I'm a planner... especially when it comes to food. I menu plan every week. It's a time and money saver. If you don't believe me, just give it a try! I also made sure to include a page for planning food out in my free holiday planner because it's definitely that important. Not only does planning ahead save your sanity and those last minute scrambles for ingredients it can also save you money because you only buy ingredients for what you need. I don't need to buy nuts just because they are a good deal because we don't bake with nuts - blech! Good for you if you like it but it doesn't fly in this house.
In November I sat down and planned out all my holiday baking as well as started plans for our holiday meals. I'll be sharing those next week but this week I'm focusing on cookies! Big tip for holiday baking - make a large batch all at once and freeze the baked cookies. Now you don't have to try to eat them before they get stale and it saves time later in the month when all you need to do is pull out a bag of ready to go cookies. I've already got a bag of sugar cookie trees just waiting to be frosted and a bag of red velvet white chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. I'll be adding more bags as I continue to make the treats on our list!
Here are the treats we are making this year and links to the recipes we use. Then keep scrolling down to find my essentials for all our holiday baking.
1. Classic Spritz
I hunted all over online and couldn't find our exact recipe so I'm including it below so you can enjoy them with us. The powdered sugar makes them so light and fluffy!
Although we use this at least once each week on a normal basis it get puts through the ringer during the holidays getting used several times a day on occasion! We've had our mixer for around eight years and have never had an issue with it. I highly recommend getting one if you have the space and funds. It's probably my favorite kitchen appliance.
Most of the cookies we make, both at Christmas and during the year, are simple scoop cookies and I'd go crazy having roll all the balls by myself. There are various sizes so you can get the right one for your preferences. Cookie scoops save me dirty hands and lots of sanity. They also make a great stocking stuffer for bakers on your list!
I hate baking without baking mats. They make clean up so incredibly easy because all the melting, spilling, or sticky stuff ends up on this super easy to clean mat instead of the metal pans. I've never had ANYTHING stick to my mats, including caramel, burnt cheese, and marshmallows. It all rinses or wipes off and lets me keep going with my day. Just make sure you get the right size for your pans!
What are Christmas cookies without amazing sprinkles? I have a huge collection of fun sprinkles for all different occasions. My parents love to get me sprinkles for Christmas and my birthday to replenish my supply. And since my kids use a large amount when decorating it's always appreciated! They find some really fun ones, too!
I only got this for Christmas last year but it has made making large batches of cookies SO EASY! We don't have much counter space to let tray after tray of cookies cool off so this has been a lifesaver. It holds four trays of goodies and then folds up flat for storage. I was a little worried about stability but I've never even had it wobble, let alone fall over. I've already used it once this season for spritz and I'll be busting it out again soon for cut outs!
I try be conscious of the amount of waste we produce and while we are far from perfect (like super far) I'm all about using these mats because I don't need to keep spraying non-stick spray or use a crazy amount of parchment paper for making sure my cookies (or scones, bagels, buns, and other baked items) come off the pan without an issue. Make sure you measure your pans and order the correct size! I bought some on Black Friday one year that really don't fit any of my pans and it's a bit of a pain.
Happy Baking everyone!
What are your "must have" items for holiday baking? Do you have a favorite recipe to share with me?
If you need a place to plan a stress free holiday season you can grab my printable holiday planner for free. You can also get free printable Countdown to Christmas activity cards if you go here.