December 18, 2015 Calgary Zoo

Holiday recipes 2015

It’s the holiday season, and that can mean a busy time in the kitchen! To make your holiday menu planning a little easier, here are three great dessert recipes from our zoo catering team. The zoo kitchens make these treats for holiday parties and weddings, and these are all items served at our Christmas Buffets. Even better- they’re all fairly simple to make.

Pastry chef Sara Lawson has concocted seasonal recipes that are a great twist on classic tastes. That way you can spice up your tried and true holiday baking plans with these sweet treats. After all, this is the season of festive traditions- why not start some new ones?

Take it from Sara who reminds us that “the kitchen has, and always will be, a place that brings people together. Food brings people closer. So for me, it’s the perfect place to start new, and continue old traditions, with those closest to me!”

So take a bite of these….

Eggnog Snickerdoodles


  • 2 ¾ C flour
  • 2t cream of tartar
  • 1t baking soda
  • ¾ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1C sugar
  • ½ C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1t vanilla
  • ½ t rum extract

For rolling:

  • ¼ C sugar
  • ¾ t nutmeg
  • ¼ t cinnamon


  • Preheat your oven to 350F
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, set aside. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl, using a hand mixer, cream your softened butter with the two sugars until light and fluffy. Add your eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add your two extracts. Then add your dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Using a small 2 tsp portion scoop, scoop your cookies, then rolling in your sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon mixture. Place on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat, about 2” apart.
  • Bake for about 9-10 minutes. Cookies should appear slightly underbaked and won’t brown too much
  • Let cool and enjoy!!

After 8 Cheesecake


For crust:

  • 2 C oreo baking crumbs
  • 2 T sugar
  • ½ C melted butter

For cheesecake:

  • 3 pkgs of softened cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ C sugar
  • 2 t mint extract
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • ½ C sour cream
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled

–>For ganache topping:

  • ½ C heavy cream
  • ½ C dark chocolate chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Prepare a 9” springform pan, by spraying it with a baking spray and wrapping tinfoil around the sides, so that no water will leak into the pan.
  • Combine oreo crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of your springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce your oven 275F
  • Melt your 4oz of chocolate and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream your cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. Add your eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl well after each addition. Add your heavy cream, mix, and then add your sour cream and mint extract, and mix until just combined. Slowly add about 1 C of your cream cheese batter to the melted chocolate. Add a little at a time, stirring well after each addition, as to not seize your chocolate. Pour your cream cheese mixture into your oreo base. Then swirl the chocolate mixture into the cheesecake. Place your springform pan, in a roasting pan, and fill the roasting pan with water until about half way up your spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the centre is no longer jiggly. Shut your oven off and crack the door open. Let cool in there for half an hour, then cool at room temperature. Once it’s cooled to room temperature,  place in refrigerator overnight.
  • The following day, a few hours before serving, heat your ½ C heavy cream until scalding. Place your chopped chocolate in a bowl, and pour your cream over the chocolate. Do not stir yet. Wrap in the bowl in saran wrap and let sit for a couple of minutes. Then unwrap and stir until smooth. Pour over your cheesecake and swirl your cake around until it’s smooth. Return to refrigerator until it’s ready to serve!

Dark & Stormy Sticky Fig Pudding


  • 1 1/3 C dark rum
  • 1 C chopped dried figs
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t vanilla bean paste
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt


  • Combine the figs and rum in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until figs are soft and tender. add the baking soda, right after you boil the figs, once you turn off the heat. Let cool.
  • Once they are cool, process until smooth on a food processor.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 8 – 12 (depending on size) individual baking cups. This can be small mason jars, muffin pans, whatever you desire.
  • In a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla bean paste and the fig and rum mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed fig mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Portion into prepared baking jars, and bake for 18-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean and is soft and springy to the touch.
  • Carefully turn over warm puddings onto plate and serve with a spiked caramel sauce and vanilla bean ice cream.

We hope that you enjoy these ‘new classic recipes’ and start some fresh baking traditions. Chef Sara recommends that all seasonal baking should accompany some great hot chocolate- maybe even spice it up with some butterscotch liquor or rum!

If you’re looking for other tasty treats, check out our before and after Thanksgiving recipes, or plan an event with us and we’ll whip them up for you!

Happy holidays and see you in 2016!

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