Parmesan Herb Christmas Tree Rolls

With Christmas around the corner, I am always looking for easy ways to bring a little festive cheer to our dinner table. These Christmas tree rolls are just delicious rolls nestled close together in the shape of a Christmas Tree on parchment paper. The parmesan herb topping gives a little green speckled color to them and a whole lot of delicious flavor. You could use any roll recipe to make this festive Christmas tree shape, like these white dinner rolls or these quick yeast rolls, but I am partial to the parmesan herb topping that take these Christmas tree rolls over the top. 

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Mixing and Kneading the Dough

The dough is mixed up using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. You can also knead this dough by hand if you don’t have a mixer, though it will take some arm muscle to knead for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should come together nicely and be slightly tacky to the touch. Add more flour, a little at a time (a Tablespoon or so), as needed throughout the kneading process. You should be able to pinch off a piece of dough, roll it up in your fingers and have just a little sticky residue left over. If you have lots of stickiness on your hands, you need to keep adding flour just a Tablespoon or two at a time. Over-flouring the dough is one of the ways you get tough rolls…and nobody wants that! You can check this post for tips on how to know when your dough is ready. I like to set a timer and let my mixer go to work for about 8-10 minutes, adding little bits of flour as needed, to make sure the dough is properly kneaded, which develops the gluten and makes for some pretty amazing bread.

Parmesan Herb Topping

After the dough has risen, mix up the parmesan herb topping. The parmesan inside the dough and the parmesan mixed with butter, oil and herbs give these rolls delicious flavor. You can substitute almost any hard cheese for these rolls and they will turn out delicious. Separate the dough into 22 pieces. These are good-sized rolls. Pull up the edges of the dough into the center forming a ball and roll on the counter top to form a ball shape.

You can watch how I shape rolls in the video below:

Now for the messy part: dip each shaped roll into the parmesan herb topping and turn it around covering it completely with the mixture. Place the roll at the top center of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the rest of the rolls and continue the Christmas tree shape down the parchment paper.

Christmas Tree Shape

For the Christmas tree shape, I had six rows of rolls, adding a roll every time as I went down the parchment paper and ending with six rolls on my bottom row. If you want a smaller Christmas tree, you can do four or five rows instead and bake up the extra rolls on a separate baking sheet. Take the last piece of roll dough (your 22nd roll) and pat it into a square shape for the tree stem. Place it in the middle underneath the row of 6 rolls. 

Parchment Paper 

These rolls will rise a lot in the oven. They make good-sized, light and fluffy dinner rolls. The parchment paper is important because it makes it much easier for you transfer the rolls all together off the baking sheet. Once the rolls are baked, pull them out of the oven and brush melted butter over the top if desired. After cooling for a few minutes, slide the whole piece of parchment paper with the rolls on top off the baking sheet and display however you would like for your Christmas meal.

Pull Apart Rolls

Expect oohs and aahs as you reach in and pull apart these rolls. The soft dough makes for a springy, delicious roll, and the parmesan herb topping adds a delicious savory element. These rolls would pair perfectly with a charcuterie board or for a special Christmas dinner. They are festive and are so fun to pull apart from each other, slather with some butter and enjoy.

No matter what roll recipe you use this Christmas, this Christmas tree shape is so much fun to make and is an easy way to bring a little flair to a special meal. And if you don’t want to make a Christmas tree shape, no worries! These rolls bake up perfectly on a baking sheet or cut into 24 pieces and baked 12 to a baking dish. I hope you love these as much as we do!

Parmesan Herb Christmas Tree Rolls

Light fluffy and tender dinner rolls filled with parmesan herb flavor and shaped as a Christmas tree for some festive fun.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Rise Time 2 hrs
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 22 rolls

Ingredients
  

Roll Dough

  • 2 cups warm water baby's bathwater temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil any neutral-flavored oil will work
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese

Parmesan Herb Topping

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • To the bow of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add two cups of warm water and the instant yeast.
  • Add the vegetable oil and honey (in that order so the honey will slide right out of the measuring spoon).
  • Add the salt and three cups of flour. Mix together. Add the parmesan cheese and continue adding the flour up to five cups total. Continue kneading and add the last cup of flour as needed. The dough should be tacky and not overly sticky on your fingers. Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it up into a ball. There should be just a little bit of sticky residue on your fingers. You can check this post for how to tell if the dough is ready.
  • Knead for 8-10 minutes (set a timer and let your mixer go) adding flour a Tablespoon at a time as needed.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and let rise about an hour.
  • While the dough rises, mix up the parmesan herb topping in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Cover a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Turn the dough out on the counter and separate it into twenty-two equal-sized pieces of dough.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball by pulling the dough into the center, forming a tight ball.
  • Roll each ball, covering it completely, in the parmesan herb mixture.
  • Place the first ball at the top of the parchment paper. Continue forming balls, rolling them in the mixture and placing on the parchment paper in a triangle/tree shape starting with 1 ball on top to 6 balls on the bottom. Form the last ball into a rectangular shape for the base of the tree.
  • Let the dough rise about 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes. Brush with melted butter if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe Notes: These rolls are delicious on their own but even more fun placed in the shape of a Christmas tree for the holidays.
Keyword Parmesan Herb, rolls, yeast rolls,

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

In our house, it is not Christmas until we have made our traditional Christmas cookies. My family has been making them ever since I can remember (and long before that). These Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. Buttery shortbread-style crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. What isn’t there to love about these? The festive star-shape makes them a Christmas cookie you will want to make on repeat at your house every year. 

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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies: The History

When my mom was little, she would make Christmas cookies with my grandma. I don’t know if she just liked these cookies the best or if they won out over all the cookies my grandma made but for whatever reason (and good reason in my opinion) this was THE cookie. Originally many cookie cutters were used to cut out the dough for these cookies but the star-shape always turned out the best. From then on, my family made hundreds of these cookies every Christmas. Truth be told, I didn’t even know people made many different kinds of cookies. This chocolate caramel pecan cookie is the one cookie you will want this Christmas too!

Buttery Shortbread-Style Cookie Dough

This dough is a dream to work with. It rolls out beautifully (just add a tiny touch of flour to the rolling pin if needed) and is so easy for little fingers to cut and help shape. I always make a little extra dough (double the recipe) and pull out my cookie cutter collection so they can make whatever shapes they want. We bake them up and the kids love eating them plain or decorated. While they are occupied, I go to town rolling the dough and cutting the star-shaped ones to give away to friends and neighbors. I’ve found rolling the dough to about ¼ inch thickness and using a 3-3.5 inch star-shaped cookie cutter (affiliate link) works best for these cookies. This recipe will give you 24 beautiful star cookies.

Baking Time

The cookie bases bake for about 10-12 minutes depending if you use convection or regular on your oven. I’ve waxed poetic about convection ovens before, so you know my preference but I’ve made them for years before having a convection oven and in many different countries with different ovens and they always turn out amazing. Be careful on the time as you bake these because these cookies are really divine if you don’t over bake them. They will puff up just a little bit but keep their star-shape. If you let them go too long or have rolled them out too thin, the edges will start to brown just a bit and you will know they went a little too long in the oven. Still delicious, but much better without the browned edges.

Caramel, Chocolate and Pecans

The toppings are what really set this cookie apart. Caramels are melted down (I use the microwave but you could also do this on the stove if you watch very carefully) with butter and evaporated milk and then stirred with sifted powdered sugar and chopped pecans to give the most amazing caramel topping. The pecans help the caramel to set up to a little ball on top of the cookie which makes the perfect base for the thick chocolate topping. I love the richness the semi-sweet chocolate chips bring to this cookie and any extra topping we have from these cookies we save to eat on ice cream or…by the spoonful. It is so good. A whole pecan tops the cookie for a finished look.

Sift. Sift. Sift that Powdered Sugar

One note about sifting. Please, please, please sift your powdered sugar. One year when I was a college student, I was making these Christmas cookies (yes, I made these every year…even while I was in the midst of college finals, they are that nostalgic for me). I decided to forgo the sifting and it was a BIG MISTAKE. I had chunks of powdered sugar all throughout my caramel sauce. Even though I did everything I could to get those chunks combined, they just wouldn’t combine well. My caramel still tasted okay but it didn’t look very good with little white chunks throughout what should have been a smooth caramel. So learn from my mistake and get yourself a sifter if you don’t have one. 

Gluten-Free Option

If you need to make these cookies gluten-free, good news. They are absolutely amazing gluten-free. My sister eats gluten-free and makes them every year with Cup4Cup flour (affiliate link). It is really hard to tell the difference between the gluten-free version and the regular version. Just sub the flour in the cookies for the Cup 4 Cup flour and they should turn out amazing.

A Cookie Job For Everyone

I make over 200 of these cookies every year for Christmas. This is our family tradition. We spend a few days doing the entire process. One day baking the cookies. One day making the toppings. One day assembling everything. When we finally get to the assembly portion, everyone has a job to do. My kids have now graduated to being able to help put on the caramel and chocolate toppings. The youngest in our crew is usually relegated to “pecan sorting” and putting nuts on top of the cookies. I love that these cookies have a job for everyone. We have such fun every year blasting Christmas carols, making cookies and sneaking a cookie or two.

Caroling and Cookies

The cookie bases freeze well (actually the whole cookie does) and it makes it easy for us to make plates of cookies to deliver to friends and neighbors. We love caroling, bringing along our Christmas card and a plate of these cookies. It’s a tradition that began when I was a kid and has continued on with my family and the families of my siblings. And after all the deliveries…we get to enjoy eating our star-shaped cookies. The funny part is that if you ask each of us, we all have a different way to eat the cookie. Some of us eat off all the star points first leaving the gooey middle. Others pull off the pecan and eat off all the topping first. I love having these fun traditions to look back on every year 

I love all cookies. Chocolate chip, candy jar, gluten-free oat cookies, but these chocolate caramel pecan Christmas cookies are a standout favorite. Full of nostalgia, lots of butter, chocolate and caramel, they are the ultimate holiday dessert. Whether you are looking for cookies to give, cookies to eat or cookies to leave out for Santa, these chocolate caramel pecan cookies are the perfect indulgent holiday cookie. I wish I could bring you a plate! From my family to yours…Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Christmas cookies are the ultimate holiday cookie. A star-shaped buttery crust with a luscious caramel, chocolate and pecan topping. They will be on repeat at your house every Christmas.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients
  

Cookie Base

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Caramel Topping

  • 8 oz caramel candy Kraft caramels are the ones we traditionally use
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1 cup pecans finely chopped

Chocolate Topping

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar sifted

24 whole pecans

    Instructions
     

    Cookie Base

    • Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer and large bowl, cream together the softened butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
    • Add vanilla extract, evaporated milk and salt. Mix well until completely incorporated and creamy.
    • Add the flour and mix gently until combined. Be careful not to over-mix the dough, but you do want it to be fully incorporated.
    • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees convection or 325 regular and place parchment paper on two large baking sheets.
    • Separate the dough into two portions and roll the first ball of dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick.
    • Use a star-shaped cookie cutter about 3-3.5 inches to cut out the stars from the dough. Transfer the cutouts to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    • Bake for 10 minutes convection or 12 minutes regular until just baked. Watch the cookies so they don't brown. The bottoms of the cookies should still be light.
    • Cool the cookies completely. At this point you can move forward with topping the cookies or freeze them to top later.

    Caramel Pecan Topping

    • Combine unwrapped caramels (or kraft caramel bits), evaporated milk and unsalted butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
    • Microwave in 1 minute increments, stirring with a spoon. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the caramels are completely melted and mixed together. This can take upwards of 10 minutes.
    • Sift in the powdered sugar and stir until completely incorporated.
    • Finely chop the pecans (I pulse them a few times in the blender) and add them to the caramel topping. Mix.
    • Set the caramel aside while you make the chocolate topping. At this point you can also refrigerate the caramel for up to a week before using.

    Chocolate Topping

    • To a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk. Microwave in 30 second increments. Alternate stirring and microwaving until the chocolate, butter and evaporated milk are melted and combined.
    • Stir in the vanilla extract. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl and mix until completely combined. Set aside the chocolate topping to assemble the cookies. You can also refrigerate the topping for up to a week before using.

    Assembly

    • Lay out all the cookies on a flat counter space.
    • Place a dollop of lightly warmed caramel topping on the center of each cookie (about 1 Tablespoon).
    • Place a smaller dollop of lightly warmed chocolate topping on top of the caramel (about 1 teaspoon).
    • Add a whole pecan on top of the chocolate quickly before the chocolate hardens.
    • Let the cookies cool completely before moving to a cookie tray, sharing with friends and neighbors, freezing or setting out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Freezing Tips: These cookies freeze very well. The fully assembled cookies can be frozen after the toppings have cooled and pulled out to thaw when needed. The process can also be split into multiple days; making the bases one day (then freeze them) and the caramel and chocolate topping a different day. 
    Sifting: It is really important to sift the powdered sugar into the caramel and chocolate. If you don’t, the caramel and chocolate will have tiny lumps of powdered sugar in them that won’t fully incorporated. They will taste okay but not look as good.
     
    Keyword caramel, chocolate chip cookie, Christmas cookies, cookies, pecan

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    Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake.

    Gingerbread Snack Cake with Sourdough Discard

    Gingerbread has always been one of my favorite holiday flavors. As a kid living in Europe with my family, I grew up going to German Christmas markets: stalls filled with nutcrackers, handmade trinkets and intricately iced “Lebkuchen” (gingerbread). I was always intrigued by the sweet and spicy smell and the delicious flavor. This sourdough gingerbread cake evokes so many of those Christmas childhood memories and will make your whole house smell like Christmas. It is a soft and tender crumb, jam-packed with gingerbread/molasses flavor and uses up a bunch of sourdough discard. My kids especially love this sourdough gingerbread snack cake and always ask for extra whipped cream. It takes me back to my childhood Christmas memories and is the perfect snack cake to eat all winter long.

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    Sourdough Discard in Gingerbread Cake

    A word of warning: not all sourdough discard is created equal, age makes a difference. The discard that has been sitting in my fridge for a week or two gives a lot more “tang” to this cake. For some recipes you will want to taste that sourdough flavor. For this recipe, I prefer to use sourdough discard that is only a day or two old, so it cuts down on the tang. My family didn’t even know there was sourdough in this recipe. You can also use bubbly sourdough starter if you want in this gingerbread snack cake and it should work well. If you want to taste the tangy sourdough along with the gingerbread spices, go ahead and use up that 2 week old discard from your fridge. It will still taste delicious.

    Blackstrap Molasses

    Molasses is made out of sugar cane, and it is categorized depending on how many times the sugar cane syrup has been boiled and then extracted. The first boiling/extracting is light molasses. Second boiling/extracting is dark molasses and third boiling/extracting produces Blackstrap molasses (affiliate link). It is the most concentrated molasses and has a bittersweet flavor on its own. Typically you will find the “light” molasses in a regular grocery store. Health food stores and some grocery stores will often carry blackstrap molasses due to the concentrated nutrients found in it. In this cake, I love the flavor the blackstrap molasses brings when combined with the sugars. It gives a depth of delicious molasses flavor that pairs so nicely with the spices. If you don’t have blackstrap molasses on hand, you can substitute it for regular molasses (it just might not have as “punchy” of a flavor).

    A Few Gingerbread Snack Cake Tips:

    1. The first step in making this gingerbread snack cake is to mix very hot (nearly boiling) water with the molasses. This helps break down the sugars in the molasses and lets it fully incorporate into the cake batter. 
    2. I use one bowl for this gingerbread snack cake. I add my spices directly to the center of the bowl and mix them in before adding in the sourdough discard and flour. I like to go with “less cleanup”, and with four kids, we always have a lot of dishes. You can find some of my other favorite one-bowl recipes: here, here and here.
    3. I like to bake this cake at 400 degrees for the first ten minutes and then reduce the temperature and continue the bake. This hot temperature activates the baking powder in the cake, giving it a beautiful domed top. 

    Deep Gingerbread/Molasses Flavor

    If you really want the deep gingerbread flavor, this cake needs to cool completely before serving. As the cake cools, the flavors bloom and turn into the perfect mix of molasses/gingerbread heaven. If I am making this cake for my family, we will often snack on a piece fresh out of the oven…and then wait for it to cool and have another slice. We like to top it with whipped cream (fresh is best, but we don’t always have heavy whipping cream on hand), and it is just delicious. I hope you enjoy it too!

    Gingerbread Snack Cake with Sourdough Discard

    A soft and tender crumb, jam packed with gingerbread/molasses flavor and uses up a bunch of sourdough discard: the perfect Christmas snack cake.
    Prep Time 15 mins
    Cook Time 40 mins
    Course Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine American
    Servings 1 cake

    Ingredients
      

    • 1/3 cup very hot water
    • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses can substitute regular molasses
    • 2/3 cup light brown sugar can also use dark brown
    • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil any neutral flavored oil works
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 3/4 cup sourdough discard see note
    • 1 cup all purpose flour

    Instructions
     

    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat an 8 by 8 pan with cooking spray or a parchment sling.
    • To a liquid measuring cup, add 1/3 cup water. Microwave it until very hot or almost boiling. You can also do this on the stovetop. Add the molasses to the hot water and mix together. Set aside.
    • To a medium-sized bowl, add brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and mix.
    • Add the molasses/water mixture, mixing as your pour it in (this helps temper the egg if the molasses mixture is still very hot). Continue mixing until completely incorporated.
    • Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and cloves directly to the middle of the bowl and mix together, taking care not to splash any of it out of the bowl.
    • Add the greek yogurt and sourdough discard. Mix together. Then add the flour and mix until just combined.
    • Pour the mixture into your greased pan and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
    • After 10 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30-40 minutes until the center is no longer jiggly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    • Allow to cool before serving. This gingerbread snack cake deepens in flavor as it cools. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar or fresh whipped cream. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Not all sourdough discard is created equal. For best results, use discard that is only a few days old at the most. You can also substitute ripe, bubbly sourdough starter for the discard in this recipe.
    Keyword gingerbread, sourdough

    Follow me on Instagram @amybakesbread, like Amy Bakes Bread on Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for more baking ideas.

    Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake.