Holiday Candies and cookies recipe advice - make a head

For the Holidays this winter, I would like to put together an edible display of homemade (somewhat healthy) cookies, candies and treats, with take home goodie bags. I'm not normally one to make sweets, so I was hoping you could recommend some recipes or recipe books that would fit my criteria.

The allergy restrictions are nuts (except almonds) and soy (which excludes most chocolate, and corn syrup which is sometimes processed with soy, and most processed foods). Recipes that I can substitute honey or maple syrup for the corn syrup would be fine.

It would be preferred if the recipes were not hugely sweet, as there will be kids and their parents are very restrictive on sugar content. Treats are fine, and so are sweets, so long as the sugars in them are simple like fruit juice, maple syrup, honey, &c... and not processed sugars like white sugar, corn syrup, &c. It's their kids, so I will respect their wishes in this. Besides, I'm not big into desserts either, but hey, it's the Holidays, you need something sweet on the table, it's expected. Things that derive their sweetness from fruit or honey/maple syrup are best.

What I'm looking for is something I can make ahead of time, starting now, and freeze. Take out of the freezer the day before the event, and keep at room temperature until served (the fridge will be full with other things).

I'm pretty good at substituting for recipes, however, I don't have a lot of experience with sugar and syrups, so any help there would be awesome. I also don't freeze very often, so I'm not certain which recipes would be best for that.

Some of the recipes I was looking at here on Food52 are: - if I can use maple syrup or honey instead of corn syrup
and of course candied Ginger
I was also thinking of a shortbread cookie made with maple syrup instead of white sugar.

So what do you think? Any of these freeze well?

What other recipes do you love for Holiday treats?

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London_Eats November 1, 2013

Good to hear I’m not the only one thinking about Christmas! I've got four ideas that might help. They either don’t have much sugar, or instead use honey or natural syrups for sweetness.

First off, you could make traditional English sugarplums. There are lots of recipes, but think of energy balls or Lara bars - ground dried fruit and nuts (so almonds would be ideal), with added spice, rolled into spheres. You can make them a couple of days ahead of time, but they really are super-easy to make. My recipe is here:

Another recipe that you could try is a German biscuit called Aachener Printen. They're made from not much more than flour, honey, citrus peel and spices. They use a strange raising ingredient called pottasche (you'd need to buy online) but they can be left for many weeks to soften and the spicy flavour will develop. I’ve got a recipe here:

Third, you can make jam cookies (thinks like Austrian Linzers or Swiss Spitzbueben). You can make a low-sugar dough, and a low-sugar jam to keep them healthy. I’ve got a recipe here:

Finally, you could make some French Christmas treats called Mendiants ( They’re discs of chocolate studded with dried fruit and nuts. If you go with dark chocolate, make them small and use healthy fruit (not loaded with sugar), citrus peel, ginger and some almonds, I think you would get a good result. You could certainly make these a few days ahead of time.
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