Nutcracker Sweets

Cookies, candy, and cupcakes that are bound to have visions of sugarplums dancing in your kid’s head.

Mouse King Pops
Yield: 16 cookie pops

Prep: 5 mins
Bake: 10 mins to 12 mins 350°F


  • 1 16 1/2 ounce roll refrigerated sugar-cookie dough
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 16 lollipop sticks (18 inches long)
  • Yellow food coloring
  • 1/2 cup white decorating sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow decorating sugar
  • 1 4 1/4 ounce tube chocolate frosting
  • 16 pink jelly beans

Make It

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Knead sugar-cookie dough and flour until smooth. Roll dough until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Using a 3-1/4-inch heart cookie cutter, make 16 shapes, rerolling dough if necessary. Transfer the hearts to cookie sheets. Insert a long lollipop stick about 1 inch into dough.

2. Tint the remaining dough yellow with the food coloring. Roll until it’s about 1/4-inch think. Cut 16 rectangles 1 inch by 2 inches. use a small pairing knife to make a zigzag design along the top to form the crown. Transfer the crowns to the cookie sheets. Sprinkle hearts with white decorating sugar and the crowns with yellow sugar. Bake until cookies are just golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

3. Pipe on chocolate frosting to make ears, eyes, and whiskers, and to attach the jelly-bean nose and cookie crown. Refrigerate ten minutes, or until chocolate is set. 

Shortbread Soldiers

Yield: about 2 dozen

Chill: 4 hrs to 12 hrs
Bake: 10 mins to 12 mins 350°F


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce box confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons egg-white powder
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • Black, blue, brown, yellow, and red food coloring
  • Cake Mate pink candy decors (available at supermarkets)
  • Cake Mate yellow candy decors (available at supermarkets)

Make It

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In another bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth. On low speed, add the flour mixture until just combined. Divide the dough in half and form into disks. Wrap each disk with plastic and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours. It’s fine to leave it in the fridge overnight.

2. Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll out each disk on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Make the soldier shapes with a cookie cutter and transfer them to sheets, about 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden around the edge, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, egg-white powder, and water in a medium bowl. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer until smooth, about a minute. Tint the frosting: You’ll want 1/2 cup each blue, black, and pink; 1/4 cup yellow, and 2 Tbs. brown. Spoon all of the yellow and brown and half of the blue, black, and pink frostings into pastry bags fitted with a #2 plain tip. Thin the remaining frostings slightly with a few drops of water; spoon each of them into a zip-top plastic bag.

4. Make an outline of the soldier using the frostings in the pastry bags. Fill with thinned frosting and let dry, about 45 minutes. Pipe detail lines with the thicker frosting to make features such as hair, nose, eyes, trim, and belt. Use the candy decors for the cheeks, mouth, hat, and belt buckle. Let cookies dry for about 1 hour before storing. 

Snow Cones

To make these frosty trees:

1. Spread vanilla frosting or low-fat cream cheese on a sugar cone.
2. Roll in sweetened flaked coconut.
3. Turn upside down.
4. Refrigerate 5 minutes on wax paper.
5. Roll white spice drops in blue sugar to coat; cut star shapes and place on tree.
6. Decorate with mini M&M’s or nonpareils (, attaching them with frosting or cream cheese. 

Falling Snow

To make these snowflakes:

1. Fold wonton wrappers into quarters and cut out designs with scissors.
2. Open; place on cookie sheet lined with foil.
3. Spray lightly with vegetable oil and sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake at 350°F until they begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Cool on a wire rack. 

Sugarplum Fairies

Yield: 36

Bake: 10 mins to 12 mins 375°F


  • 1/2 cup pitted dried plums (about 11)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup softened butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 – 4 drops red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons clear glitter (Wilton)

Make It

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 36 mini muffin cups. Place plums and buttermilk in a food processor; pulse until smooth. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, salt, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Beat 1/4 cup butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl. Add egg and beat well. Blend in flour mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk mixture, ending with flour.

2. Fill muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

3. For the frosting, beat cream cheese and remaining 1/2 cup butter in a bowl until smooth. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Tint with food coloring. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a #113 leaf pastry tip. Starting on the outer edge of cupcakes, pipe lines of frosting to look like petals on a tutu. Continue with a second row, leaving center of the cupcakes open. Sprinkle with glitter.

Source: – By Karen Tack


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