#BakeItForward

This holiday, join the movement and Bake a Second Batch for friends, family, or charity.


Recipes By Deb Wise
Photos by Alison Miksch

GIVING HOMEMADE TREATS is one of life's sweetest gestures, and that's what #BakeItForward, our campaign that celebrates Cooking Light's community of bighearted bakers, is all about. Double up on one of our baked goodies, or make your own go-to favorite–we have tips on donating and practical advice for getting it all there in picture-perfect style. Then share the love on social media with #BakeItForward.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust

Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 9 hr. 25 min.

Fresh ginger in the cookie crust really kicks up the flavor.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
Mix up a double batch and bake off two pans of these bars at once. Place pans on the same (middle) rack of the oven. Hand-deliver the delicate bars, packed in a single layer in a box that doesn't allow them to slide around. Keep bars chilled by placing the closed box in a slightly larger box with chill packs and padding.


Crust:

  • 25 gingersnaps (about 6½ ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Baking spray with flour

Filling:

  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup light sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon butter

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • To prepare crust, place cookies and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add 2 tablespoons butter and ginger; process until moist crumbs form. Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch square metal baking pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until set. Cool on a rack.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
  • To prepare filling, place cream cheeses in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add ½ cup sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and salt; beat at low speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream, ½ teaspoon rind, and 1 tablespoon juice; beat until combined. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or until almost set in the center. Remove pan from oven; place on a wire rack.
  • To prepare topping, combine 1/3 cup sugar, ½ teaspoon rind, 1/3 cup juice, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and yolks in a small saucepan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Place pan over medium-low heat; cook 5 minutes or until mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove pan from heat; add 1 teaspoon butter, stirring until butter melts. Spread topping over warm cheesecake. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serves 16 (serving size: 1 bar)

CALORIES 170; FAT 7.6g (sat 3.9g, mono 2.5g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 21g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 63mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 212mg; CALC 67mg

Whole-Grain Breakfast Bars

Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 45 min.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
A large bowl can hold a double batch of the dough, and the hearty mix will perform just fine. Bake bars on the same (middle) rack in the oven. The bars can be a little crumbly, so wrap them individually and pack with plenty of padding to transport or ship overnight.


  • 4.75 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • Cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl.
  • Place bananas in a large bowl; mash until smooth. Add sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir until combined. Add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries.
  • Spread dough into a 13 × 9–inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 bars.

Serves 16 (serving size: 1 bar)

CALORIES 198; FAT 7.1g (sat 0.8g, mono 2.1g, poly 3.8g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 32g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 12mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 141mg; CALC 37mg

Chocolate-Zucchini Loaf Cake

Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 1 hr. 50 min.

Zucchini squash is available year-round and is the secret to keeping this cake moist.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
If you have two loaf pans available, then double the mix. Cool and wrap baked cakes whole and unglazed in plastic wrap. To ship overnight, pack securely in a box, or gather a pretty cloth around the cake to hand-deliver. The icing is wet; pour it into a zip-top bag and include instructions to snip the corner and drizzle onto the cake.


  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about ½ pound)
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1¾ cups)
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Baking spray with flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk
  • Dash of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place zucchini on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 10 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  • Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 6 tablespoons cocoa, and next 3 ingredients (through ¼ teaspoon salt) in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Place granulated sugar and next 4 ingredients (through vanilla) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until lemon-colored (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined. Add zucchini and chocolate chips; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined. Spoon batter into a 9 × 5–inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen edges from sides using a narrow spatula. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.
  • Combine powdered sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa, milk, and dash of salt in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over loaf.

Serves 12 (serving size: 1 slice)

CALORIES 260; FAT 12.1g (sat 4.6g, mono 5.1g, poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 4g; CARB 37g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 41mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 171mg; CALC 46mg

STAFF FAVE

Linzer Muffins

Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 60 min.

Tender almond cake surrounds a raspberry filling in this playful riff on classic linzer torte.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
Double the muffin batter only if you have two (12-cup) pans. Alternate pans on the middle and top oven racks, and rotate halfway through baking. (You'll need to bake them an extra minute or two.) Ship these muffins without worry by dividing a batch between two large zip-top bags and cushioning them with tissue paper in a box.


  • Cooking spray
  • 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces almond paste
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1. Preheat oven to 425°.

  • Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners lightly with cooking spray.
  • Weigh or lightly spoon all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Place almond paste and sugar in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-low speed until mixture resembles sand (about 3 minutes). Add butter and vanilla; beat 2 minutes or until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix well after each addition.
  • Spoon half of batter into muffin cups. Top each with 1 teaspoon jam; divide remaining batter over jam. Sprinkle nuts over batter. Bake at 425° for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°. Bake at 375° an additional 10 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pan; place on a wire rack.

Serves 12 (serving size: 1 muffin)

CALORIES 219; FAT 9.6g (sat 3.3g, mono 2.8g, poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 5g; CARB 29g; FIBER 1g; CHOL 42mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 224mg; CALC 93mg

Semolina Almond Orange Cake

Hands-on: 20 min. Total: 2 hr.

You can bake this cake in four mini loaves. Reduce bake time to 30 to 35 minutes, checking for doneness with a wooden pick.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
Because this batter should not sit around waiting to go in the oven, make sure two Bundt pans will fit on your oven's middle rack before doubling it. To transport or ship overnight, cool and wrap the cake on a cardboard cake circle or plate using plastic wrap; place in a box with little wiggle room.


  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1¾ cups)
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange rind, divided
  • 1¾ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • Baking spray with flour
  • ¾ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur), optional

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spread almond flour on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes or until fragrant, stirring after 3 minutes. Cool almond flour completely on pan.
  • Weigh or lightly spoon all-purpose flour into measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Place butter and 1¼ cups sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well combined. Add 1 tablespoon rind and 1½ teaspoons vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined. Add yogurt; beat 1 minute or just until combined. Scrape batter into a 10-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out completely dry.
  • Combine remaining ¼ cup sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon rind, and orange juice in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon vanilla and liqueur, if desired. Pierce entire surface of cake in pan liberally with a skewer; drizzle half of glaze over cake. Let stand 15 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert onto plate. Pierce top of warm cake liberally with a skewer; drizzle remaining glaze over cake. Serve cake at room temperature.

Serves 16 (serving size: 1 wedge)

CALORIES 290; FAT 10.6g (sat 4.6g, mono 4g, poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 6g; CARB 41g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 64mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 147mg; CALC 92mg

STAFF FAVE

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Hands-on: 15 min. Total: 60 min.

BAKE A SECOND BATCH
Double the dough and bake these cookies without a hitch. To mail, wrap small stacks together using plastic wrap. Nestle the stacks in a box with plenty of padding, or stack in a wide-mouth canning jar with crumpled parchment or wax paper in the headspace under the lid. Place the jar in a box with padding for mailing overnight.


  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1¾ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup molasses

  • Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  • Place butter, 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add egg; beat 30 seconds. Add molasses; beat just until combined. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed or just until combined. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Shape dough into 24 balls, about 1½ tablespoons each. Roll balls in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or just until set. Cool 3 minutes on pan; remove to a wire rack.

Serves 24 (serving size: 1 cookie)

CALORIES 96; FAT 3.2g (sat 1.9g, mono 0.8g, poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 1g; CARB 16g; FIBER 0g; CHOL 15mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 85mg; CALC 15mg