Baking up a tasty storm for the holidays

by | Dec 18, 2020 | A&E

Holiday baking is a tradition that transcends cultures and most people have special treats that make them think of the holiday season or take them back to their childhood.

Humber College students of Advanced Confectionary and Nutrition are busy this time of year, doing a lot of baking at home on top of finishing projects and writing tests.

“I do most of the baking in my house, that’s for sure,” said Michailla Cymbalista, a third-year Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle promotion student.

Cymbalista celebrates Christmas in December, and Orthodox Christmas in January.

“During Christmas, I try to bake something the day of, usually, it’s cookies,” she said. “My favourite cookies to make at the moment are peppermint mocha.”

She shared her recipe with Et Cetera:


• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup light brown or dark brown sugar

• 1 large egg, room temp

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 tsp peppermint extract

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 tsp baking powder

• 1 tbsp instant coffee

• 1/8 tsp sea salt

• 1 cup of chocolate chips

• 2 bars of white chocolate, melted

• 3 large candy canes, crushed


• Beat butter until smooth and fluffy for 1 min. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium speed until fluffy and light in colour.

• Beat in egg, vanilla extract, peppermint extract at high speed. Scrape down sides when needed.

• In a separate bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, instant coffee, and salt. On low speed slowly add dry ingredients into wet until combined.

• Add in chocolate chips and mix at high speed. The dough should be thick, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 3 hrs or overnight.

• After 3 hours, take out the dough and let sit for 30 mins or until room temp.⠀

• Preheat the oven to 350 F, scoop in 1 tbsp portions and place on baking sheets. Bake cookies for 10-12 mins.

• Cookies will look undercooked but leave them on the tray for five minutes once out of the oven.

• Melt white chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave in 15-second intervals.

• Make sure cookies are completely cooled before dipping them in chocolate. Sprinkle crushed candy cane on top. Place in the fridge to help the chocolate set.

Luciana Cuello is in Humber’s Advanced Confectionary program. She is from Argentina, and her husband is from Italy.

“In Italy, during Christmas, everything revolved around food,” she said.

Christmas is celebrated over three days, from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26, and it’s a time when people visit family, play games, and eat lots of food.

Cuello shared the recipe of an Italian Christmas treat called Struffoli, which originated in the Campania region of Southern Italy.


  • ⅓ cup of sugar

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter

  • Zest from one orange

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

  • 1 tbsp. rum or rum extract (optional)

For decoration:

  • 300 g honey

  • confetti as needed (optional)

  • candied oranges (optional)

  • hazelnuts and orange zest were used for decoration (optional)


  • In a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, place all the ingredients and knead on medium-low until a smooth dough is formed.

  • Remove from the mixer and slightly knead with hand and round. Cover with saran wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

  • Heat oil in a pan to 375 F on medium heat.

  • Divide the dough into four and work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest covered to avoid drying out.

  • Roll into long thin cylinders and cut them 1 cm approx. about the size of a hazelnut.

  • Once all of them are cut, fry them in small batches. Remove from oil once golden and place them onto a tray lined with paper towels.

  • Warm the honey just enough to make it thin, and glaze the struffoli in the honey. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with decorations of your choice.


Zarina Ismailova is an Advanced Confectionary student from Uzbekistan and her family usually gathers for the New Year.

She shared a recipe for apple cookies, a traditional recipe that reminds her of home.

  • 2 ⅓ cups flour

  • ½ cup of sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup butter (softened in microwave, it is ok if it starts to melt)

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

  • 2 apples cut into small cubes

  • Mix all of the ingredients except for the apples, until it creates a soft dough.

  • Add the apples and gently mix to combine.

  • Do not overmix.

  • Use a spoon to shape and place on a tray, about 2 tbsp. Per cookie.

  • Bake 350 F for 20 minutes.

  • Dust with icing sugar and cinnamon to taste. (Or a simple glaze by mixing icing sugar and milk.)

    May your holidays be delightful. And delicious.