June 20, 2024

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Free For All Food

12 Christmas cookie recipes to spice up your holiday repertoire

Almost everyone loves gingerbread, but sometimes it’s worth finding new additions to the holiday menu.

Food editor Kelly Brant created a 12-weeks-of-cookies series in 2012. The recipes have been republished below to help dessert lovers find new favorites this holiday season.

Cardamom-brown sugar snickerdoodles

  • 2 3 /4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, divided use
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1 /2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the cardamom and the salt in a large bowl.

Combine the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy, 2 or 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract. Scrape bowl as necessary.

Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Repeat two more times, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

Combine the granulated sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon of cardamom in a medium bowl. Use a tablespoon to scoop small balls of dough, a few at a time, into the sugar-cardamom mixture, then roll the pieces to coat them and lightly roll them into balls between your palms, pressing the sugar mixture into the dough. Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on each baking sheet.

Bake two sheets at a time for 5 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake 4 to 6 minutes more or until the tops of the cookies are crackled and the edges are just barely browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving or storing. Repeat to use all of the dough.

Makes about 84 small cookies. Recipe adapted from The Washington Post.

Thumbprint jammies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup seedless jam

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix well. On low speed, beat in flour, beating just until blended, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons spaced 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 6 minutes. Remove cookie sheets from oven and working quickly, press an indentation in the center of each mound of dough using a melon baller or the back of a spoon. Fill each indentation with jam (about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon). Return cookies to oven and bake 12 to 14 minutes more, or until cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on pans for several minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep at room temperature for 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.

Makes about 2 dozen. Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookie Lover’s Cookbook.

White chocolate chip cookies

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1 /4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3 /4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla powder
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until light and fluffy. Add half-and-half, vanilla extract and egg and beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and vanilla powder and mix well. Add flour mixture to shortening mixture, mix until just combined. Stir in white and semisweet chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons, 2 to 3 inches apart, on to prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown around the edges. Cool on pans for several minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Shortbread

  • 1 3 /4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (see note)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flours; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, vanilla and almond extracts until smooth and creamy. Add sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, espresso powder, salt and cayenne and mix on low speed until well blended. Add flour in thirds, mixing well between additions. Stir in the chocolate chips, mixing until combined.

Divide dough into walnut size balls. Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place on prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Using a cookie stamp, or the bottom of a drinking glass, gently flatten the balls. The cookies will crack around the edges. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 5 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the cookies burn. Remove cookies from the oven when they are set on the edges and the aroma of chocolate fills the kitchen. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Note: Look for almond flour, sometimes labeled almond meal, on the health-food aisle with the gluten-free baking blends and specialty flours. Recipe adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day

Honey-Spice Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt Very coarse sugar for rolling (see note)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, honey and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, blending on low speed until just combined.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter by 8 inches long. Wrap in parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap. To help maintain shape, slip rolled dough into an empty paper towel roll, if desired. Refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours or overnight, or place wrapped log in a freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap dough and roll dough in coarse sugar to coat. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place dough slices, 1 inch apart, on baking mat or parchmentlined baking sheet and bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown (frozen dough will take a little longer).

Cool cookies on cookie sheets for several minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Make about 4 dozen cookies. Note: We used turbinado sugar, sold under the brand name Sugar in the Raw.

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 clementine OR of 1/2 small orange
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate morsels

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and zest; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving plenty of space between mounds of dough.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for several minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets cool completely between batches.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Meyer Lemon and Black Pepper Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed, finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 4 medium lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, zest, baking powder, pepper and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl and beaters as necessary. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low until just incorporated. Dough will be crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until it comes together. Divide dough in half. Roll each portion into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

Remove the dough logs from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and slice the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds about 1/2 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are firm but the tops are still soft. Cool cookies on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 50 cookies. Recipe adapted from chow.com

Chocolate-Peppermint Candy Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup candy-coated mint chocolate pieces, divided use

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugars and shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, blending until just combined. Stir 3/4 cup of the candies in by hand.

Shape dough into walnut-size balls and arrange, spaced 2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Press several candies into the top of each dough ball. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until just beginning to turn golden brown. Cool on pans for several minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Cookies:

  • 1 3 /4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If using a stand mixer, add the flour and mix on lowest speed just until dough starts to pull away from the bowl. If using a handheld mixer, stir the flour in using a wooden spoon to avoid overmixing.

Drop dough by tablespoons spaced 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Using floured fingers, flatten each mound of dough to form a 2-inch disc. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool on pans for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, prepare the filling. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugars, butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Spread about 1 teaspoon filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Top with the flat side of the remaining cookies.

Makes 18 to 20 sandwich cookies. Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Note: We like the texture granulated sugar adds to the filling. However, if you prefer a completely smooth filling, omit the granulated sugar and increase the confectioners’ sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Fresh Ginger Cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided use
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and 1 cup of the sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, corn syrup, molasses and grated ginger and mix until well combined. Gradually add the flour, beat on low speed. Cover and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and the remaining sugar. Form the dough into small balls (about 1-inch) and roll each in the cinnamon sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets, flatten each ball slightly with the bottom of a glass and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Reese’s Minis Peanut Butter Cups (see note)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in peanut butter candies and chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: These are the smallest of the Reese’s. They are available in 8-ounce bags, already unwrapped. Look for them on the candy aisle. An 8-ounce bag will be ample enough for this recipe with plenty extra for snacking.

Classic Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (do not use margarine or shortening)
  • 1 1 /2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Frosting, sugar crystals, sprinkles and/or decorators’ icing

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour, mixing on slow speed and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper as necessary, mixing until just blended. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.

To bake:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to desired thickness (we found about 1/4-inch worked best). With floured 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible. Reserve trimmings.

If cookies will be used as a decoration, use a drinking straw to cut a hole in the top of each cookie. If desired, sprinkle cookies with sugar before baking.

Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. Cool cookies on baking sheets for several minutes, then, using a wide spatula, transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Repeat with trimmings. Store cookies in an airtight container, separated by layers of wax paper, for up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 50 (3-inch) cookies. Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookie Lover’s Cookbook.