Christmas baking

One of our traditions before Christmas is to bake a lot of cookies until we find the perfect one for Santa…the thing is that none of them survive until Christmas Eve.

Some of the candidates were these beautiful cookies. They are marvelous; the dough isn’t too sweet, so they work perfectly with the filling of raspberry jam and the buttercream decoration.

Christmas sandwich cookies

Christmas sandwich cookies

The recipe is form a little book I bought many years ago and think this is the first time I bake these, but it won’t be the last.


  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp. milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. salt


  • 5 tbsp. raspberry jam

* Frosting

  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 – 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Green, red and yellow food coloring
  • Red candied cherries silver pearls and colored sprinkles


In a mixing bowl, cream butter, confectioners’ sugar and milk. Combine flour, cornstarch and salt; add to the creamed mixture, beating just until dough forms a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, knead 20 times. Roll out to 3/8 inch (1 cm) thickness and cut roundels.

Place 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 180 ºC (350 ºF) for 12-13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

For the frosting. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.

You will need approximately half of the frosting for the cookies. Dye one portion with green food coloring and the other with yellow food coloring. Pipe frosting in tree shapes with a star on top on half of the cookies.

Spread jam over the bottom of the other half of the cookies and top with remaining cookies. Garnish with candied cherries and sprinkles.

* I made a big batch of frosting and used it for both recipes.

Fruitcake cupcakes

Another tradition is fruitcake, but this one I brought from Panama (the tradition, not the actual fruitcake). You see, in Panama fruitcake is a must during Christmas time. But what makes it special is that everybody has his own recipe or knows the right place to buy the perfect one. So when you go visiting friends and family, first you’ll have to try their version of fruitcake, praise it and listen to the recipe, the secret ingredient or the secret spot where to find it. Of course, then you’ll share your secrets, recipes and spots, so the first 20 to 30 minutes of every visit are occupied by this topic.

For me, the perfect fruitcake is the one my mom makes every year. Normally she’s here for Christmas; but this year she’s staying in Panama, so I’m not only without a mother this time of the year, but also without her fantastic fruit cake!

Anyway… I need my cake, so I decided that it was time for me to make one myself. But to be really authentic and in order to have a recipe to brag about I decided to use a recipe from and old Panamanian book that my mom gave me and then add a few twists to make it my own. Then I divided the batter and made a few cupcakes too. The big fruitcake is still macerating, so I don’t have pictures of it. But here are a few of the cupcakes, a light version without extra alcohol, that the kids loved and already eat them all.

Fruitcake cupcakes


  • 4 cups flour
  •  6 eggs
  •  1 cup candied fruit
  •  1/2 cup of prunes
  •  1 cup butter
  •  1/3 cup guava jam
  •  1 cup peach juice
  •  1 cup brandy
  •  1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  2 cups sugar
  •  1 cup pitted dates
  •  1 cup walnuts
  •  1/2 cup molasses
  •  1/2 cup brandy for macerating


Soak the fruits in brandy overnight. Preheat the oven to 150 ºC (300 ºF)

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices into a bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy. Do not overbeat.IMGP5332

Mix together the eggs, peach juice, guava jam and molasses. Beat into the creamed mixture a little at a time, adding a spoonful of flour after each addition.

Mix the fruit and walnuts with a little amount of flour. Fold the remaining flour into the creamed mixture, and finally add the fruit. Mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into a lined cake pan. Bake at 150 ºC for 1 ½ hours, lower the temperature to 120 and bake further for 2 ½ hours or until the cake is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Allow to cool in the pan.

Wrap the cake in baking parchment then foil. Pour the extra Brandy every two days until it is over.

As I said before, I also made 12 cupcakes with this batter. I used one ice-cream spoon for each one and bake the rest as it said above.

The baking time for the cupcakes was approx. 30 minutes.

To make the tricolor frosting, simply paint 4 lines with food coloring inside the piping bag before filling with butter cream.

I hope you enjoy them both. I would like to take this opportunity and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

25 Replies to “Christmas baking”

  1. I love the sound of your fruitcake cupcakes with guava and peach juice. I’m sure the cupcakes are delicious and I know the cake itself will ripen to a delicious fruitcake that will be as loved as your mother’s fruitcake.

  2. I love that you made cupcakes. How clever! And I think I spotted a secret ingredient or two. I’m sorry you won’t be with your mom this Christmas Giovanna but I hope it is still a special time for you and your family 🙂

    1. Hi Tandy!
      Thanks a lot for your comment and good whishes. I hope you had a very happy Christmas too 🙂
      We enjoyed a family dinner and called my mom at midnight to wish her Merry Christmas all together 🙂

  3. Now, Giovanna! You just cannot make cookies and cupcakes that look this good and expect your kids not to eat them. That’s just not going to happen. Either make a batch of ugly cookies or find a good hiding place. Hey! Send them to me. I’ll keep ’em for you. Trust me. 😉

    1. Hi John! Merry Christmas!! 🙂
      Yes, I know what you mean… cookies and kids… We made the last batch for Santa and Pilar made a video, this is the link if want to watch it.

      I hope you had a very happy Christmas and next year I’ll send the cookies to you 😉

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