It's said that smell is the scent tied closest to memory, and the smells of butter, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon emanating from a warm oven spell out holiday cheer and summon nostalgia of seasons past. Whether helping grandchildren to bake up a batch of cookies for Santa, making a dessert to bring to a holiday potluck, or simply enjoying the flavors of the season in everyday scones or muffins, these recipes will help to make the season bright and tasty.
See also: AARP's Thanksgiving Survival Guide
Gingerbread People by Georgeanne Brennan: These kid-friendly characters can be decorated with dried fruit, candy, icing and powdered sugar for a variety of expressions and wardrobes.
Cookie Tree Ornaments by Michele Urvater: This dough is ready for your array of cookie cutters, and the final product can be eaten straight off the tree!
Holiday Fruit Cake by Jacques Pepin: A buttery pound-cake batter infused with candied peels and dried fruit that you make yourself bring fruitcake to the next level.
Plum Pudding by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner: This favorite British dessert is best made a month ahead.
Holiday traditions from around the world can be fun to incorporate into your own festivities this year. From Italy to Scotland to France, these recipes offer global flavors to suit your celebrations.
Peppernuts by Rick Rodgers: "Just about every country in northern Europe has some version of these spicy drops in its Christmas cookie culture… They are properly spicy with pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and anise."
Amaretti Cookies by Maria Filice: "Anyone who knows Italian sweets knows that amaretti are quite popular. These cookies, which can also be made with my other favorite, hazelnuts, are perfect after a meal with a bit of espresso."
Scots Shortbread by Mimi Sheraton: "A traditional Christmas and New Year's or Hogmanay treat in Scotland, this crisp butter cake is a direct descendant of the oatmeal bannock served at pagan Yule celebrations."
Smooth French Macaroons by Nick Malgieri: "These are the beautifully smooth-topped pink macaroons you see at all the best pastry shops in Paris."
Bake to Bring
Christmas Cupcakes by Nigella Lawson: Chocolate-gingerbread cupcakes covered in holly decorations are sure to elicit oohs and ahhs when you bring them to a holiday party.
Cranberry Maple Squares by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds: These seasonal bar cookies can be made ahead and hold up well during travel.
Ginger Scones by Dave DeWitt and Nancy Gerlach: These biscuit-like small cakes are spicy and sweet with both ground and crystallized ginger.
Bartlett Pear & Cranberry Muffins With Cinnamon-Walnut Topping by Laurent Tourondel: Apples, mashed ripe bananas and confit kumquats can all be substituted for the pears in this recipe.
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