As if the holidays weren’t harried enough as we hustle towards the finish line of the year, we now find ourselves facing countless requests for holiday party foods—the kids’ classrooms, the board-game group get-together, the spouse’s office party. While it certainly would be magical to whip up dozens of homemade cookies or stacks of mini hand pies at each sweet treat plea, we have to be a little real with the time we have on our hands—and that’s not a lot.
Still, you don’t have to resort to sending a package of Oreos or Chips Ahoy (not that we haven’t all done that). We’ve come up with five clever ways you can start from a semi-scratch point in baking and make unique treats that will please everyone at the party while saving you lots of time.
5 Treats to Make with Store-Bought Cookie Dough
1) Magic Milk Bars
These cookie bars taste a lot like Hello Dolly Bars mixed with a chocolate chip cookie studded with your favorite holiday candy. They’re “magic” because of how easily they come together. The sweetened condensed milk is the real wonder ingredient here. It brings together all the ingredients for an ooey-gooey treat that will make people marvel at your baking skills. But the most work you’ll do is pressing refrigerated cookie dough into a pan, and then waiting patiently while the bars cool.
1 (16.5-ounce) sugar cookie dough package
1 cup + 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup + 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup + 1/4 cup holiday chocolate candies
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 can (14-ounce) sweetened condensed milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
2. Press the sugar cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes in a 350°F oven.
3. Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup butterscotch chips, 1 cup chocolate candies, and coconut over crust.
4. Pour milk over ingredients, and bake 23-28 minutes or until top turns golden brown.
5. Remove pan from oven, and sprinkle remaining chips and candies over hot bars.
6. Let cool completely, and cut into bars.
How to Package
Cut the bars into 16 to 20 pieces. Stack a piece of parchment paper between each slice or layer to keep them from sticking.
2) Cookie Pizza
While you’ve got your pressing muscles exercised from making the Magic Milk Bars, use them to press refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough onto a round pizza pan. Then bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked in the middle.
Next, select your toppings. Just like with a homemade savory pizza, the sky really is the limit. We recommend melting chocolate chips and spread them as your cookie pizza “sauce.” You can also sprinkle the chips on the hot cookie, wait five minutes, and then spread the chips out to form the sauce.
We also wouldn’t complain if someone decided to drizzle a little melted peanut butter over the chocolate. (To “melt” peanut butter, spoon a few tablespoons into a microwave-safe bowl and eat at 50% power for 30 seconds until the peanut butter is thin and pourable.)
Finally, sprinkle toppings like chocolate candies, sprinkles, coconut, even nuts over top of the melted sauces. Let cool, slice, and serve.
3) Cookie Muffins
This is a great one if you’ve got little hands eager to help—or a really easy recipe if it’s just you at midnight in the kitchen alone. You can divide the cookie dough evenly into each mini muffin well. They can press the dough out evenly, and then you can race to fill each center with a mini peanut butter cup. They’re fast and easy, and you can switch up candies to make the treat different each time you make it.
1 (16.5-ounce) refrigerated cookie dough package
24 mini peanut butter cups
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat each well of the mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. Divide cookie dough into 24 pieces. Press each piece into a muffin well. Press dough up sides of each muffin well, leaving a hole in the center of the dough. Place a peanut butter cup in each well.
3. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookie dough is golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes, and flip onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
4) Chocolate-Dipped Cookies
You can bake your own cookies for this treat, or you can cheat and pick up a box of store-bought cookies (the kind in the bakery section, not Chips Ahoy). We won’t tell anyone what you decide.
In addition to the cookies, you also need chocolate for dipping and any toppings you’d like to use. A few good ideas: shredded coconut, crushed peppermints, chopped pecans, sprinkles, chopped pistachios, miniature chocolate chips, candied ginger.
Once you melt the chocolate chips or wafers, dip each cookie into the chocolate. You can cover as much or as little of the cookie you want. We like the half-dipped look, but the extent of your dipping is up to your artistic discretion.
On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, place each cookie after you dip it. Immediately sprinkle toppings on the melted chocolate so the toppings will stick as the chocolate hardens. Let cookies sit at room temperature until all the chocolate hardens. Then, you can stack in a plastic container for storage or gifting.
5) Cut-out Sugar Cookies
Don’t have time to let butter soften and make your own sugar cookie dough just so you can cut out adorable shapes and intricately decorate each one? You’re not alone.
Save some time and start with a package of refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Kneed a half cup of all-purpose flour into the dough. The extra flour will help the sugar cookie cut-outs keep their shapes when you make little gift boxes and wreaths.
Once the flour is fully incorporated into the refrigerated dough, you can roll the dough and cut any shape you want. Let cool, and then decorate however you wish.
Better yet, send frosting and decorations with the cookies, and let the eaters make their own art before they promptly chow down on their treats.
Cookie Swap Saviors: Have you been invited to a cookie swap? Good news! You can use the cookie ideas or any from our Cookie Swap Occasions Plan to throw your own party or contribute to a friends’ get-together. In addition to the Cook Swap menu, the Occasions Plan offers 26 weeks of entertaining menus, holiday dinners, and food for any occasion you can imagine.