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Illustrations by Wenting Li

We’ve reached the third edition of The Globe and Mail’s 24 Treats of Christmas. Between Dec. 1 and 24, we’re publishing recipes for cookies and squares, chocolate desserts and holiday favourites along with last-minute sweets for when there are more cravings than time. Visit this link for details on how to receive the recipe links one a day by text message.

Each batch of recipes includes easier and more difficult treats to suit your skill level and time commitment, and adaptations to suit your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. This week we’re savouring all things chocolate, with recipes for cookies, truffles and a chocolate salami.

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* Gluten-free recipes are indicated, but please check labels to ensure ingredients used are gluten-free.

Difficulty rating

🍪 = Almost as easy as a mix

🍪🍪 = Get out your rolling pin

🍪🍪🍪 = Clear your calendar

Chocolate chunk drop cookies

Liam Mogan/The Globe and Mail

Makes about 24 cookies

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Cookies made with dough you drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet are among the simplest to make – chocolate chunk are the most familiar, but you could add just about anything to that soft, buttery brown sugar dough.

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  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes, until pale and light. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low speed until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks (and/or any other additions you like) and stir by hand or mix on low speed just until blended.

Drop the dough by the spoonful (or use a small ice-cream scoop for more uniform cookies) onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to four days.

How to dress them up
  • Add the grated zest of an orange as you beat the butter and sugar. Use chopped dark chocolate for chocolate-orange cookies, or swap white chocolate and add some dried cranberries or cherries and chopped pecans to the dough as well.
  • Stir in chopped holiday chocolates such as Toblerone or Turtles instead of plain chocolate.
  • Swap 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup of the flour to make chocolate dough, and stir in a combination of chopped white and dark chocolate.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Black forest oat cookies

Tara O'Brady/The Globe and Mail

Makes 24 cookies

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Spelt is often mistaken as gluten-free. It is not, though it has less gluten than modern wheat. The gluten it has is water soluble and much more fragile. Some with gluten sensitivities thus find it easier to digest, but it is not an option for those with intolerance or celiac.

  • 1 cup whole-grain wheat flour (not cake and pastry), sifted
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or not
  • 8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 F with racks in the top and bottom thirds. Line quarter sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attached, beat the butter, sugar and molasses together on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater down once.

Knock the motor down to medium and beat in the egg, followed by the extracts.

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Stop the machine and scrape down the beater and bowl. Tip in the flour mixture. Set the mixer to stir, and run until the dry and wet are almost incorporated. Scrape down the beater and bowl again, then spill in the oats, coconut, chocolate and dried cherries. Stir to combine, either with the machine or by hand.

Use 2-tablespoon scoop or similar to form 24 portions of dough (or a generous 2½ tablespoons to make 18 larger cookies). Roll each into a ball. Arrange 6 balls on a baking sheet, with space in between. Gently press each to flatten slightly to a generous 3/4-inch thick. Repeat with the second baking sheet.

Bake the cookies until truly golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the trays from front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Let the trays cool to room temperature (run them under cold water, then dry, if looking to expedite the process). Then bake the remaining dough.

The cookies are best the day they are made but can be stored up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature.

– Tara O’Brady

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Walnut oatmeal cookies

Tara O'Brady/The Globe and Mail

Makes 12 large cookies

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: These crackled, sturdy cookies take well to adaptation. If you keep the general volume of add-ins, feel free to swap and adapt the spices, nuts, dried fruit or chocolate as desired. Coconut or candied ginger are especially good in place of the toffee. For a brown-butter version, brown the butter then cool until firm before blending with sugars and adding 2 tablespoons water.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon medium-grain kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft but not warm
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel or finely grated peel of half an orange
  • 1 egg, cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups traditional rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup butter toffee chips
  • 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream the butter, sugars, and orange peel on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 minutes.

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Scrape down bowl and beater, then cream mixture for 3 minutes more. Scrape down again. Beat in the egg and vanilla on medium speed.

Stir in the flour mixture. Once almost combined, with flour still visible, tip in the oats, then the walnuts, dates, toffee chips and chocolate.

Form 12 balls of dough using 2 1/2 tablespoons for each. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets, leaving space for spread. Bake in the hot oven until puffed with dry, golden tops, 13 to 15 minutes. Rotate the pans once during baking.

Immediately when pulled from the oven, knock pans against the stovetop or counter (the cookies will deflate quickly, creating craggy tops). Cool cookies on pans for 3 minutes, then move to a baking rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for one week.

– Tara O’Brady

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Chocolate truffles

iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Level of effort: Easy

* Gluten-free

Recipe notes: Homemade truffles are superior but the secret is the quality of chocolate. Buy the best you can afford, at least 64-per-cent to 70-per-cent cocoa for dark, and 40-per-cent to 45-per-cent for milk. If you like white chocolate, buy a good-quality bar, preferably European. Buy chocolate in block form or callets (small round discs). Do not use inexpensive packaged chips, as they have a hardening agent in them that prevents the truffles from forming properly. If you don’t use callets, chop the chocolate finely. This is easily done if you shave it off the block with a serrated knife.

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Cocoa powder, for rolling

Finely chop chocolate. Place in a heatproof bowl.

In a heavy pot on medium heat, combine whipping cream and unsalted butter. Stir mixture together until cream comes to a good simmer. Remove from heat, let sit for a minute then pour over the chocolate and let sit again for a minute. Stir together until smooth. This is called ganache. (If your truffle mixture is too hot, it will split and become grainy. You can save it by whisking in 2 or 3 tablespoons of hot milk, which will bring it back together.)

Refrigerate for a couple of hours until the mixture can easily be handled. Scoop the mixture with a tablespoon, or larger if you want to make big truffles, and roll into balls. Roll in cocoa powder. I usually dust my hands with cocoa before dipping to keep everything uniform.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for two more hours. Truffles will keep, refrigerated, for a month in an airtight container.

How to dress them up
  • Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger into the ganache mixture.
  • Instead of rolling truffles in cocoa, use toasted nuts (the saltiness provides a good contrast to the richness) or toasted coconut, or dip them in melted chocolate.
  • Omit whipping cream and add ½ cup thick yogurt. It has a firmer texture, is less rich and cuts the fat.
  • Add 3 tablespoons liqueur (any flavour) into chocolate mixture while still warm for decadent, boozy truffles.

– Lucy Waverman

Chocolate salami

iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes 2 logs

Level of effort: Easy

* Gluten-free without ladyfingers

Recipe notes: You could replace the crushed ladyfingers with the same volume of other fillings such as mini marshmallows, finely chopped candied ginger, dried fruit, or crushed graham crackers or digestive cookies.

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  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (or an additional 1 tablespoon vanilla)
  • 2 cups mixed nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups roughly crushed ladyfinger cookies, about 12
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar

Add 2 inches of water to a medium-size pot and bring to an active simmer over high heat. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the pot, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water, and turn down the heat to keep it just at a simmer. Add the chocolate and butter. Stir gently until melted.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla and rum. Add to the melted chocolate and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the nuts and crushed cookies and gently fold in with a spatula until well combined.

Divide the mixture on to 2 pieces of parchment paper. Roll into a log shape of your desired circumference and length (3 inches by 10 inches works well). Twist the ends of the parchment tightly and place in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for 4 hours.

Pour the icing sugar into a shallow bowl large enough to hold 1 log. Unwrap the chocolate logs and gently roll them one by one in the icing sugar. At this point, the logs can be served or tied with kitchen twine to resemble a dried salami.

Keep the logs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

– Adapted from On Boards: Simple and Inspiring Recipe Ideas to Share at Every Gathering by Lisa Dawn Bolton

Cocoa-swirled meringues

Liam Mogan/The Globe and Mail

Makes 12 large meringues

Level of effort: Moderate

* Gluten-free

Recipe notes: Big, crunchy meringues with soft middles make stunning holiday sweets – you can make them large or small, and swirling with a spoon or spatula negates the need for decorating. A bit of vinegar beaten in at the end gives them a more marshmallowy interior, but isn’t necessary.

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or peppermint extract (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cocoa

Preheat the oven to 200 F.

In a large, clean glass or stainless-steel bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy; add the cream of tartar, if you have it, and continue to beat until the beaters start leaving a trail through the whites. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites, beating until they hold stiff, glossy peaks and have the texture of shaving foam. If you like, beat in the vinegar and vanilla or peppermint extract.

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Sift the cocoa over the meringue and fold once or twice with a spatula to create a swirled effect. Drop large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, swirling the tops, and bake for 1 1/2-2 hours, until dry. If you like, turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly and leave them inside as the oven cools. Peel the meringues off the parchment and store in an airtight container for up to a few days.

How to dress them up
  • Swirl crushed candy canes and/or finely chopped dark chocolate into the meringue.
  • Spoon large spoonfuls of meringue onto a shallow dish of finely chopped almonds or pistachios and gently roll to coat one side before transferring to the baking sheet.
  • Flavour the meringues with 1-2 teaspoons rosewater or other extract in place of the vanilla.
  • Drizzle the meringue with raspberry purée and swirl/spoon/bake.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Our final batch of treats: Last-minute recipes for when you’re short on time and ingredients

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