I kick off my holidays every year with a big batch of holiday baking. It’s my favourite way to get in the festive spirit. As I cream butter and sugar together in a mixer and let the warm scents of vanilla and cinnamon fill my home, I’m instantly brought back to all of my favourite holiday memories.
They start when I was five or six, making cookies in the kitchen with my mom. I can smell cinnamon and nutmeg, and we’re measuring out ginger powder from an old spice jar. When the cookies come out of the oven, we realize two things. One, that my grandmother has re-filled the ginger jar with allspice, and she hasn’t re-labelled it. And two, that even though I’m five-ish and mostly normal, I like allspice way more than any human child should.
I ate as many allspice snaps as I could get my hands on that year, and my mom left the rest of them out “for Santa.” She told me a few years later that she tossed them in the garbage, because my tiny counterpart was fascinated by their spicy intensity and kept making her eat them with me. After the first few, she didn’t want to let me down, but she just couldn’t stomach any more of them. My love of holiday baking has only grown stronger since then, and I’m happy to say that I can hold my own when it comes to holiday baking nowadays—with or without the allspice.
Get your start with a hand mixer
If you’re just making a few batches of cookies, hand mixers are a great way to go. These compact designs are easy to use and store, and are even available in cordless, rechargeable options. One of the great things about hand mixers is that they’re a common kitchen item, so it’s easy to find a model at any price point. If you’re just learning how to bake, there are affordable options for beginners, and if you’re baking in big batches, there are pricier options with more powerful motors.
Hand mixers are ideal for a lot of your kitchen needs, like beating eggs, whipping cream, and mixing cookie dough. They can struggle with heavier tasks such as kneading bread dough, but for a holiday baker, this isn’t usually an issue. I love hand mixers for their small size and simple cleaning (the beaters pop out and are typically dishwasher-friendly), which make them a great choice for families who are short on space or time.
I’m also a big fan of hand mixers with stand and storage cases, like the Breville Handy Mix. These wonderfully simple designs are perfect for a small kitchen. Breville’s Handy Mix design comes with silicone-tipped scraper mixers and two balloon whisks, which helps set it apart from the crowd—along with its digital timer. I’ve always found it difficult to keep one eye on my dough and the other on the clock, so having an integrated timer sounds like a dream!
Finish your holiday baking in one batch with a stand mixer
Stand mixers are another great option for your holiday baking needs. They’re great during and outside of the holidays, and can handle everything from mixing cookie dough to emulsifying mayonnaise.
At my peak, I was baking a good 300-400 holiday cookies, tarts, and squares each year. Some batches could be mixed at once and included in everyone’s boxes, like my classic shortbreads and Swedish thumbprint cookies. Others (like my cinnamon honey butter) would be just large enough to give to one family, so that I could keep up with my loved ones’ allergies and sensitivities.
When you’re making hundreds of cookies or multiple cakes at once, a stand mixer is the perfect tool to help you out. They hold the bowl and do the mixing for you, so you can mix large batches of dough or batter without wasting any time (or ending up with a sore arm). The 6 quart KitchenAid Professional 600 Lift-Bowl Stand Mixer can mix dough for a whopping 13 dozen cookies at once, and it has a high-performance motor with a slow start so that you can achieve powerful mixing with minimal splatter.
My own baking this year is going to be a little lighter—at least, for me. I plan on making a few dozen cookies and a couple of custards at most, so my apartment-sized KitchenAid Artisan Mini is going to be just perfect. Holiday cookies are my ideal treat to snack on while I decorate for the season, and making them couldn’t be easier with all of the great hand and stand mixer options available today.
Shop mixers and other holiday baking essentials online at Best Buy.