Winter Baked Goods


Madison Alvarado, Staff Writer

With finals just around the corner and winter sports kicking off, stress is mounting during December, even without the added pressure of finding presents for friends and family, decking the halls with festive ornaments, and getting into the holiday spirit.  Finding ways to release this stress is difficult because shutting yourself in your room for hours on end, yelling at your little brother, and ignoring all aspects of your social life just aren’t cutting it anymore. Desperate times call for desperate measures; it’s time to break out the measuring cups, whisk, and a whole lot of chocolate. Here’s a solution that tastes good, doesn’t require a lot of effort, and helps you get into the holiday spirit. Happy baking!

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

Brighten up your winter break with this easy and delicious treat. This recipe puts a spin on classic red velvet cupcakes with colors to match the holiday season. By putting them in jars, the cupcakes retain their delicious moisture and allow you to achieve the perfect ratio of frosting to cake — not to mention they look super cute and seem as though you exerted a lot of effort. You could even try coloring the frosting green or adding cute sprinkles to get more into the holiday spirit! Bust out these bad boys at any party or as a last minute gift to friends, family or teachers and they are guaranteed to be a success.

For Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • Sprinkles

For Cupcakes:

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients, mixing with a handheld electric mixer. Then add the sifted dry ingredients to the large bowl, mixing until smooth. Spray a cupcake tin with cooking spray (you can put in cupcake liners instead if desired). Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins and bake in for 20 to 22 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until combined. Increase the speed to high and blend until fluffy.

Cut cupcakes in half, placing the bottom half of the cupcake at the bottom of the jar. Frost in a spiral. Place the top half of the cupcake above the frosting. Frost the top of the cupcake, using a frosting, adding sprinkles if desired. Seal the airtight jar.

Melted Snowman Cookies:

These festive melted snowman cookies are flat out amazing and as easy to make as an actual snow man. Not only is the idea super cute, but they look like they require a lot more work than they actually do. The candy puts an interesting twist on the classic cookie and the frosting is an added bonus for anyone with a sweet tooth. This is the perfect blend of peanut butter, vanilla and chocolate, so why not make a batch today?

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 16 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating, coarsely chopped (regular vanilla frosting can be substituted if needed)
  • 20 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Orange sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat the shortening and peanut butter for 30 seconds. Add the white and brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and mix until combined. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla until mixture is consistent. Mixture will be somewhat grainy. Add in cocoa powder. Mix in the flour, beating until combined. If all of the flour cannot be beat in with a mixer, add any remaining flour in and stir by hand. Divide dough into cookies, shaped into 1 to 1 ½ inch balls. Place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. If cookies don’t spread out while baking, gently press on them with a metal or wood spatula partway through the baking process. Bake until edges are firm, or about nine to 11 minutes. Cool on wire rack. In a medium sized bowl, microwave candy coating for 2 ½  to three minutes on medium power until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. If using regular frosting there is no need to microwave, just spread it over cookies. To decorate, place the baked cookies on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Spoon the melted candy coating onto cookies to resemble the melting snow of the snowman. While the coating is still tacky, add the Reese’s peanut butter cups and sprinkles for noses. Place two dark sprinkles for eyes.

Old Fashioned Fudge:

Get into the holiday spirit by making some Old-Fashioned fudge. They are great for snacking if you want to sweeten your day. If desired, you can add walnuts to add an extra blast of flavor.  Fudge makes great gifts for teachers, friends, coaches and more.

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Put sugar, cocoa and milk in a medium sauce pan. Stir with a whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Do not stir again. Place a candy thermometer in the pan and cook until the temperature reaches 237 degrees Fahrenheit. If it takes longer than 10 minutes to reach 237, bring up the heat from low to medium. Once at 237, remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until the fudge loses its shiny top coat. Do not under beat; this process takes up to 15 minutes. As you beat the mixture it will become thicker. Pour it into the parchment prepared pan and let cool for an hour. Finish off by cutting the cooled fudge into 60 squares. Store in an airtight plastic bag.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate:

Looking to sweeten your holiday? These hot chocolate starter packs make for a delicious drink and a great gift. Not only are they easy to make, but they look good. On a cold day, bust out one of these and pour it into a mug. The best part is you can make your own variations—if you want peppermint one day, add peppermint. If you’re in the mood for cinnamon hot chocolate, simply add a dash. Sipping hot chocolate by a roaring fire while listening to carols or Christmas music brings out the feeling of winter.

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 disposable decorating bag
  • 4 tablespoons of nestle hot chocolate mix
  • 1/2 of a candy cane
  • 2 tablespoons of nestle milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows
  • 30 inch ribbon

Pour hot chocolate mix into disposable decorating bag. Then take the candy cane and crush it into smaller pieces (best method: put candy cane into a Ziplock bag and hit with a meat hammer). Pour crushed pieces into the bag. Next, pour chocolate chips on top of the candy cane. Put the marshmallows in the bag on top of the crushed candy cane. Finally tie it all together with the ribbon.  For drinking, untie the ribbon and pour it into a cup.  Heat 1 ½  cups of milk in the microwave for about 1 min 30 secs on high setting.

Peppermint Bark:

Christmas is just not the same without peppermint bark. You can never get enough candy cane during the holidays. This staple product is one of the most popular and most wanted dessert or snack—ideal for a quick bite. While many places sell this treat, you don’t get the same satisfaction that you do when you make it.

Serving Size: 1 1/2 pounds

  • 12 ounces of white Ghirardelli chocolate
  • 12 ounces of milk Ghirardelli chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of crushed peppermint candy ( 5 candy canes)
  • Parchment paper
  • 9×12 pan

Heat the the milk chocolate in a boiler or microwave until the chocolate is smooth. Pour into the parchment lined pan and spread until the chocolate is about 1/3 in thick. Let first layer sit in the freezer for 5 min. Make sure to pour the white chocolate on before the milk chocolate completely hardens or else the layers will break apart. Repeat with the white chocolate. Pour the crushed peppermint on top of the white chocolate. Push the peppermint gently into the white chocolate before putting the whole thing into the freezer.  Let sit in there for about an hour and a half.