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illustrations by Wenting Li

Welcome to the first week of The Globe and Mail’s 24 Treats of Christmas. Between Dec. 1 and 24, we’ll publish recipes for cookies and squares, chocolate desserts and holiday favourites along with last-minute sweets for when there are more cravings than time.

Each batch of recipes includes easier and more difficult treats to suit your skill level and time commitment, along with variations to dress them up.

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Visit this link for details on how to receive the recipe links one a day by text message.

In these cold and uncertain times, lets get baking!

Difficulty rating

🍪 = Almost as easy as a mix

🍪🍪 = Get out your rolling pin

🍪🍪🍪 = Clear your calendar

Ginger molasses crinkles

Liam Mogan/The Globe and Mail

Makes 24 cookies

Level of effort: Easy

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Recipe notes: Reduce the butter to 1/3 or 1/4 cup for slightly thicker, softer cookies.

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar until well blended and sandy. Beat in the molasses and egg. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and stir or beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Roll into walnut-sized balls, then roll each ball in a shallow dish of sugar to coat. Place the balls a couple inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet (leave plenty of space as they’ll spread) and bake for 12 minutes, or until spread, cracked on top and slightly darker around the edge.

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

How to dress them up
  • Swap 1/4 cup cocoa for 1/4 cup of the flour to make chocolate gingerbread.
  • Add the grated zest of an orange as you beat the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Stir chopped candied ginger into the dough at the end, before rolling and baking.
  • Make sandwiches: Spread the bottom of cooled cookies with vanilla or cream cheese frosting, then sandwich with another cookie.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Spice cookies

lleerogers/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: One half of the dough is flavoured with orange and the other half with candied ginger.

  • 8 ounces butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy in food processor or with electric mixer. Beat in egg and egg yolk.

Sift together flour, salt, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. Blend into butter mixture. Divide dough in half and flavour one half with orange peel and the other with candied ginger. Form into 2 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F.

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Roll one ball of dough out into a circle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch circles and place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Repeat with other ball of dough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until pale gold.

– Lucy Waverman

Jam squares

Julie van Rosendaal /The Globe and Mail

Makes 9 squares

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Use any kind of jam, compote or preserves you have in the pantry. If you have ripe berries or stone fruit that need to be used (fresh or frozen), cook them in a skillet with about half the quantity of sugar, mashing with a potato masher or fork, until thickened to the consistency of jam.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, grated or cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups jam or other fruit preserves

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Grate in the butter (or add it in pieces) and blend with a fork or your fingers until the mixture is well combined and crumbly. (Alternatively, blitz it all together in the bowl of a food processor.)

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Press a little more than half the mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined 9-by-9-inch pan. Spread with the jam, and sprinkle the rest of the crumble mixture on top, squeezing a bit as you go to create larger clumps.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the crumbs are pale golden and the jam is bubbling around the edges. Cool before cutting.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Butter tart squares

LauriPatterson/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes about 20 squares

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Make the topping while the base is baking. You can add about 1 cup fruit to the filling – try rhubarb, cranberries or pitted sour cherries – or stick with raisons or currants for a more traditional taste.

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Base
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
Filling
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup or organic corn syrup
  • 1½ tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins or nuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan.

In a food processor or by hand, combine flour, sugar and butter until mixture holds together. Press into prepared pan. Prick and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Beat eggs until foamy in a bowl. Beat in sugar and flour. Stir in butter, corn syrup, vinegar, vanilla, salt and currants.

Pour into partially baked base and bake for a further 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cool before cutting into rectangles.

– Lucy Waverman

Sugar or linzer cookies

Liam Mogan/The Globe and Mail

Makes 18 sandwich cookies

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Level of effort: Moderate

Recipe notes: Sugar cookie dough can be rolled and cut into shapes, sandwiched with raspberry or apricot jam (or even Nutella), or shaped into a log, wrapped in parchment and refrigerated or frozen to slice and bake in cookie emergencies.

1 cup butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

For Linzer cookies

1/2 cup raspberry or apricot jam

Icing sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, until pale and light. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and salt and beat on low speed just until you have a soft dough.

Divide the dough in half, shape each into a disc, wrap in plastic and let rest or refrigerate for at least an hour, or for up to a few days.

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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cookie cutter or rim of a glass. If making into Linzer cookies, cut smaller circles out of half (or use a different small-shaped cookie cutter). Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges and set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Spread solid cookies with jam. Place the cut-out cookies on a baking sheet and sprinkle with icing sugar, then place on top of the jam-topped cookies. Store in a covered container for up to a week.

How to dress them up
  • Add chopped chocolate, chopped nuts and/or dried fruit, roll the dough into two logs, wrap in parchment and refrigerate. Slice and bake as needed.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom to the dough, or 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg . Roll and cut into shapes.
  • Make thumbprints by placing walnut-sized balls of dough on a baking sheet, indent each with your thumb and fill with jam or mincemeat before baking.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Marshmallow Kiss Cookies

Tara O'Brady/The Globe and Mail

Makes 2 dozen

Level of effort: Difficult

Recipe notes: You’ll need a candy thermometer. To vary the flavour, try a dark chocolate coating with peppermint extract instead of rosewater in the marshmallow, and omit the coconut from the cookie. Or use orange in the marshmallow and candied ginger in the cookie, with milk or white chocolate on the outside.

Cookies
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey, golden syrup, or white corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Marshmallow
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup white corn syrup
  • A good pinch medium-grained kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater
Coating and decor
  • 12 ounces strawberry or raspberry candy coating (try Valrhona or Callebaut), or white chocolate if unavailable
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • Sprinkles, optional
  • Freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries, crushed to a powder in a spice grinder, optional
  • Ground pistachios, optional

Start with the cookie dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, shredded coconut, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream the butter, honey and brown sugar on medium-high until lightened and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beaters twice. Beat in the vanilla paste or extract. With the machine set to low, stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir the dough by hand to make sure no dry ingredients linger at the bottom of the bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thick. If it feels at all soft, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and pop back into the fridge to firm up. Use a 1 1/2-inch circle cutter to make 24 rounds and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until golden and firm, 13 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the marshmallow topping, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small bowl. Let bloom for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the egg whites, sugar and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over a bain-marie (double boiler). Whisk gently until smooth and the sugar dissolves, reaching 185 F. Attach bowl to stand mixer with the whip attached. Scrape in the bloomed gelatin and salt. Beat the contents of the bowl on medium-high until the mixture is thick, glossy, and the bowl is warm to the touch, about 7 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and rosewater, then transfer marshmallow to a piping bag fitted with a large plain tip.

Pipe mounds of marshmallow onto the cooled cookies. If desired, use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to create swirls. Leave at room temperature, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour.

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For the coating, melt the strawberry or raspberry candy (or white chocolate) and coconut oil over a bain-marie (double boiler), stirring regularly. Once melted, remove from heat. Pour into liquid measuring cup or similar, so that the coating is deep enough to dunk the marshmallow without hitting the bottom of the container. Dip the cookies, then set on a cooling rack set over a baking tray to catch drips. Alternatively, spoon the coating over the cookies. After about a minute, adorn with sprinkles, berry powders or ground pistachios as desired. Let set in fridge, uncovered. Any leftover coating can be covered and refrigerated, then used as a topping for ice cream; rewarm as needed.

– Tara O’Brady


Our next batch of treats: Seasonal goodies to warm up cold nights

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