Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — Three Desserts to Add to Your Holiday Celebrations this Year

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Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

Welcome back to Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes! I want to mix things up this week in celebration of the upcoming holidays. This week, I want to share three of my favorite holiday-themed desserts that will have your family and friends begging for you to make again next year. Whether you have a grand family dinner planned or are looking for a treat to leave for Santa, these recipes will certainly get you into the holiday spirit.

Pinecone Brownies

Ingredients for the brownies:

· 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and HOT

· 1 tablespoon coconut oil (olive oil works well too)

· 1 1/8 cup superfine sugar (caster sugar or white granulated sugar)

· 2 large eggs

· 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

· 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

· 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

· 1/4 teaspoon salt

Other ingredients:

· Sliced almonds

· 9 oz chocolate chips (mild or dark chocolate is fine)

· 1-2 tsp coconut oil


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

2. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper (or baking paper); set aside.

3. Combine hot melted butter, oil, and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute).

4. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over beat as doing so well affects the texture of your brownies).

5. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownie. Let cool for a few minutes.

7. Remove any crispy parts of the brownies and then form into 12 cone shapes.

8. Place the almond slices in and around the brownie cones to create the pine look full of “scales.”

9. Place the pinecones on parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

10. Melt the chocolate chips with coconut oil.

11. Take the pinecones out of the freezer and carefully coat each one with melted chocolate.

12. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top for a frosted look and indulge in!

Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookies


· 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

· ½ cup melted butter (1 stick)

· ½ cup melted coconut oil

· 1 cup granulated sugar

· 2 eggs

· 1 tsp peppermint extract

· 1 tsp baking soda

· ½ tsp salt

· ¾ cup white chocolate chips

· ½ cup crushed peppermint candy (or candy canes)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and coconut oil, sugar, eggs, and peppermint extract. Use a spoon and mix until everything is well combined.

3. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and continue to mix to combine. At this point, you should have a thick dough.

4. Fold in ½ of the white chocolate chips and ¼ of the crushed peppermint candies.

5. Use a cookie scoop to form 12-14 cookie balls and place onto the baking sheet.

6. Use your hands to press the cookie balls down a bit, about ¼-½ inch thick.

7. Press remaining white chocolate chips on top of each cookie.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and bon appetite!

Vanilla Maple Glazed Gingerbread Roll

Ingredients for gingerbread cake:

· 3 eggs room temperature

· 1/4 cup molasses

· 1/4 cup maple syrup

· 1 tbsp melted butter

· 1/4 cup granulated sugar

· 1 cup all-purpose flour

· 1/4 tsp baking soda

· 1/2 tsp ground ginger

· 1/2 tsp cinnamon

· pinch of salt

Filling ingredients:

· 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

· 1/3 cup powdered sugar

· 1 tsp cinnamon

Vanilla maple glaze ingredients:

· 1 cup powdered sugar

· 1 tbsp milk

· 1 tbsp maple syrup

· 1 tsp of vanilla extract


1. Line a 15X10 jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan (and the paper) and set aside. Heat the oven to 375F.

2. In a mixing bowl beat the egg yolks on high speed until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the molasses, maple syrup, and melted butter and mix well.

3. In a clean grease free bowl, with a clean whisk, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue whisking until firm peaks form.

4. Carefully fold into the egg yolks mixture.

5. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices above the egg mixture, slowly folding in making sure you do not lose all the air that was incorporated with the egg whites.

6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 11 minutes or until top springs back with touched.

7. Cool in the pan for about 3 minutes.

8. In the meantime, heavily sprinkle powdered sugar on a damp tea towel.

9. Carefully turn the pan, allowing the cake to rest now on the prepared tea towel. Remove the pan and gently peel the parchment paper.

10. Roll up the cake, starting with the short side. I find it easier to roll it with the towel as well, although some advice peeling the towel as you roll. Either way it is fine. Cool completely.

11. In a clean grease free mixing bowl combine the heavy cream, sugar and cinnamon and start whisking, on low speed first, slowly increasing to medium speed and whisk until firm peaks form.

12. Unmold the cake, gently peeling the towel and spread 2/3 of the filling over the cake. Roll it again (this time without the towel). Spread the remaining filling on top of the cake.

13. Whisk vanilla maple glaze ingredients until uniform and then pour over cooled gingerbread roll and let sit for a couple of hours before serving. Slice and enjoy!