Avalon’s Staff Picks for Favourite Festive Treats

Blog header favourite festive treats

It’s that time of year again! December is time for celebration and with that comes delicious goodies, so we at Avalon got together to share our favourite holiday treats.  

Remember to let yourself enjoy holiday treats without guilt while staying true to yourself and your recovery. Add some magic to the holiday season with these fun and festive recipes. 

Leanne – Centre Manager, White Rock 

Caramel Apples 


  • Store-bought caramels  
  • Granny Smith Apples 
  • Heavy cream 
  • Toppings: nuts, sprinkles, candy, Oreos, chocolate, shredded coconut 
  • Sticks for the apples 


  • Rinse and thoroughly dry apples with a paper towel. Insert stick. Have toppings ready if you’ll be adding some to apples. 
  • Line a 13×9-inch baking sheet or baking dish with a sheet of parchment paper, spray parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray, set in the fridge. 
  • Place caramels and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl (about 5 cup size bowl). 
  • Heat in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring well between intervals, until melted and smooth. This will take about 2 – 3 minutes. If caramel is extra runny let it cool just briefly so it doesn’t run right off the apples. 
  • Dip apples one at a time into caramel on an angle so it covers nearly to the top center. Rotate and turn to coat apple. Lift apple and let excess runoff, then run bottom of apple along the inside edge of the bowl to remove excess caramel. Lift apple and turn apple upside down to let caramel run up the apple a little then immediately roll in toppings (or sprinkle with toppings) before caramel sets. 
  • Turn apples upright and place on a prepared baking sheet in fridge, repeat process with remaining apples. As needed reheat caramel in the microwave in 15-second increments for a runny, dip-able consistency. 
  • Allow caramel to set completely, about 30 minutes in the fridge (you can eat them before this but if you want the caramel to firm back up the wait the 30 minutes). Cut apples into slices just when ready to enjoy so they don’t brown.

Jenn- Centre Manager, North Shore 

Cranberry Bliss Bars


Blondie Layer: 

  • 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) salted butter, cubed 
  • 1½ cups packed light brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries 
  • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped 


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. 

Prepare the blondie layer: 

In a medium bowl, melt the butter for one minute in the microwave; stir in the brown sugar. Scrape the butter and sugar into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Use an electric mixer to beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (the batter will be thick). 

Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Prepare the frosting: 

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until well-blended. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost the blondies. Sprinkle with cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Cut into 30 bars- square or triangle-shaped. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Michelle – Centre Manager, Vancouver 

Prince Edward Island Ice Cream Cake


  • 1 box of Chapman’s ice cream sandwiches 
  • Cool whip 
  • Caramel sauce 
  • Skor toffee bits 


  • Layer a pan with Chapman’s ice cream sandwiches,  
  • Next layer cool whip 
  • Add a layer of caramel sauce & Skor toffee bits 
  • Then repeat all of the above layers with a generous finish of Skor toffee bits 
  • Freeze, and serve 

Jessica- Project Manager  

Sugar Cookies


  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened 
  • 2 cups white sugar 
  • 4 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 


  •  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on a floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 
  • Bake 6 to 8 minutes in a preheated oven. Cool completely. 

 Pam – Manager, Fund Development & Communications

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

  • ½ a cup of butter or margarine 
  • 1 cup peanut butter 
  • 300 g bag of butterscotch chips
  • 200 g bag of coloured mini marshmallows 


  • Melt together butter, peanut butter, and butterscotch chips on very low heat until mixed, stirring constantly. Cool for a bit (so as not to melt the marshmallows). 
  • Stir in mini marshmallows. 
  • Pour in a greased 11″ x 13″ pan. 
  • Refrigerate and cut into small (1-1/2″) squares. 

Karen – Communications Specialist   

Gingerbread Cookies


  • 10 Tablespoons (2/3 cup; 145g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar 
  • 2/3 cup (200g) unsulphured molasses 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (437g) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 


  • In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The butter may separate; that’s ok. 
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. At low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and place each onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Chill discs for at least 3 hours or overnight. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Set aside. 
  • Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick. Tips for rolling- the dough may crack and be crumbly as you roll. What’s helpful is picking it up and rotating it as you go. Additionally, you can use your fingers to help meld the cracking edges back together. The first few rolls are always the hardest since the dough is so stiff, but re-rolling the scraps is much easier. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with the remaining disc of dough. 
  • Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes. If your cookie cutters are smaller than 4 inches, bake for about 8 minutes. If your cookie cutters are larger than 4 inches, bake for about 11 minutes. My oven has hot spots and yours may too- so be sure to rotate the pan once during bake time. Keep in mind that the longer the cookies bake, the harder and crunchier they’ll be. For soft gingerbread cookies, follow my suggested bake times. 
  • Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.

Festive Holiday Drinks:

Peppermint Hot Chocolate


  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
  • 3 drops peppermint oil 
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish 
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish 


In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt and heat over medium-low heat. When the cream mixture just begins to steam, add the chopped chocolate, and stir, until melted. Stir in the peppermint oil. Divide the hot chocolate among mugs and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  

Holiday Punch


  • Pineapple juice 
  • Cranberry juice 
  • Orange juice: You can make your own or buy it premade from the grocery. 
  • Lemon-lime soda: The carbonation in the soda gives it the perfect fizzle. Any lemon-lime soda will work  
  • Fresh cranberries: These are for garnish and add a beautiful pop of color. 
  • Orange slices: These are also for garnishing the punch. 


  • Chill. Make sure all ingredients are chilled thoroughly. 
  • Add juices. Add pineapple juice, cranberry juice and orange juice in a punch bowl and stir. 
  • Add soda. When ready to serve, add the lemon-lime soda and stir to combine. 
  • Garnish. Garnish with fresh cranberries and orange slices. 

Gingerbread Latte



  • 4 shots espresso (or 3/4 cup strong-brew coffee) 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons molasses 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (for foaming) 


  • In a glass measuring cup, combine the coffee, spices, sugar and molasses. Use a whisk to dissolve the spices in the coffee very well. Divide between two mugs. 
  • Steam or froth the milk in a milk frother (or just warm it on the stove). 
  • Divide the milk between the two mugs, and serve immediately.

Eggnog Coffee


  • 1-1/3 cups eggnog 
  • 2-2/3 cups hot strong brewed coffee (French or another dark roast) 
  • Whipped Cream and ground nutmeg (optional) 

Place eggnog in a large saucepan. Cook and stir until heated through. (Do not boil.) Stir in coffee. Pour into cups or mugs; serve immediately. Garnish with whipped cream and nutmeg if desired.


Avalon wishes everyone a happy holiday season! If you’re looking for support during this time of year, we are here for you. We have daily meetings, Private Facebook Groups, free counselling, and a variety of free resources available on our website.

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