Delectable Christmas treats for all to enjoy

Published 11:13 am Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tribune staff members shared some of their favorite holiday treats in time for the holidays. -Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Tribune staff members shared some of their favorite holiday treats in time for the holidays. -Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Try these recipes when entertaining this holiday season

Editor’s note: It has become a Christmas Eve tradition for Tribune employees to share their holiday recipes with readers. 


Christmas Cake

I was first attracted to this recipe on Pinterest because it called for wine. Anything with wine has to be good, right?

It turned out to be amazing and a family favorite.The whole house smells like I know what I’m doing in the kitchen because of the cinnamon. — Crystal Miller

Christmas cake

Christmas Cake – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune



1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 box vanilla pudding instant mix

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 eggs

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup oil

1/2 cup white wine (any kind)



Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ingredients by hand or hand mixer. Grease a bundt pan. Pour into pan. Bake for 1 hour.

When cake comes out of the oven, melt 1 stick butter into 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup wine. Pour over hot cake. Cool. Flip out of pan onto plate and serve.


Peppermint Ice Cream Profiteroles

Peppermint Ice Cream Profiteroles – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Peppermint Ice Cream Profiteroles

I’m a fan of almost any kind of peppermint and chocolate combination, and after looking around online for ideas I thought this recipe looked like something different to try. — Colleen Harrison




1 cup water

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs


Chocolate glaze

8 ounces semisweet chocolate

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1 container peppermint ice cream

4-5 crushed candy canes



Heat oven to 425° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or nonstick foil.

In medium saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil, stirring until butter is melted. Reduce heat to medium; add the flour all at once and cook, mixing with a large wooden spoon until mixture pulls away from side of pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cool slightly, about two minutes.

Using a handheld mixer, beat in eggs — one at a time — beating well after each addition, until dough is smooth. Using an ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon per profiterole, scoop out balls of dough and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until puffed and golden, about 26 to 28 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven; cut profiteroles almost in half with a serrated knife. Return baking sheet to oven; turn off oven and let profiteroles dry slightly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove profiteroles from oven and let them cool completely.

Place chocolate, water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook — stirring gently — until melted and smooth, about three minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla extract.

Crush candy canes and set aside in a separate dish.

Once profiteroles have cooled, fill each bottom with an ice cream ball and replace top. Drizzle with chocolate glaze and top with candy cane garnish.


White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

Each year, I look for at least one new recipe that I can make for my friends and family. This one appeared in my newsfeed on Facebook one day and turned out to be delicious. — Sarah Stultz


White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies

White Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup molasses

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups white chocolate chips

3 tablespoons shortening

Red and green candy melts (or tinted royal icing)



In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg for 20 seconds, set aside.

Cream together butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar until well blended. Mix in egg, then blend in molasses and vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.

Scoop dough out about 1 1/2 tablespoons at a time, shape into balls and then roll in remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart (keep dough chilled that is not currently baking), flatten tops just slightly (to evenly level). Bake in preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 cup white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening at a time in microwave on high power in 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth and fairly runny. Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess, then return to parchment to set at room temperature.

If doing the holly decoration, melt candy melts according to directions on package. Pour into a piping bags fitted with a No. 4 tip and pipe decorations. Allow to set a room temperature.


Christmas Eve Chreamy Crockpot Hot Chocolate

Christmas Eve Chreamy Crockpot Hot Chocolate – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Christmas Eve Creamy Crockpot Hot Chocolate

I found this recipe on Pinterest. — Kim Ehrich 



1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

2 cups milk chocolate chips

6 cups milk

1 teaspoons vanilla extract



Put all ingredients in crockpot on high for an hour and 15 minutes or until chocolate chips are melted. Serve with marshmallows.


Pretzel Rolo Bites

Pretzel Rolo Bites

Pretzel Rolo Bites – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Pretzel Rolo Bites are not only the perfect treat for those who like sweet and salty treats, but they are very easy to make with very little clean up. They are a family favorite at my house. — Kelly Wassenberg





peanut M&Ms


Line baking sheet with wax paper and lay out desired number of pretzels in a single layer. Place unwrapped Rolos on top. Place in oven at 250°F for no longer than 3 to 5 minutes. Rolos should be the same shape they were when they were placed in the oven. Use one M&M to push down the Rolo into the pretzel. Cool in freezer and store in a cool, dry place.



Caramels – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune


This is a recipe I got from my mother, Marge Hamersly. — Carla Johnson



1/2 cup margarine

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

2 cup whipping cream



Bring margarine, sugar, light corn syrup and 1 cup of whipping cream to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Slowly add one more cup of cream. Cook to 250°F or a hard boil. Pour in a 9-by-13-inch lightly-greased pan. Cool and cut in squares and then wrap in wax paper.


Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Thumprint cookies

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

This is a recipe from Land O’Lakes butter that I have been making for a couple of years. It is one of my favorite cookies. —Renee Citsay



1 cup of softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour


Mix all together, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Shape into 1-inch balls. Place two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make indentation in center of each cookie with thumb.  Fill each indentation with about 1/4 teaspoon of raspberry jam.

Bake at 325° F for about 10 to 14 minutes. Cool completely.

Drizzle glaze over cookies.



1 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 teaspoons water

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract


Makes about 42 cookies.


Holiday M&M Cookies

Holiday M&M Cookies – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Holiday M&M Cookies

Growing up, my mother would make this for my two sisters and me during the holiday season. Long days at school would be made easier by the thought of returning home to my mother’s fresh cookies. — Sam Wilmes



2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks softened butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract



Heat oven to 375° F. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in one container. Mix softened butter, sugar and brown sugar in another container. Add eggs and pure vanilla extract to the butter and sugars when mixed. Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients slowly. Once mixed, add by the spoonful to a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.


State Fair-Winning Sugar Cookies

This is a Mike Gormley family recipe that my niece, Brianna, put into a cookbook in elementary school. — Michelle  Beyer

State Fair-Winning Sugar Cookies

State Fair-Winning Sugar Cookies – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune



3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking

1 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt



Cut butter into flour, soda and baking powder; mix well. Mix eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt well. Add to dry ingredients. Chill well, roll out and cut into favorite shapes.

Bake at 375° F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Blossoms - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Peanut Butter Blossoms – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Peanut Butter Blossoms


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Additional granulated sugar

About 36 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped



Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or with spoon, until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until dough forms.

Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in additional sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets, place about 2 inches apart.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.  Immediately press 1 kiss in the center of each cookie.

Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.


Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cookies - Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

Russian Tea Cookies – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

My mother always made these. — Michelle Beyer



1 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely-chopped nuts

1/4 teaspoon salt

powdered sugar



Heat oven to 400ºF.

Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.

Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.


Quick Snickerdoodles

This recipe is perfect for someone looking for a quick and easy Christmas treat. — Michelle DaVeiga



3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies

1/4 cup all-purpose flour



Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.

In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in flour until well blended. Reshape into log.

Cut cookie dough into 32 (1/4-inch) slices. Shape each into ball and roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.


Quick Peanut Blossoms


1 roll (16 1/2 ounces) refrigerated peanut butter cookies

3 tablespoons sugar

36 Hershey’s Kisses milk chocolates, unwrapped



Heat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 milk chocolate candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely before storing.