Bake it Forward for the Holidays
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This season, make an extra batch of treats for friends, coworkers, charities, or just someone who could use a lift—and pay it forward, sweetly.
Share a Little Sweetness
Photo: Christopher Testani
Holiday baking is one of the most joyful traditions of the year, and for this season, we're encouraging more from-the-heart baking. It's a simple idea: When doing your holiday baking this year, bake a second batch and give it to a charity, veterans, a local firehouse, or a friend or family in need. Many of you do this already, but we're hoping that by giving the idea a name, and spreading the word on paper and through social media, we can increase the number of second batches baked for good causes.
We're baking double batches of cakes, cookies, muffins, and bars—one to enjoy and one to share. Join us!
Fudgy Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies
When a soft, fudgy cookie meets crunchy candy cane shards, it's a match made in heaven.
Pretty Packaging: Don't underestimate the beauty of a simple cardboard hat box (find one at your local craft store). Add a pop of color with a bright ribbon, and tag the recipe with a handwritten greeting.
Cherry and Pistachio Rugelach
You can switch out the cherry preserves and dried cherries for another fruit that comes in both spread and dried form, such as apricot, currant, or blueberry.
Pretty Packaging: These rustic cookies can handle a more rustic approach to wrapping. Carefully place the cookies into a cellophane bag, then drop inside a burlap bag; cinch with a ribbon.
Almond Antique Brittle
When cooking sugar to a high temperature, things move very quickly in the last few minutes or even seconds. To avoid burned sugar syrup, be sure to have the almonds toasted and ready to go before starting. A significant amount of vinegar in this brittle adds complex flavor.
Pretty Packaging: The key to perfectly packing brittle is to first make a dry, nonsticky candy—if it's humid, wait a day or two until there's less humidity. Box with a layer of protective tissue paper.
Classic cinnamon rolls get a zingy update with this citrus-glazed twist.
Pretty Packaging: Elevate the look of this whole-grain treat by lining a gift box with thick, boldly patterned wrapping paper. Make sure the paper is thick enough that any moisture from the rolls won't degrade the paper.
Stained Glass Window Cookies
We found that Jolly Rancher candies produced the brightest, most vibrant "stained glass." Be sure to use the original sweet candies, not the sour flavors. To crush, place each color in its own heavy-duty zip-top bag; crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet. You'll find sparkling sugar in craft or specialty stores, but you can also use turbinado sugar as a substitute.
Pretty Packaging: These cookies are sturdy and stackable once cool. Shop for a rectangular box to hold them snugly and wrap with metallic paper for a sleek, stylish gift.
Raspberry-Swirl Mini Bundt Cakes
It's best to make one batch of cakes at a time (don't double the batter), though you can easily double the raspberry mixture. If you don't have a minibundtlette pan, you can make one large Bundt cake instead. If you have an 8-cup Bundt pan, that's ideal, but a 10-cup pan will work, too (the cake just won't be as tall). Bake at 350° for 25 to 28 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out clean. Spreading the batter evenly in minibundtlette cups can be a little tricky. Try spooning the batter into a large zip-top plastic bag; then snip off one bottom corner of the bag, and pipe batter into cups.
Pretty Packaging: To keep cakes looking their best, make sure the glaze is fully set before packaging. For individual treats, place one cake on a tissue paper square, place into a cellophane bag, and tie with ribbon.
Star Anise Snickerdoodles
Perfect for Church Groups and Shelters
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Mix up a double amount of dough in a large bowl. Bake the first batch of cookies on 2 baking sheets in the oven as directed, and keep the unused dough in the fridge as the first batch bakes. Cool baking sheets completely before proceeding with the rest of the dough.
Pineapple Shortbread Cakes
Special Indulgence for Special Friends
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Double the filling, but for quality control, make two separate batches of shortbread dough. Also know that these delicious, buttery cakes are a labor of love—and absolutely worth the time you'll spend making them. The most time-consuming part is shaping the cakes; break up the process by making the filling and the dough a couple of days ahead.
Rich Treats for Teachers or Coworkers
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: If you can accommodate 24 muffins at one time, double the batter and bake all at once. If you can only accommodate 12, make just one batch of batter, bake, and start over: Baking powder will lose its efficacy if extra batter has to sit while the first batch bakes.
Rum-Raisin Bundt Cake
Drop These Off at Your Local Firehouse
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Double the batter in a large bowl, and bake everything at the same time. Make a standard-size Bundt for yourself, and for gift-giving, do the second batch as mini Bundts: Spoon about 6 tablespoons batter into each of 6 mini Bundt molds coated with baking spray. Spoon remaining batter into a 10-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake both pans on the middle rack. Rotate pans after 15 minutes; the minis will be done in about 20 minutes, and the large one should take the time indicated in the recipe.
Chocolate-Almond Cheesecake Bars
Great for a Book Club or Any Social Group
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: It's easy to double this recipe all as one process—double the crust, double the filling, divide between pans, and bake both pans together at the same time on the same oven rack. You may find that you need to add a couple of extra minutes to the bake time; cook until almost completely set.
Eggnog Coffee Cake
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Double the crumble mixture and the cake batter in large bowls. Bake cakes together on the same oven rack, rotating pans halfway through the cook time. If the cakes don't test done after 30 minutes, cook an extra 2 to 6 minutes, checking them every 2 minutes. Either give a whole cake to a friend, or package individual pieces.
Spiced Almond-Date Bites
Photo: Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
These quick-and-easy treats feel deceptively decadent and are the perfect go-to for cookie exchanges and holiday gift giving. The recipe doubles easily, so make a second batch!
Gluten-Free Cranberry Maple Pear Bars
Photo: Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
Perfect for holiday gatherings or as gifts, these gluten-free bar cookies capture the favorite flavors of the season, including cranberries, maple syrup and pears.
Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust
Fresh ginger in the cookie crust really kicks up the flavor.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Mix up a double batch and bake off two pans of these bars at once. Place pans on the same (middle) rack of the oven. Hand-deliver the delicate bars, packed in a single layer in a box that doesn't allow them to slide around. Keep bars chilled by placing the closed box in a slightly larger box with chill packs and padding.
Whole-Grain Breakfast Bars
Take a break from dessert with these fruit and nut breakfast bars.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: A large bowl can hold a double batch of the dough, and the hearty mix will perform just fine. Bake bars on the same (middle) rack in the oven. The bars can be a little crumbly, so wrap them individually and pack with plenty of padding to transport or ship overnight.
Chocolate-Zucchini Loaf Cake
Zucchini squash is available year-round and is the secret to keeping this cake moist.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: If you have two loaf pans available, then double the mix. Cool and wrap baked cakes whole and unglazed in plastic wrap. To ship overnight, pack securely in a box, or gather a pretty cloth around the cake to hand-deliver. The icing is wet; pour it into a zip-top bag and include instructions to snip the corner and drizzle onto the cake.
Tender almond cake surrounds a raspberry filling in this playful riff on classic linzer torte.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Double the muffin batter only if you have two (12-cup) pans. Alternate pans on the middle and top oven racks, and rotate halfway through baking. (You'll need to bake them an extra minute or two.) Ship these muffins without worry by dividing a batch between two large zip-top bags and cushioning them with tissue paper in a box.
Semolina Almond Orange Cake
You can bake this cake in four mini loaves. Reduce bake time to 30 to 35 minutes, checking for doneness with a wooden pick.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Because this batter should not sit around waiting to go in the oven, make sure two Bundt pans will fit on your oven's middle rack before doubling it. To transport or ship overnight, cool and wrap the cake on a cardboard cake circle or plate using plastic wrap; place in a box with little wiggle room.
Chewy Molasses Cookies
Perfectly spiced and wonderfully tender, these molasses cookies were a staff fave at tasting.
HOW TO DOUBLE UP: Double the dough and bake these cookies without a hitch. To mail, wrap small stacks together using plastic wrap. Nestle the stacks in a box with plenty of padding, or stack in a wide-mouth canning jar with crumpled parchment or wax paper in the headspace under the lid. Place the jar in a box with padding for mailing overnight.