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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. 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. 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

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

        28 Replies
        1. re: katelintag

          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

            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

              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

                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, 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

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

              2. re: janeh

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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: HillJ

                        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

                          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: Caitlin McGrath

                              Excellent! That pdf link is very handy!

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                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

                                  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

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

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      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

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

                                        1. re: HillJ

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

                                          1. re: roxlet

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

                                            1. re: HillJ

                                              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

                                  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

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

                                    1. re: HillJ

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

                      2. re: katelintag

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


                        1. re: FoodChic

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

                          1. re: pearlyriver

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

                      3. 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. 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

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