Tasty treats make holiday season sweeter


Junior Anna Nguyen prepares the flour for her macarons.

Irene Si, arts&style section editor

This year, the phrase “There’s no place like home for the holidays” rings true as people all over the world try to safely celebrate the holidays amidst a pandemic. In the U.S, where COVID-19 cases are reaching an all-time high, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highly encourage virtual celebrations in place of in-person gatherings. Although traditional holiday plans might have been foiled, spending time with loved ones at home by cooking up delicious treats is just one of the many solutions to this setback. 

Italian Tri-Color Cookies

With bright red, green and yellow or white layers of cake, Italian tri-color cookies, also known as rainbow cookies, are just one example of a treat to bake for the holidays. 

“[Italian tri-color cookies] have three layers of super thin cake stacked on top of each other, with raspberry jam in between each layer and chocolate on the top and bottom,” senior Isabel Dilandro said. “The colors [represent] the Italian flag.”

These treats are not only colorful in appearance, but also have a distinct taste, combining mildly sweet and nutty flavors in one delicious concoction. 

“The taste is super unique. It uses almond extract and almond paste so it [tastes] a bit nutty and the cake layers aren’t actually too sweet,” Dilandro said. “The cake layers absorb the really sweet raspberry jam so that’s what makes it taste good. I normally use semi-sweet chocolate to top it off so it’s not overwhelmingly sweet.”

Although the recipe itself is simple to follow, bakers will have to wait for some time before tasting their creation. 

“It’s a really easy recipe, but it takes forever. It’s about a two day process,” Dilandro said. “It’s really moist because of all the jam, so it’s usually better to let it sit for a day or so before eating it to [give] the cake time to absorb everything.” 

Dilandro, who makes these cookies every holiday season with her grandmother, has a couple of tips for readers who are making these sweets for the first time. 

“One, the almond paste gets [really] sticky when you’re grating it, so freeze it beforehand,” Dilandro said. “Two, scoop the flour into your measuring cups with a spoon and level them off, otherwise you’ll get a really dense cake.


Widely popular year-round for their adorable looks and sweet tastes, macarons are a French meringue-based confection with buttercream filling sandwiched between two cookie rounds. Macarons can have over 50 different flavor possibilities, including peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog and more, making them a perfect pastry for the upcoming holidays. 

“A treat I really like to make during the holidays is macarons of all different flavors,” junior Anna Nguyen said. “I usually make fruit-flavored [ones] since my family doesn’t like deep and rich flavors such as chocolate and caramel.”

When crafting fruit-flavored macarons, most home chefs will use jam to add flavor to the filling since it is a quicker, more accessible option. However, it is recommended to use fruit powder to deliver a stronger, more natural taste. 

“Something special about my macarons is that I blend up freeze-dried fruit into the batter and the filling to amp up the flavor,” Nguyen said. 

Despite looking quite basic, macarons can be a difficult treat to make as they are very delicate and require a lot of steps. 

“The ingredients are fairly simple, but combining the ingredients is the hardest part to get right,” Nguyen said. “You have to fold the dry and wet ingredients together to a really specific consistency until it is ready to be piped onto the baking sheet. After piping them out, [you] have to wait up to an hour for the cookies to dry out slightly and form a skin on the outside. That’s how macarons get their signature ‘feet’ on the bottoms.”

Similar to the Italian tri-color cookies, macarons also require some time to prepare before being fully ready to serve and eat. 

“Waiting for them to ‘mature’ [also] takes a long time,” Nguyen said. “Macarons taste best after they’ve been sitting in the fridge for at least a day because the cookies absorb the flavors of the filling.”

Because macarons can be so arduous to make, they can also serve as a great gift idea to show sincerity and dedication. 

“It’s my favorite treat to make because it’s small and easy to gift to other people,” Nguyen said. “Every year, I always make some to give out to my relatives and my friends. I love seeing everyone’s happy faces when I bake for them.”


Latkes, which translate to “pancakes” in Yiddish, are a traditional Jewish dish that originated in eastern Europe. Their appearance resembles a hash brown, but their texture is far more sophisticated. 

“Latkes are [basically] potato pancakes and they are normally crunchy on the outside and then soft on the inside,” junior Olivia Erstling said. “The main ingredients [include] potatoes, onions, eggs, salt and oil.”

Latkes are associated with Hanukkah and are almost always served in celebration of this important Jewish holiday; also known as the Festival of Lights, it marks the reclamation of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. The Jewish wanted to light its menorah to honor their victory, and the one night’s supply of oil they had miraculously provided light for eight days. 

As such, traditional foods eaten during Hanukkah are often fried in oil or contain cheese. 

“Hanukkah celebrates the ritual oil lasting eight days,” Erstling said. “This is the significance of frying the latkes in oil.”

This savory dish calls for few ingredients, the most important being the type of oil one decides to use. The recipe has few steps, making it relatively easy to follow.

“After mixing all the ingredients into a batter, and once the oil in your pan is hot, scoop some of the batter, put it in the pan and let it sizzle,” Erstling said. “To know when to flip the latke, the edges will be brown and crispy. A lot of people eat them with applesauce or sour cream.”

Erstling finds that although the cooking process might be somewhat hard for chefs who are attempting to make latkes for the first time, the outcome and experience itself is more than satisfactory. 

“Trader Joes makes a great pre-made option if you’re [simply] interested in tasting them,” Erstling said. “If you [do] decide to make them homemade, it can be a bit difficult at first but I promise the end result is amazing. Latkes taste best right [after] you make them and there’s nothing like spending time with your family [while] making them.”