Holiday Baking Ideas

I love the concept of holiday baking. I binge watch The Great British Baking Show, Holiday Edition, all December long, but I am also conflicted because I hate peppermint flavored things (and that’s what most holiday baking includes.) So, this year, I took a different approach and combined my favorite flavors while still sticking to the holiday theme. If you need easy, crowd pleasing desserts this holiday season, these are guaranteed to impress your friends and family.


If I’m being honest, sugar cookies are boring to me. Frosting them can be fun, but the flavor has never excited me. However, I could eat sugar cookie dough all day, so why not make a recipe with emphasis on the dough? These bars are doughy, flavorful, and simple to make. If you need an easy holiday treat for your friends and family, this can be your new go to.

Sugar Cookies Bars Covered in "Into The Forest" Sprinkles
Topped with “Into The Forest” Sprinkles from Whole Foods

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3-4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 6 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • Sprinkles and/or food coloring (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and line a pan (I used an 8 inch cake pan) with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar) and whisk until blended
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cups of the butter (melted*,) 4 tbsp non-dairy milk (room temperature*,) and 3 tsp vanilla extract
  4. Form a hole in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole; combine ingredients using an electric mixer (add 1 tsp of milk as needed if the dough is too dry)
  5. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 15 – 20 minutes (the texture will be wet when removed from the oven, do not bake until dried out)
  6. For the icing, combine 2 tbsp butter (cold), powdered sugar, and 1 – 2 tsp vanilla extract (add in food coloring if desired) and mix with a hand mixer (add in 1 tbsp milk if frosting is too thick)
  7. Once the bars are semi-cooled, frost the bars and top with sprinkles
  8. Store in the fridge, or at room temperature, for at least 2 hours before serving to let the bars solidify
  9. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • *Make sure you use room temperature milk and melted butter. If the milk and/or butter are too cold, the batter will curdle
  • I remade this batter many times, and each time, it came out somewhat lumpy. This is normal, and when topped with frosting, is not noticeable. If your batter looks lumpy, do not stress!
  • I prefer these bars refrigerated, and they keep for up to one week in the fridge

Chocolate Orange Layer Cake with Cranberry Jam

When I was making this, I told my roommate “this has the potential to be the best thing I have ever baked.” Although the presentation got a little sloppy, the flavors are immaculate; I wish it looked as good as it tasted! If you need a holiday dessert to impress, this is your newest crowd pleaser.

Chocolate Orange Layer Cake with Cranberry Jam Topped with Cranberries and Powdered Sugar
Not my best presentation, but the flavors are spot on!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (this cake is very rich, I would recommend using a little less if that’s of concern to you)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil. Could probably use melted butter as well)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups orange juice (for fresh squeezed, use approx 4 large oranges)
  • 5 tbsp orange zest

For the jam filling:

  • 1 package Ocean Spray cranberries
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Extra powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients and whisk together
  3. In a small bowl, combine your wet ingredients and shave in your orange zest
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and combine with an electric mixer. Pour into the cake tins and bake for 35 – 40 minutes
  5. While the cakes are cooking, combine the ingredients for the jam in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil for approx 10 minutes and mash the cranberries. Add to a bowl and refrigerate until it’s time to assemble the cake
  6. For the frosting, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer. Add plant-based milk if needed to thin out the frosting
  7. Once the cakes are cooked (and cooled), put jam in between and layer the cakes. Coat with frosting and top with powdered sugar, extra cranberries, or whatever your heart desires!
  8. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • This can be messy (obviously my decorating process went a little rouge), so please make sure the cakes are cooled and the jam is cold before decorating
  • Use less cocoa powder if you prefer a less rich dessert

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