bars first on a baking sheet in the freezer, then transfer them to their final packaging.

Vanilla Bean Spritz Shortbread

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Vanilla Bean Spritz Shortbread

Pretty Portions
Think about how you’ll be bestowing your baked goods on friends and family, and portion accordingly. Have a friend who can’t stand pecans but is nuts about shortbread? Assemble their package before it goes into the freezer, rather than trying to sort cookies and find a gift tin on the day you see them. Thinking of having guest-ready assortments handy for your open house? A little planning means you’ll have a perfect plate ready to pull out of the freezer when guests arrive.

Line ‘Em Up
Parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil are all good choices to layer in between cookies or bars to prevent them from sticking when storing. Give yourself a two-inch overhang on each side of the container it easier when lifting cookies or bars out.

Thawing Out
All the hard work is done — now, all that’s left is the taste test. If you can’t wait to thaw your creations, slip them frozen into a preheated 300°F oven for a few minutes to reheat. Otherwise, you can thaw them out easily: although, depending on the ingredients, cookies and bars may have varying thaw points, a general rule of thumb is six to eight hours, to overnight on the counter, covered lightly. Watch out for cookie thieves, though…you may come down in the morning to an empty plate and an innocent looking, crumb-covered family.

Published November 10, 2016, Updated November 27, 2019

Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks

Plates and tins of shortbread, gingerbread and sugar cookies have long been a holiday tradition in households across the world, and for good reason. Holiday cookies are an indulgent classic, perfuming homes with comforting sugar and spice while satisfying the seasonal sweet tooth. Plus, they’re wonderful for gifting in jolly little jars or tins.


Click here for the chocolate snowflake cookies recipe from Anna Olson. 

But, between the shopping, wrapping, visiting and workplace parties, the holidays can sneak up on the best of us, leaving less time to bake than we’d like. That’s why we love these cookie hacks from master pastry chef Anna Olson, who always has her holiday baking under wraps! From decorated classics to spiced snickerdoodles, this cookie queen has you covered this season and beyond.

Watch Anna Olson’s Genius Ideas for Christmas Cookie Storage:

Plan Ahead, Bake Ahead
Being organized is the first step to creating an array of delightful treats that you and your loved ones can snack on, all season long. Get inspired by Santa and make a list of the recipes you want to enjoy this holiday season, then check it twice. As December can sometimes seem like a marathon, begin your baking as soon as that list is made.

Freeze Your Cookie Dough
If you’ve whipped up cookie dough but want to bake them off to gift or share later, store the unbaked dough in a zipper-top bag, and then pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to go. Anna recommends freezing the dough rather than the cookies themselves as it saves space and retains freshness (and we think that nothing smells better than freshly-baked cookies!). Check out her awesome tips for techniques, storing and labelling in the video above.

Bake A “Fresh” Batch Every Week  
Now that you have a few batches of frozen dough in the freezer, do as Anna would do and bake up a tray of cookies once a week leading up to Christmas. With this hack, you’ll always have fresh treats on hand for family, friends and impromptu holiday guests.

Make One (Killer!) Basic Recipe
Having a versatile cookie dough base to work from saves time and ingredients, while allowing you to have a selection of cookies to enjoy over the holidays. Take Anna Olson’s Ice Box Cookies, for example. The base recipe can be combined with different ingredients to concoct amazing flavour combinations that will tickle a variety of taste buds.

Watch Anna Take One Cookie Recipe and Make Three Different Cookies:

Host A Cookie Exchange
Even the most organized bakers and holiday planners out there can’t always complete their checklists on time. That’s why hosting a cookie exchange is another great option when it comes to securing a selection of goodies. Anna has some tried and true tips on how to host the actual exchange to ensure that it goes smoothly. But don’t stress! As long as the hot cocoa is flowing and there are a few baked goods to snack on during the actual party, we’d say you’re pretty much covered.

Watch Anna Share 9 Tips for Christmas Cookie Exchange Success:

Ready to get baking? Here are dozens of our favourite festive cookie recipes to share, exchange and hoard this holiday season.

How to Make Glistening Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Are you ready for the holiday season? We sure are, and these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are bringing the shine and shimmer for a dose of festive magic. Whether served at a cookie exchange or dessert buffet, the elegant treat’s marble-like icing and glistening edges are unique, while still being incredibly delicious. The best part? Just like a snowflake, each cookie design is quite literally one-of-a-kind. To simplify the recipe you can also skip the glitter; the watercolour effect is sufficiently stunning on its own.

Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Bake Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 6 hours

Ingredients:

1 recipe sugar cookies – cut and baked into snowflakes
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp meringue powder
6 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)
gel food colouring
sanding sugar, sprinkles, or sugar pearls (optional)


Directions:

Icing
1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks. Use immediately, or cover by pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the icing.

Decorating
1. Split the icing in half. Place half in a mixing bowl and cover the remaining icing tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside.

2. Thin the icing in the mixing bowl with water, a tablespoon or two at a time. Mix the icing and water together until smooth and the icing becomes a consistency that is slightly thicker than honey. It should be fairly thin, but still thick enough to cling to the cookies. More water may be added as needed if the icing does not settle smoothly on the cookies.

3. Dip a toothpick (or the tip of a knife) into the gel food colouring, then swirl the colour on top of the thinned icing. You may mix multiple colours together, if desired.

4. Dip the entire top of a snowflake cookie into the surface of the icing. Give the cookie a small twist, then lift. Gently shake the cookie to allow some of the excess icing to fall back into the bowl. Turn the cookie right-side-up and place on a piece of parchment paper or wire cooling rack. Gently tap the bottom of the cookie to release any air bubbles and/or to help the icing settle. Allow the icing to completely dry, at least 4 hours.

5. Continue with the remaining cookies, adding more swirls of food colouring as needed. The more you dip and swirl, the more the colours will blend together.

6. To add the sprinkle border, thin reserved icing with water until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Place sanding sugar or sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Fill a piping bag (or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off) with the icing and pipe around the edges of the dried watercolour cookies. Flip and dip the cookie upside down into the bowl of sprinkles. Gently press so that the sprinkles stick to the icing. Allow the cookies to dry right-side-up. Note that it is important for the watercolour icing to be completely dried first, or the sprinkles will stick to the surface of the cookie.

7. Once dried, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or so.

For more show-stopping holiday baking recipes, make these stunning stained glass sugar cookies or try your hand at these double-decker chocolate cherry snickerdoodles!

Stained-Glass-Cookies-on-plate

These Stained Glass Cookies Will Bring the Sparkle to Your Cookie Swap

These stained glass sugar cookies will literally sparkle and shine at your holiday cookies exchange. Made from your favourite sugar cookie dough and a handful of hard candies, these festive treats look just like stained glass! No need to spend hours making icing or decorating cookies – the magic here happens while the cookies are baking. We like punching polka dots out of classic Christmas tree cookies using a piping tip (genius, right?) to create jewel-toned ornaments, but feel free to use whatever cookie cutters and shapes you have on hand and get creative with your cut-outs.

hand-holding-stained-glass-cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookie Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 9 to 12 minutes
Total Time: 120 minutes
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 recipe sugar cookie dough
1 198 g bag hard candies (like Jolly Ranchers)

Directions:
1. Prepare the cookie dough as directed. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2. When ready, roll out one half of the cookie dough at a time to about ¼-inch thick on a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Using a decorative cookie cutter, cut out shapes of dough.

Related: Easy Make-Ahead Christmas Cookies for Your Holiday Bash

3. Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking pan, spaced about an inch apart. Use a smaller cutter or the end of a round piping tip to punch out holes. Chill the cookies (on the baking pan) for at least 30 minutes.

filling-stained-glass-cookies-with-candy

4. Stack the cookie dough scraps and cut-outs and re-roll. Repeat with the remaining dough. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

5. Grind the hard candies into a powder using a food processor, one color at a time. The powder will begin to clump and harden if left out, so use immediately.

6. Using a small spoon, carefully fill the holes of the cookies with different colors of ground candy. Fill the holes completely. Try to prevent the candy from spilling onto the surface of the cookie. Brush away any excess candy.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Best Holiday Desserts

stained-glass-cookies-on-tray

7. Bake the cookies in the pre-heated oven for 9 to 12 minutes. If at 9 minutes the candy-filled holes seem thin, very carefully spoon in a little bit more candy and continue to bake just until melted.

8. When done, place the baking sheet on a wire rack. Allow cookies to completely cool before carefully removing the cookies with a metal or rubber spatula. The melted candy will be very hot. Please take caution and do not touch until cookies have cooled.

9. Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container.

Stained-Glass-sugar-Cookies-on-plate

Looking for more sweet inspiration? Try our very best classic Christmas cookie recipes.

The Only 3 No-Bake Cookie Recipes You Need in Your Life

Snack happy with three unique, delicious and good-for-you energy bites – no oven required. For the keto crowd: a fat bomb layered with the flavours of lemon-raspberry cheesecake. These frozen snacks are the ultimate in-between meal booster that will satisfy your sweet tooth, without getting you away from your dietary goals.

And, for the cookie lovers (all of us), a no-bake cookie base with a choose-your-own-adventure option: classic chocolate chip or cozy oatmeal raisin. Both no-bake cookie creations are gluten-free, and the chocolate chip variation is also grain-free. All three of these no-bake treats are ideal for packed lunches, a pre- or post- workout snack and a healthier after-dinner dessert.

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake Keto Fat Bombs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Freeze Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Makes: 12

Ingredients:
1½ cups recently boiled water
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup unsalted butter or coconut oil
1 to 2 Tbsp keto sweetener or liquid sweetener, to taste
½ tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions:
1. Line a 12-count muffin tin with papers.
2. In a high-speed blender, add all ingredients except raspberries and blend until smooth and creamy. Add half the batter to the bottom of the papers. Add raspberries to the remaining half of the batter and puree again until smooth.
3. Top plain cheesecake batter with raspberry batter, and tap the pan a few times to release any air bubbles.
4. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until set. Unwrap papers and serve frozen.
5. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies & No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

No-Bake Cookie Base
4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup unsalted nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
¾ tsp fine-grain salt

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 recipe No-Bake Cookie Base (from above)
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, to taste

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1 recipe No-Bake Cookie Base (from above)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
¾ cup raisins
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

No-Bake Cookie Base
1. In a food processor, blend coconut until it resembles the smooth and creamy consistency of almond butter (you are making coconut butter), stopping the machine to scrape down the sides several times. This will take about 10 minutes.
2. To the coconut butter, add nut butter, maple syrup, coconut flour, almond milk and salt. Blend until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a large bowl.

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. To the cookie base, add chocolate chips and mix well.
2. Scoop 2- to 3-Tbsp portions of dough onto a cookie sheet. Roll dough into balls and sprinkle with flaky salt.
3. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
4. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months. These taste best cold.

No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
1. To the cookie base, add oats, raisins and cinnamon and mix well. If the mixture seems too dry to compress (flours vary in absorbency), add an additional 1 Tbsp or more of almond milk.
2. Scoop 2- to 3-Tbsp portions of dough onto a cookie sheet. Roll dough into balls and then slightly press down with the palm of your hand.
3. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
4. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months. These taste best cold.

Looking for more easy, no-bake treats to add to your repertoire?  We’ve rounded up our best no-bake dessert ideas (from a peanut butter cheesecake to chocolate brownies!).