5 stress-free baking recipes for the holidays


From gingerbread madeleines to miniature pies – and a hot chocolate offering a slight surprise – these are the treats they concocted.

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The holidays are a time to create memories and prepare delicious bites.

In an effort to take the stress out of holiday baking sessions, we asked a few Vancouver chefs to share their favorite easy recipe to streamline the holiday kitchen situation.

From gingerbread madeleines to miniature pies – and a hot chocolate offering a slight surprise – these are the treats they concocted.

Gingerbread Madeleines

Recipe from: Betty Hung, pastry chef and co-owner of Bakery Many


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1 1/3 cups (200 g) cake flour

2 1/4 tsp. (8 g) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 g) salt

1/2 tsp. (2.5 g) ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. (1 g) ground cloves

1/4 tsp. (1 g) ground nutmeg

2/3 cup (150 g) brown sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup (60 g) whole milk, room temperature

2 tbsp. (30 mL) fancy molasses

2 tablespoons (30 g) finely chopped candied ginger

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and spices.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and brown sugar vigorously until frothy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until the flour is just hydrated. Add the melted butter, milk, molasses, candied ginger and fold until incorporated. Cover and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

When cooking, preheat the oven to 500 F / 250 C. Generously butter the hollows of the madeleine molds, sprinkle with flour and pat the excess. Pour the batter into the molds approximately. Once filled, lightly tap the mold on the work surface to even out the dough and remove large air pockets.

Place the madeleine pan in the preheated oven, bake for 3 minutes and lower the temperature to 425 F / 220 C. Bake for 15-20 minutes more (normal size – 7-8 minutes), tops should bounce when you tap on them with your finger. While still hot, turn them out onto a cooling rack. Serve hot, they are best served on the day they are cooked.


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Makes 4 large or 24 regular sized cakes.

Heritage Baking Christmas Cookies

Recipe from: Martha Naguiat-Ebro, pastry chef and owner of Heritage Pastry Vancouver

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsweetened chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup (180 mL) dark chocolate

2 tbsp. (30 ml) butter

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (180 mL) white sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) of espresso extract or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of instant coffee diluted in 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of hot water

1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

2 tbsp. (30 mL) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour

1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) baking powder

1/3 cup (50 mL) pecans, chopped

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries or dried cherries

3/4 cup (180 mL) dark chocolate chips

Sea salt, to taste

In a bowl, combine the chopped unsweetened chocolate, dark chocolate and butter and melt in a double boiler. Put aside.

Beat eggs, sugar, coffee and vanilla extract until fluffy. Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and set aside.

Mix the flour and baking powder. Add the chopped pecans and dried cranberries.

Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Pour using a 3-ounce ice cream scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle sea salt on top.

Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the spoon used. Cookies will be very soft when hot but will firm up as they cool. Enjoy with hot milk or eggnog.

Makes 12 to 15 coins.

Mini cranberry butter tarts

Recipe from: Rebecca Rancier, pastry chef at The Lazy Gourmet

24 frozen 2-inch pie shells

1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter


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1/4 cup (60 mL) brown sugar

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt

1/2 cup (125 mL) golden corn syrup

1 egg

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) vanilla

1 / cup (250 ml) Craisins

1/2 cup (125 mL) cranberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup (125 mL) powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

If possible, get sweet pie shells, but you can also make them without sugar. Arrange the frozen pie shells on a baking sheet, place them in the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Take the pie shells out of the oven and set them aside to cool.

With your blender, cream together the butter, sugar and salt. Continue to mix until the color lightens.

Add the egg and vanilla, scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Mix the egg has been incorporated and the dough is smooth. Add the corn syrup and continue to mix the dough until smooth.

Place about 3 Craisins in the bottom of each pie shell. Fill the pie shell with the dough, making sure the dough flows around the Craisins so that there are no air pockets. Fill only to the top edge of the pie shell. Garnish with 2-3 cranberries, depending on the size of the berries.

Return the pie shells to the oven and bake for about 7 minutes. You want the filling to be almost set. It’s no longer liquid, but a little jiggle is good. Remove from the oven and let cool on the side.

When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Makes 24 tarts.

Apple Cranberry Nut Galette

Recipe from: Chef Alysa Downs, pastry chef of On-board catering

Cranberry garnish

3/4 cup (80 g) walnuts


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2 cups (220 g) cranberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 small Granny Smith apple (80 g)

1/3 cup (65 g) granulated white sugar

1/3 cup (70 g) firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon (15 g) orange zest, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and toast the nuts for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden and fragrant. Take out of the oven, let cool then roughly chop. Put aside.

Cut the cranberries in halves, toss in a large bowl with the white and brown sugars. Peel and cut the apple into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes, add to the cranberries. Cover and let stand at room temperature, stirring every 15 minutes.

Galette dough

1 1/4 cups (175 g) all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. (2 g) fine salt

1 tablespoon (15 g) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

3-4 tsp. (45-60 mL) ice water

Chef’s Note: This recipe can be made with pre-made pie crust if you are short on time.

In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar until combined (about 6-8 pulses). Add the cubes of cold butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs (about 15 seconds).

Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of ice water over the dough and mix until the dough holds together when pinched. Add a little more water, if needed. Turn the dough over on a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a large round about ½ inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until stiff (about 30 to 60 minutes).


1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp (15 g) demerara / coarse sugar (optional)


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Stir in the walnuts and orange zest into the cranberry mixture. Let stand by spreading the pancake dough.

Take the galette out of the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough into a 12 inch (30 cm) circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the patty dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Spread the filling on top of the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches (5 cm). Brush the edges with lightly beaten egg. Carefully fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, creasing if necessary. Gently press to adhere. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or freeze to bake later).

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Brush edges of patty with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar (optional). Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden and cranberries are tender and bubbling.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature for 24 hours or refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. Cool leftover patties in 350F (175C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until crust is crisp again.

For 4-6 people.

Zesty Peppermint and Pinot Noir Mocha Shots

4 oz (115 ml) pinot noir such as Kim Crawford Pinot Noir Where Inniskillin Pinot Noir

3 tbsp. (45 mL) cocoa powder or sweetened ground chocolate

3 oz (85 mL) hot coffee

3/4 oz (20 mL) cream of cocoa, brown or white

3/4 oz (20 mL) cream of mint

Spoonful of whipped cream, optional

Preheat small insulated “shot” cups. In a saucepan, combine the cocoa and hot coffee to make a rich syrup. Add the crème de cacao, crème de mint and pinot noir and stir until the ingredients are heated through. Pour into preheated cups in 2-3 oz portions. Garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream.

For two.




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