Christmas is coming soon, very soon, and some of us — I won’t say who — are still scrambling to find gifts for people in our respective bubbles. Food is a good gift, because people like to eat, and cookies and sweet treats are always welcome. But confectionary and baking can get rather involved and, as I mentioned already, we are running out of time. Luckily, I am lazy but prepared — I always have an arsenal of low-effort treat recipes ready for emergency deployment.
Food is a good gift, though giving it can be tricky, as — due to societal norms — most people are already getting absolutely bombarded with cookies and candy this time of year. Luckily, those aren’t your only options. There are plenty of edible delights you can bestow upon your...Read more
Fudge you can make without a candy thermometer
Besides salt and vanilla, which I bet you already have, all you’ll need to make this fudge is a 340.19 g bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a 396.89 g can of sweetened condensed milk. Once you have all that, melt it together in the microwave, pour it into a parchment-lined pan, and wait for it to set. There. You now have fudge. (Want to get a little fancier? Sprinkle crush candy canes, pretzels, or festive sprinkles on top before it sets.)
There are sweet makers, and there are sweet eaters, and I am firmly in the latter camp. Though I don’t mind a cathartic cooking sesh, my main goal – during the holidays especially – is to churn out the treats. This is why this fudge, which takes less than five...Read more
I’m still not sure what haystacks “are.” Are they cookies? Are they lollies? Are they their own unique and special thing? Whatever they are, they’re delicious, and I cannot remember a Christmas without them. Some people add peanut butter to haystacks, but I prefer the all-butterscotch, two-ingredient version. The salty, kind of bland noodles absorb just enough of the butterscotch’s cloying sweetness with their carby body, while offering a candy-coated crunch that keeps you chomping away. They should not be that good, but they are. (They’re also made in the microwave.)
If there was ever an ever-present Christmas confection during my youth, it was the haystack. Neither lolly nor cookie, this unassuming, almost too easy treat simply has no business being as addictive as it is.Read more
Fancied-up box mix brownies
People will say it’s “the thought that counts,” but then act all scandalised if you use a boxed mix during the holiday season. This is unfair, especially when you consider how busy you are, and how good boxed mix brownies can be if you use fancy oil (like pistachio or walnut) instead of vegetable, coffee instead of water, and sprinkle on something festive (like fancy flake salt, the most festive sprinkle). You can also play around with extracts, like almond, or peppermint; and match your topping to your extract, with candied nuts, or crushed peppermint candies. (Just make sure to add any sweets halfway through the bake, so they don’t melt completely.)
If there is one hill I will die on, it is that boxed mix brownies are usually the only brownies worth my time — but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to get fancy with them. If you’re looking to pass yours off as a little more gourmand, simply change...Read more
Vegan one-ingredient coconut caramel sauce
Did you know they make sweetened condensed coconut milk? And did you that 45 minutes in the pressure cooker can turn it into a creamy, dreamy, vegan caramel dip that tastes almost exactly like a Samoa cookie? You did not? Well, now you do, and your life is the better for it, I think. You can cook the dip right in the can but, if you’re intending to give it as a gift, I recommend transferring it to a pretty jar first. Maybe add a bow or something.
Transforming a can of sweetened condensed milk into a rich caramel dip using either your slow cooker or pressure cooker has long been a favourite trick of mine. There’s no mixing or measuring, but there is (obviously) a lot of dairy. This may seem to leave our vegan and lactose-intolerant...Read more
Sweet and bright orangette
This is probably the most involved treat on this list, but it is so pretty and so delicious, I had to include it. (It also comes from our very own Beth Skwarecki, who — unlike me — is not at all lazy.) As Beth notes in her blog on the subject, orangette is fancy, but not fussy — it’s the platonic ideal of those orange gummy slices, and it only requires two (2) ingredients: oranges and sugar. The best part? You don’t even have to scrape off the pith.
Slow-cooker candied nuts
With all the hype around the Instant Pot and the air fryer, it can be easy to forget about the slow cooker, the not-so-Instant Pot of the ‘80s and ‘90s. If you are a fan of “fixing and forgetting,” these hands-off candied nuts just might be for you. You can use any combination of nuts you like, and even tweak the spices if you feel like it. Honestly, the most difficult thing about making these nuts is waiting for them to set.
Candied nuts are one of those things that are equal parts treat and snack, and are just at home in a bowl of ice cream as the are in a salad. Their versatility makes them a great gift and, with the help of a slow cooker, an extremely easy (and...Read more
Chewy three-ingredient cookies
If you have a cup of peanut butter (or almond butter, or chocolate hazelnut butter), a cup of sugar, and an egg, you can make these delightfully chewy cookies. They may not look as celebratory as an iced sugar cookie, but they taste way better than they have any right to, and absolutely sing with a glass of ice cold milk. (They’re also the perfect emergency cookie — nearly everyone has the required ingredients at any given moment.)
“I should make a bust cake of Mick Jagger,” I told my boyfriend as we watched the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show. “I just have to make the lips really big. It would be easy.” “OK, well I don’t want to be here for that,” he replied,...Read more
Stained glass cookies
I do not have children, but I imagine that children would have fun making these deceptively easy but very pretty cookies. You just need some sugar cookie dough (store-bought is fine), some mini cookie cutters, and some Jolly Ranchers. Cut a festive shape out of the middle of a cookie, fill it with brutalised lollies, and bake until the edges of the cookie are barely golden and the candy has melted into a swirling mass of sugar glass. Let cool completely before eating, gifting, or holding up to the light so that you may gaze at their beauty.