The Student News Site of Conestoga High School



Day 3: Holiday recipes


By Abbie Preston, Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla, Alexa Willrich, Mary Wolters and Faith Zantua, Co-Managing Editor, Staff Reporters and Co-Copy Editor

Looking for some fun, holiday-themed baked goods to show off to your family and friends? Try out these five special recipes picked out by some of The Spoke’s reporters.

Evergreen tree cupcakes

By Mary Wolters, Staff Reporter

This recipe will make around 12 rich and moist chocolate cupcakes topped with sweet, airy vanilla buttercream that will instantly win your heart. It will take around 3 to 4 hours in total. 



  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon coffee powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • 8 cups powdered sugar (depending on desired consistency of frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream 
  • 1 pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a 12-cup baking tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, coffee powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. For the wet ingredients, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vegetable oil and vanilla extract together in a stand mixer. Take care to not overmix.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the standmixer, add the buttermilk and mix.
  5. Fill each cupcake liner until halfway, and bake the cupcakes for 18 to 21 minutes. Take care not to overfill as the batter will rise significantly. Take out to cool completely.
  6. For the vanilla buttercream, cream the butter in a stand mixer. 
  7. Once it is light and fluffy, start adding in the powdered sugar. Add around 6 cups for a light yet sturdy texture. As you are incorporating the powdered sugar, add in the vanilla extract, milk, heavy cream and salt.
  8. Top the cupcakes using green-colored frosting and any additional decorations before serving.

Additional tips:

  • Remember to plan the frosting colors in advance. You will be using green to mimic the leaves of an evergreen tree, and small amounts of extra colors for the decorations. 
  • To enhance your cupcakes to the next level, use a small set of tweezers to add edible pearls, sprinkles and stars.
  • It is recommended to use larger piping tips for the swirl, such as a #1M tip. A #4 tip was used for the ribbons on the tree. 
  • Lightly dust powdered sugar over the cupcakes for a snowflake effect. 

Recipe Sources:

Shortbread cookies

By Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla, Staff Reporter

These airy and buttery shortbread cookies are an easy and scrumptious way to welcome the holidays. You can be sure to enjoy them as tasty snacks or share amongst your friends and family. The recipe calls for around 1 hour of preparation time and will serve around 16 cookies. 


  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter 
  • Optional: decorative garnishes


  1. Add in the unsalted butter and white sugar to a stand mixer. Mix for around 1 to 2 minutes on a medium speed. The butter and sugar should be fully creamed with a fluffy, pale-yellow tinge.
  2. Ensure that the all-purpose flour has an even texture using a sift, and once done, transfer the flour to the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract to the bowl. 
  3. Knead the flour and butter and sugar mixture with a spatula until it has a dough-like consistency, or around 5 minutes.
  4. Scoop the dough into 3-teaspoon portions, and form small, circular dough balls on a tray with a baking sheet.
  5. Preheat your oven based on your oven’s standard settings. Place the tray in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes at 325°F.
  6. Once done, take them out, and let them cool for around 30 minutes. Add your favorite decorative garnishes atop the cookies, to give them a holiday twist.

Peppermint fudge

By Alexa Willrich, Staff Reporter

Look no further for an easy recipe that will take around 3 hours in total and requires no baking. The fudge balances peppermint and chocolate flavors well and will serve 12 to 15 people.


  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Optional: 4 candy canes


  1. Get out a 9-by-9-inch pan, and line the inside with parchment paper.
  2. Crush the candy canes in a plastic bag until they are small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Add semisweet chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk to a bowl. Microwave them in 30-second intervals, mixing in between until the chocolate chips are fully melted.
  4. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract to the bowl, mixing until they are fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the pan, ensuring it is even.
  6. Add the crushed candy canes to the top of the mixture, and press down lightly on the surface until the candy canes are stuck to the top.
  7. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until the mixture firms.
  8. Cut and serve. Keep the fudge in the refrigerator until serving.

Additional tips:

  • Do not worry if the mixture seems too thick, it will become smoother and thinner after mixing.
  • Make sure the parchment paper covers the whole pan so the fudge is easy to take out.
  • If you want the fudge to be thicker, double everything in the recipe except for the candy canes, and follow the same steps.

Recipe Source:

Holiday sugar cookies

By Abbie Preston, Staff Reporter

Get into the festive spirit with some decorative sugar cookies. Turn on your favorite holiday movie and bake some cookies to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.


  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with an electric mixer until creamy, which should take about 30 seconds at medium speed. 
  2. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt, and beat until the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract, beating until a smooth batter forms.
  4. Gradually mix in the flour until fully combined. 
  5. Divide the dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours, or until the dough is not very sticky.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough, and using cookie cutters, cut the dough into holiday shapes. Place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes at 375°F or until the edges are golden. 
  8. Let creativity take the reins. Decorate the cookies with frosting and sprinkles, or enjoy them on their own. 

Frosted, star-shaped brownies

By Mary Wolters and Faith Zantua, Staff Reporter and Co-Copy Editor

Looking for a delicious dessert to serve as the star of your next holiday get-together? Make a 8-by-12-inch pan filled with brownies topped with sugar cookie icing. If desired, the recipe will make around 7 brownies shaped as stars and takes around 2 to 3 hours in total. 



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon coffee
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed, light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup melted butter 
  • Chocolate chips

Sugar cookie icing:

  • 1 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Optional: food coloring


  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F, and line an 8-by-12-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add coffee, and mix. 
  3. In the same bowl, add the granulated sugar, brown sugar and cocoa, whisking until smooth.
  4. Mix in the eggs, vanilla and salt.
  5. Add the flour, and mix until completely combined. Add the chocolate chips, saving some to sprinkle on top.
  6. Fill the pan with the batter, top with extra chocolate chips, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Take out, and let it cool for around 40 minutes.
  7. For the icing, mix the powdered sugar and corn syrup in a stand mixer until combined.
  8. Add the milk, vanilla extract and salt until obtaining a silky texture. If multiple colors of icing are desired, divide the icing into portions and add food coloring.
  9. Once brownies are completely cooled, pipe icing onto brownies, and add any additional toppings. If differing shapes of brownies are wanted, use cookie cutters to cut brownies out of the pan before adding toppings.

Recipe Sources:

Abbie Preston can be reached at [email protected].

Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla can be reached at [email protected].

Alexa Willrich can be reached at [email protected].

Mary Wolters can be reached at [email protected].

Faith Zantua can be reached at [email protected].

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Abbie Preston
Abbie Preston, Staff Reporter
Abbie Preston can be reached at [email protected].
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla, Co-Sports Editor
Vaishnavi Sriadibhatla is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She enjoys covering news and events occurring within the T/E community. Outside of The Spoke, Vaishnavi teaches karate and participates in numerous clubs including Peer Mediation and HOSA.
Alexa Willrich
Alexa Willrich, Staff Reporter
Alexa Willrich is a sophomore and Staff Reporter for The Spoke. She enjoys covering sports and events occurring in the T/E community. Outside of The Spoke, Alexa is on the girls’ track and field team. She also devotes her time to volunteering at the local SPCA and is an avid baker and reader.
Mary Wolters
Mary Wolters, Design Editor
Mary Wolters is a sophomore and serves as a Staff Reporter and cartoonist for The Spoke. She mainly writes for T/E Life, but works in the News section as well. Outside of The Spoke, she runs Conestoga’s Creative Writing Club and creates pieces for the school's literary magazine.
Faith Zantua
Faith Zantua, Co-News Editor
Faith Zantua is a sophomore and the Co-Copy Editor of The Spoke. As Co-Copy Editor, she edits print and web articles, ensuring that they follow the Associated Press' guidelines. She covers local events in the community, with an emphasis on education and policy-related topics. Outside of the newsroom, she researches other topics as part of Conestoga's National History Day Club and serves as a committee chair of the Mini-THON Planning Committee 2024.