On Christmas, breakfast becomes an afterthought. Coffee might be in hand for adults, but the rush of opening stockings and presents makes the young — and young at heart — nearly forget about morning hunger. Opening presents (and the cleanup that ensues) is hard work, though, and a filling breakfast is mandated to make it through toy assembly, battery insertion, and long reaches under the couch and behind the tree to get those last crumpled bits of wrapping paper.
Save the detailed assembly for a New Year’s Day brunch without sacrificing style on Christmas and try these make-ahead and quick-fix breakfast ideas. Oatmeal gets an upgrade with warm spices and waffles can be pulled from the freezer and toasted in the oven for an evergreen holiday breakfast. Bagels get gussied with bacon and chocolate chips, while a fast baking danish braid can be made the night before and eaten one-handed on Christmas morning.
Don’t be surprised if these festive breakfast options become a holiday tradition.
Christmas Tree Waffles
Makes 10 waffles
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick), cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 drops green food coloring
Whipped topping or whipped cream
Chocolate coated candy pieces or other edible decorations
Heat a waffle iron and have it prepared. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine and until no large lumps remain. Add food coloring (more or less as desired) to waffle batter and whisk to combine.
Add a scant 1/2-cup of batter to the waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron directions. Repeat until all batter is used. (At this point, waffles can be served immediately or frozen in a zip-top bag and reheated on a baking sheet in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven when ready to use.)
To form the trees, cut the waffle into quarters for round waffles or into triangles for square waffles. Layer 3 to 4 pieces of waffle together to form a tree, with broad ends facing down and pointed ends facing up. Decorate with whipped cream or whipped topping, candy or other pieces as desired. Serve.
Baked Gingerbread Oatmeal
3 cups old-fashioned oats (or quick-cooking cereal grains)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground allspice
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, combine the oats (or grains), brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, baking powder and kosher salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to thoroughly combine.
Pour the mixture into a 13x9” baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden and the texture is firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out portions of the baked oatmeal. Push together any scraps into the cookie cutter to use as much of the oatmeal as possible. Serve immediately with extra brown sugar, if desired.
To make ahead: Cut out the gingerbread man shapes, then gently place the cut-outs into a storage container, laying a piece of wax or parchment paper between layers if necessary. When ready to serve, place the cut-outs on a baking sheet and reheat in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes, or reheat in a lightly buttered frying pan over medium heat until the centers are warm. Serve.
Candy Cane Danish
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1 egg combined with 1 tablespoon water (for an egg wash)
4 tablespoons raw sugar and/or red-colored sugar sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roll out the puff pastry (on a lightly floured surface) into a 12x16” rectangle. Lightly score the pastry into three columns. The middle column should be 7” wide, while the other two are 2 ½”. Cut slits on a diagonal on the outside columns that are 1” wide. Move the pastry onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, ⅓ cup sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, lemon juice, and the egg yolk together until smooth. Spread this mixture on the middle column of the prepared puff pastry. Spread the strawberry jam over the top of the cream cheese mixture.
Begin to pull alternating slits on the outside columns, making sure the ends reach the edge of the filling on the opposite side (stretch if needed -- think of it kind of like a braid). Once all the pastry is woven together and the ends are sealed, grab the ends of the danish and stretch to slightly elongate. At about one-quarter in at one end, bend the danish to resemble a candy cane. Lightly brush egg wash over the top of the danish, then sprinkle with raw sugar and/or red sugar sprinkles.
Bake the strudel for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. (Can be served warm or at room temperature. Can be made a day in advance.)
1 mini bagel
Whipped cream or whipped topping
Mini chocolate chips, pretzels, or other edible decorations
1 piece of soft-cooked bacon
Half of a strawberry
Toast the bagel as desired. Spread each half with cream cheese and place on a plate next to each other, as though building the base and middle of a snowman. Fold the bacon in half, like a scarf, and place that above the top bagel half, then make the snowman “head” with a dollop of whipped cream or whipped topping above the bacon. Make buttons, eyes, a nose, a mouth and arms with mini chocolate chips or other decorations, as desired. Place half a strawberry on the top edge of the “head” as a hat. Serve immediately.