Sweet Dreams

Who says holiday treats have to come from the oven? These highly giftable no-bake treasures are every bit as sublime.


Photos by Erik Putz Food styling by Michael Elliott

Victorian Sugar plums

Prep | 30 min Total | 45 min

Almonds and assorted dried fruits are the base of these bite-sized sparkly, sweet gems.

  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp anise seeds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped apricots
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped prunes
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped dates
  • 2/3 cup coarse or granulated sugar

  • Toast almonds in an extra-large frying pan over medium, about 5 min. Let cool, 10 min, then finely chop.
  • Stir honey with fennel, anise, cardamom and salt in a large resealable zip-lock bag until combined. Add almonds, icing sugar, apricots, prunes and dates. Seal bag and knead until thoroughly mixed.
  • Pour coarse sugar into a medium bowl. Scoop out 1-tbsp portions of nut mixture. Use lightly damp hands to roll into balls. Toss in sugar until coated. Sugar plums will keep well in a resealable container for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 36 | Per sugar plum 91 calories, 2 g protein, 16 g carbs, 3 g fat, 1 g fibre, 10 mg sodium.

Chestnut-Marzipan Rum Balls

Prep | 35 min Total | 1 hour 35 min

The flavours of chestnut and almond marry beautifully. A little flaky salt adds crunch and contrast.

  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 100-g pkgs roasted chestnuts, patted dry
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 225-g pkg semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

  • Whirl almonds with icing sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add chestnuts, rum and salt. Whirl until mixture starts to come together. Scrape into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until marzipan is not sticky to the touch.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Scoop out 2-tsp portions of marzipan mixture. Use lightly damp hands to roll into balls. Arrange 1 in. apart on prepared sheet. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
  • Microwave chocolate with coconut oil in a small bowl until almost melted, 1 min. Stir until smooth.
  • Using 2 forks to hold a ball, coat with chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip off, then return to baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with a few flakes of salt (chocolate will firm up very quickly). Repeat with remaining balls. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days.

Makes 30 | Per ball 96 calories, 2 g protein, 12 g carbs, 5 g fat, 1 g fibre, 19 mg sodium.

Mocha Biscuit Cake

Prep | 15 min Total | 2 hours 35 min

This easy dessert, affectionately called “Prince William” in our kitchen, is known to be the royal heir’s favourite.

  • 350-g pkg shortcake biscuits, preferably Peek Freans, coarsely crumbled
  • 300-g pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips, about 1 3/4 cups
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup golden corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp refined coconut oil

  • Wrap the base of an 8-in. springform pan with plastic wrap. Spray inside band with oil, then line with plastic wrap, pressing to adhere to pan. Assemble pan, inserting the base, lip-side down.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup crumbled biscuits. Place remaining crumbled biscuits in a medium bowl.
  • Fill a large pot with water, to about 1 in. deep. Boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Combine semi-sweet chocolate with butter, corn syrup and espresso powder in a large metal bowl. Set over simmering water. Stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbled biscuits and salt. Scrape mixture into prepared pan, smoothing top. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours.
  • Release biscuit cake from pan. Remove base. Transfer cake to a cake stand. Microwave milk chocolate with coconut oil in a small bowl, 1 min. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over top of cake. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup crumbled biscuits. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, 20 min.

Serves 10 | Per serving 501 calories, 4 g protein, 60 g carbs, 31 g fat, 3 g fibre, 151 mg sodium.

Turtle Fudge

Prep | 40 min Total | 3 hours 55 min

This combination is simply irresistible. Using packaged caramels makes it incredibly easy.

  • 450 g best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped, about 3 cups
  • 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 300 g chewy caramel candies, unwrapped (preferably Werther’s)
  • 1 tbsp 35% cream
  • 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt, such as Maldon

  • Line the bottom and sides of an 8 × 8-in. baking pan with 2 large, overlapping pieces of plastic wrap.
  • Combine chocolate with milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on medium, stirring halfway through, until chocolate is almost melted, 2 to 3 min. Remove and stir until evenly mixed and smooth. Fold in 1 cup pecans. Scrape fudge into prepared pan and press down. Cover with plastic wrap and press down to smooth. Set aside.
  • Combine caramels with cream in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook, stirring often, until just melted and smooth, about 7 min. Set aside to cool slightly, about 2 min. Uncover fudge and spread caramel over fudge to the edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup pecans and salt. Cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Fudge keeps well, refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Makes 24 | Per bar 259 calories, 3 g protein, 29 g carbs, 16 g fat, 3 g fibre, 64 mg sodium.

Salted-Almond Nanaimo Bars

Prep | 15 min Total | 2 hours 30 min

Some of our kitchen team find traditional Nanaimo bars too sweet, so we developed a bar we all could love. Thanks to cocoa powder, salted almonds and much less sugar, we got it.

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut, toasted
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped salted roasted almonds, divided
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • Topping
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Line an 8 × 8-in. baking pan with overhanging parchment.
  • Combine toasted coconut with graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup almonds and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup melted butter and corn syrup. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  • Beat icing sugar with 1/2 cup butter, custard powder, vanilla seeds and vanilla and almond extracts using an electric mixer on low, 1 min. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, 2 min. Spread evenly over base.
  • Microwave chocolate in a small bowl, stirring halfway, until smooth, 1 to 2 min. Pour over custard, smoothing top. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Chill until firm, 2 hours. Let stand 15 min, then cut into bars.

Makes 24 | Per bar 148 calories, 1 g protein, 13 g carbs, 11 g fat, 1 g fibre, 37 mg sodium.

Peppermint Fudge

Prep | 15 min Total | 3 hours 15 min

The quality of the chocolate is everything here; invest in the best, such as Lindt.

  • 500 g best-quality white chocolate, chopped, about 3 1/2 cups
  • 300-mL can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 cup crushed red peppermint candies

  • Line bottom and sides of an 8 × 8-in. baking pan with overlapping pieces of plastic wrap.
  • Combine chocolate with milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium, stirring halfway through, until chocolate is almost melted, 3 to 4 min. Remove and stir in peppermint until smooth. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and press down, smoothing top.
  • Sift crushed candy to remove finely ground pieces. Sprinkle coarse pieces of crushed candy over fudge.
  • Fold overhanging ends of plastic wrap over fudge to completely cover. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. Fudge keeps well, refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Makes 32 | Per piece 140 calories, 2 g protein, 20 g carbs, 6 g fat, 32 mg sodium.

Chocolate-Mint Crisps

Prep | 45 min Total | 2 hours

Part cookie, part chocolate bar and all delicious, this easy treat is even prettier when decorated with candied sprinkles.

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp water
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/2 200-g pkg chocolate wafers,
  • about 24
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • candied sprinkles, optional

  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  • Beat icing sugar with butter, water and peppermint in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, until combined. Mixture may look crumbly. Knead mixture on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until smooth. Roll out to 1/8 in. thick. Cut out rounds with a 2 1/4-in. cutter, rerolling scraps if needed. Press a round lightly onto each wafer, bottom-side up. Arrange on a wire rack.
  • Microwave chocolate with coconut oil in a small bowl, stirring halfway through, until almost smooth, 1 min. Continue stirring until melted.
  • Using 2 forks, dip each chocolate wafer into chocolate until coated. Shake off any excess chocolate. Arrange on prepared sheets. Top with sprinkles. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour. Serve chilled.

Makes 24 | Per crisp 130 calories, 1 g protein, 18 g carbs, 7 g fat, 1 g fibre, 35 mg sodium.