If there is one thing I have learned in my 30 years of walking this strange planet, it’s to pick dessert. A good dessert steals the show 100% of the time. Baking can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be and I’ve got some recipes to prove it. Let’s take the pressure out of the pudding and make momma proud. Wanna hear the best part of this life hack? Dessert is budget friendly. For the non-bakers out there like me, I suggest picking one go-to dessert you plan to bring all season long. You will save money on ingredients this way. Pat yourself on the back and let’s do the damn thing, Betty Crocker.
1. Dark Chocolate Cranberry Magic Bars
- 1 cup cold, cubed, unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 12oz dark chocolate chips
- 2/3 cups dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 14oz sweetened condensed milk
Step 1. The Crust.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Add butter, sugar, and flour to a large bowl and use a fork to bring the ingredients together into pea sized crumbs.
- Press evenly into foil lined and greased 9 x 13 pan.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
Step 2. The Filling.
- Sprinkle chocolate, cranberries, coconut, and pecans evenly over crust.
- Pour condensed milk over toppings and bake for 18 minutes.
- Place in the refrigerator to cool before cutting into bars.
2. Christmas Crack
- 1/4 pound salted saltine crackers (about one sleeve)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup m&m candies chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 18x13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all of the saltines salt side up on the baking sheet in an even layer.
- Add the sugar, butter, and peanut butter to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is fully boiling, stop stirring and allow to boil for three minutes.
- Carefully pour the boiling mixture over the crackers and put in the oven for five minutes.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Return to the oven for 1 minute.
- Spread the chocolate chips out into an even layer and sprinkle the m&ms over the chocolate.
- Let cool on the counter for about 20 minutes. Place in the freezer for an hour and then break apart into small pieces.
3. Sugar Cookie Truffles
- 1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury™ Ready to Bake!™ refrigerated sugar cookies
- 10 oz vanilla-flavored candy coating (almond bark)
- 1 tablespoon holiday candy sprinkles or decors
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Shape each cookie into a ball; place 2 inches apart on un-greased large cookie sheets.
- Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown (center of cookies will be soft). Cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes. Shape each cookie into a ball. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes or until completely cooled and firm.
- Meanwhile, line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper; set aside.
- In medium microwavable bowl, microwave candy coating uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.
- Dip cookie balls, one at a time, into melted candy coating. If necessary, reheat coating. Place on cooking parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Immediately decorate with candy sprinkles. Refrigerate truffles about 10 minutes or until coating is set. Store covered in refrigerator.
4. Ginger Bread Cookie Bars
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature 12 tablespoons
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses I used Grandma's molasses
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cream cheese soft
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter soft
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/5 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a 13" x 9" baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds with electric mixer. Add sugar and beat for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and molasses and beat on medium low speed just until combined.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Gradually add to the sugar molasses mixture and beat on low until combined.
- Spread cookie dough in prepared pan. Spread evenly.
- Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until the top appears dry. The bars will puff up during baking and deflate while cooling.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.
To Make The Frosting:
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix well. It should be fluffy and thick.
- Spread frosting over cooled bars. Dress up with festive sprinkles. Cut into squares and serve
5. No Bake Pumpkin Spice Pie
- 1 ready-to-use graham cracker crust
- 2 small boxes (3.4 oz each) Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding Mix
- 2 cups half & half milk
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
- Chopped pecan for garnish, optional (Do it, it’s cute)
- Combine dry pudding mix, milk, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Beat together with a wire whisk, or hand held blender, until thick and creamy. About 2 minutes. Spread 1 1/2 cups into the pie crust (this is the 1st layer).
- To the remaining pudding mix, add 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip and stir until combined. Spread over the pudding layer in crust (for the 2nd layer).
- Spread the remaining Cool Whip on top (for the 3rd layer) and cover with the enclosed lid.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I prefer to make ahead and refrigerate overnight.
- Before serving, sprinkle the top with chopped pecans if wanted.