How to Please Everyone, 12 Holiday Ninja Treats

Are holidays more complicated these days? Budget and dietary considerations seem to be of paramount concern to many. So, the Ninja Baker went to work in the kitchen. 12 holiday treats that will please your gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan friends and family were produced. In addition, guaranteed American standards and Japanese sweets smile-makers were created. From the Ninja Baker’s selection, you are sure to find something to please everyone on your gift list. Love to have you add to my selection, too, and share your favorite homemade baked goods in the comments section.

1. Santa Strawberry Cupcakes

Whether calorie, gluten or dairy conscious, these merry Santas are smile-makers.

For the cupcakes I used Pamela’s gluten-free cake mix. I also tried her dairy free frosting mix for the first time with happy results. Inspired by a pin at, I topped the cupcakes with Strawberry Santas. His eyes are sesame seeds. Santa’s belly is Cool Whip but for your lactose intolerant friends, use TruWhip. The buttons are mini chocolate chips.

2. Pumpkin Doughnut Wreaths

‘Tis the season of the pumpkin through December, right? King Arthur’s Flour promises with their recipe you’ll have a “Baked to Perfection Pumpkin Doughnut.” They’re not kidding. Especially when dipped in melted white chocolate and dotted with dark chocolate M & Ms. Again, I was stirred into action by a sighting on Pinterest. Specifically a sugar cookie wreath dotted with M & Ms on Liz Berg’s That Skinny Chick Can Bake Holiday/Seasonal board.

3. Francesca Lia Block’s Star Cupcakes

For the December birthday party of star author, Francesca Lia Block (who prefers gluten-free and non-dairy goods), using Pamela's mixes, I baked gluten-free vanilla cupcakes  and frosted them with a dairy free frosting.

For the decoration: Make an impression in the center of each cupcake with a mini star. Keeping the cookie cutter on the cupcake, sprinkle gold sparkles into the impression. Remember coloring books? Instead of coloring with a crayon between the lines, go to town sprinkling gold sparkles. Or blue for the Star of David.

Note: To avoid frosting mess, cool the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before sprinkling with sparkles.

4.  Bite-Size Christmas or Hanukah Blues

These minis frosted with marshmallow frosting tinted blue combat the blues every time. Make your favorite vanilla cake recipe and bake in a mini cupcake pan. Reduce the baking time by about 5 minutes and/or until a toothpick comes out clean. For the marshmallow frosting, see the recipe at For the lactose intolerant, RiceMellow is an almost perfect replacement for marshmallow fluff.

5. Red Velvet

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting brought victory to Terri Wahl, owner of Auntie Em’s Kitchen, on the Food Network’s  Throwdown with Bobby Flay. Easy and fun to make these cupcakes are a crowd pleaser every time. Visit for the recipe.

Note: Make sure you have plenty of bottles of red food coloring.

6. Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Ghirardelli Frosting & Matcha Cream

Dark chocolate according to the experts is good for you. In addition to antioxidants, the lovely sweet is allegedly good for your heart and brain. So, without an ounce of regret bake up a batch of the dark chocolate cupcakes featured at Two Peas and Their Pod. I made two kinds of topping for this divinely rich cupcake.

Matcha Green Tea Cream:  Add 3 generous tablespoons of fine green tea matcha powder to a pint of heavy whipping cream. Whip until the cream shows peaks and is ready to pipe.

Ghirardelli Frosting: See the back of the Hot Chocolate container or click here for another Ghirardelli delight.

Note: The Ghirardelli frosting from the back of the cocoa container is delicious but tends to firm up pretty quickly. As you frost the cupcakes, you’ll want to keep some additional milk out to add to the mixture.

7. Gluten-Free Mini Matcha Santas

For the #SundaySupper bloggers’ virtual holiday cookie exchange on Twitter, I baked up gluten-free mini matcha Santas. Crisp, buttery and spiked with matcha: Perfect for the tea connoisseurs in your life. Click here for the recipe


8. Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Stars

Incorporating tips from’s Marian, I successfully baked sugar cookies which actually held its original shape. Yea! I used a gluten-free cookie mix. I’ve got to be honest; the taste was different from a “regular” sugar cookie…But it looked pretty!

Note: I discovered a time-saver; sprinkle the rolled out dough with sparkly sugar before cutting out the stars.


9. Green Tea Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

With a green tea cake recipe from as a foundation, I created cupcakes. In my oven, the magic baking time was 26 minutes. Also, I added an additional two teaspoons of matcha to the recipe.

Most adults love the combo of green tea and chocolate. So, I melted 6 ounces of milk chocolate in a tub of Cool Whip in a microwave for 1.5 minutes. Stirred. Waited 15 minutes. And dunked my green tea cupcakes into the rich concoction.

10. Vegan Sweet Potato Muffins with & without Averie’s Marshmallow Frosting

Joyce A. Kramer, Co-author of the national award-winning book
Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50, also runs the wildly popular Wholesome Table in Southern Florida. She kindly shared her Sweet Potato muffin recipe from her friend Ellen Jaffee Jones, author of Eat Vegan on $4 a Day.

The muffins are moist and you can taste the love from the wholesome ingredients. They aren’t super sweet so they serve as a great base for’s marshmallow frosting. Again, for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant, substitute RiceMellow for marshmallow fluff.

Vegan Sweet Potato Muffins

Makes 14 muffins

2 cups flour
¼ c agave
1 T baking powder
½ t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
½ t salt
¼ t nutmeg
1 ¾ c cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (Joyce steams the sweet potatoes, but the canned type work well, too.)
½ c raisins
½ c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Lightly coat 10 muffin tins.  Fill each cup almost to top with batter.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes until tops bounce back when lightly pressed and a toothpick in the center comes out clean
  • Cool on rack.
  • Serve at room temperature.

11. Cranberry & White Chocolate Biscotti

with Bourbon and the Watkinson Boys
David talks to Santa at Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia.
 His older brother, Jim patiently waits.
(P.s. Grownup David married the Ninja Baker.)


Roz of La Bella Vita’s white chocolate drizzled cranberry and pistachio biscotti caught my attention as I searched for holiday cookie ideas. Although I always get rave reviews with Takako Nomi’s recipe for biscotti, I decided to try something different. Well, I forgot the amaretto liqueur, which is required in Roz’s recipe. So, I went back to my standard go-to biscotti recipe but added cranberries and white chocolate. The result? Delizioso

12. Chef Falkner’s Ginger Cupcakes with Mini Gingerbread Men

Chef Elizabeth Falkner is one of the nicest and most talented chefs in the world. I had the privilege of being served cupcakes by Chef Falkner at her restaurant Citizen Cakes in San Francisco. The shop is now closed. But you can catch her on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef: Redemption.

From Chef Falkner’s Demolition Desserts cookbook, I’ve enjoyed making and eating her ginger cake and cookie wonders filled with three different types of ginger. To make the pictured cupcakes, reduce the baking time of both the ginger cake and cookies to accommodate the smaller sizes.

Before you decorate with the gingerbread minis, slather the cupcakes with your favorite chocolate or cream cheese frosting. 

Wishing you days of perfect holiday sweets, treats and blessings.

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker's recipes are also available at:

The Ninja Baker's Japanese Plum Sweet Memories and Recipes

Bob's Red Mill:
Almond Oatmeal Apple Cookies

Bob's Red Mill:
The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Breakfast Cupcake


Wholesome Sweeteners:
The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Cheesecake Minis with Espresso Cream

Wholesome Sweeteners:
The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Champagne Glaze & Optional Lemon Peach Marmalade Filling