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Need a cookie recipe to knock new hubbie's (and in-law's) socks off

Starting tomorrow I'm off of work for 3 weeks so I have a lot of time on my hands. I promised my new husband that I would make Christmas cookies this year for him and he seemed to REALLY like that idea. It's our first married Christmas, and I kind of sort of have an "Everybody Loves Raymond" Italian mother-in-law that makes the most amazing kolaczki cookies (we're in Chicago so that makes sense). My husband hoards them every Christmas from her. Lots of pressure!

There are so many Christmas cookie recipes out there that it's extremely overwhelming. I'm looking for something that will impress the large in-law family. Not looking to conquer, just to impress. I know this is the place to find something like that.


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  1. I would start with your childhood or family favorites--at least you'll score points for nostalgia and tradition there. You could also roll with the kitsch which would get you out of the whole competition thing entirely but still be tasty and funny. Those crazy green special K wreaths with the red hots for berries are addictive--and a huge PITA to make.
    What about some kind of super crafty thing--there is a cookie cutter set out there that makes reindeer cookie parts that you assemble into 3D reindeer that stand up. Throw some wee little gum paste decorations on those and you will be golden.
    Or there's always the super neurotically decorated royal icing cutouts, my personal favorite. Nothing beats a really tasty, buttery sugar cookie and when it's a work of art and wonder, people go bonkers and think you a kitchen wizard. My trick is to add a few drops of lemon oil or other flavoring oil to the icing so that it has a little pop.
    Otherwise, the standards when done well and with really good butter are hard to beat--spritz, Russian tea cakes, linzer cookies, date filled--all some of my family favorites.
    Almond toffee? I could eat a whole batch and it's easy. Truffles in some exotic flavor?

    1 Reply
    1. re: splatgirl

      I like your take on going about this in a unique way! I'm tempted to do Snicker Doodles, my all time favorite kid cookie. Will look into those three cookies you listed that your family likes. The date ones sound really good.

    2. There are so many cookies that could do that--is there a particular type you'd like, eg cut outs (for the season like gingerbread), chocolate based, filled, rolled in sugar, etc? What types of cookies does your husband like? Do you want a special occasion cookie or would an every day chocolate chip, peanut butter or oatmeal work? Is appearance equally important?

      4 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Definitely looking for a special occasion cookie. Appearance isn't crucial but I also don't want it to look like a 5 year old made them lol...

        I know he likes anything peanut butter, anything raspberry, and loves the kolaczki cookies, so I would say he likes buttery cookies and fruit filled cookies too.

        1. re: Mojave

          What about rugelach? I can link to some good recipes if you'd like.

          1. re: chowser

            I'd love to see those recipes, if you have some you like :)

      2. Italian rainbow cookies aren't as hard to make as they look, and always get the highest praise. I have to hide them or my husband eats them all before I can give them out.

        This isn't my recipe but to give you a general idea


        2 Replies
        1. re: coll

          Concur, especially for the described mom in law. My recipe is another very old and elusive one that you don't see circulated. When I first started making them in my early 20's the recipe was only the ingredients and 3 lines of instructions, now it looks like a thesis. I smile when I think now of my first batch ever, they're much nicer now.

          1. re: coll

            Very nice - I would "win" with something like that, even if they didn't turn out.

          2. Mojave: would a brownie recipe do? I have a great Amaretto truffle brownie recipe, if you want. (And you can either start with homemade brownies or even boxed--but docotored--ones for it.)

            3 Replies
            1. re: pine time

              That sounds really good - probably not for Christmas but I would definitely store it away for future use.

              1. re: pine time

                ooh, please share! I have a friend who would love those!

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  In my own words...asterisks are my comments at the end

                  Amaretto Truffle Brownies

                  21 1/2 oz pack Pillsbury Fudge Brownie Mix *
                  1/2 c oil
                  1/3 c water
                  2 Tbl Amaretto (or 1 Tsp almond extract)
                  1 egg
                  3/4 c chopped blanched almonds

                  8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
                  1/4 c confectioner's sugar
                  6 oz (1 c) semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
                  2-3 Tbl Amaretto (or 1 tsp almond extract)

                  1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
                  1/4 c whipping cream
                  1 Tbl Amaretto
                  1/2 c sliced almonds, toasted

                  Heat oven to 350. Grease 13x9" baking pan. Combine all brownie ingredients, beat 50 strokes by hand (*over the years, packaged brownie mixes have cut down on the weight. Find one that's for a 13x9" pan, and slightly reduce the oil and water. OR--use your own favorite homemade one, with the addition of the Amaretto & almonds). Bake 26-33 minutes--do not overbake. Cool completely.

                  Filling: Beat cream cheese & powdered sugar until smooth. Add melted chocolate and 2 Tbl Amaretto until well blended. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.

                  Ganache: Over low heat, melt 1/2 c chocolate chips with whipping cream and Amaretto, stirring constantly. Spread over chilled filled brownies. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Store in refrigerator.

              2. Our big holiday cookies are peanut butter bon bons. My grandmother made them every year, and I've never met anyone who doesn't like them. I make them for some of the old men at my golf course, and they (literally) fight over them and refuse to share them with anyone else. My sister's neighbors wait and wait for her to make them every year, and get all upset if she doesn't. It's a very easy recipe, too. Here's what you need:

                2 c peanut butter

                1 stick butter (I'm doing this from memory, but I'm pretty sure it's one stick)

                4 c powdered sugar

                3 c rice krispies

                1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

                1 bag butterscotch chips

                Melt the peanut butter and butter in a sauce pan until smooth. In a big bowl, combine powdered sugar and rice crispies. Pour peanut butter mixture over sugar/rice crispie mixture. Mix.

                Form into 1'' balls and chill for half an hour or so.

                Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler. I like to use a tablespoon or so of crisco to thin it out so it coats nicely. Coat about half the balls with the chocolate. Then do the same with the butterscotch. I like to thin out the butterscotch with crisco too.

                You should make both kinds, because people can never decide which kind they like best.

                I promise, people LOVE these. They sound like those other buckeye things, but they're WAY better. Not as heavy.

                10 Replies
                1. re: overthinkit

                  That sounds AMAZING. My husband (well, me too) is a peanut butter fiend. Even if I don't go with this for the Christmas party, I'm still making them! Thank you!

                  1. re: Mojave

                    you're welcome! I'll double check on the amount of butter tonight and let you know if that's right.

                    1. re: overthinkit

                      I made something very similar last year, but used almond butter in lieu of peanut butter--delicious.

                  2. re: overthinkit

                    Oh and also, I don't have a double boiler. I can probably borrow one from someone, but is there another way to go about doing that? Maybe in the over on a really low temp or something...

                    1. re: Mojave

                      An appropriately sized pyrex or stainless bowl over an appropriately sized saucepan. I've never had a double boiler, per se, but I've got a couple of bowl/pan combo's that happen to work perfectly.

                      1. re: Mojave

                        oh, sure! sorry, I don't have one either. I should have mentioned that.

                        Put some water in a saucepan and put a bowl (metal if you have it) on top, one that fits snugly into the top of the saucepan. The water shouldn't actually touch the bottom of the

                        bowl. Bring the water to a simmer. The chocolate will melt as the bowl gets warm.

                        One year in college I used one of my roommate's ceramic cereal bowls on top of a saucepan and that worked just fine too.

                        In a pinch I suppose you could try microwaving, but I've never done that. Make sure to thin the chocolate out with crisco.

                        Make sure your bowl is dry, too. Water will make the chocolate seize up.

                          1. re: Mojave

                            I was right about the butter (1/2 c) but looks like that should be 4.5 c powdered sugar.
                            Good luck!

                      2. re: overthinkit

                        I was just thinking "those sound like Buckeyes, but why on earth would you sully the perfection of a Buckeye with rice krispies???" : ) Anyway, to the OP - if you are PB fiends you would LOVE Buckeyes. I have a couple of recipes - one from my mother/grandmother and another from a friend, all Ohio natives. I prefer my mom's because it's what I grew up with, but my friend's recipe is good too, just a little different texture. I'll post when I'm at my home computer.

                        1. By any chance do you have her kolaczki recipe? Would love it if you would share!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Pomander

                            Sure! I'll ask her to email it to me and post it when I get it.

                            1. re: Mojave

                              Thanks - I so appreciate it :-)

                              1. re: Pomander

                                I posted this at the bottom of the page :)

                                1. re: Mojave

                                  Got it! Many thanks! My mother used to make kolaczki and I never got the recipe for the pastry. Will definitely give this a try; this sounds right - I remember cream cheese for sure. Merry Christmas, Mojave. I hope all of your dishes turn out great!

                          2. Trader Joe's has mini peanut butter cups. I can also find them in a clear plastic container in the bakery section of our chain supermarket (Hannaford). If you can't find these, Reese's now makes what they call mini peanut butter cups that are unwrapped. These are too big but if that's all you can find just chop them up , leaving some small chunks. Use these instead of chocolate chips in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

                            I also make a Rice Krispy treat that sound similar to the one posted but they are called Scotcheroos. The combination of butterscotch and chocolate mixed together is magical. Everyone likes Rice Krispy treats.

                            I respectfully suggest you not try to copy your MIL's recipe unless you have her express permission. I'm a MIL and I kind of like having a few recipes that only I make. (And I don't try to compete with my DIL's famous peanut butter pie.)

                            Snickerdoodles are a nice cookie, too.

                            1. The Salted Peanut Toffee Cookies and the Ultrathin Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Alice Medrich's "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies" were both stupendous. The ultrathin chocolate chunk cookies just got better with age--one batch lasted us about two weeks-. The peanut cookies were the very best peanut butter cookies I've ever tasted. Both of these cookies are far from run of the mill, unlike other cookies I've had, and if my experience with two recipes is any indication, the rest of the cookies in this book are also very special cookies. I plan on trying others, just haven't got around to them yet.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: janniecooks

                                jannie, thank you for suggesting that book. I am going to try a few of the recipes as it has now appeared a few times on the radar. Where did you get the toffee peanuts? I am thinking Trader Joe's?

                                1. re: peppermint_sky

                                  I never heard of "toffee peanuts" before reading this book, couldn't find anything labeled "toffee peanuts" in my local grocery or drug stores (which usually offer a vast selection of candies and other junk foods), and there is no Trader Joe's within a couple hundred miles, so I substituted honey roasted peanuts. Worked just fine.

                                  The salted toffee peanut cookies were the first cookies I made from this book and they were so good I was excited to try her other recipes. Love, love, love this book!

                                  1. re: janniecooks

                                    thanks for the response, jannie. I am going to get my hands on that book in the next few days! Could you suggest other favorites from the book?

                                    1. re: janniecooks

                                      toffee peanuts are covered in a buttery toffee/candy shell. if you have a Walmart, Kmart or Target near you, check the snack food aisle. and come to think of it, you might even find them at gas station convenience stores or 7-Eleven.

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Thanks for the tip, I'll check them out. Based on your description I would imagine that using the right peanut will take these cookies to a level way beyond the goodness I achieved with the plain old honey roast peanuts!

                                      2. re: janniecooks

                                        yes, please tell jannie, what other recipes of the book have you tried and loved? I just got the book today from our library!

                                        1. re: smilingal

                                          Ah, I am new to this book as well - though I have read about it from time to time I only actually read the book at the end of October for the first time. So what with the holidays and all, still I've only made the two cookies I mentioned. The cookies I plan to try next are the hazelnut sticks (looks so simple), the hazelnut molasses cookies (bought too many hazelnuts for holiday cooking); snickerdoodles, ginger cookies, fruit and nut bars, tropical lace cookies, goldies and sesame sticks. It will probably take me more than a year to try all these, as we're a household of just two and one batch of cookies will last us weeks!

                                          1. re: smilingal

                                            I made the Hazelnut Sticks last week and the results were equal to the effort. That is, these were very quick and easy to put together, but the cookies weren't all that. And I had to bake them more than twice as long as suggested before they started to brown. There was little to no flavor from the hazelnuts. These sticks are just sweet and crispy, but little flavor. Perhaps a stick or two with a cup of tea would be okay, but there are so many other cookies that make you say "wow" that these (and the sesame sticks) are going off the list.

                                            1. re: janniecooks

                                              my book isn't due back to the library till Feb 4th - and maybe I can even renew it - so I greatly appreciate you're sharing with me your experiences! Perhaps I can return the favor one day! lol

                                      3. re: janniecooks

                                        Chow just published the recipe for the Salted Peanut Toffee Cookies, for those without the book: http://www.chow.com/recipes/30236-sal...

                                      4. Took two "knock the socks off" to my latest cookie exchange. They both came off the internet and both were fantastic. 1. Rosemary & Pine Nuts from http://wwwfinecooking.com/recipes/ros... 2. Space Dust Cookies from http://www.cooking.com/recipes-and-mo...
                                        I had several other type cookies on the platter, but once word about these babies circled the room, they were both gone in a flash!! Each is different from any cookie I have ever made and each is wonderful in its own way. Light, airy, delicious.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: amazinc

                                          none of the links works for me -- even those you link below

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              ghg, thanks for those links; you are the undisputed master of links! ;-)).

                                              that space dust recipe -- with almond *stuff* -- oh yeah!!! might be a lighter version of my absolute fave, the almond horn: http://www.odense.com/index.php?page=...

                                              here is kattyeye's version, with feline observer in photo: http://kattyskitchen.wordpress.com/20...

                                              the rosemary and pine nut cookie is intriguing. without the vanilla and less sugar, it sounds like it would be a good cocktail "cookie".... i guess i'd try it as written, though. rosemary can really take over. 1 1/2 t. for a small batch...i guess that is not so much.

                                          1. re: amazinc

                                            Thank you Amazinc!

                                            I was looking for a quick shortbread-like cookie to make this morning and decided to try your Space Dust Cookies. Quick, easy, boom, done! My only tweaks - I did not have Irish butter so I used unsalted Land O Lakes, and I had some Cocoa Roast Almonds I wanted to use up, so those were my almonds. I made the cookies small, so I got 40 rather than 30.

                                            Taste - Excellent melt in your mouth shortbread style cookie! They're being boxed up now for gifts. Photos below.

                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                              niiiiice, trish! love those cocoa almonds. neat idea to use them.

                                              1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                Wow Trish, those look great. You make a lot of cookies for the Holidays. :)

                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                  Thanks Alkapal and Mcel. I did make a lot of cookies this year. That's because I gave them as gifts. Here are my final two (for now anyway):

                                                  Black Bottom Cookie Bars (like a variation on a chocolate chip cookie)
                                                  Gooey Mixed Nut Bars (taste like pecan pie

                                                  Packed them in boxes so I don't indulge...

                                                  1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                    Very nice! What are the black bottom cookies?

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      Here's a link to the story about the Black Bottom Cookie Bars. At the top of the story you can click on the recipe.


                                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                        Very simple--I love that! Thanks. They remind me a little of Dorie Greenspan's chipster brownies, brownies topped w/ chocolate chip cookie dough. Doubly good.

                                              1. Drat!! Don't know why that whole thing won't print, but if you want, I'll post the recipe or maybe
                                                you can find it by just going to the site. These are definitely worth the trouble to fine the recipe.

                                                1. since you hub likes butter cookies, why not Linzer Tarts... or to gild the lily... Peanut Butter Linzer Tarts (with the cookies made using toasted ground peanuts)?

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    That sounds great, like a pb and j cookie. Do you have a recipe for that?

                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                      PB Linzers
                                                      190 g cake flour
                                                      180 g peanut flour (ground peanuts)
                                                      1/4 tsp salt
                                                      150 g unsalted butter, softened (sometimes i brown it, and then let it resolidify in the fridge and soften it only for 5-10 min or so before using)
                                                      75 g freshly ground peanut butter
                                                      100g granulated sugar
                                                      35 g powdered sugar
                                                      (or sometimes i do 75g granulated, 25g dark brown, 35g powdered)
                                                      1-2 tsp vanilla
                                                      1 egg
                                                      1 egg yolk
                                                      (or 2 egg yolks)
                                                      jam of choice (i like to use grape, strawberry or apricot -- i've also done banana pureed with honey and reduced over heat a bit, then chilled to set.)
                                                      powdered sugar, for dusting

                                                      whisk together dry.
                                                      beat butter, PB, and sugars til blended but not creamed.
                                                      add vanilla, then eggs, then gently the dry until just combined. chill. roll. cut. bake. cool. fill :)

                                                      1. re: Emme

                                                        Thanks! I don't ever use recipes in grams so I'm thankful my scale has that option--I only use oz. I have no idea how much 190 grams of flour is (I know I can just google it). Do you just ground peanuts finely, w/out making peanut butter, or do you buy the peanut flour?

                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          roughly 6.7 oz. for me somewhere between 1 1/3 - 1 1/2 cups. sorry, i go back and forth between grams and ounces. i personally prefer the precision of grams. if building a recipe from the ground up, i prefer to start with grams.

                                                          i'm lazy - i buy peanuts - toast em and grind em til powdered... careful though, that peanut butter stage hits fast... (i do this for a chochazel cookie i make as well)

                                                  2. here are my go-tos:

                                                    Apricot Butter cookes -http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... just make sure you don't make them ANY wider than 1 1/2 inches...don't let them spread out when you dig the little trench or they will break in the middle. Wish there was a picture, they are little jewels, and fast to make because of the slicing.

                                                    AGain, a pic would be helpful. these bars were in an article called "Heart of Tartness", so that's what I call them. Addictive. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                    The cookie that my friends know me for and will sometimes ask for is this recipe of my grandmothers. It's just a basic Mexican WeddingCookie, quite similar to one popping up on Chow recipes right now w/ pistacios. I am just going to copy below from the recipe and instructions I wrote up for a friend. Instructions are long only because I am verbose; the cookies are deceptively simple.

                                                    Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, Cocoons, and some Czechoslovakian word I can’t get close enough to even Google.

                                                    I was invited to a Feliz Navidad party, and assigned the dessert. My first thought was “Ah Ha! I can make Mexican wedding cookies, and add the extras to my Christmas cookie collection.” I wondered if the snowy little pecan shortbread balls were really Mexican, or if it were just a made-up-name, like French Fries.

                                                    Well, it turns out they really are traditional Mexican cookies. They are served as favors at weddings in Mexico, usually wrapped in tissue paper. They also have all the other names in the title, and more. The first time my husband tasted these he yelled out some word with mostly consonants. Apparently this was a cookie his Czech grandmother used to make. It seems that many cultures have a version of this cookie.

                                                    The cookie is also old-time Southern. The notes in the cookbook my mother made for me say, “This is the only ‘fancy’ Christmas cookie I can remember Mama making. Her Christmas sweets were fresh coconut cake and fruitcake, not things kids liked. These were special to us.” My Mom (and grandmother) shape these into ovals and call them “Cocoons”. I don’t really care for that imagery, frankly.

                                                    These are super-easy to make, but you either need a stand mixer or a very strong arm. If you don’t have a stand mixer, it will be critical to get the butter to room temperature before you start. They aren’t exactly low-fat. I try to think about something else when I’m tossing sticks of butter in the bowl.

                                                    2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter
                                                    ½ cup powdered sugar (plus a whole lot extra for rolling
                                                    )2 cups all purpose flour
                                                    2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
                                                    1 cup chopped (medium fine) pecans

                                                    Preheat the oven to 325. Beat butter until soft and creamy. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar and flour. Add the vanilla, then the pecans. Beat on low until completely combined.

                                                    Roll dough into balls somewhere between the size of a marble and a golf ball. You should get 40-45. Place on 2 ungreased cookie sheets, bake for about 25-30 minutes. Rotate the sheets halfway through. They should just start to color a little bit…don’t let them brown.

                                                    Meanwhile, get a plate of powdered sugar ready and some cooling racks. As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, start rolling them in powdered sugar and place them on the racks. This is the most important part. You’ll see there’s not much sugar in the recipe. The sweetness comes from the powdered sugar adhering to the warm cookie, melting a little bit, and forming a coating.

                                                    Then let the cookies cool completely. Roll them again in the powdered sugar. This time it should not melt, but look like powdered sugar. The cookies will keep for several weeks tightly covered at room temperature.

                                                    These were a hit at the party, I hope you enjoy, whatever you decide to call them.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: danna

                                                      <The first time my husband tasted these he yelled out some word with mostly consonants. Apparently this was a cookie his Czech grandmother used to make. It seems that many cultures have a version of this cookie.>

                                                      Love it!!

                                                    2. There are a couple of holiday baking threads going on now. I am in the Christmas-cookies-must-be-season-specific camp. Preferably cut out and decorated, but definitely not chocolate chip, oatmeal, or other cookies you'd see any time of year. You could decide on a cookie that will be "your" special holiday tradition. I'd recommend looking for one of Martha Stewart's special magazine issues. She does (or did) a holiday baking edition of her magazine every December (in addition to the regular monthly issue). They are bound to be available on eBay.

                                                      This is going off the reservation, but here's a version of truly edible fruitcake (no ghastly citron or candied peels) that you can make your own, depending on your choice of flavors: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5808... "Marie" will never have come across such a recipe. It keeps very well in the fridge so it would still be good in January when the other Christmas baked goods are gone.

                                                      1. Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1940 - 2008. The Gourmet website pages were
                                                        taken down, but you can access the pages and recipes at Archive.org - Wayback Machine:

                                                        Give these links a minute to load the page after clicking on it.

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1940s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1950s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1960s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1970s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1980s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 1990s

                                                        Gourmet Magazine Favorite Cookies 2000s


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                          Thanks! I think it would be fun to have an "old-fashioned" tried and true recipe

                                                        2. Another cookie that I would make:

                                                          I'd probably sub regular cocoa for the chocolate and just keep it simple to test-drive. Gorgeous!

                                                          27 Replies
                                                          1. re: lilgi

                                                            i can't believe you didn't suggest your spiced ginger cookies!

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              I recommended those specifically for that thread where the op that was requesting a spiced cookie, and it is one of my favorites but holiday trays are a whole different animal.

                                                              The Rainbow/Venetian cookies are my most requested for the holidays and every year I have to make more. I'm up to 5 batches now and each make about 60 to 80 (sometimes more). The second favorites are the iced Italian anise (anginetti/angelonie). Kourambiedes and Pasticcini di pasta di madorle (cherry topped almond meringues) are also usual suspects, but I try to play with other new recipes every year.

                                                              I'm really feeling these that I just posted though! I'll need to get black cocoa powder for the pronounced color.

                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                those checkerboards are pretty. i don't know if i'm feeling the strawberry, but they sure do look cool ;)

                                                                count me in for the anise (of course!) and the rainbow cookies...the first time i tried one, i was shocked by the flavor because it didn't taste the way it looked and i LOVED it. really, how can you go wrong with chocolate, apricot, raspberry & almond?

                                                                if you don't have a local source for the onyx cocoa, you can always order it online from KAF or Surfas/Culinary District.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  The ones I make are with strawberry preserves :(. Ya can't please everyone right? I don't even eat these myself, yet each year I have to make more. I think I saw only one other member here with the same recipe, just extract - no almond paste. And margarine (yep). I'll have to look to see who posted it.

                                                                  My mind is on those checkerboards now. I'd like it with strawberry, sure you could do plain and use coloring. I'm not feeling the black pepper with these, I'd leave that out. I'll try a local place by me on Central Avenue first for that cocoa, I did see it at KAF.

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    A mugshot. It's 4 am here in NY, done with these, now moving on to the other thugs. Ghg these would probably be great with almond flour, haven't tried it that way yet.

                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                      gorgeous!!!! bravo :)

                                                                      p.s. you know i'm back on East Coast time now, right?

                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                          well, my return wasn't really by choice but i'm going to try to make the best of it!

                                                                          BTW, i've been *craving* those damn cookies since last night ;)

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            I hesitated posting these the first time because the instructions are long. This one has been requested many times that I've written every step out; hopefully your first batch comes out as good as any others you make afterwards but obviously a little practice helps.

                                                                            Feel free to use butter, but they will have much more of a drier, cakey feel and less of that is more with these. Also don't overcook the layers when using butter because the layers tend to be less flexible (breakage because they're thin). People will still love them with butter, just not as much and the strawberry is always favored much more than any other flavor which of course you can switch according to preference. I've also changed the colors a bit; 2 shades of red plus yellow (more organic). Here's to hoping you enjoy a little gluten free happiness over the holidays!

                                                                            ITALIAN SEVEN LAYER COOKIES/RAINBOW COOKIES/VENETIAN COOKIES

                                                                            These need to be prepared at least 48 hours in advance. They can be frozen successfully and defrosted the same day of serving. The preserves can be heated and strained in advance - refrigerate until ready to use. If you prefer to use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon fine salt to the mix. These cookies are best served chilled.
                                                                            1 18-ounce jar Strawberry preserves
                                                                            8 large eggs
                                                                            2 cups sugar
                                                                            2 cups flour
                                                                            2 cups (4 sticks) margarine (80% vegetable oil)
                                                                            2 teaspoons pure almond extract
                                                                            1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
                                                                            Red and Green food coloring
                                                                            1 24-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
                                                                            4 Tablespoons corn or vegetable oil
                                                                            waxed paper
                                                                            3 9 x 12-inch jelly roll pans
                                                                            Pam cooking spray
                                                                            3 cooling racks


                                                                            Melt the margarine in a small saucepan and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, gently heat and strain the jar of preserves. You will have less preserves than what you started with but will be plenty to cover the layers.

                                                                            Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a rack in the center of oven. Grease and line 3 9x12 jelly roll pans with wax paper, leaving excess paper one each of the longer sides to use as handles - this makes it easier to lift the cooked layers gently out of the pans. Spray the tops of the waxed paper with cooking spray.

                                                                            Whip eggs in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, then add extracts. Beat in sugar. Lower speed and incorporate flour, then melted margarine. Divide the liquid batter equally into 3 separate bowls. Add about 16 drops of red food coloring to one bowl, green to another, and leave the third bowl of batter a plain yellow.

                                                                            Pour one bowl of batter into each prepared pan, spreading the batter out into each corner. Lift the pans a few inches from the counter and drop, helps even out the layers a bit. Place 2 pans on the center rack and bake for about about 14 minutes, or until the tops lose their sheen and show signs of tiny air bubbles dispersed evenly throughout. (Careful not to overcook when using butter). If one layer is slightly thicker than another it may take an extra minute to cook. Remove from the oven and cook the third pan for about 12 minutes (keep an eye on it, this one will cook faster because it is alone and had a chance to sit longer). Meanwhile, let the first cooked layers sit for 5 minutes before removing them - run a sharp knife around the sides, lift the corners with the tip of your knife as if taking a peek. Gently lift the layers carefully using the excess on each side and set on wire racks to cool. Remove third pan from the oven when ready, and repeat by removing the layer from the pan after cooling 5 minutes. You now have 3 layers cooling on racks. Take the same knife and loosen the stuck edges of each layer from the paper. While layers are cooling on the racks, wash and dry the jelly roll pans; you will need 2 of them for assembly.


                                                                            Line a jelly roll pan with a clean sheet of waxed paper leaving some excess on the sides. Once the layers have cooled and are no longer in danger of breaking when handled, gently remove one colored layer from the waxed paper and center it on one of the lined jelly roll pans. (The fresh paper on the bottom prevents the layers from sticking to the pan after being weighted overnight.) Spread the top of this layer with some of the preserves. Don't add too much or your cookies will be messy after slicing, use just enough to make the layers adhere.

                                                                            Using both hands to catch the second layer, preferably the yellow one, gently invert the layer directly on top of the first fruit covered layer. Carefully peel off the wax paper and spread the top of this yellow layer with more of the fruit. You're done with the preserves, save the leftover fruit for another use.

                                                                            Use both hands to catch the third layer, and gently invert directly on top of the second/middle fruit covered layer. Cover the top surface of this layer with a clean sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Place a jelly roll pan directly on top, rims up, and weigh down the layers with canned food, bottled water, or a large heavy pot with water. You'll need to make room in the refrigerator to weight the layers overnight.

                                                                            Adding the Outer Chocolate Layers

                                                                            Remove the layers from the refrigerator and peel off the plastic or wax paper. Melt the chocolate and vegetable oil in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan with boiling hot water, stirring frequently and away from the burner. Once chocolate has melted wipe the bottom of the heat-proof bowl and set aside the hot water (if you leave the chocolate bowl over heat it might separate and you need the rest of the chocolate later). Pour chocolate over the top surface, leaving at least half in the pan to coat the other side later on. Smooth over quickly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon allowing the excess to drip over the sides. Set the rest of the chocolate aside until ready to use again. Refrigerate the layers until the chocolate layer sets.

                                                                            Remove the layers from the refrigerator - Place a clean sheet of waxed paper on top of the chocolate surface with excess on each side. Place a cookie pan on top, and very carefully invert to expose the other side of the layers. (For this step place a larger jelly roll pan if you have one with the rims facing up before inverting, so that when you invert the layers, the rims of the bottom pan are face down against the counter and don't interfere later with slicing the cookies.) Reheat the remaining chocolate in the bowl over hot water stirring frequently. Spread the surface with the rest of the chocolate. and refrigerate until set.

                                                                            Slicing the Cookies

                                                                            Keep some damp paper towels nearby. Use a sharp knife to cut the layers directly on cookie sheet into rectangles. Slice off a thin strip from each side before you begin slicing the cookies to remove the excess fruit/chocolate drips. The cookies will slice clean if you wipe the blade frequently. Try to keep the cutting area clean as you go.

                                                                            Cookies can also be cut the following way: cut even strips in one direction along the length or width of the layers. Flip each strip on its side so that the colors are facing up and slice through the cookies in desired size. This helps keep the chocolate cracking to a minimum. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
                                                                            Btw when bringing these to an event where others have brought the same, yours are the ones that will go. Happens every time!

                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                              i wasn't implying that you should post your recipe! i can't believe you went to all that trouble. thanks :) the strawberry is a nice twist. i've always been partial to the traditional apricot & raspberry, but i may have to do an experiment one of these days.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                Well I'm glad she did post, I just finished icing my rainbows (36 years and counting); adding the bit of oil to the chocolate solved my problem of it cracking. It looks smoother and nicer to boot. Thanks lilgi!

                                                                                I usually do raspberry and apricot, but if I accidentally run out, have used all kinds of berry preserves instead, as I always have more jam than I can eat hanging around. Yes I'm a compulsive jam hoarder. Main thing is NO SEEDS, after that anything goes. Doesn't actually make a very noticable difference, at least not that I've heard. The almond cake is the star! Making the cake different colors than the Italian flag is interesting, I like where someone said recently they made a red, white and blue for Fourth of July.

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  Main thing is NO SEEDS
                                                                                  definitely! i'm thinking seedless blackberry would play nicely with apricot too. i can't wait to have my own kitchen again so i can get back to playing with all this stuff!

                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                    I had a jar of seedless blackberry on hand, because sometimes you can't find seedless raspberry this time of year. I am really amazed at how Rainbow Cookies have become so popular for home bakers, even beginners. The good thing is, it's a lot easier to get almond paste lately, so two sides to the coin!

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      or if you're crazy like i am, you make your own almond paste.

                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                        I have a recipe in case it ever comes to it. I think I still have it anyway.

                                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                                    Coll, you'll still have some crackage but hopefully much less.

                                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                                      I had zero crackage, for the first time in years. And as I said, it looks nicer too. Old dogs and new tricks!

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        Nice! I get cracks sometimes anyway, maybe I rush. We all help each other get another stripe ;D (But 24 and 36 years - I think we have 4 stars by now).

                                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                                          I've started cutting it much sooner than I used to, which helps a little too. The longer it sits, the more brittle it gets. And room temp is critical, I used to do it ice cold.

                                                                                          No recipe is ever complete with me, something my husband often complains about. Glad I looked your instructions over!

                                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                                            Excellent, I noticed my last batch got taken out much quicker this time and I don't think I had one single crack. I'm usually relaxed by the time they're chilling and I forget about them, that's probably why I end up cutting the strips on their sides. Thanks to you too! I don't trmember how long they were in there but I'm thinking about 30 to 45 minutes.

                                                                                            Btw I don't know if you've ever gotten to trying them with the strawberry, but if not please do. It's how I got this recipe (through a party thrown for a friend at the time) and everyone just raved about them. It might be the use of extracts only since the almond is less pronounced, can't say for sure. One other member posted on a thread a while back the same, that they love using strawberry and they just disappear. This year I used Strawberry-Peach - they were good, but not as much.

                                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                                              I will try the other flavors throughout this year, for sure. Strawberry would be great for Easter. I am also planning on making a rainbow cookie cake at some point, which is all the rage lately. I'm seeing them in every Italian bakery now.


                                                                                              1. re: coll

                                                                                                I made the mallorca bread on her blog and the rolls were wonderful! I'll be making those again soon. As pretty as the rainbow cake is it's not for me though, I much prefer the tiny little bites I get from the cookies.

                                                                                                And as you mentioned Easter I had the same thought about Valentines Day - strictly red and cream colored cookies with white chocolate instead of dark.

                                                                                  3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                    No problem, wrote it out years ago, and it would have been more trouble to shorten it for someone like yourself so I just copied it, hope you're not offended. Blackberry might be a bit of a bully for these, but certainly worth trying.

                                                                                  4. re: lilgi

                                                                                    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us!

                                                                              1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                                                                Thanks!!! Now, back to work again :/

                                                                    2. Biscotti can be very good, and they're Italian, and in my view seem sophisticated. I love the recipe from the Tartine bakery cookbook, but any good biscotti recipe will do. You can get a traditional holiday flavor by adding a tablespoon of fresh orange zest, plus a little mace or nutmeg, and even some orange oil or liqueur if you want to go nuts (ha). Your add-ins can be red and green: craisins and pistachios. Or experiment with whatever great dried fruits and nuts are in your area.

                                                                      1. I have found the best site to go to for "old fashioned" (and often the most appreciated) Christmas cookie recipes is allrecipes.com. The Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies http://allrecipes.com/recipe/oatmeal-... are seriously just like the Girl Scout ones and they always make an appearance on our cookie trays during the holidays. My mom and I make about 8 different kinds of cookies and about half of the recipes come from this site. I use it for other recipes throughout the year also but it's most useful (imho) for our cookie baking.

                                                                        Whatever recipe(s) you choose - if they are well made (ie- not burnt on the edges, dried out, etc) will "knock their socks off".

                                                                        1. sushiqueen is right - execution will get you points that nothing else will. That said, with three weeks off, you have lots of time to play in the kitchen! My family are Swedish, and I long ago learned the trick of basic butter cookie dough, which you can dress up or down and play with all you want.

                                                                          Basic dough:
                                                                          1 cup butter
                                                                          1/2 cup sugar
                                                                          1 egg yolk
                                                                          2 1/2 cups flour ( I like to use 1 cup cake flour in this).

                                                                          Cream together the butter & sugar, beat in the egg yolk, then the flour. I like to chill before doing anything else. My personal fave is to roll into logs about 1" in diameter, indent diagonally with the handle of a wooden spoon, pipe raspberry jam into the indentations, and bake at 350 for 12-16 minutes til just barely beginning to brown on the edges. When cool, drizzle with dark chocolate. Cut into slices diagonally, in the opposite direction you piped the jam.

                                                                          Last night I rolled a couple 1-1/2 inch diameter logs of this, rolled them thickly in chopped pecans, sliced 1/4" thick, and baked for about 7 minutes. Poked a shallow indent in each with a wine cork, then filled the indent with bittersweet ganache.

                                                                          Have fun!

                                                                          1. just had one more thought... does she by any chance have a dog? if she does and dotes on it, i'd make a big batch of all-natural healthy dog treats, package em up nice, and bring them as a hostess gift for the her (and the dog).

                                                                            otherwise, another thought is to avoid direct competition... make truffles... maybe a jellied center with a peanut butter ganache coating? or butter crumb center dipped in chocolate and drizzled with a thinned fruit glaze.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Emme

                                                                              emme - this is the first time i have ever been introduced to the idea of making my pooch her treats! I love the idea!! do you have any specific recipe you could share?

                                                                              1. re: smilingal

                                                                                i sort of wing it every time, but basically...
                                                                                i make his generally grain free. he does better on that diet, and when his grain-free friends come over, this way he can share.

                                                                                1/2 c or so peanut butter (freshly ground)
                                                                                an egg or two
                                                                                couple of pinches of cinnamon
                                                                                spoonful of brown sugar
                                                                                some combo of:
                                                                                potato flakes
                                                                                teff flour
                                                                                sorghum flour
                                                                                brown rice flour
                                                                                potato starch
                                                                                tapioca starch

                                                                                add enough dry ingredients to give a pretty stiff dough.i don't generally roll mine out b/c they're gluten-free and don't really roll well. instead i pat them out into a rectangle and score them into bite-sized rectangles. you could easily press and cut into cute shapes (my dog just doesn't care what they look like...) bake at 350 for 10 minutes, then turn down to 300 and bake til dry. let cool.

                                                                                i'm sure you can sub all purpose flour, and roll em out. also can sub in pumpkin, banana, etc. parsley is good to add as well for breath.

                                                                                1. re: Emme

                                                                                  emme - i guess i can use regular peanut butter instead of freshly ground? And I have none of those other ingredients......teff flour
                                                                                  sorghum flour
                                                                                  brown rice flour
                                                                                  potato starch
                                                                                  tapioca starch.........do i need to go out and buy?

                                                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                                                    do as you like... are we talking jarred peanut butter with high fructose corn syrup and additives and whatnot? i'm sure it'll work, just be a bit different.

                                                                                    wrt flours, my dog has allergies and needs to be wheat/grain free, but feel free to use regular flour, whole wheat, grains (cooked barley, quinoa, etc.), rice, etc. they tend to be a kitchen sink thing for me. i put in what i've got, or want to try...

                                                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                                                      funny why I am intimidated by cooking dog treats! lol

                                                                                      1. re: smilingal

                                                                                        go for it. i promise you that your dog won't turn his nose up at whatever you output. heck, my pup gets giddy over big carrots and the leaves on cauliflower.

                                                                            2. These Chocolate Almond Lace cookies are very impressive and super delicious. Attached is a link to the recipe and step by step photos. Whatever you make, I'm sure they'll be appreciated!


                                                                              1. I like to do Cranberry Bliss Bars around the holidays. If you've ever had them at Starbucks, the Top Secret Recipe clone recipe is virtually identical. The only change I would suggest to the recipe is to line the baking pan with parchment paper or foil because they're much easier to cut nicely when they're out of the pan. And be very careful not to overbake or they will be dry.


                                                                                1. Hi eveyone,

                                                                                  Wow I can't believe all of the great responses! Thank you! I was able to get ahold of my MILs recipe. It's super simple and so good, if you make them let me know what you think!

                                                                                  1 cup butter
                                                                                  3 T sugar
                                                                                  1 box cream cheese
                                                                                  3 cups flour
                                                                                  1/4 t salt
                                                                                  baking jams

                                                                                  Soften cream cheese and butter, add sugar and salt, mix until blended, add flour gradually. Kneed w/fingers. Chill several hours. Roll 1/3 at a time on floured surface. Cut into 3" square pieces, place 1t jam in middle of kolacky. Fold all four sides to the middle and pinch to seal.
                                                                                  Bake at 350 for 15-18 min. take out and cool just slightly, dust with powder sugar.

                                                                                  I was told to use Solo brand baking jams and nothing else!

                                                                                  1. Try Gourmet Magazine's mini black and white cookies - they are not hard, just time-consuming and soooo impressive. I make a triple batch every year and people go crazy for them!


                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MRyerson06

                                                                                      If you're into boozy baking, I have a recipe for Black and White Russian Cookies I'm planning to try. Black and Whites with Kahlua and vodka in the icing.

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        Mmmm... that sounds great! Please let us know how they turn out.

                                                                                        1. re: Julia_T

                                                                                          I will, but probably after the holidays. I'm all baked out right now!

                                                                                    2. My favorite buttery cookie recipe is the Russian Teacake cookie. It is similar to the Mexican Wedding Cookie but without the cinnamon. They are easy, delicious and pretty. The recipe I use comes from my old Betty Crocker Cookie Book that I got when I was in the 4th grade. I like to use pecans instead of walnuts but both are good. I usually bake these for Christmas and they are always a hit.