Your Favorite Christmas Cookies!
- Dommy! Nov 30, 2005 04:55 PM
And in doing a quick search of the site... We haven't done this poll yet! :) What are your favorite Christmas Cookies to bake?
Bon Bons from the old Betty Crocker cookbook. They've been on the holiday cookie plate for generations in my family.
Like Thanksgiving, Christmas needs to be classic, with as few surprises as possible. With that in mind I nominate the penultimate Christmas cookie: Corny Spritz cookies in shapes like wreathes and Christmas trees, pumped out of a press and decorated by the kids with red and green sprinkles and those round gold and silver whatchamacallits (on the tip of my tongue - somebody help me). But being a stickler for fine flavor, please be sure to make them with fresh unsalted butter and the best vanilla - plenty of both.
Linzer tarts, Neopolitan Rainbow Cookies, Bakery Cookies (butter cookie sandwiches dipped in chocolate and sprinkles on one edge), rugelach, those are the traditional. But I've found a few similar but different one the last few years too. If I'm going to eat all those calories, it had better be special!!
Just the good old stand by of sugar cookies with butter cream frosting. One year when I was really pressed for time, I bought some of the Lofthouse sugar cookies for a work holiday party-BLECH. I always take the time now to make my own.
I always make Hermits - spice cookie w/raisins & nuts, coffee & sour cream. Also Russian Tea Cakes aka Mexican Wedding Cakes.
I love mexican wedding cakes, rosettes, sand castles and those chocolate cookies that are cracked on top and brushed with confectioners sugar.
Wafer thin anise flavored sugar cookies - with or without frosting, but always cut with Christmas shaped cookie cutters. Hershey's chocolate kiss "snowballs" with almond dough. Pineapple cake cookies. All from my grandmother.
Having baked about 30 dozen cookies today, I feel I can answer this question with some authority! I like to have a range of flavors, and this year I'm doing five: Lemon Sables (from Dorie Greenspan), Ginger "Hottendots" (MFK Fisher), Mexican Wedding Cakes (Joy), Linzers (CIA Baking at Home) and, thanks to Candy on this board, Chocolate Brownie cookies from Claudia Fleming. My favorites among these are either the lemon sables (fantastically crispy and lemony) or the linzers (made with toasted hazelnuts, these are staggeringly delicious and make the kitchen smell divine while you make the dough).
I am hoping to get to the old warhorse--Roll Cookies from the old Joy of Cooking, cut into festive shapes including that of my home state of Michigan (both peninsulas) and garishly decorated.
We always make the gingerbread men and chocolate coconut cookies from Fanny Farmer, and a recipe for toffee squares that I got years ago from a friend's mother. Though I'm thinking I might make Nigella's chocolate peanut squares instead this year.
My grandmother's Russian Tea Biscuit recipe, giant chocolate toffee cookies (epicurious), Double Chocolate Biscotti
christmas cookie baking is a major production in my house. so far i've got about 10 dozen in the freezer, and it'll probably be double that by the time i'm done. classics that must be made every year or else the cookie eaters will be extremely disappointed include decorated cutouts made from the ethel's sugar cookies recipe in the 1960s version of betty crocker's cookie book (a few years ago i switched from the betty crocker icing recipe to royal icing made with merigue powder because it holds the food coloring better and has a nice sheen) and chocolate peanut butter balls from a 1970s church cookbook. this year's first-time flavors include chocolate peppermint crinkles from epicurious, which came out really great, and an experiment with lemon snowball type cookies that are good but very tart. i still need to add some sort of nut and/or spice cookies to the collection - the most important thing is of course that the cookies taste good, but i also feel the need to have an interesting balance of shapes, textures, etc. on my cookie plates.
I have four cookies I make every year-apricot foldovers, lemon stars (rolled lemon cookies filled with lemon curd), craisin pistachio biscotti and champagnebrod (pressed cookie filled with apricot jam). Then there are the candies-candied fruit rind (lemon, grapefruit & orange), white chocolate craisin pistachio bark, almond buttercrunch and caramel corn.
re: AGM/Cape Cod
Your response to the cookie question is the first I've read so far but your four regulars sound so great, I have to ask: are you willing to share the recipes? My mother used to make an apricot cookie that had a single soaked dry apricot in a cream cheese cookie dough. Those lemon stars sound fantastic as well. Will you share? Please? Pretty Please?
re: Daniel Dumont
Yields approximately 6 dozen single-layer cookies or 3 dozen sandwich cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
Tiny pinch salt
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons light cream
¾ teaspoon lemon oil
1 cup white sugar
3 Tablespoons grated lemon rind
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone paper.
2. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix yolks, cream, and lemon oil together in a measuring cup.
3. Cream sugar with butter, lemon rind and shortening until lightened and pasty. Beat yolk mixture into creamed butter until just combined.
4. Add dry ingredients and beat until mixture begins to clump together (about 18 or 20 seconds on lowest speed of electric mixer).
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently to shape into a soft dough. (Can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 6 months).
6. Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll to about 1/8-inch thick on a well-floured work surface. Use cookie cuter of your choice to cut
out shapes. Using a spatula, transfer cut-outs to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart.
7. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
8. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.
I cut the cookies with a star cookie cutter. Then with an aspic cutter (you know those little tiny ones) I cut a star out of the middle of the cookies. It is probably better to bake a sheet of tops and bottoms separately since the tops with the cut out color faster. When they are cool I put a little lemon curd (I make my own using the recipe from Better than Store Bought by Helen Witty and Elizabeth Schneider Colchie.) on the bottom cookie. Then I top with the cut out star set offset. They will soften up with the lemon curd but are wonderful right away.
this is a long cooking process - you have to cook the peel until the sugar syrup is virtually gone (but not completely gone, otherwise the candy will scorch - so that the syrup reaches a high enough temperature thicken/candy - but not so that it gets hard.
will have to go back to the recipe book and repost after i do.
Sorry this is so late.
Makes 50 cookies
1/4 cup orange juice
6 Tablespoons sugar
4 ounces chopped dried apricots
1 1/4 cup unsifted flour
6 Tablespoons sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1. In a small saucepan, mix the orange juice, sugar and apricots.
2. Heat to boiling and reduce heat. Let simmer until the apricots are tender adding orange juice as needed to keep from burning.
3. Let cool. Will keep refrigerated for months.
1. In a large bowl or bowl of food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
2. With pastry blender or off-and-on pulse cut in the cream cheese and butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal.
3. With a fork or pulses mix in the sour cream just until the dough holds together in a ball.
4. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
6. Grease 2 large cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
7. Divide the dough into pieces. Working with one piece at a time, refrigerate the others.
8. On a floured surface roll the dough into a rectangle. Cut into 2-inch squares with a fluted pastry cutter.
9. Place a small amount of apricot filling in the center of the square and fold the opposite ends together and pinch closed. You may want to moisten the dough to seal it.
10. Place on cookie sheet and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.
11. Let cool on a wire rack.
Russian Tea Cakes, a really good thumbprint cookie filled with current jelly, my favorite fudge and sometimes gingerbread men and sugar cookies cut with cookie cutters or pressed cookies - all made with lots of butter!
I'm not a regular holiday cookie baker, but two things (one isn't really a cookie) that I've made in the past that I really like are biscotti w/ pistachios and dried cherries w/ a little orange zest (forget recipe source) and Mario Batali's almond brittle linked below. The brittle is super easy and super addictive!! Key is to use sliced almonds as specified. I use the bag from TJ's.
My all time favorites are cut out gingerbread cookies and sugar cookies decorated to the hilt with royal icing, dragées,crystal sugar and other wonders from Maid of Scandinavia.
I sit in stunned silence at the keyboard at how few Italian cookies have been mentioned so far!
Or is everybody too busy baking them...?
+ trudilli (wine balls rolled on cut glass, deep-fried and dipped in honey)
+ pistellis (botched spelling? anise wafer cookie)
+ anise knots (with pink frosting if you do it like Aunt Ella)
from just outside Bratislava...
+ crescent walnut rolls, and those same anise wafer cookies - someone else can explain how this and stuffed cabbage are the two cooking overlays between the Italians and the Slovaks...
and, added to the melting pot several decades ago
+ chewy molassas ginger cookies
my favorite italian christmas cookie would be pizzelles. what made them xmas-y was noni would cut the still-warm pizzelles into xmas shapes (trees, candy-canes, wreaths, etc.). the best part was we kids got to eat the scraps.
although many in the family make them, noni's pizzelles were the best. my dad and i always made a beeline for them as soon as we got to her house.
my all-time favorite (non-italian specific) xmas cookie, though, would be the lowly peanut butter blossom. not particularly sophisticated or anything, but it's the first xmas cookie i remember eating, and what's not to love about chocolate & peanut butter.
we make pizelle every year, too! and i always get the scraps and the "breakies".
we sometimes make pignolata, those little donut holes covered in syrup and piled on each other.
and i love snowball cookies - we make ours with dried figs and toasted walnuts.
but my fave xmas dessert is the homemade donuts we've been making each year since... forever.
Every year I make a dozen kinds of cookies, nut brittles, pralines and fudge. My favorite cookies are cuccidati, fig filled italian cookies. I got my recipe from Gourmet a few years ago, it looks involved but they break it into easy steps and they're always a hit.
I'm baking the following to send to friends and family.
Leckerli (The Art of Fine Baking - Paula Peck)
These should be made at least a week, preferably 2-3 weeks, before using, to enable Leckerli to mellow. In an airtight box, these will keep well for many months.
½ cup honey
1 cup sugar
¾ cup candied orange peel, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 ¼ cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon soda
¼ cup water
Place honey and ½ cup sugar in a saucepan. Cook, stirring over low heat, until mixture boils. Remove from heat. Add candied orange peel and grated lemon rind. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in sliced almonds, then the flour mixed with spices and baking soda. Cover dough and let mellow at room temperature for at least 2 days.
Set oven at 325 degrees. Grease and flour baking sheets. On a well-floured cloth, roll out dough 1/3 inch thick. Cut into bars 1 ½ x 3 inches. Place on baking sheets. Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.
Cook remaining sugar with ¼ cup water until it spins a thread (230 degrees). Brush each cooky with hot syrup. When completely cool, store in airtight box.
Yield: approximately 56.
Pfeffernusse (Peppernuts) (Joy of Cooking)
These cookies may firm up and even become hard during storage. To soften them slightly, add an apple slice wrapped in a paper towel or in an open plastic bag to the storage container. In a few days, the cookies will soften, and the apple can be discarded.
Whisk together thoroughly:
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon AP flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Beat until fluffy and well blended:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup slivered blanched almonds, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped candied orange peel
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with, in 2 parts:
3 tablespoons light or dark molasses
3 tablespoons brandy
Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days to allow the flavors to blend. To bake, position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
Pull of pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into scant ¾ inch balls. Space about 1 inch apart on the sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are faintly tinged with brown on top and slightly darker at the edges, 12-14 minutes; rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let the cookies stand briefly. Roll the cookies until well coated in:
½ to 2/3 cup powdered sugar
Let cool completely.
Ginger Snaps (Joy of Cooking)
For very crunchy cookies, overbake slightly; for more tender ones, underbake by a minute or two. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
Whisk together thoroughly:
3 ¾ cups AP flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
Beat on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended:
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
Add and beat until well combined:
2 large eggs
½ cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest
Stir the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Pull of pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls. Space about 1 ½ inches apart on the sheets. Pat down the balls to flatten the tops just slightly.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are tinged with brown and just firm when lightly pressed in the center on top, 10-13 minutes; rotate the sheet halfway through the baking for even browning. (The cookies flatten and develop cracks during baking.) Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool.
My favorite are Pecan Diamonds although mine are usually rectangles, can't quite get the diamond thing.
My mom's fruit drop cookies, loved even by most fruitcake haters. The batter is so thick once I add all the good stuff, I have to mix it with my hands.
We make more candy than cookies--my husband's chocolate creams (from his grandfather) are amazing. But I like to try something new every year. This year it will be the apricot almond shortbread bar cookies in this month's Bon Appetit.
I recently bought Rose Levy Beranbaum's Christmas Cook Book on eBay. I have been licking the pages. Every one of her recipes is beautiful and delicious.
I always do Chocolate Rads - chocolate espresso cookies with big chocolate chip chunks and walnuts. They get more comments than any of the others I make. It's from a December 1992 issue of Bon Appetit, I think.
Don't know what they are called but-top-rice crispies w/peanut butter and butterscotch chips.bottom pure melted semi-sweet choc chips.