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illustration by Wenting Li

We’ve reached the last batch of The Globe and Mail’s 24 Treats of Christmas. We hope you’ve enjoyed following along – some of you via text message – with our recipes for cookies and squares, chocolate desserts and holiday favourites. The following recipes are for last-minute holiday sweets and treats that will satisfy cravings in little time.

Each recipe includes adaptations to suit your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. This week we’re using holiday staples to whip up no-bake versions of lemon meringue and cheesecake, along with buttery shortbread, a winter sangria and, for leisurely mornings, eggnog scones and panettone bread pudding.

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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

Winter sangria

Mizina/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes 8 servings

Level of effort: Easy

* Gluten-free

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Recipe notes: Sangria made with winter spices is brighter than warm mulled wine, and a way to use up the dregs of the bottles. Feel free to combine red, white and rosé, and even sparkling that has gone flat.

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise or cardamom pods
  • A sprig or two of fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • ½ cup brandy (optional)
  • A few slices of orange and/or apple

In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar with 1 cup water and the ginger, cinnamon sticks, star anise and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes; remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Pour the spiced syrup through a sieve into a large pitcher and add the orange juice, red wine and brandy. Add some orange and/or apple slices, and an extra sprig of rosemary if you like. Chill until you’re ready to pour.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Instant lemon meringue

MarynaVoronova/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes 4 servings

Level of effort: Easy

* Gluten-free

Recipe notes: This is my secret dessert when I can’t be bothered cooking. It is quick, light and you can always have the ingredients on hand. Buy the meringue shells at a bakery – you can buy lemon curd in jars, too. Some bakeries also make it and freeze it to sell. Use whatever fruit you prefer for the filling.

  • 4 meringue shells or meringues
  • 1 cup lemon curd
  • 2 cups fruit
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

Fill shells with lemon curd.

Marinate fruit with balsamic vinegar and sugar (if you prefer not to marinate, leave fruit as is). Spoon fruit on top of lemon curd.

Whip cream until it holds its shape. Garnish each dessert with whipped cream.

You could instead layer broken meringue shells, curd, fruit and cream in glasses.

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– Lucy Waverman

Gingernut no-bake cheesecake

Luiz Henrique Mendes/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes 6 servings

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: This delightful Greek-influenced cheesecake is quick to put together and requires no baking. Graham crackers or chocolate cookies can substitute for the ginger crust, if that’s not to your liking. And the fruit topping can be adjusted to whatever is in season. Use block cream cheese as the texture is firmer.

Base
  • 2 cups crumbled gingersnaps
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
Cream cheese layer
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
Topping
  • 2 cups fruit of choice
  • 3 tablespoons red currant jelly

Place gingersnaps and almonds in food processor and process together until almonds are finely chopped. Add butter and process briefly.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line base with parchment paper. Press cookie crumbs into base and about 1 to 2 inches up the sides. Chill for 30 minutes.

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Whisk together cream cheese, yoghurt, honey, and orange zest. Spoon into chilled shell. Chill at least one hour or overnight.

Place fruit on top of cheesecake. Melt jelly until just liquid and brush over fruit.

Cheesecake will keep for a week.

– Lucy Waverman

Shortbread cookies

Liam Mogan/The Globe and Mail

Makes about 24 cookies

Level of effort: Easy

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Recipe notes: Good shortbread is the quintessential holiday cookie and makes a buttery blank canvas to add all kinds of flavours and additions. No matter what you do to the dough, there are just as many ways to shape it: Press it into a square pan, bake and cut into squares or bars (or a round pan for wedges), roll and cut out shapes, or roll the dough into balls and flatten with a cookie stamp, meat mallet or the bottom of a glass before baking.

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar (along with any flavourings you like) for 2 to 3 minutes, until creamy and light. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and beat on low speed or stir by hand until the dough comes together.

Press into a parchment-lined 9-inch square pan and prick all over the surface with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and set. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and cut into squares or bars while still warm.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for longer storage.

How to dress them up
  • Add the grated zest of half a lemon or orange, beating it along with the butter and sugar for maximum flavour dispersal.
  • Add 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, fresh or dried lavender or good-quality loose-leaf Earl Grey tea, or the scraped seeds from a vanilla bean along with the butter and sugar.
  • Add 1 teaspoon instant espresso or 1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee and 1/2 cup finely chopped chocolate.
  • Swap 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup of the flour for chocolate shortbread.
  • Use brown sugar in place of white, and add 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans.
  • Put a handful of chocolate chips into a Ziploc bag, seal and set in a bowl of warm water, kneading occasionally until melted. Snip off a corner and drizzle over the shortbread.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

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Eggnog scones

Kasemsan Chamrasamee/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Makes 8 scones

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Eggnog makes a fantastic scone. Sweet and spiced, these don’t require much more adornment, but you could try adding chopped chocolate or fresh or frozen cranberries.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, grated or cut into bits
  • Chopped chocolate or fresh or frozen cranberries (optional)
  • 1 cup eggnog, plus extra for brushing

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and toss to combine or blend with a fork or your fingers until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. If you like, add some chopped chocolate or fresh or frozen cranberries to the mix.

Add eggnog and stir just until the dough comes together. Pat into a 1-inch thick circle on a parchment lined sheet and brush the top with a little extra eggnog – I find there’s usually just enough left in the bottom of the measuring cup. Cut into 8 wedges and pull them apart on the sheet, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.

– Julie Van Rosendaal

Panettone bread pudding

Barry/The Globe and Mail

Makes 8 servings

Level of effort: Easy

Recipe notes: Use panettone, raisin bread or cinnamon buns in this sweet bread pudding that puffs up all warm and golden in the oven. Serve it with coffee for breakfast, or whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.

  • 8 cups cubed panettone, raisin bread or cinnamon buns
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk or half & half
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Grated zest of an orange (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Spread the panettone cubes in a shallow, buttered 9- or 10-inch round or square baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, orange zest (if using) and vanilla. Pour over the bread and let stand for an hour, or cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, or until puffed and golden and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold, dusted with icing sugar.

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– Julie Van Rosendaal

Catch up on the rest of the 24 Treats of Christmas

Wenting Li/The Globe and Mail

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