It should be about that time. You know – holiday shopping crunch time when the pressure is on, you’re out of ideas and you’re starting to slow down to desperately survey the displays of gift cards conveniently placed next to the cash registers. So I’m going to suggest another option. It’s something you may not have done for years (if ever). It’s so easy and so much more fun than circling the mall parking lot ready to ambush the next set of brake lights backing up out of a space. Christmas cookies!
Most of you have the holy trinity of baked ingredients (butter, sugar, flour) nestled conveniently in your kitchen. Why, in an afternoon you can whip up some delightful home baked goodies to wrap and give to those lucky enough to know such a talented and generous baker. Why not spend an afternoon relaxing in your own home, with holiday tunes cranked up. (It’s just not the holidays if I’m not rockin’ to A Charlie Brown Christmas. — Christmas Time Is Here, Happiness and cheer…Snoopy Dance!) Better yet, why not make it group activity and have some fun with friends and family while you check some people off your gift list at the same time? Now that’s a productive and delicious use of your time and a way to spend quality time with those you care about during a frantic, hectic time of year.
Here’s a selection of recipes I’ve gift wrapped for you. OK, not your traditional Christmas cookie recipes, but I’ve chosen them specifically for each sign. (See title of blog!) And this way you can have a little bit of Christmas all year round. Sharing is caring!
But wait! Is that a sleigh flying through the misty winter sky? Could it be Christmas Magic is already on it’s way…..
And now here’s our gift to YOU. (Well, at least for two lucky readers.) That’s right – ANOTHER CONTEST! And the winners get delectable homemade treats prepared by yours truly.
We’ll have a random drawing to choose not one, but TWO winners!
- The First Place Winner will win a home baked batch of Christmas Cookies of their choosing from this edition of DLYS! (Oh so many options…)
- The Second Place Winner will find a delightful surprise when a home baked batch of the Christmas Cookies for THEIR SIGN.
Jolly Jingle Bells, Batman!! How do I enter?!?
- Simple! Send in your name, mailing address and astrological sign to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line reading DLYS! Holiday Contest. (Do NOT put your address in the comments section at the bottom of this article!)
- Also, be sure to indicate which cookie is your FIRST CHOICE should you be chosen for FIRST PLACE! That way we can surprise BOTH our winners.
Note: Previous DLYS! Contest winners are not eligible. Sorry guys, but when the gettin’ is this good, we have to be fair.
Send in your entry NOW!
The deadline is DECEMBER 21st
It’s a childhood of camping trips baked into a cookie. Guaranteed to bring out the kid in all of us.
Mini S’mores Cookies
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup Jet-Puffed Vanilla Mallow Bits
2 regular size (1.55 oz) Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Candy Bars
Extra graham cracker pieces and mallow bits (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Stir in the Mallow Bits and mini chocolate chips. Roll a teaspoon of cookie dough into a ball. Press half of a Hershey’s chocolate square on top of the cookie and gently press down. Add a few extra pieces of graham crackers and Mallow Bits onto the top of the dough for looks, if you like. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies are set. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to a wire cooling rack.
You’ll bliss out on these, and that’s no bull.
Cranberry Bliss Bars
6 Tbls pumpkin puree
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 Tbls white whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin/apple butter, and brown sugar using a hand mixer. Add egg substitute and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients into wet mixture and mix until incorporated. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate. Bake for 18-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, cool completely. Using a hand mixer, combine cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar. Add in melted white chocolate. Spread cream cheese frosting across cooled bars and top with cranberries.
Holiday treats with a split personality twist.
Pumpkin Black & White Cookies
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp hot water
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs until combined. with the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Keep the mixer on low and add the dry ingredients. Beat until just combined.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip and pipe 2 inch rounds onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool on wire racks.
For the vanilla glaze: Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. With a small offset spatula or a knife, spread vanilla glaze on one half of every cookie. Let dry a bit while you make chocolate glaze.
For the chocolate glaze: Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler (or you can use a microwave). Whisk in the corn syrup and cinnamon until it’s glossy and smooth. Frost the other halves of the cookies with the chocolate glaze and set them out for the glazes to firm up a bit. They keep well covered at room temperature or in the fridge for a few days.
Everyone’s got a nostalgic favorite – the cookie than no one could make like mom did. I don’t what yours is, but mine are Snickerdoodles – cinnamon sugary nibbles of love.
Browned Butter Snickerdoodles
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
For rolling mixture:
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined.
Chill your dough for 3 hours or as long as possible in the refrigerator (important!), or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager, although I cannot promise the same results if you do this. Fridge is always best! You want the dough VERY cold.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Meanwhile mix 1/4 cup sugar and the 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a bowl. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies 8-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Bake longer if you like crispier cookies. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Nothing rules with the regal might of the chocolate chip cookie – King of the Cookie Kingdom. But stuffed with Nutella? They’re KING OF THE WORLD!!!
Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips. Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball. Make sure that the Nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand VERY gently.
Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Cookies are served, your royal highness.
This is about as healthy as a cookie can get. Eat your vegetables!
Carrot Cake Cookies
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups of rolled oats
½ cup chopped nuts or sunflower seeds
1 cup raisins (I have used a multitude of different dried fruit, all yummy)
1 large egg (optional)
1 cup of maple syrup (grade B at Mother Nature’s is the best for baking!)
½ cup canola oil or nut oil like walnut
½ cup of apple sauce
1½ teaspoons of vanilla
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 cups of shredded carrots (about 3 or 4)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lightly oil some cookie sheets. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and oats and give a good whisk. Stir in the nuts or seeds, and the fruit. In another bowl, whip together the maple syrup, oil, egg, carrots and vanilla. Stir the flour mixture slowly into carrot mix, until well blended. Using a wet spoon to prevent dough from sticking, drop batter onto oiled cookie sheet. Flatten with your fingers to about ½ inch thick. Bake till golden, about 10-12 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet.
Pretty in pink and sprinkled with sugar pearls! Because everyone knows a nice set of pearls never go out of style.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Cookies
1 box of strawberry-flavored cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a smidgen of pink food coloring (optional)
white sanding sugar and sugar pearls (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, oil, and water. Stir by hand until ingredients are evenly combined. Scoop dough by tablespoon portions and roll between your hands to make a smooth ball. Set on the prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly cracked on top and just lightly golden around the edges. Be careful not to over bake. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
To prepare the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and food coloring. Continue to beat until fully incorporated. Using an offset spatula or knife, spread frosting on top of cooled cookies and garnish with white sanding sugar and sugar pearls, if desired. Audrey Hepburn would be so proud.
Buried beneath that dark, sexy exterior is an oozing complexity of salty and sweet. Take a bite of the Clooney of cookies if you dare. Grrrrr…..
Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 dozen caramels, unwrapped (Rolos would also work)
coarse sea salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar and light-brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition until combine. Mix in vanilla. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combine.
Scoop dough out 2 tbsp at a time and roll into a ball. Press one caramel into the center, sprinkle top of caramel with a small pinch of coarse sea salt then fold cookie dough around caramel and salt (make sure the caramel is fully covered with dough around all sides). Shape into a ball once more then roll in powdered sugar*. Align cookies on Silpat lined or buttered cookie sheets and bake in preheated oven 11 – 13 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (note that the caramel will set after it cools, but cookies are best warm for soft gooey caramel). Store in an airtight container.
* When they baked they may ‘lose’ a lot of powdered sugar baked. You can coat the top again with powdered sugar after baking to get a prettier cookie.
Peace on Earth. Rummy biscotti toward men. Isn’t that how it goes? Buon Natatle!
1 and 1/4 cups dried tart red cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sliced almonds
For the rum glaze:
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of reserved cherry rum (see step #5)
Additional rum, for desired consistency
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cherries and rum to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain the cherries, reserving the “cherry rum” leftover liquid for later use in the rum glaze. Set the cherries aside.
In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour until completely combined. Add the cherries and almonds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Divide the dough into 2 equal halves, and shape each half into a 9-inch-long loaf. Place the loaves on the prepared baking sheet and flatten each to about 2 and 1/2 inches wide (just use your fingers).
Bake the loaves for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the loaves cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Once cool, transfer the loaves to a cutting board, and using a serrated knife, cut the loaves diagonally into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, flip each slice over and return the pan to the oven, baking for 10 to 15 minutes more (or until slides are dry). Transfer the slices to a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the rum glaze: In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the reserved “cherry rum” from step #5 above. Using a fork or a whisk, add in additional rum until the glaze reaches your desired drizzling consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled biscotti; let sit until glaze is set.
Ah, the Might Goat – so refined, so discriminating. These buttery bites blend nicely with an elegant coffee or congac – the perfect treat while they review their stock portfolio.
Cream Cheese Cocoa Nib Cookies
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces room temperature cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup to 1 cup of cocoa nibs
Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Place butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes). Add sugar and vanilla and mix until combined. While mixer is running on low-speed, add flour mixture, and continue to mix until just combined. Mix in mini chocolate chips.
Transfer half of dough to a large sheet of parchment paper. Shape into a long log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and repeat with other half of the dough. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap one log, roll in cocoa nibs (pressing lightly to adhere), coating lightly. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space approximately 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 4. Bake cookies until golden around edges, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from trays and letting cool completely on wire racks.
Pretzels in cookies? Crazy – or crazy genius? Someone was thinking outside the box when they paired rich butterscotch, pretzels and cashews.
Butterscotch Cashew Pretzel Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup cashew pieces
1 cup pretzels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat liner. Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl until combined. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Continue to mix for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and homogenous.
Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated and all streaks of flour are mixed in. Add the butterscotch chips, cashews and pretzels and continue to mix with the mixer until combined. This helps break up the pretzels a bit. Scoop the cookie dough using a 2-3/4 ounce ice cream scooper (or a 1/3-cup measuring cup) onto the prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Lightly pat down the tops of the scoops and bake in the prepared oven for 12-14 minutes, just until the edges begin to brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets, and then the rest of the way on a wire cooling rack. Make sure you watch the cookies in the last few minutes and bake them just until the edges begin to brown, don’t over bake!
Nothing brings the jolly like a box of boozy balls! (Now say THAT five time fast after a glass of egg nog.)
Espresso Grand Marnier Balls
1 package (9 ounces) chocolate wafers
1 cup skinned toasted hazelnuts
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
2-1/2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pulverize the chocolate wafers and hazelnuts together in a food processor. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process to combine. Dissolve the espresso in the Grand Marnier and add to the chocolate crumbs along with the corn syrup. Process until the mixture forms a moist mass. Break off small pieces of the dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. Place the granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each ball in the sugar to coat. Store loosely packed between layers of waxed paper in a cookie tin. Let age 1 week before serving. Makes 4 to 4-1/2 dozen cookies.