Calgary

Holiday baking: Julie Van Rosendaal's go-to cookie recipes

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Julie Van Rosendaal bakes up a storm — but there are three cookies that always have a place on her holiday cookie tray.

Ginger crinkles, sweet-tart bars and chocolate Turtle-injected shortbread

'Tis the season for chocolate Turtles — so why not use them as a filling for a shortbread cookie? (Julie Van Rosendaal)

If your idea of a balanced diet is a cookie in each hand, then this is the season for you.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Julie Van Rosendaal bakes up a storm — but there are three cookies that always have a place on her holiday cookie tray.

These treats are sure to appeal to those in "every cookie camp" — from the traditional ginger cookie lover to the aunt who adores lemon squares and a toddler who only eats chocolate.

Ginger-molasses crinkles

Julie says these chewy spiced ginger-molasses crinkles will make your house smell amazing and are easy to wrap for gifts and bake sales. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Ginger-molasses crinkles are classic. Add more spice to suit your taste, or stir in some chopped candied ginger to up the ginger factor. Make sure you don't overbake them; they need to stay chewy, and will firm up as they cool.

  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • extra sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil, molasses, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until well blended and smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt; add to the molasses mixture and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in sugar to coat. Place about two inches apart on a parchment-lined sheet.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until just set around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool or serve warm. Store extras in an airtight container or freeze. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cranberry lemon squares

These cranberry lemon squares should be sliced frozen and dusted with icing sugar before serving. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

If you like tang, you're going to love these puckery sweet-tart bars. Van Rosendaal says the cranberries inside make them look "extra festive" and they're perfect to make ahead and freeze.

Base:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt

Topping:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, sugar, flour and salt, blending with a pastry cutter or fork or pulsing in the food processor until well-combined and crumbly. Press into the bottom of a buttered or parchment-lined 8X8-inch pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

In the same bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir until well blended and smooth.

Sprinkle the cranberries evenly over the base and pour the lemon filling over top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and set. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares; freeze them first for a cleaner cut. Once cooled, sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

Turtle-stuffed shortbread

Shortbread stuffed with Turtle chocolates. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

These bundles deliver the best of both worlds — melt-in-your-mouth shortbread wrapped around chewy-chocolate-caramel Turtles that get gooey in the middle of the oven.

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 box Turtles (at least a dozen, but it's better to have extras)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the icing sugar and vanilla. Stir in the flour, cornstarch and salt. Wrap dough around Turtles, and bake for 20 minutes, until pale golden around the edges. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies.


With files from Julie Van Rosendaal and the Calgary Eyeopener

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