Holidays Tips

Read these 21 Holidays Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dessert tips and hundreds of other topics.

Holidays Tips has been rated 3.1 out of 5 based on 985 ratings and 1 user reviews.
How can I make a heart shaped cake without a special pan?

Heart Cake

Any two layer cake recipe can be transformed into a heart-shaped cake, without special pans. Bake one layer in a 9" square pan, and the other in a 9" round pan. Cool the cake layers completely. Cut the round cake layer in half to form two half circles. Using your favorite frosting, attach the two half circles to two sides of the square layer to form a single layer heart shape. Frost completely.

   
Do you have a recipe for a heart shaped tart?

Raspberry Tart

Pastry for double 9" pie crust
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 14-oz. jar strawberry pie glaze
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make a paper pattern for a heart shape, sized about 11" x 10". With paper pattern as a guide, cut crust into 2 heart shapes. Generously prick crust with fork, and flute the edges of the hearts.

Bake the heart crusts, one at a time, at 400 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes or until the crusts are light golden brown. Cool the crusts completely.

In small bowl, combine cream cheese and 1/4 cup powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Carefully place one cooled crust on serving plate and spread with cream cheese mixture.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pie glaze. Spread remaining pie glaze over cream cheese mixture. Top with second crust, and spread reserved 1/2 cup glaze over the top crust. Arrange raspberries over the glaze and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

   
Do you have easy Halloween treat ideas?

Easy Cookies

For Halloween cookies, purchase some chocolate sandwich cookies with orange colored filling. Then take the top cookie off, and look at the orange filling as a blank jack-o-lantern! Use colored decorating icing to make faces for a great kid's project.

   
Do you have a recipe for macaroon cookies for Passover?

Orange Almond Macaroons

Soft and chewy, like a French macaroon, these can be made anytime for tea or dessert, and with the substitution of matzo cake flour, they can be made for Passover. These keep beautifully and are fast to make.

8 oz. almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. flour (or matzo cake flour)
2 large egg whites

In bowl of a mixer, break up the almond paste. Add the sugar, zest, extract, and flour, and mix together. Add the egg whites and beat until smooth. Scoop out into 1 inch balls (a melon baller makes fast work of this) and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat.

Bake at 325 degrees for 17 minutes, until lightly puffed and browned on bottom edges. Cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a rack. Makes about 3 dozen. Store between sheets of waxed paper or parch- ment in a sealed plastic container up to 1 week.

   
How should I make Valentine´s Day special?

Make Mine Hearts!

For Valentine's Day, let the heart theme be your guide. You can find special heart shaped pans, cookie cutters, and forms to make almost any recipe a Valentine's treat.

   
What can I do with all these leftover candy canes?

Valentine's Day Candy Hearts

Use your leftover candy canes to make festive hearts for Valentine's Day. Place same size candy canes on a baking sheet facing each other with ends touching to form a heart shape. Bake at 350 degrees for just a few minutes until they have fused together. Let cool.

As seen in Woman's Day, January 2, 2001

   
Do you have a recipe for decorated fudge?

Freaky Fudge

This is the easiest fudge in the world to make. Use your imagination adding extra “creatures” to garnish the fudge.

12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
6 oz. pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 16-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. butter
Assorted gummy worms, licorice spiders, and gummy bugs

In microwave, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and butter on MEDIUM for 2-3 minutes. Stir well. Return to microwave if necessary and continue melting on MEDIUM for another 2-3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour into greased 8” square pan, and top with the creatures, pushing them gently into the fudge. Chill until firm. Store well covered in the refrigerator.

   
Do you have a recipe for chocolate covered strawberries?

Double Dipped Strawberries

2 cups white baking chips
1 Tbsp. shortening
18 large strawberries with leaves
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. shortening

Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Heat white baking chips and 1 Tbsp. shortening in 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted.

Poke a toothpick into the stem end of each strawberry, and dip three-fourths of the way into melted chips, leaving top of strawberry and the strawberry leaves uncoated. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Heat semisweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp. shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate chips are melted.

Drizzle melted semisweet chocolate over dipped strawberries, using small spoon or fork. Refrigerate the strawberries, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until coating is set.

   
How can I make brownie hearts for Valentine´s Day?

Brownie Hearts

Make your favorite brownies and cool them completely. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts and place them on a wire rack. Then make a chocolate ganache. Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a boil, then pour over 1 12-oz. pkg. of semisweet chocolate chips. Stir until blended and smooth. Using a ladle, pour the ganache over the brownie hearts to coat completely. When the ganache is cool, decorate with candies, decorator icing, and white and dark chocolate.

   
Do you have a recipe for ginger caramel corn?

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

This is a combination of two recipes; one with not enough sugar and gingerbread flavor, and one with the perfect amount of sugar and no gingerbread flavor. I feel that most homemade caramel corn has too much corn and not enough caramel. This recipe is perfect.

15 cups popped corn
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Place popcorn into 2 13x9” pans. Mix together salt, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, ginger and cinnamon. Boil together for 5 minutes and then mix in baking soda. Mixture will foam up. Pour over popped corn and mix thoroughly. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in airtight container

   
How can I keep track of favorite holiday recipes?

Christmas Cookies

Make a list of the cookies your family loves to eat at Christmas, and make your own cookbook! A small loose leaf notebook is easy to fill with your favorite recipes. Then when the holidays roll around, you won't have to spend any time at all chasing down recipes and leafing through cookbooks.

   
Do you have a recipe for a white chocolate pie?

White Chocolate Cream Pie

1 pkg. refrigerated pie crusts
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup vanilla milk chips
1/4 cup milk
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Prepare pie crust according to package directions for unfilled one crust pie using a 10" springform pan, or a 9" pie pan - your choice! Cool completely.

Melt butter in a 12" skillet over medium heat. Stir in pecans and cool until nuts are golden brown, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly. The nuts can burn very quickly, so make sure that you watch carefully. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour.

In small heavy saucepan, melt vanilla milk chips in milk over low heat. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour too.

In large bowl, beat whipping cream with sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Fold in cooled pecans and cooked vanilla milk chip mixture. Spoon into cooled crust and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Serves 8-10

   
Do you have a recipe for making spiders from candy?

Candy Spiders

Your kids will love assembling these spiders. They're great for garnishing party trays, and would make a wonderful centerpiece on a chocolate layer cake.

Black jumbo gumdrops
Thin black licorice
Red hots

Using a toothpick, poke holes in the gumdrops. Insert thin licorice, cut to desired leg length. Press red hots into the gumdrops for eyes.

   
Do you have a Passover recipe for a coconut torte?

Coconut Macaroon Torte

4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. light rum
1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 Tbsp. superfine matzo meal
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" round cake pan and sprinkle with matzo meal and shake out excess. Set aside.

Beat egg whites with salt in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Then beat in the rum.

Combine coconut, almonds, matzo meal, and lemon zest in a medium bowl and fold this mixture into the egg whites. Spread in prepared pan, and bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Cool in the pan.

Unmold the torte onto a platter and serve with sweetened fresh fruit, if desired. Serves 6

   
Do you have a sponge cake recipe for Passover?

Almond Sponge Cake

This excellent cake recipe for Passover comes from Bert Greene.

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
8 oz. blanched almonds, ground
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. matzo meal
2 Tbsp. brandy
6 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Then butter the paper and flour the pan.

Beat egg whites in large bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Sprinkle with salt and beat until stiff. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the ground almonds, sugar, and matzo meal. Gradually add this to the egg mixture. Add the brandy and 2 Tbsp. of the amaretto. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees until firm to the touch, about 1-1/4 hours. Cool completely in the pan.

Remove sides of pan and sprinkle with remaining 4 Tbsp. amaretto. Serves 8-10

   
How can I use cookies for a Valentine´s bouquet?

Cookie Bouquet

To make a cookie bouquet for your sweetie this Valentine's Day, make your favorite sugar cookie dough (or just use refrigerated cookie dough). Roll out and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Using a smaller heart-shaped cutter, cut the centers out of half of the cookie hearts. Bake as directed in the recipe or on the package.

Make a buttercream icing and tint it pink. Make sandwiches out of the cookies, frosting a solid cookie heart completely, then placing a wooden skewer in the frosting, and top with the cut-out cookie heart so the frosting shows in the cut out. Let the frosting harden. You then have long-stemmed cookies! Place them in a box, or a vase, and use as a centerpiece for your Valentine's table.

   
Do you have a cookie recipe that looks like an Easter basket?

Peanut Sitting Pretties

This recipe goes way, way back in my family's holiday traditions. I think we found it on the back of an M&Ms package. They are perfect for Easter because the cookies look like little nests filled with colored eggs. It's fussy to make, but you will be the hit of the gathering if you bring a plate of these goodies.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar together until creamy. Stir in egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix well. If you have time, chill the dough for several hours.

1 egg white, slightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped nuts or flaked coconut

Form dough into 1” balls. Dip each ball into the slightly beaten egg white, then roll in nuts or coconut to coat. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and make an indentation in each cookie with your thumb. Return cookie sheet to oven and bake for 5 more minutes. Cool and fill with Buttercream Frosting. Top with M&Ms holiday candies.

   
Do you have an idea for a Jack O´Lantern cake?

Jack O' Lantern Cake

For a great centerpiece for a Halloween party, make a Jack O'Lantern Cake. Bake two bundt cakes of your favorite flavor. Then make lots of frosting - three times a basic recipe. Tint most of it orange, and a small amount green. Put the cakes together bottom to bottom using frosting to hold them, and fill and frost to make a large round shape. Use an ice cream cone in the top hole for a stem and frost it in green frosting. Use decorating icings to add lines, leaves, trailing vines, and of course the face.

   

Orange Almond Macaroons

Soft and chewy, like a French macaroon, these can be made anytime for tea or dessert, and with the substitution of matzo cake flour, they can be made for Passover. These keep beautifully and are fast to make.

8 oz. almond paste
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. flour (or matzo cake flour)
2 large egg whites

In bowl of a mixer, break up the almond paste. Add the sugar, zest, extract, and flour, and mix together. Add the egg whites and beat until smooth. Scoop out into 1 inch balls (a melon baller makes fast work of this) and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat.

Bake at 325 degrees for 17 minutes, until lightly puffed and browned on bottom edges. Cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a rack. Makes about 3 dozen. Store between sheets of waxed paper or parch- ment in a sealed plastic container up to 1 week.

   
How can I bake a pumpkin shaped cake?

Easy Halloween Cake

Make a spectacular pumpkin shaped cake! Tint a yellow cake mix orange and bake in a fluted bundt pan. When cool, frost with orange frosting. Put a 1/2 banana in the center hole and frost it green. Voila!

   
Can I bake ahead for the holidays?

Baking Ahead

Make a note of which cakes, cookies, bars and other desserts freeze well, and prepare them in the weeks before the holidays. Then you can just pull them out, thaw them, and give unexpected guests something special.

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Dessert Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Susan Sayour