‘Tis the Season to Bake Cookies.
My Grandma called cookies “the original comfort food”, and she meant it. There were always cookies at her house – especially at Christmas time, when she would bake countless dozens, pack them into little tins, and distribute them to practically everyone she knew. If she wasn’t going to see you until weeks after Christmas, she’d just put your tin in the freezer and – lucky you! – you’d be eating Christmas cookies in February.
Likewise, I don’t have one single memory of Christmas as a child (or an adult) that doesn’t include platefuls of my mom’s homemade Christmas cookies. That’s the thing about Christmas and cookies. Christmas traditions may vary wildly from family to family, but generally, cookies are involved.
Recently, a reader sent me a cookie recipe that’s been in her family for generations, saying “They take a few hours to make and are gone in a few minutes. My husband and grown children can’t get enough of them!” For many of us, it’s recipes like that make Christmas Christmas.
And so, I thought I’d share a few of the Christmas cookie recipes making an appearance at our home this Christmas, some old, some new, all deliciously comforting. If YOU, dear reader, have a favorite family Christmas cookie recipe that isn’t a closely guarded secret, I’d love nothing more than for you to share it too. Leave it in the comments if you dare so that others might have the privilege of baking it too. We may not all be able to get together for a giant cookie swap (how much fun would that be???) but, we can at least share a few of our favorites recipes.
#1. Frosted brown butter citrus shortbread cookies
These are, without a doubt, the BEST tasting decorated cut-out cookies I’ve ever eaten. Brown butter citrus shortbread is delicious all on it’s own – buttery, not overly sweet, and laced with the subtle flavors of orange, lemon, and lime. Dark and white chocolate fondants are easy to work with, gorgeously glossy, and a delicious compliment to the brown butter citrus flavor of the cookies.
#2. Christmas funfetti cookies
These tasty little gems are for those of you who looking for a Christmas cookie recipe that’s uncomplicated, simple, and fun. With or without the funfetti sprinkles, this is my absolute favorite sugar cookie recipe. The combination of melted butter and cream cheese makes them extra soft and chewy
#3. Chocolate kiss cookies
These are especially great cookies to bake with young children. The dough is a simple shortbread requiring only a handful of ingredients, and rolling it around a chocolate kiss is a fun and easy task for small hands.
#4. Malted white chocolate sandwich cookies with halva buttercream
#5. Marshmallow Brownie krinkle sandwich cookies
Unless you dislike chocolate (gasp!) or brownies (double gasp!), you’ll agree with me that chocolate krinkle cookies are the bomb. I mean, they are essentially brownies in cookie form. What’s not to love? This recipe gilds the lily by sandwiching two chocolate krinkle cookies together with a dollop of warm homemade marshmallow. It goes without saying that kids LOVE these. But, I’ll bet you won’t find many adults willing to turn one down.
#6. Cranberry orange dark chocolate biscotti
If you, like me, are a sucker for fruit-nut-chocolate combinations, these biscotti are right up your alley. They are appropriately crunchy (as good biscotti should be) and not overly sweet. I love the chocolate dip – but, honestly, they are also delightful without it. You could use dried cranberries in a pinch, but I prefer fresh because the cranberry juice infuses the dough with lots of cranberry flavor.
#7. Spritz wreath cookies
Spritz cookies originated in Germany and are typically made from little more than flour, butter, sugar and eggs. This recipe is nearly that simple, only calling for the addition of cream, vanilla and almond extracts and a bit of salt. If you have a cookie press, now’s the time to use it. If not, a pastry bag and a star tip is all you need to create wreath shaped cookies that you can decorate any which way you like.
#8. Peppermint hot fudge thumbprints
#9. Cherry Almond Rugelach
I’ll take one anytime, but I especially love to eat rugelach early in the morning when the house is still quiet, steaming mug of coffee in hand, cuddled under a blanket next to the Christmas Tree. The cream cheese dough is super easy to work with and produces gorgeous layers of flaky pastry that’s buttery and not overly sweet. Rugelach can be filled with anything you like, but I especially love them with a shmear of tart cherry jam and a sprinkle of salty roasted almonds.
#10. Chocolate mint brownies
Calling all chocolate and peppermint lovers! These rich chocolate brownies, topped with mint icing, bitter chocolate glaze, and chopped creme de menthe mints, are about as mint-chocolatey as you can get.
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