I love baking for the holidays and today I am sharing three of my favorite make-ahead holiday desserts.
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!
Welcome to Day Six of Twelve Days to Get Ready for Christmas. (Are we really halfway done?) Today KariAnne @ Thistlewood and I are sharing our favorite Holiday Make-Ahead Desserts.
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. I make these three recipes every year for our Christmas party and have done so for years. I usually bake them the first week in December and freeze them until the day of the party. The three desserts are Frosted Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars.
Frosted Sugar Cookies
I baked and decorated all of these sugar cookies last year for our Christmas party. You need to know this was my first 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 so 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 can watch the video below.Here is a video I made about how to decorate cookies with Royal Icing.
- Sugar Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose 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
- Royal Icing
- 5 tbl warm water
- 3 TBL Meringue Powder (with vanilla)
- 4 cups Powdered sugar
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream
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.
To make Royal Icing, beat all ingredients together until icing forms peaks (about 8 minutes with a heavy-duty mixer, 10 - 12 minutes with a hand mixer). Add additional water until the desired thickness.
If you want the icing to outline and fill then use the 10-second rule. The test is done by dragging the tip of a knife across your frosting, about 1" deep. If the surface of the icing smooths over in roughly ten seconds, then it's ready for use.
What's so great about this thicker icing is you can use the same icing for the outline and for the filling in.
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 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?
Peanut Butter Fudge
I have made this peanut butter fudge for at least twenty years and it was my dad’s favorite. I know that every time I make this fudge I will 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. I hope to be able to give him some again this year.
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 detail on how to make this amazing fudge, head to my blog post here.
- 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.
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!
If you missed any of my Twelve Days to Get Ready for Christmas, you can find them here:
You can also find Karianne’s amazing blog posts here:
Pin the image below to your Holiday Desserts or Christmas boards on Pinterest (just click the Pin button in the top left corner). You can also follow along with me on Pinterest!