Barb’s Top 3 Christmas Baking Recipes


Published December 13, 2023

Last edited January 04, 2024


Between Carole and I, I am definitely the baker in our partnership. And there really is no better time to share a baking recipe than at Christmas. I typically start planning my Christmas baking list in late November and there are always three standard recipes I make every year that I can count on to turn out and I know everyone loves. Then I usually find one or two new recipes to try as well. I make up “baking tins” to gift to neighbours and acquaintances and they are always well received. Just a small gesture with a card wishing them a merry Christmas season and a happy new year. So…enter my 3 standard recipes…there is one cookie recipe, one bar recipe and one savoury recipe. Enjoy!

Traditional Shortbread Cookies

This recipe comes from a mix of recipes that I’ve tried over the years but most shortbread recipes are very similar. The most important part is the chilling of the dough and the cookies prior to baking. 


  • 2 cups butter, salted, cold and sliced or chopped into 1/2″ pieces (it must be cold)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • Sprinkles or decorations


  1. In the bowl of  a stand mixer add the cold butter and the brown sugar. I use the paddle attachment on medium-high speed to cream the mixture until combined and it has formed a paste
  2. Add 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix on low speed until combined being careful not to overmix
  3. On a counter top or board, sprinkle about a 1/2 cup of flour and transfer the dough to the board. Knead the dough by hand, adding enough flour to make a soft dough – it should not be sticky
  4. Divide the dough into 3 balls and flatten them into discs. Wrap tightly with cling wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 325° F and line baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper
  6. Roll out a disc into a 1/2 inch thickness and then use cookie cutters to make desired shapes (or simply cut rectangular strips or triangles)
  7. Place cookies 2″ apart on baking sheet and either decorate with sprinkles/decorations or poke holes in them with a fork. Chill for 15 minutes
  8. Bake the chilled cookies for 15-20 minutes
  9. Cool completely on wire rack. Cookies will keep very well at room temperature when sealed tightly.
Photo courtesy of

Tahini Billionaire Bars

I first made this recipe during a Covid baking challenge that Bon Appetit was hosting. This recipe actually came out in March of 2020 and when I made it, the whole family knew it was going to be a regular Christmas favourite. If it seems a bit complicated, visit the Bon Appetit website for the recipe – they have great guided videos to help you along. The end result is worth it…trust me!


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (either icing sugar or finely ground granular sugar will work)
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted plus more for serving
  • 2 3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup chilled unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate


  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Lightly coat a 9×9” or 8×8” baking pan, preferably metal, with nonstick cooking oil spray or vegetable oil. Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on all sides. (If you have a precut sheet of parchment, simply slice it in half crosswise, then overlap the two halves to line the pan.)
  2. Whisk 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour, ¾ cup (83 g) powdered sugar, ⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds, and ¾ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a medium bowl. Cut ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter into ½” pieces and add to dry ingredients; toss to coat. Using your fingers, work in butter until pieces are about pea-size.
  3. Separate 2 large eggs—the easiest way to do this is to crack open eggs one at a time and gently pour into a (clean) hand, letting whites fall through your fingers either into the sink or a small bowl while trapping the yolk. Add yolks to bowl with flour mixture and mix in with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Dough should hold together when squeezed in your hand.
  4. Scrape dough into prepared pan and gently press into an even layer (lightly flour your hands if needed). Prick dough with a fork in several spots (this will help it stay flat as it bakes). Lightly flour the fork if it’s sticking to the dough.
  5. Bake shortbread until golden brown, 24–28 minutes (or up to 35 minutes if using a glass dish). Let cool slightly.
  6. While the shortbread is cooling, make the tahini butterscotch. Cut remaining ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter into 8 pieces. Heat butter and 1¼ cups (packed; 250 g) light brown sugar, whisking constantly, in a medium heavy saucepan over medium until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Whisk in ¾ cup heavy cream and 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling becomes less frequent and butterscotch is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. (When in doubt, err on the side of giving the mixture another 30 seconds—it’s better if it’s a little too firm than too runny.)
  7. Remove from heat, add ½ cup tahini and 1 tsp. vanilla extract and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Pour butterscotch over shortbread and tilt pan to distribute evenly if necessary. Chill until set, 30–40 minutes.
  8. Coarsely chop 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (65%–75% cacao) and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in a microwave in 40-second increments, stirring between bursts. (Alternatively, place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water a.k.a. a double boiler; do not let bowl touch water. Heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth.) Pour over butterscotch and spread evenly to edges of pan with a small offset spatula or rubber spatula; sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Chill until chocolate is firm, 1–2 hours.
  9. Using parchment paper overhang, pull bars out of pan and set on a cutting board; remove parchment. Using a serrated knife (a chef’s knife will smoosh these), slice into 25–36 pieces (5–6 cuts in each direction) with a sawing motion. If you’re having trouble slicing, feel free to freeze the bars for 20–30 minutes, which will harden the caramel and ease the process.

NOTE – bars can be made 4 days ahead and stored airtight in the fridge.

Spiced Cashews

My mom has been making these spiced nuts for as long as I can remember. We crudely refer to it as “Christmas Crack” because they are highly addictive. The recipe is from Ina Garten – The Barefoot Contessa and it is so simple and delicious. They are great to have on hand to put out for drop in company or to add to a charcuterie board. 


  • 1 1/4 pound cashews
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (or more for spicier)
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (I used salted)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F
  2. Place nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until warmed through.
  3. Combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until coated.
  4. You can serve these warm or cool and store them at room temperature in jars.

I’m putting some new recipes on my list this year including some Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Chocolate Truffles, this seasonal take on Chocolate Chip Cookies and I’m attempting some Traditional Gingerbread again at the request of my son who says we MUST have them to leave out for the big man on Christmas Eve. 

If you make any of these this year, I would love to see photos! Feel free to share in the comments below. 

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