It’s the most stre-e-essful time of the year!
Let’s face it: The Hallmark movies they’ve been showing since Halloween don’t depict the real end-of-the-year hustle no matter who you are, from a high school senior trying to finish their college applications before the deadline to a college student with finals beating down the door. Even if you have everything under control, there’s also the stress of traveling, family gatherings, shopping, decorating, entertaining, and all those holiday parties you have to attend!
Luckily, December is prime treat season. Now’s the time to stress-eat—or even better, stress-bake. Stress-baking, especially to share with others, has actual psychological benefits associated with it, according to science. So take an application/study break, pull out the baking sheets and cookie cutters, and whip up one (or all) of these stress-beating sweets!
College application stress
If you’ve got your Common App filled out and all you need to do is finish those pesky supplemental essays, you’ve earned yourself a decent break—which means you have time to put into baking some delicious gingerbread cookies or sufganiyot. Depending on how well you’ve budgeted your time, you can donate more or less time to your cookie-making break. You can use store-bought dough that’s premixed or the kind you just need to add eggs and water to; you can make your own dough but limit your decorating to the bare minimum or not at all; or you can go all out and make the frosting and dough yourself then decorate each cookie with individual detail (if you really need to procrastinate take a break). What’s great about gingerbread is that you should let the dough rest for a little bit, and watching an oven is no fun, so you can work on your apps during those times. Just don’t forget to set a timer!
Sufganiyot are time-consuming but delicious jelly doughnuts for Hanukkah. What’s great is that there’s a long inactive period while making these because the dough has to rise. Set a timer for the recommended rising time (maybe add a five-minute buffer just to be sure) and work on your applications intermittently. You can be busy in the kitchen and keep busy at work too!
With end-of-semester exams, you probably just want to step away from everything for a few days—or better yet, just not take them at all. While this seems like a great idea, it’s not really possible. You’re better off to take a short break to make a quick fudge or some candy! A lot of fudges are pretty easy to make and aren’t that time consuming. You have to give them time to cool before eating, but let that be your incentive to study hard or finish your essay in a timely fashion then reward yourself with decadent fudgy goodness. All you need for a lot of fudge is a microwave, a microwave-safe bowl, and a pan to put it in! You can find some simple recipes for three-minute fudge and easy chocolate toffee fudge online.
There are also a lot of candy options. Again, these tend to require setting or cooling times, but that allows you to schedule different breaks in your studying. From a holiday twist on classic muddy buddies to homemade gelt to microwave-made candy, there are plenty of easy candy recipes floating around on the web. If you’re super nice and your class is on the smaller side (not a 100-person lecture, of course!), you might consider bringing some to your final for your classmates—unless there’s none left.
General holiday stress
This is for the golden students who submitted their college applications early and are as cool as a cucumber about exams. This time of year can still be anxiety inducing with all the pressure surrounding the holidays, plus Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) setting in for some people. You might need a little pick-me-up, and making food can be great stress relief. (That’s why it’s called stress-baking!) Since you don’t have to worry about being crunched for time, bake something delicious that will force you to focus for a while. Try making pie or maybe some truffles!
When it comes to pie, prep time is long but the payoff is big. And there are so many different types of seasonal pies you can make, from an old-fashioned pecan pie or apple pie to something less traditional like eggnog pie or cookie pie (the literal best thing you’ll ever eat!). If you’re really bored (and creative), you can get fancy with the crusts too. Then there are truffles, which are delicious, addictive, and typically easy to make. However, they are a time commitment. They typically take at least an hour just to chocolate-coat them. But if you’ve ever had truffles, you know they’re worth it. Here are some fun recipes for crispy peanut butter toffee truffles and Oreo truffles.
Remember, if you don’t like baking, store bought works just fine. It's all about having fun and distracting yourself from stress for a while. No matter what you're facing as a student, you'll feel a lot better after taking a break and eating something delicious. Enjoy and happy holidays!
New to cooking? Find super-easy and quick recipes for your microwave on the CollegeXpress YouTube channel!