Think you can’t bake holiday cookies in a motorhome?
In 2020, my parents and I decided to forego traditional gifts and send each other the gift of food and drink for the holiday festivities.
This was for a variety of reasons. Jeremiah and I live in a small space (duh) and my parents, though not minimalist in any way, enjoy the things they have and simply don’t need a lot of “stuff.”
The other obvious reason is I love to eat. And drink. So we thought, hey, let’s put together something we actually know we’ll like: treats!
And, on a slightly related note, I’m competitive. Sure. I could have baked up a large batch of chocolate chip cookies (my favorite recipe is one I’ve put together from three individual recipes) but that would have been too easy.
So, I made a list, checked it twice, and set forth to create some divine creations. (That’s a pun. I made divinity.)
Cooking and baking holiday cookies in a motorhome isn’t impossible. It just requires planning. The toughest part was dealing with the very small oven – so instead of doing a lot of traditional baked goods, I went with the next best thing: stove top goodies.
Over the course of 24 hours, I put together the following:
I started these first as they require about a day between being created and being cut and packaged, especially in a high humidity place. Marshmallows aren’t difficult to make, but they aren’t simple, and I kept a close eye on the candy thermometer and monitored them fairly closely.
That was it for day one, since I was trying to finish everything on the same day to send out.
Next: Chewy Ginger and Molasses Cookies.
The following morning, I started on some chewy molasses-ginger cookies. My dad has never met a gingersnap he hasn’t liked, but I was aimed for a chewier cookie since I wasn’t sure how they would ship.
Third in line – Divinity.
I know, this isn’t technically a holiday cookie. It’s a candy. But, c’mon. Marshmallows don’t fall into either of those categories so let’s move on.
Jeremiah had never had divinity before. My sisters and I had these amazing non-grandparents-grandparents growing up, and they would ship us homemade divinity every Christmas. I’d get my own small package that was nut-free, due to my allergies, and they always made a point to tell us they had mixed the two entirely separately.
Divinity, I’ve found, is hard to come by. This was especially true in Oregon. Perfect divinity is light, airy, sweet, and melts in your mouth. It defies logic with how rich and yet how light it is.
Most times, it’s chocked full of nuts. So, while I am allergic to nuts, I added them in. This was mostly so I wouldn’t keep the batch to myself. Because I mixed the nuts at the very end, there were no nut oils being baked in the motorhome. Baking, boiling, roasting, or applying heat to nuts in the motorhome is an absolute nonstarter. It does not happen. This, though, was fine.
(Some day ask me about how I made my dad baklava when I was ten and lived to tell about it. Baklava: 1 Sasha: 0)
So, while all these things were cooling, we had to get creative. Marshmallows were sitting on our dinette, and divinity was sitting in the bathroom. I’m kidding. They were, however, sitting on a window ledge.
Had to backtrack a little…
Next: time to roll out those cookies and get them in the oven!
Truth be told, I was really wishing for a bigger oven at this point. Our oven is small, so “normal” sized baking sheets don’t fit.. They’re small sheets. This means not only can I only bake one sheet of cookies at a time, it also means fewer cookies fit on the pan.
Since we don’t have a lot of space, we don’t keep more than one cooling rack on hand. Time to get creative: we used our bamboo steamer to set the warm-but-not-hot cookies on them to finish cooling. Unexpectedly cute photo op, too.
While baking the cookies, I started mixing up a batch of brownies. I was going to send a lemon-poppyseed bread instead. However, I changed my mind last minute. I don’t remember why, but I’m fairly sure it was something to do with timing and space. Maybe it was just laziness.
Anyways, I forgot to take a cute picture of the brownies, so here they are in their pan, right after I sprinkled Maldon salt on them.
Next year: will I bake holiday cookies in a motorhome?
So, while it did take some planning and creative problem solving, we successfully made holiday cookies in a motorhome.
Will I do it again? Probably. Was it a bit of a pain in the butt since all our surfaces were covered? Um. Yes.
Tips for baking holiday goodies in a motorhome (or small kitchen!)
If you have a small kitchen, you may need to think outside the box for your holiday goodies.
If you don’t want to heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven, consider boiled cookies and candies ranging from coconut bon bons to festive crisped-rice treats. Cuts down on the heat substantially.
Got a small oven and don’t want to babysit it for three hours? Cut the cookie batch in half, and simply make fewer cookies. (I wish I’d done that with the ginger-molasses cookies!)
Another tip: utilize a similar recipe in different forms for variety. Mix one batch of a basic dough, then before you go to bake them, add in flavor accessories to customize them to your liking. Here’s one example of a simple dough being used in four different ways. You can find multiple versions online.
Clean as you go. I can’t emphasize this enough. Every time I used an ingredient, I put it away again even if I was going to use it again. Having a clean slate is important, but the most important thing was having enough clean bowls and utensils to move on to the next batch of goodies.
My favorite holiday goodies
I didn’t actually bake any of my favorite treats this year. I know: woe is me.
If I had though, they’d have never made it to the package to ship to my family. My all-time favorite holiday treats aren’t exactly life-changing. They’re decorated sugar cookies, but only after they’ve been sitting a day, coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate, and divinity without the nuts.
Jeremiah’s fav is muddy buddy. Like, the Chex mix. Welp. I’m never making that for him.
What cookies or candies scream, “It’s the holidays!” to you? Let us know, and maybe we’ll try making them next holiday season!