10 Christmas cookie recipes to try this season

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By: Danielle Waldron
dwaldron@flavor574.com

Mischelle/Flickr

One of the most wonderful things about the holiday season is its traditions. Like any recipe, cookie recipes have a story as they are baked, shared and enjoyed each year. Here you’ll find a recipe that’s been in my family, plus recipes that can become part of your story.

Just be sure to take it slow when the time comes to eat them. And don’t forget to leave a few for Santa. 

MORE COOKIES: For National Cookie Day a few weeks ago, we posted three cookie recipes from local baking enthusiasts.
FROM THE MAGAZINE: In the winter issue of Flavor 574, we took a look at Christmas cookie traditions from different cultures.

SUGAR COOKIES
From Love Grows Wild. Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

Making sugar cookies is a commitment — you have to be in it for the long haul. If you don’t mind waiting a while to let the dough chill and then carefully rolling it out, sugar cookies are a real treat. Get creative and dress the cookies with frosting, sprinkles or whatever you like. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1¼ cup sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt 
  • Colored sugars or sprinkles 

Directions 

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. If you are using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on medium. Add egg, vanilla extract and almond extract and mix until well combined. 
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Be precise with flour measurements, as too much or too little could ruin the texture. Mix until completely combined. 
  3. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. 
  4. Cut dough into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters and transfer to baking sheets. Sprinkle with colored sugars and bake for 8 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. 
  5. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely. Decorate as desired. 

CHOCOLATE MINT CHIP COOKIES
From Two Peas and Their Pod. Makes 3 dozen cookies. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — chocolate and mint go together hand in glove. Cool mint balances out the rich chocolate flavor in one divine cookie. 

Ingredients 

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt 
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • ½ cup white sugar 
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla 
  • ⅓ cup milk 
  • 1 bag of mint chips

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Set aside. 
  3. Beat the butter. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium-high until light and add sugars, creaming well. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk in one batch and mixing well. Stir in the mint chips. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes. 
  4. Scoop the dough onto a parchment or silicone-lined cookie sheet, press down on the dough slightly and bake for 14 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool all the way before removing from the cooking sheet so they set. 

RED VELVET GOOEY BUTTER COOKIES
From Recipe Girl. Makes 3 dozen cookies. 

I’m from St. Louis, which is said to be the home of gooey butter cake, according to the New York Times. The way the story goes, it was created by accident when a baker confused the measurement of butter when making a coffee cake.

He embraced the mistake and sold the creation, rather than throwing it out (St. Louis seems to crank out good food “mistakes,” including the waffle cone and toasted ravioli). If you haven’t tried gooey butter cake or cookies, there’s no way to describe them and do them justice. But these cookies are a good start. 

Ingredients 

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. red liquid food coloring
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Directions 

  1. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt to combine well. 
  2. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. If using an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment on a medium speed until smooth. Beat in egg and food coloring. 
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until the dough is combined well. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for at least 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. 
  4. Roll the dough into balls (about 1 tbsp. each). Roll the dough balls in the powdered sugar, then place on the baking sheets at least 3 inches apart. Bake until the edges of the cookies are set, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. 

OREO BALLS
From Southern Plate. Makes 2 to 3 dozen. 

You can probably handle only a scant handful of these treats, sometimes called “snowballs,” before the sugar rush sets in. I didn’t know what these were until my senior year of high school, but they are a huge hit each Christmas among friends and co-workers. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 package original Oreo cookies (or generic chocolate sandwich cookies)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 package white almond bark

Directions 

  1. Crush the cookies into a fine powder with a food processor or by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and crushing them with a mallet or rolling pin. 
  2. Using an electric mixer, add the softened cream cheese to the crushed cookie mixture and mix until well-blended. Scoop out and form into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper. 
  3. Melt the almond bark by using either a double boiler or by heating in the microwave for 45 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. 
  4. Dip each cookie ball into the melted almond bark and place back on the wax paper to cool. 
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

M&M COOKIES
From Picky Palate. Makes 2 dozen cookies. 

Take your chocolate chip cookies to the next level with colorful candies — you can even find red and green M&Ms for a more festive cookie. The pudding mix makes these delightfully soft and chewy. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tbsp. instant vanilla pudding mix 
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups mini M&Ms

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until well-combined. Stir in the egg and vanilla mixture. Add the flour, pudding mix, baking soda and salt, stirring to combine. Add chocolate chips and candy and combine. 
  3. With a medium cookie scoop, place dough balls 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until cooked. Let cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack. 

OREO PEPPERMINT CRUNCH COOKIES
From Inside Bru Crew Life. Makes 3 dozen cookies. 

If you’re just not into a strong punch of mint and chocolate, that’s OK. These soft cookies have a more subtle chocolate and mint flavor and add a little bit of crunch. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 box white cake mix 
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Oreo cookie chunks (crunch by hand or with a mallet) 
  • 1 cup Andes peppermint crunch pieces (found in the baking aisle) 
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips

Directions 

  1. Combine the cake mix, melted butter, egg and extracts. Beat until soft dough forms. Add the cream cheese and beat in gently until combined. Stir in the peppermint crunch pieces and chocolate chips. Gently stir in the cookie pieces by hand, being careful not to break up the cookie too much. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Roll the dough into 36 balls. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. The cookies will look undercooked, but let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for 2 minutes before gently removing with a spatula to a piece of wax paper on the countertop or table. Let sit until completely cool. 

ITALIAN WEDDING COOKIES
From For the Feast. Makes 3 dozen cookies. 

These sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cookies are a Christmas tradition. You can add walnuts to break the sweetness and give the buttery, soft cookie a small crunch. 

Ingredients 

  • 1½ cups unsalted butter 
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups ground almonds
  • 5 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt 
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar (for rolling) 

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Cream the butter in a bowl and gradually add powdered sugar and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the almonds and vanilla extract. Blend. 
  4. Gradually add the flour and blend well. 
  5. Shape the dough into balls. 
  6. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  7. Let the cookies cool, then roll in the powdered sugar. 

MINI HOLIDAY BISCOTTI
From Southern Fairytale. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. 

They’re fancy because they’re biscotti, but they’re festive because you can decorate the chocolate ends with red and green sprinkles. Biscotti are perfect to dunk into most anything, but I recommend milk, coffee or any of these hot chocolate recipes

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup butter, softened 
  • ½ cup sugar 
  • 3 eggs
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 bag of chocolate chip morsels
  • Dark or semi-sweet chocolate for melting and dipping (baking chocolate will suffice) 

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat at medium speed. Scrape the bowl often. Add flour and baking powder and continue beating until well mixed. 
  3. Stir in chocolate chips to your liking. 
  4. Divide dough into eight equal-size pieces on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands. Shape each piece into a log that is 1 inch wide and ½ inch tall and 8 to 9 inches long. 
  5. Places the logs about 3 inches apart on a lightly greased large cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until the tops are cracked and the ends just start to turn light brown. 
  7. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. 
  8. Cool the logs for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before carefully moving to a cutting board. Cut into ½-inch wide pieces with a serrated knife at a 30-degree angle. 
  9. Bake the pieces for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, flip each piece and bake for 7 more minutes. 
  10. Remove all from the cookie sheet and place on the wire rack to cool completely. 
  11. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip the end of each biscotti into the melted chocolate. Place back on the cooling rack or onto waxed paper. This part might be messy. 
  12. Immediately decorate with peppermint pieces, sprinkles or whatever you’d like, then let sit to harden, about 1 hour. 

SNICKERDOODLES
From Averie Cooks. Makes about 1 dozen cookies. 

These chewy cookies are best served warm, but they’re also a favorite to share with co-workers or whip up for a holiday cookie exchange. 

Ingredients

For dough: 

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • ½ tsp. baking soda 
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp. salt 

For rolling: 

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 

Directions 

  1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the butter and sugars on medium-high until well combined, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla, beating on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes. 
  3. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and add the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt . Beat on low until just combined. 
  4. Form balls (about 2 heaping tablespoons each) and flatten slightly. 
  5. Place the mounds on a large plate or tray and cover with plastic wrap. Let chill for at least 1 hour. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 
  7. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and dredge each mound of dough through the cinnamon-sugar. 
  8. Place the dough mounds on a baking sheet at least 2 inches apart and bake for 9 minutes. Let cookie cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes. 

SPRITZ COOKIES
From my mom. Makes about 6 dozen. 

My mom makes these only at Christmas in tiny little pinwheel and Christmas tree shapes, and she had done so for as long as I can remember. She tells me they were my great-grandma’s favorite. I can remember when she used to make the buttery cookies, too.

A brief foreign language lesson for you: “Spritz” or “spritzen” is German, which means “to squeeze” or “to squirt” — which is precisely what you do with the cookie dough. Use a cookie press to squeeze out the dough into its shape onto the baking sheet, then decorate with sprinkles. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup butter 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2¼ cups flour, sifted
  • ½  tsp. salt 
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder

Directions 

  1. Cream butter and sugar well. 
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla. 
  3. Sift together dry ingredients, then gradually blend into butter mixture. 
  4. Fill a cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 
  5. Let cool on wire racks and decorate with sprinkles. 

Does your family have a favorite cookie recipe for the holidays? Let me know at dwaldron@flavor574.com or on Twitter at @DanielleWaldron. Happy holidays! 

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