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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

It’s winter. After a long, warm fall, the first real snowfall has come. Last week, snowflakes fell upon the backpacks of bundled-up students trekking through the Diag on their way to class and the squirrels seemed to have gained a significant amount of weight. For some, the cold weather is reminiscent of holiday traditions, but for others, this season triggers periods of isolation and decreased happiness. 

As a senior in high school, I worked at a bakery as both a clerk and decorator. Absorbed in the many responsibilities of a bakery employee, I spent most of my shifts preparing desserts in the kitchen. The beautiful, grand, window-to-ceiling windows of the bakery were visible from where I worked at the island table; at many points in the winter, I cherished moments looking out of the window, observing the people in the heart of downtown as they tried to catch snowflakes on their tongues. 

I’ve compiled a “Guide to Winter Baking” not only to share my baking knowledge, but also to inspire people to find moments of joy in a long, harsh Michigan winter. If you find time to make one of these treats with loved ones this winter, I urge you to spend the time more intentionally. Consider this experience as a way to practice mindfulness and as a way to consciously appreciate the happiness, love, and friendship that is manifested in the kitchen.

To whomever this article reaches, I hope that baking these recipes brings you some of the warmth I felt at the bakery in the winter of 2020. 

ReciPEs

peppermint bark

As a child, my mom and I made this peppermint bark recipe to give to my teachers as a holiday present. Each year, in a handwritten note, my teachers wrote that the treat was delectable. The baking process is simple but fun, and I have many good memories of making this dessert from when I was younger. This recipe was created by Food Network and is considered to be “almost famous”. 

HOT COCOA BOMBS

This treat has become a fad over the past three years. In part due to TikTok, its popularity is widespread and its demand is increasing each holiday season. Many people on this social media app are ecstatic about hot cocoa bombs. What a fun holiday dessert!

Gingerbread cookies

I have made this recipe multiple times, and each time, someone new exclaims, “This is the best gingerbread cookie I have ever had!”. They are soft and chewy, the perfect accompaniment to your favorite ice cream.

rugelach

This delicacy reminds many of Jewish celebrations and gatherings with their families and friends. Aside from religious holidays, this treat is perfect for brunch with your friends. Upon your first bite of this treat, you will feel the sugar coating, flakey dough, and chocolate filling melt in your mouth. While it seems complicated to make, this dessert is actually quite easy to assemble. I have not made this specific recipe before so I do not want to advise certain directions, however, many people are enthusiastic about this rugelach. 

Coconut cake

While the process of making this recipe is more complicated and time-consuming than the recipes above, this coconut cake is the perfect way to embrace winter with a summery flavor. It is most often served at Kwanzaa gatherings, but the cake is also relatively popular in Jewish and Christian religious celebrations. Its rich, creamy flavors and fluffy consistency will make you want to bake the cake not only during the holidays, but during every season. In other words, this recipe by Dolester Miles is addicting. 

When is the right time to bake?

Anytime. 

You can bake these recipes in the morning before your 11 am class, or in the evening with your friends in your college apartment. The beauty of making these special desserts is that you can do it alone, with friends, or with family – but regardless of whom you choose to bake with, these five recipes are bound to make you smile.

With that, go bake and go blue!

Olivia is a sophomore at the University of Michigan studying Gender and Health and is passionate about HIV/AIDS advocacy. She loves Gilmore Girls, baking, and all things Taylor Swift!