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Holiday cooking with The Californian

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Spice Drops

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup sweet rice flour
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Wet Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  •  ½ teaspoon anise extract


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  2. In another medium Bsowl, cream together butter and brown sugar, about 1 minute (use medium-high on handheld mixer, medium speed on a stand mixer.) Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add extracts and blend,, 15 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix until a dough forms.
  3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line to cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Drop by the teaspoonful onto prepared cookie sheets, placing cookies 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake first sheet of cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and aromatic.
  7. Remove cookie sheet from the oven and transfer cookies directly onto racks to cool completely. (These cookies love to stick to parchment paper. As soon as they come out of the oven, remove them from the pan. I use a sturdy metal cookie spatula. It is perfect for cookies like these that love to stick!)  Well first she cools, the second sheet of cookies.

Next 4 to 5 dozen small cookies


No-Bake Oreo Truffle Snowmen


    • 1 pound chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreo® (about 36 cookies)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups white melting wafers
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 16 small orange sprinkles or other tiny orange candies, such as Tic Tac®
  • 32 mini candy-coated chocolates in assorted colors
  • 8 red or green sour gummy belt candies, cut into 5 1/2-inch strips, then cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Black gel food coloring


Special equipment: 16 lollipop sticks and a piping bag, optional

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Process the cookies in a food processor to fine crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the cream cheese. Stir and work with a wooden spoon until smooth and completely combined.

Roll about two-thirds of the mixture into 16 balls (about 1 tablespoon each) and put on the prepared baking sheet. Roll the remaining mixture into 16 smaller balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Freeze until just beginning to firm up, about 15 minutes.

Press a small truffle onto each large truffle to make snowmen, then press a lollipop stick through the top of each snowman so that it sits up with the stick coming out of the head (it’s ok if the truffles crack during this step; just form them back together with your fingers). Put the baking sheet in the freezer while you heat the melting wafers.

Microwave the melting wafers and 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl on 50 percent power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. (Alternatively, melt in a double boiler.) Add another teaspoon of coconut oil if the mixture is too thick.

Holding a snowman by the stick, dip it into the white coating mixture to coat completely, letting as much excess drip off as possible. Return to the baking sheet. While the coating is still wet, press an orange candy onto the head for a nose. Press 2 mini candy-coated chocolates onto the sides of the head for earmuffs. Repeat with the remaining snowmen. Refrigerate until the coating is set, about 5 minutes.

Wrap a sour belt strip around the neck of each snowman, using a dot of the coating mixture as glue to secure it.

Combine the chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/2 teaspoon black food coloring in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Transfer to a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag and snip off the corner. Pipe on the eyes and a band connecting the earmuffs over the top of each head. Pipe 3 buttons down the front of each snowman’s body. Refrigerate until completely set, about 10 minutes.


Almost-Famous Peppermint Bark


    • 12 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 pound good-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 candy canes or 12 round hard peppermint candies, crushed


Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil, shiny-side up; smooth out any wrinkles. Heat 1 inch of water in a saucepan over low heat until steaming. Put all but 3/4 cup of the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of steaming water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until one-third of the chocolate is melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan; keep the steaming water over low heat. Gradually stir the reserved 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate into the bowl, a few pieces at a time, until all of the chocolate is melted.

Return the bowl to the saucepan, 5 to 10 seconds at a time, to help melt the chocolate, if needed. Do not rush this step: It may take up to 10 minutes to melt the chocolate. Wipe off any moisture from the bottom of the bowl. Stir 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract into the chocolate, then quickly pour into the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Firmly tap the dish against the counter to remove any air bubbles. Set aside at room temperature until almost set, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put all but 1 cup of the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and repeat the melting process over the steaming water; dry off the bottom of the bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; pour over the semisweet chocolate and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle immediately with the crushed candy canes, gently pressing them into the white chocolate. Set aside at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Lift the bark out of the pan using the foil and break it into pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

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The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Holiday cooking with The Californian