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fleck Oct 13, 2012 10:09 PM

I can't believe I'm actually thinking about christmas cookies! I'm looking for new or better recipes. What's your favorite cookie cookbook?

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  1. j
    janniecooks RE: fleck Oct 14, 2012 01:11 AM

    Don't know about cookbooks, but if you indeed are looking for new/better recipes, these CH Christmas cookie threads are a great place to start; lots of recipes here:


    1. Lotsofscots RE: fleck Oct 14, 2012 07:36 AM

      Fine Cooking magazine put out a Christmas cookie edition a couple of years ago. Even though I've been baking for 50+ years and am known for my Christmas cookie platters, I've referred over and over again to this special edition magazine. It has many of the recipes I've collected from various sources all in one place. Don't get me wrong - if I see a special recipe somewhere for some special cookie I will try it, but the Fine Cooking edition is my new Christmas cookie bible.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lotsofscots
        fleck RE: Lotsofscots Oct 14, 2012 02:29 PM

        Thanks for the recommendation. According to their website this cookie magazine has been reissued in 2012. I may order it or look for it in stores.

      2. k
        katelintag RE: fleck Oct 14, 2012 07:57 AM

        I like Martha Stewart's Christmas cookie mag, not out yet this year

        28 Replies
        1. re: katelintag
          fleck RE: katelintag Oct 14, 2012 02:34 PM

          I have a couple of older issues of the Martha Stewart's Cookies--do they do a new one each year? You're right they have some good cookie recipes. I found a dark chocolate one a few years ago that I really like (too dark for my family though so unfortunately I have to lighten them up to get anyone else to eat them).

          1. re: fleck
            janeh RE: fleck Oct 14, 2012 02:53 PM

            Rose Levy Bernbaum's "Rose's Christmas Cookies". I've had it for ages and there are recipes that I use year round. Looks like amazon has plenty of used copies (why would anyone part with this book????!).

            1. re: janeh
              helinum RE: janeh Oct 17, 2012 03:30 PM

              I also find her book really useful and have a few regular adaptations. I'm curious to know if other people do, too.

              I always make the rugelach, without which there would be a local riot. But rather than using apricot jam, I make an apricot paste using dried apricots. it has a more intense flavor and less of it ends up on the cookie sheet. You MUST use California apricots; the Mediterranean ones are useless. Cover with water and/or brandy and a little sugar. Microwave for a minute or so and let 'em soften. Process in a food processor, using just enough of the soaking liquid to get a spreadable puree, and add more sugar to taste and a pinch of salt if you feel like it. It's the sugar and liquid than run out of the rugelach, so go easy, but make it nicely spreadable. I use exactly 2 tablespoons per circle, and spread it with an offset spatula. I think regular raisins are fine; golden are not strictly necessary to me. Don't underbake --pull 'em out when the leaked goo looks nicely caramelized. Definitely use parchment. Unbaked, they freeze wonderfully, and it's nice to give them as gifts that way so people can DIY and enjoy them fresh out of the oven.

              "Hectors". I make the walnut sables, cut into squirrels. They are glazed with poured fondant made from maple syrup or maple sugar. Each one gets a gold dragee for an eye and sometimes a little smirk made with a food coloring marker. They are called "Hectors" after a pesky camp robber of yore.

              Also, her gingerbread recipe says that they "are not too spicy, even for children", which I don't understand at all, so I add 1.5 T fresh grated ginger (.75 oz) or add more dried, and 1/8 t. finely ground pepper. I also don't believe in brown sugar most of the time, so I use granulated and an extra dab of molasses in a nod to the brown sugar. And I think it's insane to bother with greasing a measuring cup and so I use a scale to measure the molasses along with the other ingredients. it's a wonderful, easy dough to work with.

              The other thing I am now obligated under threat of mutiny to make is a spritz adaptation we call lemon zingers. Add flavoring to the spritz: 1 t. lemon oil, or zest, 1/2 t. lemon extract, and 1/2 t. vanilla. Add about 2 T. poppy seeds if you're interested; I usually leave them out. Choose a sturdy-but-not-too-thick shape, like a star, but not the strip. After baking, dredge in a combination of powdered sugar and citric acid. You can do these lime, too.

              I also do a similar amping-up-the-zing-thing with orange for "orange-cardamom sugar cookies". I add 2 t. cardamom and 1T. orange zest to the regular sugar cookie recipe, bake them in a simple shape, usually just a circle or scalloped oval, then glaze them and sprinkle them heavily with swedish pearl sugar, referred to in our house as kosher sea sugar. Glaze: powdered sugar, citric acid, water, orange oil, and a dab of food color.

              If you don't have citric acid, it's cheap from l'epicerie, and handy to have around for other cookery.

              1. re: helinum
                greygarious RE: helinum Oct 17, 2012 08:41 PM

                Helinum, if you are not aware of the TrueLemon line, it might be good for your citrus flavorings. The packets come in lemon, lime, orange, and now grapefruit and maybe tangerine, if memory serves. They are actual juice dried to powdered form.

                I accidentally discovered California dried Blenheim apricots that either still contain the pits or from which the pits were removed after drying. They are from apricotking.com, and the pit gives them an oaky, amaretto-like finish which is stronger in the "pit ins" than in the "slip-pits". The former no longer appear on the website and are in short supply but those interested can e-mail and ask about availability. The pit-ins were a serendipitous accident - signals got crossed and someone neglected to remove the pits. They should be kept frozen or refrigerated, then soaked in water for 15-30 minutes, drained, and kept chilled in the fridge until consumed. I have accidentally oversoaked them, which resulted in a jammy consistency. Once the pit is removed, I have used them in place of preserves when making toast.

                1. re: greygarious
                  helinum RE: greygarious Oct 18, 2012 07:16 AM

                  Thanks! The apricots sound great and I'll be interested to explore the dried citrus.

              2. re: janeh
                PuttingUpWithKara RE: janeh Oct 21, 2012 03:03 PM

                I agree. I own this book (at my mother's insistence) and it is a veritable smorgasbord of deliciousness.

                Though sometimes I end up verbally abusing poor old Rose.

                1. re: janeh
                  elenacampana RE: janeh Oct 22, 2012 08:47 AM

                  This is our cookie bible! Mahogany Buttercrunch Toffee, rugelach, lemon squares, ginger pennies, turtles, lion's paws, Mexican wedding cakes...we make at least 6 or 8 kinds a year. We've even made the loony ones, including the gingerbread cathedral (once was fine for that).

                2. re: fleck
                  greygarious RE: fleck Oct 17, 2012 01:50 PM

                  I don't know if there is still an annual holiday cookies special issue, but I have several of the past ones, all keepers. It's probably worth setting up an eBay search request for past issues.
                  Some of them are labor-intensive, though, elaborately dragee-covered. Reminds me of an early MS holiday TV special, in which Miss Piggy was a guest. MS and MP were making a gingerbread house. MP wisecracked that it was to code.

                  1. re: greygarious
                    Caitlin McGrath RE: greygarious Oct 21, 2012 05:02 PM

                    I love the 2005 MS Holiday Cookies special issue. Terrific recipes, organized by cookie texture, with an alphabetical index of the 100+ recipes that has a photo of each cookie next to each recipe name. Great visual organization.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                      HillJ RE: Caitlin McGrath Oct 21, 2012 05:04 PM


                      and, you get get it for a few dollars thru Amazon sellers

                      1. re: HillJ
                        Caitlin McGrath RE: HillJ Oct 21, 2012 05:35 PM

                        I had Amazon that link all ready, but forgot to put it in my post when I wrote it. Thanks, HillJ!

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          HillJ RE: Caitlin McGrath Oct 21, 2012 07:04 PM

                          CM, do you happen to have the link I posted some time back (in pdf) of the Gourmet Holiday Cookie files from their archive?

                          1. re: HillJ
                            Caitlin McGrath RE: HillJ Oct 21, 2012 08:02 PM

                            Why, yes, I do! Here it is, and what a fabulous resource: http://failed-dam.org/temp/Great%20Co...

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                              HillJ RE: Caitlin McGrath Oct 22, 2012 06:24 AM

                              Excellent! That pdf link is very handy!

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                fleck RE: Caitlin McGrath Oct 22, 2012 08:32 AM

                                What a great pdf. Thanks so much--I see several I'd like to try. Any recommendations anyone? Always appreciate when someone else has tried a recipe and can give it a yes/no.

                                1. re: fleck
                                  HillJ RE: fleck Oct 22, 2012 08:39 AM

                                  hi fleck. I've baked every one of those cookies at least 3 x's. The only dud for me has always been their endorsement of the date bars. There are better recipes for those. But, this archive by Gourmet has always been about cookie history-a base recipe, where that cookie got its start. So many of the recipes have taken on diff approaches since. As cookie history/archives go, it's worth taking on each one and deciding for yourself. That's how much I believe it the collection.

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    roxlet RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 09:48 AM

                                    I'm interested to hear how the Navettes Sucrées turned out. That's one I'm intrigued by...

                                    1. re: roxlet
                                      HillJ RE: roxlet Oct 22, 2012 09:58 AM

                                      In Gourmet's notes about the Navettes Sucrees they describe the texture beautifully-crisp and shaggy on the outside with a cakelike crumb. These cigar-shaped cookies are delightful. Chilling the dough for (at least) 2 hours is key.

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        sandylc RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 10:13 AM

                                        That one looks interesting to me as well!! Thanks!

                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          roxlet RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 10:27 AM

                                          So they came out the way Gourmet described them? Was it a cookie that others liked as well?

                                          1. re: roxlet
                                            HillJ RE: roxlet Oct 22, 2012 12:11 PM

                                            Yes. My grandfather adores them. I make batches just for him.

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              roxlet RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 04:34 PM

                                              I'm definitely going to have to try that one. I sort of forgot about it, but it definitely caught my eye when I got the book.

                                2. re: HillJ
                                  blue room RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 05:22 AM

                                  I made the "Trio" cookies from that group -- and now I sure like the looks of the "Honey Nut Squares" (Biscotti Quadrati...)
                                  Both of these are almost at the end of that pdf.

                                  1. re: blue room
                                    HillJ RE: blue room Oct 22, 2012 06:25 AM

                                    blue room, that archive brings back so many great memories for me!

                                    1. re: HillJ
                                      sandylc RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 08:29 AM

                                      Me, too! I printed some of them out a few (?) years back and put them in my Christmas binder....

                      2. re: katelintag
                        FoodChic RE: katelintag Oct 17, 2012 10:29 AM

                        Martha Stewart's Cookies cookbook is outstanding! Some of my favorite cookie recipes are out of this book.


                        1. re: FoodChic
                          pearlyriver RE: FoodChic Oct 18, 2012 01:08 AM

                          I checked out a copy of this cookbook. Which recipes should I try first?

                          1. re: pearlyriver
                            FoodChic RE: pearlyriver Oct 18, 2012 04:17 AM

                            My absolute favorite is the butter cookie sandwiches with chestnut cream. They're easy, delicious, and beautiful.

                      3. h
                        HillJ RE: fleck Oct 17, 2012 01:41 PM

                        Wilton's book on Spritz cookies (or their online recipe file) is the master recipe for the press.
                        Rugelach is always on my holiday cookie platter and Sarabeth's cookbook or online recipe has a delicious version.
                        Roasted Chestnut cookies another not to be missed from Smitten Kitchen, must have!
                        and beyond that I stay open to what's new for the new season....

                        1. JP_nyc RE: fleck Oct 17, 2012 09:33 PM

                          Mimi Sheraton's OOP (but easily findable secondhand) "Visions of Sugarplums: A Cookbook of Cakes, Cookies, Candies & Confections from All the Countries that Celebrate Christmas".

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JP_nyc
                            roxlet RE: JP_nyc Oct 21, 2012 04:09 PM

                            I have that book, and used to bake from it, but haven't in quite a few years. I'll have to revisit it.

                          2. f
                            FriedClamFanatic RE: fleck Oct 17, 2012 10:11 PM

                            a bit off topic.but why not organize a "cookie-share" day with 4-5 friends with their cookbooks in tow and have them make 2-3 different ones to share? If they make enough, you get to go home with a bunch of different cookies and some great new ideas

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                              HillJ RE: FriedClamFanatic Oct 18, 2012 04:46 AM

                              Cookie swaps! They are fun!

                              1. re: HillJ
                                PuttingUpWithKara RE: HillJ Oct 21, 2012 10:08 AM

                                They can be fun, but only if you have friends that don't use store-bought dough... Disappointment!

                                1. re: PuttingUpWithKara
                                  HillJ RE: PuttingUpWithKara Oct 21, 2012 10:12 AM

                                  PuttinU, you gotta lay the ground rules to a successful swap! No store bought or semi-homemade if the majority ARE going the extra mile, time & expense of from scratch. Otherwise, yeah, it's a disappointment with a capital B I G!

                                  1. re: HillJ
                                    PuttingUpWithKara RE: HillJ Oct 21, 2012 02:41 PM

                                    Hmm, this is true! I will probably quote you when I write my swap invitations this year! Glad to know I'm not the only one that is disappointed by lackluster effort!

                                    1. re: PuttingUpWithKara
                                      HillJ RE: PuttingUpWithKara Oct 21, 2012 02:49 PM

                                      btw-I love your s/n!

                                      1. re: HillJ
                                        PuttingUpWithKara RE: HillJ Oct 22, 2012 08:07 AM

                                        Thank you! Its the double entendre I use to cover all of my bases on my (new, undeveloped) blog. ;) Listening to me running my yap and my canning hobby!

                                        1. re: PuttingUpWithKara
                                          HillJ RE: PuttingUpWithKara Oct 22, 2012 08:11 AM

                                          Clever! I always wonder if there's a bit of a story to a s/n.

                                      2. re: PuttingUpWithKara
                                        sandylc RE: PuttingUpWithKara Oct 22, 2012 08:38 AM

                                        I have wanted to begin a cooking/baking club for ages - but I'm afraid of the possibility that people will come with new ideas for using canned crescent dough!!

                                        1. re: sandylc
                                          HillJ RE: sandylc Oct 22, 2012 08:41 AM

                                          lol, yeah that can happen. Same advice I gave PuttingUp yesterday on a diff thread-set ground rules. No store bought, semi homemade members allowed.

                              2. blue room RE: fleck Oct 21, 2012 10:59 AM

                                It's hard to recommend a whole book, knowing only a certain percentage will appeal.

                                This year I will be sure to make these again, they're great, soft (not twice baked) cookies called Molasses Hazelnut Biscotti.


                                Suggested to me originally by ipsedixit, a poster here.

                                1. sunangelmb RE: fleck Oct 21, 2012 04:40 PM

                                  Betty crockers cooky book. Holds so much nostalgia for me. It's what my mom always used, and this book screamed "it's Christmas cookie time" to me.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sunangelmb
                                    KSlink RE: sunangelmb Oct 24, 2012 09:13 PM

                                    This was the very first cookbook I ever bought, at a grade school book fair in 1966--I was nine, and had it in my hands this very day!!!

                                  2. r
                                    Roland Parker RE: fleck Oct 22, 2012 08:53 AM

                                    I have most of the cookbooks already mentioned on this thread, including Rose Levy Berenbaum's famous cookie cookbook and several Martha Stewart cookie magazines. I generally make between 15 to 20 varieties of cookies each Christmas.

                                    But my all-time favorite cookbook is Carole Walter's Great Cookies. She has the most detailed and most satisfying recipes and there's a wonderful variety of cookies included in the book. There's only one recipe that hasn't worked out for me but the rest are simply spot on target. What stands out about Walter's recipes is that she uses a light hand with the flour and instructs you to do so, and most of her cookies are small and can be eaten in 2-3 bites. The result is that her cookies are transformed from the quite good (such as Martha Stewart and Berenbaum) to the sublime. I suppose I sound like a spokesman for Walter, but I do know that when I started making her cookies people went from saying "wow, your cookies are pretty good" to beating down the door a full month before Christmas, demanding when the cookies would be ready.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Roland Parker
                                      roxlet RE: Roland Parker Oct 22, 2012 09:51 AM

                                      I have Carole Walters's book too, and I also think it's excellent. Her recipes are detailed, but I feel she should be listing weights as well as measures for her ingredients. I also feel she gets a little fussy sometimes (use the freshest brown sugar, she frequently exhorts, for example), and that is something that seems a little nanny-ish to me.

                                    2. f
                                      fleck RE: fleck Oct 24, 2012 08:45 PM

                                      Thank you everyone for all the great suggestions. So many great cookbooks/recipes. Now I have to decide which ones to make!

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