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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.

Help?

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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

        http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...

        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

                  Filling:
                  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)

                  Ganache:
                  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.