Sweets for the Sweet: Moda Designers Share More Holiday Recipes

Sweets for the Sweet: Moda Designers Share More Holiday Recipes

Written by: 
Linzee McCray
christmas-cookies-wallpaper-7307-7638-hd-wallpapers (Image via umad.com)

Like the rest of us, Moda designers enjoy holiday baking. (Well most of them—two don't bake as part of their holiday prep—Jo Morton said she doesn't so she'll feel better when she steps on the scale on January 1, and Kathy Schmitz claims her avoidance of baking is for the safety of her family.) But for all the rest of us mere mortals, those without super-human willpower or dangerous culinary skills, we present these recipes for your cooking and dining pleasure! Tasty Holidays!

(And you can always follow Beth Snyder of 1Canoe2's advice for her Buttermints: "Eat a small handful, then GIVE THE REST AWAY so you don't eat them all in one sitting." Or Vanessa Christensen's: Cut into squares and enjoy the calories!)

Minick and SimpsonPolly Minick—Minick and Simpson

I am sure most have this recipe, but it was the favorite of the "Minick Boys" and we made them each year and it’s still requested when we meet. I’m making them to take to a sons' house this year

Peanut Butter Balls (some call them Buckeyes, but with our son now at Michigan football we will go by their original name)

1 stick butter

1 lg bag of powdered sugar

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 pkg (12 oz) chocolate chips

1 small piece of paraffin

Mix sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and form into small balls and cool

Melt chips and paraffin in top of double boiler—using toothpick put peanut butter ball into chocolate, not completely covering. Makes a bunch, and can be frozen.

dp_a-quilting-life Sherri McConnell—A Quilting Life

This is our family go-to sugar cookie recipe that I got from a dear friend over 20 years ago. The dough doesn't require refrigeration, so you can make them at a moment's notice. The recipe makes a nice-sized batch of cookies that are soft and great for frosting.  My kids (and now grandkids) love them, and they never last long...even when I try to hide some in the freezer!

Super Sugar Cookies

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp. baking soda

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla (add last)

6 cups (or more) flour

Mix sugar and butter. Add eggs. Mix dry ingredients and add, alternating with the milk. Bake at 375 for about 12 minutes.

designer_betsy-chutchianBetsy Chutchian

One of my most loved Christmas memories involves little green Christmas Tree cookies. The short version of the story is : I married the boy next door in spite of the fact he and his brother stole these cookies at at the end of a party my parents hosted. I think I was 10. Their mother called the morning after so embarrassed after discovering the boys had stuffed the cookies in their pockets.

Mother made these cookies every Christmas until I married, and I've made them ever since. They are still my husband's favorite as well as that of my brother in law and my kids. Next week my daughter and I will make them with my granddaughter.

This cookie requires a cookie press. Mine is Mom's ... Mirro brand, vintage 1950's.


Christmas Trees

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Bake 10-12 min. Start checking at 8 min. If your oven bakes hot, adjust your bake time.

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

Green food coloring

  1. Cream shortening, adding sugar gradually.
  2. Add unbeaten egg, sifted dry ingredients, flavoring, and a few drops of green food coloring. Mix well.
  3. Fill cookie press. Form cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, using the tree template. Decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles.
  4. Bake, watching so they don't burn.

Yield 6 dozen.

designer_fig-treeJoanna Figueroa—Fig Tree & Co.

This is a project that I do with my daughter for Christmas. It is the most simple idea and any age kids can do it! We break ours up and put them in mason jars for teacher and neighbor gifts. So simple and so fun to make!

Ella’s Peppermint Bark


2 packages semisweet or dark chocolate chips

2 packages white chocolate chips

1 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

a handful of candy canes or peppermint candies crushed [put candy in a ziploc bag and crush with mallet. Don't turn it into dust... you want some nicer chunks]


  • Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan if you have one with aluminum foil.
  • Melt the semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring as you go for 1 to 5 minutes (depending on your microwave). Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. Stir in the peppermint extract. Spread the chocolate evenly on the sheet.
  • Chill until the chocolate has set, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring as you go for 1 to 5 minutes (depending on your microwave). Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. Stir in 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes. Spread the white chocolate mixture evenly over the dark chocolate. Sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces over the top. Chill for about an hour. Break into small pieces to serve.

designer_pat-sloanPat Sloan

My mother-in-law's family has been making this apple cake for years. I like it in the bundt pan, as then you get a nice caramelized edge on the outside and the inside, which is the best part!

Madge's Apple Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups white sugar

1 cup corn oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup orange pineapple juice

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup chopped black walnuts (regular are fine too)

3 large apples pared and sliced into chunks

Mix topping

5 tbl spoons sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

Beat everything together until smooth. Grease and flower a bundt or tube pan and pour half the batter into the pan. Arrange half of the applies on top, sprinkle with half the cinnamon mix, and pour rest of batting on top with the rest of the apples and rest of cinnamon mix. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.


designer_zen-chicBrigitte Heitland—Zen Chic

This is a German recipe for shortbread we eat during advent and at Christmas. They are called Vanillekipferl

14 ounces/400 grams cold butter

4 2/3 cups/560 grams flour

3/4 cup/160 grams sugar

2 cups/200 grams finely ground hazelnuts

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Vanilla sugar or confectioners' sugar for decoration (about 1 cup).

Cut butter into small chunks. Mix flour, sugar and hazelnuts with salt. Mix on low speed until crumbs form. Add and mix in the vanilla, form dough in a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then form rolls of ½“ diameter, cut them to a length of 2“ and shape them like crescents. Bake at 175° degrees—for German ovens (about 350 Fahrenheit) and 15 minutes. You have to watch over the last minutes of baking, so they don't get burned.

dp_1canoe2Beth Snyder—1Canoe2

Eat a small handful, then GIVE THE REST AWAY so you don't eat them all in one sitting.


1 stick of unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups powered sugar (confectioner's sugar)

2 Tbsp whole milk

1/2 tsp peppermint oil

a drop or two of food coloring

Cream the butter, salt and milk together until completely smooth. Add the peppermint oil and mix till combined. 1/2 cup at a time, add in sugar until the consistency is like play dough. Separate 4 balls of dough and wrap with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Take the first ball, add what food coloring you want, and knead with your hands until it's incorporated. Roll out a 1/2 inch "worm" of the dough, and cut with a butter knife into 3/4 inch pieces. Put all the pieces onto a cookie sheet dusted with powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Allow mints to air-dry overnight, or at least a few hours.

designer_gina-martinGina Martin

This is my mother’s carrot cake. My brothers and I love this cake so much that we requested it for our birthdays too. It’s a dark, heavy cake and is wonderful plain or topped with a cream cheese frosting.

Carrot Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cloves

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

4 eggs unbeaten

2 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped pecans

1½ cups vegetable oil

Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil and blend. Beat in eggs. Add carrots and pecans. Blend well. Batter will be stiff. Bake in a  tube pan (no need to grease and flour it) 1 hour at 350º or until a knife inserted in cake comes out clean.

designer_brenda-riddleBrenda Riddle

Here is a fun recipe that my Mom found in a magazine ad for Nestle—we still have the clipping!—and it became a family favorite that we made at Christmas since I was little girl. (And us kids still make it!) A buttery shortcake cookie—dressed up with chocolate chips & walnuts. . . yummy! These are great cookies to freeze . . . and are wonderful to take out and have with a cup of coffee or tea from time to time. I hope you enjoy these as much as we have over the years!


Cookie Brittle

1 cup butter

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 cups (12 oz.) semi sweet chocolate pieces

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, vanilla, & salt in bowl & blend well. Gradually beat in sugar. Add flour, chocolate chips & ¾ cup of the walnuts. Mix ingredients well (Mixture will be crumbly - & you might want to use hands to finish the mixing.) Press evenly into un-greased 15”x10”x1 pan. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup of walnuts over top & press lightly. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool,  then break into irregular pieces. (We actually cut them into 1”x 3” bars while warm & then pull apart when cooled.)

dp_vanessa-christenson-300x282Vanessa Christensen—V&Co.

Why is it my favorite? Did you miss that it took three minutes to make? Need I say more?

Three-minute Microwave Mint Fudge 

1 -14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1- 14 oz pkg of Andes chocolate baking chips

1- 14 oz pkg of dark chocolate chocolate chips

3 tablespoons of butter

Place all in a microwaveable bowl, microwave for 3 minutes, stir and let sit aside for a few hours. Cut into squares and enjoy the calories.

designer_bonnie-and-camilleBonnie Olaveson—Bonnie and Camille

At our house we love to make these raspberry bars that are delicious and look so festive.

Raspberry Pastry Bars

2 cups butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

5 1/3 cups flour

Mix butter and sugar well, add eggs and vanilla. Mix. Add salt and flour and mix. Press on to a cookie sheet.  Bake @375 for 10 min.  Press rows lengthwise in the dough about 1” apart, while it is still hot, with a teaspoon.  Spread raspberry jam in the rows. Bake for 8 min longer. Let cool and drizzle frosting on bars. Cut them in rows diagonally to make a pretty diamond shape.

Frosting is powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. Mix to desired consistency to drizzle.

dp_jen-kingwellJen Kingwell

The Great Aussie Pavlova

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas in my house without this dessert. My girls and my nieces call it Nanna's Pav as my mum made it every year without fail. Also handy if you have a gluten-free diner.

6 egg whites at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch in the US I think)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Cream and fruit to dress

Preheat oven to 120°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw a 20cm disc onto the paper. Turn the paper over so the drawn disc is underneath. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Ensure bowl is clean, as any fat or spot of egg yolk can prevent egg whites from fluffing up.

Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until dissolved, Gradually add the sugar, 1 tbs at a time, beating well after each addition, until the meringue is thick and glossy and the sugar is completely dissolved. Rub a little between your fingers – if the mixture is still gritty, continue whisking until sugar dissolves. Add the vinegar and cornflour and gently fold to combine.

Spoon meringue onto tray. Use a spatula to shape into a disc, using the circle as a guide. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until dry to touch. Don't let it brown. Turn off oven, leave door slightly ajar and allow to cool completely – this stops the pavlova cracking. Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spoon onto pav. Top with fruit or whatever you desire. Our family favourite is lemon curd, cream and fresh raspberries.

designer_kate-nelliganKate Nelligan

Here’s an easy cookie recipe passed down from my grandmother that I always make for the holidays.  It’s a simple and delicious brown sugar shortbread called:

Elsa’s Scotchies

1 cup butter (no substitutes!)

3/4 cup brown sugar pressed down

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar, add flour and salt gradually until dough holds together. Roll onto lightly floured surface to 1/8” - 1/4” thickness (if rolled too thin they spread). Cut into your favorite shape and put on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake in a slow oven, 300 degrees for 15 -20 minutes.

These are great plain but I like to add a semi sweet chocolate drizzle which puts these over the top!

  • After the cookies cool, keep them on cooling racks
  • Melt a cup or so of chocolate chips in the microwave
  • Place the melted chocolate in a zip lock bag, the snip the corner (not too big, but big enough to have a nice flow)

Drizzle chocolate in fast zig zags or swirls. Get creative!  Let the chocolate harden before storing. ENJOY!

designer_laundry-basketEdyta Sitar—Laundry Basket Quilts

Sometimes the simple classic recipes are the first ones to get snatched off our cookie platter to be enjoyed at a holiday party.  Here is a favorite recipe of mine for chocolate chip cookies.  These cookies come out a little crisp on the edges but still soft and gooey in the middle.


-          1 cup softened butter

-          1 cup white sugar

-          1 cup packed brown sugar

-          2 eggs

-          2 tsp vanilla extract

-          3 cups flour

-          1 tsp baking soda

-          2 tsp hot water

-          ½ tsp salt

-          2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

-          1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


-          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

-          Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Dissolve the baking soda in hot water.  Add to batter along with salt.  Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pan

-          Bake for approx. 10 minutes in oven or until the edges are nicely browned.

dp_franny-and-jane Frances Newcombe and Jane Davidson—Franny and Jane

First up is Frances:

This is a mouth watering Lemon Pecan pie, it will make you put your fork down after one bite and just say yum! Easy to make and will impress your guests.

3 Large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar, beat with eggs

1/3 cut butter melted and cooled

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 t. lemon extract

3/4 cup of pecan pieces

Prepare pie crust (below). Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat eggs and add sugar, continuing to beat until blended. Add butter, lemon, and lemon extract to the egg mixture and blend. Add pecan pieces and stir lightly.  Pour the lemon pecan mixture into the pie crust.Bake at 300 degrees until done, about 45 minutes.

Pie Crust

3oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick of butter

1 cup of All-purpose flour

Mix all ingredients in food processor and roll out in glass pie dish.

Now Jane's recipe!


Love these biscuits (cookies). They would be nice with pistachio as well. Christmas time is when we can loosen our belts and tuck into all things naughty. These biscuits have all the luscious treats of the Season all rolled into one. (I am sorry I don’t know the conversions for US measurements.)

Heat the oven to 180-190C (fan forced)


125g softened butter

2 cups of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder

2 tsps of vanilla

1/4 cup milk (low fat or skim)

1 cup of dark brown sugar

1/2 cup of shredded coconut

1/3 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup Cadbury white chocolate drops

1/2 cup of slithered almonds


Place the almonds on baking paper on a tray and toast in pre-heated oven. Remove from oven and place aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Sift flour and baking powder into mixture. Add milk and mix until batter is consistent. Add cranberries, coconut and almonds. Mix well. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Roll the mixture into balls and place on trays. Cook in the oven for about 15-20 mins (it depends on your oven). I like it when they brown on the base and when cooled are crunchy. Remove from oven and cool on baking racks. Enjoy!

designer_basicgreyRachel Brencheley—Basic Grey

My Mom’s Soft Frosted Gingersnaps

These are seriously to die for! Whenever I make them, they’re the most popular thing I serve and I’ve given this recipe out more than any other I have.

3/4 cup crisco

3/4 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup molasses

4 cups flour

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp cloves

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp salt

Roll into walnut-sized balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet @375 for 10-12 minutes. Drizzle with a runny mixture of powdered sugar, vanilla, and water.

designer_french-generalKaari Meng—French General

(Kaari's recipe of choice is the same as Polly Minick's, although Kaari DOES call hers Buckeyes. But notice they're not made with exactly the same ingredients—that's one of the great things about cooking and quilting—seeing how things taste...or look...when you change them up a bit.)

Here is my favorite candy/cookie recipe from my best friend's mom - every Christmas we would wait until she made these cookies and then eat so many we would feel sick!  I still make them—but have learned that one is probably my limit!


1 pound of butter

2 pounds of peanut butter

3 pounds of powdered sugar

Mix all of the above ingredients and chill overnight.

The next day, melt a bag of chocolate chips and a tablespoon of paraffin (you can find this in the canning aisle). Roll out small balls of the peanut butter mixture, the size of a walnut, and carefully dip each ball into the melted chocolate using a tooth pick. Be careful to leave a small circle of peanut butter showing so that your ball ends up looking like a buckeye.

Dry on a piece of wax paper and pinch the hole made from the toothpick to make it disappear. Store in a sealed container in the fridge—unless you happen to have a sweet tooth and then—good luck!

How about you? Tell us the name of your favorite holiday recipe and why you love it.










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