8 Easy Holiday Baking Projects That Still Bring the Razzle-Dazzle

Christmas is right around the corner, and though you may have performed a heroic amount of cookie-baking to give away as gifts, you may have overlooked what you’re going to feed your grubby nephews when they come over on Christmas day. This upcoming weekend will be a long one for many of us, making it a perfect time to tackle some additional holiday baking projects.

We chose these eight recipes not because they are going to make you strain your baking muscles with their complexity. We figure you’ve done enough of that already for this year. Rather, these (mostly) easy recipes are a cinch to prepare, but are total crowd-pleasers that will make it seem like you’ve been up baking nonstop for a month.

1. No-Knead Bread
“Why bother baking this bread? It’s simple. Because there’s something so basic and compelling about yeast, flour, salt and water. It smells good, feels good and is so satisfying to behold. Baking this bread provides a sense of pride in accomplishment, especially if it’s the only really good thing you’ve done all day.”

2. Nutella Bundt Cake
Nutella is the secret ingredient that just won’t die. And why should it? This cake makes perfect use of the chocolate hazelnut spread.

Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

3. Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream
“Why is cinnamon so delicious and comforting? It really makes everything better. I suppose I’m supposed to say that of butter. Or is it bacon? This cake definitely has a lot of the former. Almost four sticks, which is pretty ridiculous. Don’t think, just bake. Go buy a big pack of butter, I’ll wait here.”

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes

4. Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cupcakes
Can we agree once and for all that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the only cold breakfast cereal that matters? Here, the crushed cereal is mixed into cream cheese buttercream frosting, and piped onto a homemade cinnamon cupcake.

Brown Butter & Bacon Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

5. Brown Butter & Bacon Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
There’s only one thing that could have improved our brown butter dark chocolate chip cookies. Crumbled bacon.

6. Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies
“To me, this one, simple [cookie] is what makes living in small towns so incredible. I don’t know where these cookies came from. I don’t know who made them, and under what kind of sanitary conditions, and whether any kind of health regulations were observed in their creation. I don’t know what the ingredients are, what the serving size is, or what the nutritional content of each cookie could possibly be. I don’t even know if selling them is legal. Nobody in town does, and nobody cares. Because every time I have stopped in Thomaston at Pik Qwik, for my entire adult life, those cookies have been there.”

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

7. Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
If you’ve got a can of pumpkin left over in the pantry from Thanksgiving, you’d better use it now. Because if you think it doesn’t make sense now, wait until July. These cakey cookies are studded with butterscotch chips, a surprisingly complimentary ingredient.

8. No-Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares
I have spoken to two people who have made these ridiculously, almost inedibly sweet no-bake bars. The first was Mary (of Hoss and Mary’s fame) who serves a version of them at their hamburger shop in Old Orchard Beach. They add crushed potato chips and Chinese crunch-crunch noodles in an effort to dial down the sweetness, and their customers seem to like them. The other is a Canadian friend, who plans to bake them over the holidays to give to his nephews, so that they will vibrate out of their shoes and their hearts will explode. That’s right. These no-bake bars have been weaponized.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the taco-centric blog "Eat More Tacos," and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

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