I love baking for the holidays (and our annual Christmas party) and today I am sharing three of my favorite holiday make-ahead party desserts.
Today is day eight of Twelve Days of Getting Ready For Christmas. I have teamed up with my dear friend KariAnne from Thistlewood (scroll down for a link to her post or click here) and I am sharing my favorite make-ahead party desserts. KariAnn is sharing five of the BEST food gifts for Christmas.
You might want to turn on your oven.
And clean out some space in your freezer.
Because I have some amazing make-ahead holiday desserts to share with you!
I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why do I need to think about this now”?
The answer is simple.
Think about how crazy things get in the month of December. Consider there may be multiple times when you may need a last-minute gift, you want to spoil your kids who are home for the holidays, or maybe you just want to impress the family with some fun holiday desserts.
All that means is you might want to do some baking now.
And have fresh-baked Christmas treats on hand for so many occasions.
I have three recipes to share with you today. Every year I make these three recipes for our Christmas party. I usually bake them the first week in December and freeze them until the day of the party.
This year our party is December 23rd!
The three desserts are Frosted Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars.
You might have noticed how I served my desserts at our party. I wrapped up a few empty boxes and served the cookies on top of the gifts!
Frosted Sugar Cookies
I baked and decorated all of these sugar cookies previously for our Christmas party. You need to know this was my second attempt at decorating sugar cookies with Royal Icing. It takes patience but it’s really not that hard.
For years I frosted my sugar cookies with buttercream frosting. While they don’t look as nice, the taste of buttercream frosting certainly makes up for it. If you don’t want to use royal icing then use buttercream frosting.
You can also use many different cookie cutters to make sugar cookies. I love this tree-shaped cookie cutter and the snowflake cutter. I love these vintage ornament cookie cutters and all of these assorted ornaments too.
If you want to find out how to decorate cookies with Royal Icing, read my blog post here. You can also watch the video below.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten free 1 to 1 or measure to measure flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoons milk
- 1 TBL lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated.
With the mixer running, add egg, milk, lemon, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Decorate with Royal Icing.
I made this recipe with measure to measure gluten-free flour. The Xantham gum is included in the flour and the cookies came out perfectly.
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Tips for Freezing Holiday Desserts
What is the best container to freeze cookies in?
All cookies should be placed in airtight containers before freezing. Place sheets of parchment or waxed paper in between the layers of cookies.
What is the best way to freeze cookies so they don’t get freezer burn?
Make sure cookies are completely cooled before freezing. Freeze cookies with a layer of waxed or parchment paper in between them.
How far in advance can you freeze Christmas cookies?
As long as they are stored correctly, most cookies can be stored for up to three months.
Is it better to freeze cookie dough or baked cookies?
You can freeze already baked cookies. Personally, I think warm cookies are the best, so if you can, freeze the dough in advance. But don’t worry if you don’t.
How do you thaw frozen cookies?
Take the cookies out of the container and spread them out until they come to room temperature. Decorate or serve.
Peanut Butter Fudge
I have made this peanut butter fudge for at least twenty years and it was my dad’s favorite. Every time I make this fudge I remember him fondly and cherish how happy he was when I would bring him a piece to enjoy.
I have another friend who loves this fudge and I always bring him a special tin of peanut butter fudge every Christmas. Of course, I will be gifting him some again this year.
- 1 16 oz. box of powdered or confectioners sugar
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1 8 oz. jar chunky peanut butter
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup butter
- Mix the first four ingredients. Press into a 6" x 6" square baking pan.
- Meanwhile, melt the one stick of butter with chocolate over low heat. Stir until smooth. Pour chocolate over peanut butter mixture, smoothing with a spatula. Refrigerate twenty minutes. Cut into 1" squares and refrigerate until firm.
This fudge freezes really well and I love that my boys can pop a piece (or two, or three) out of the freezer and eat it right away.
For the complete details on how to make this amazing fudge, head to my blog post here.
Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars
If you like Almond Joy bars then these Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars might just be your favorite. They are a big hit amongst our kids and they freeze really well.
They are very easy to make and might not even last long enough to go in the freezer. Ha!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flaked coconut
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted*
- Milk Chocolate Ganache
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 11 1/2 ounce package milk chocolate pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of the pan. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray. In a large bowl stir together melted butter, sugar, and 1 tsp. of the vanilla until combined. Stir in eggs until combined.
- In another bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes or just until set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, for filling, in a large bowl combine coconut, condensed milk, the remaining 1 tsp. vanilla, and the almond extract.
- Spread filling over baked chocolate layer; sprinkle with almonds. Carefully spread the remaining chocolate batter over the filling. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the chocolate layer is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
- To make the Milk Chocolate Ganache, place chocolate pieces into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan bring whipping cream just to boiling. Immediately pour cream over chocolate in a bowl. Let stand, without stirring, 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
- Spoon ganache over cooled bars, spreading evenly. Chill for at least 1 hour or until ganache is firm. Use edges of foil to lift uncut bars out of the pan. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars.
Place bars in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
To toast nuts, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread nuts in a shallow baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until nuts are just golden, stirring once or twice. Let cool.
Serving Size:one bar
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 10 ggSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 28 mggUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6 gmgSodium: 98 mgmgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 19 gg
Enjoy the cookies and have fun filling your freezer with holiday desserts to get ready for the holidays!
KariAnne’s Getting Ready for Christmas Post
Ever wonder what to get the friend who has everything? Food gifts are one of the best ways to show someone how special they are. Here are 5 of the BEST food gifts for Christmas.
If you missed any of my Twelve Days of Getting Ready for Christmas, you can find them here:
- Day 1 – How to Choose Christmas Colors for Your Holiday Decor
- Day 2 – Creative Ideas for Christmas Gift Tags
- Day 3 – Stocking Stuffers for Christmas Morning
- Day 4 – Decorating with Christmas Ribbon in the Dining Room
- Day 5 – Gift Wrapping Ideas and Sunday Morning Coffee
- Day 6 – Easy Christmas Button Crafts
- Day 7 – How to Tie a Bow with Ribbon
- Day 8 – Holiday Make Ahead Party Desserts
You can also find KariAnne’s amazing blog posts here:
- Day 1 – How to Choose a Christmas Theme
- Day 2 – 27 Ways To Decorate With Ornaments
- Day 3 – 21 Unique Stocking Stuffers for Christmas Morning
- Day 4 – How to Hang a Wreath On the Back of a Chair
- Day 5 – 21 Easy Gift Wrap Ideas
- Day 6 – 7 Easy and Simple Christmas Crafts
- Day 7 – How to Tie a Christmas Bow
- Day 8 – 5 Of the BEST Food Gifts For Christmas
Click on the photo. How wonderful are these?
Watch My Amazon Live
Click here to watch any of my Amazon Live shows. All shows are recorded.
This live show is titled Everything You Need for a Holiday Party.
A Home to Share, by Leslie Saeta
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