It's tiiiiiiiime! My favourite time. Holiday baking.

If you remember last month, I did say Thanksgiving/fall baking is nothing compared to what I like to do for the Christmas season. To explain - I've made cookie dough and prepped/cut them in advance over the last 6 weeks whenever I was able to find the spare time. There's absolutely no guarantee I'll have a free weekend or enough hours in any single week to completely make my holiday sets in time to send them away.

This season, I've also been stocking up on little cookie tins sold either on Amazon or Walmart (both have loads of variety and sizes). To keep baking fresh and travel-savvy, I've definitely learned little metal, decorated tins are the most practical. Not to mention there's some crazy cute ones..

Recipes! For the past 3 or 4 years, I've fallen into a pattern of 'regulars'. Here's the basics:

- Gingerbread cookies (of course). This recipe is huge and I typically only need to make 1/2 or 2/3 of it, and that'll average 40-ish little gingerbread men. But I still double the spices and then underbake a little - for a more chewy cookie rather than a snappy one. Keep in mind even though I already cut and prepped the cookies a few weeks ago, they will take a couple hours because of the decorating after baking.

- Brownies. Easy, right? I'm not actually a huge fan of brownies - too chocolate-y, too same-y - but this recipe has given me the best darned brownies in the world. Make sure you use a GOOD cocoa powder and bonus tip: cut 'em into triangles and use a colored cookie icing (I just do store-bought to save a little time) to zig-zag decorate them like Christmas trees!

- Chocolate orange shortbread. I've tried a few different shortbread recipes and to be honest, each recipe should essentially be the same. Then I add my own bit of orange zest, roll it into a log, refrigerate (or freeze, like it is now), and later slice up the log into little discs, ready to bake. Once cooled, I dip half of them in some fantastic chocolate melting chips, which hardens in moments and works beauuuutifully.

- Any oat cookie. To be honest, I make excellent oatmeal raisin cookies. But unless I know the exact tastebuds of people I'm giving the cookies to, raisin is a tricky one to guess, so I tend to avoid giving it away in gift boxes. That's your call. Sometimes oatmeal scotchies happen, because who doesn't love butterscotch? This year, however, it's oatmeal chocolate chip (and, being King Arthur Flour's 2015 recipe of the year, it's more than just 'good').

- Meringues. I forget how easy these are! I only added meringues last year because I wanted a little extra filler in my give-away boxes, and honestly, they're a great touch. Last year was plain meringue bites dipped in chocolate and crushed candy cane - this year is espresso bites, some also dipped in chocolate. I made these over a week ago (they keep perfectly in a sealed tupperware) and already tried a couple, and they're delicious little sugary-coffee nibs.

The image below is part of last year's cookie-haul - including rum balls and those cranberry oat bars I mentioned in the Thanksgiving post (this was before I discovered the superior cookie tins, rather than boxes).

The Lady Alex, Townsquare Media
The Lady Alex, Townsquare Media

And that's my Christmas baking list (mostly)! I'm a little behind, and spending this week throwing things in the oven whenever I have time, in hopes to get my packages on their way by the weekend. Either way, this is the best part of the holiday season.

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