christmas cookie recipe

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

These cut-out cookies are a classic, and always part of my holiday cookie baking. I will confess to having an enormous assortment of cookie cutters, so there is almost no end to the shapes I might use.  This time of year I am making trees, stars, snowmen and more.

These cookies are crisp and sturdy enough to stand up to frosting, without being too hard. They also hold their shape well when baking.

I use royal icing to frost them, and an assortment of sprinkles and other candies. Royal icing is made with egg whites or  powdered egg whites. The advantage over a butter cream, is that royal icing hardens, making the cookies easy to pack and stack. You don’t need much- just a thin layer. Tinting the frosting different colors is a big part of the fun. Depending on how much time you have, you can get really creative with decorating.

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
3 T. milk
Extra sugar for sprinkling, if desired
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Beat in milk. Heat oven to 375-degrees. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/3- inch thickness. Cut out with lightly floured cutters and sprinkle with sugar or colored sugar if you like and if you are not going to frost them. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 3 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely. Frost when cooled. Makes about 4 dozen.
Decorating your cookies:
You can use a buttercream frosting, if you like,  however the topping I prefer is royal icing. Because royal icing contains egg whites it gets hard. Cookies have a smooth appearance and can be stacked. When making royal icing, use pasteurized egg whites or powdered egg whites. Raw egg whites pose a risk of salmonella.
You can also use colored sugar and sprinkles and mini chocolate chips for eyes.

Royal Icing

1 lb. powdered sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
5¼ t. egg white powder
6 T. water
½ t. vanilla, optional
Assorted food coloring
In large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add water and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Divide into small bowls and tint each batch as needed. Keep bowl covered with a damp towel while waiting to use so frosting will not dry out.

Cookie Candies

Cookie Candies

There are so many cookies I bake this time of year, I could never pick a favorite. There are some cookies that are a MUST bake, however.

These cookie-candies are one of them. They get their name because, once decorated, they look like little pieces of candy.

Under the sprinkles are rich and tasty oatmeal shortbread cookies. Shortbread cookies are always a favorite of mine. I think I make half a dozen varieties of shortbread.

The dough is easy to handle. You just shape small amounts into shapes like circles, squares and ovals. They hold their shape. Like most shortbread, they bake at a lower temperature than other cookies. They also bake a bit longer. They should be a little golden on the bottom when done.

After they are baked and cooled, the cookies are dipped in melted chocolate and then in assorted toppings. You can dip them in sprinkles, finely chopped nuts and coconut. Pretty and tasty.

 

Cookie-Candies

1 c. butter

¾ c. powdered sugar

1 T. vanilla

2 c. flour

½ c. rolled oats

½ c. chocolate chips

¼ c. milk

finely chopped nuts

assorted sprinkles

shredded coconut

Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla. Stir in flour and oats. Shape teaspoonfuls of the dough into different shapes like rounds, ovals, cones cubes etc. Try to make them look like little candies. They will hold their shape very well while baking. Bake in a 325- degree oven for 20-25 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet. Cool. In microwave safe dish combine chocolate and milk and melt. Dip tops of cookies in chocolate mixture and then in one of the toppings you have. Chocolate topping will harden up after a while. Makes about 4 dozen.

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Some cookies are really about the memories for me. I remember making pressed cookies when I was a kid. I loved using the machine to press out dough in all sorts of magical shapes. My mother was so kind- she let me make whatever I wanted. We had one Christmas with a whole plateful of camels. The machine we had required turning a handle- watching carefully, and turning the handle backwards to stop the flow of the dough. There are much easier versions of cookie presses today. Mine has a ratchet which pushes out the right amount of dough with one click. I decided to make some little green trees and red flowers this year. These cookies are light and very crisp. Great for having with coffee. They are also fast to make, once you get used to the cookie press. The fun thing about using a cookie press is that you can crank out a high volume of pretty cookies in no time flat. They taste good, too. I used vanilla extract in the little trees. In the flowers, I added some sweet cherry flavor, which paired well with the vanilla.

 

Spritz Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla*
½ t. salt
2½ c. flour
In mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in vanilla and salt. Tint dough, is desired. Add flour and stir until smooth. Using a cookie press with desired shape press cookies on to ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 1-inch between cookies. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes- cookies should be a light golden color around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

 * You can play around with other flavors. I often add mintextract or a fruit flavor to these cookies.

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Pinwheel Cookies

I love the  sweetness of dates, and really enjoy using that natural sweetness in baking. I always seem to make several dishes with dates around the holidays.  These date filled cookies are one of my favorites. Moist and cake-like, with the wonderful flavor of the dates, nuts and citrus zest, these cookies taste even better than they look. The cookie dough, made with brown sugar, has an almost caramel-like flavor. The combination is a winner for sure.

 

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Filling

12 oz. pitted dates, chopped
1/3 c. brown sugar
¼ c. water
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
½ c. finely chopped nuts
Combine dates with all ingredients (except the nuts) in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in nuts.  Cool.

Dough
½ c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1¾ c. flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
In bowl combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture. Divide dough in half. Roll or pat one half of the dough into a rectangle about 7×11- inches in size. Spread with half of the cooled date filling. Starting at long end, roll dough up . Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap rolls in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in fridge several hours. This dough/roll is pretty soft. I sometimes put the rolls in the freezer for an hour or two before baking to make them easier to slice.
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the rolls into ¼ -inch slices and place an inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes- or until cookies are a light golden color. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 5 dozen.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I never met a shortbread cookie I didn’t like. These are no exception.  With the addition of cocoa, you end up with a cookie that has the traditional delicate texture of shortbread, with the added bonus of a rich chocolate flavor. They are great just plain, dusted with powdered sugar or, my favorite way, brushed with a little melted bittersweet chocolate. Simple, tasty and a nice treat for the chocolate lovers you love.

Chocolate Shortbread

1 c. butter, room temperature

3/4 c. sugar

2 c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa

1/4 t. salt

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Beat together butter and sugar until well blended. Mix together dry ingredients and slowly beat into butter mixture, stirring it in at the end. Roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Re-roll scraps and cut out the remaining dough. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees until cookies are firm around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.  Melt chocolate and dip cookies in it or use chocolate to hold 2 cookies together. Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on the size.

Chocolate Butter Cookie

Chocolate Butter Cookies

Chocolate Butter Cookies

These delicate little cookies are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. They have a nice chocolate flavor and are not overly sweet. As an added bonus, they are also easy to make.  This recipe was an experiment. I was so happy with how the cookies turned out, I wanted to share the recipe with you. I rolled the cookies in demerara sugar when they were raw and then baked them. Demerara is a less refined sugar and looks like coarse brown sugar. It gave the cookies a nice sparkly appearance. You can roll the dough in granulated sugar, if you like. You could also bake them plain and decorate with a drizzle of chocolate when cooled.

 

 

Chocolate Butter Cookies

1 c. sugar
1½ c. butter, room temp.
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
¾ c. cocoa

Combine all ingredients, except flour and cocoa, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour and cocoa and blend well. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool. Makes about 5 dozen.

Decorate with drizzles of melted chocolate or frosting, powdered sugar, sprinkles (apply before baking) or whatever you have on hand. You can also bake the cookies in rounds with an indent in the middle and add a cherry later. I rolled the raw cookies in demerara sugar. It’s a less refined sugar at looks little coarse brown sugar. Gave the cookies a pretty sparkle.

Soft Butter Cookies

Soft Butter Cookies

Soft Butter Cookies

If you are looking for a truly tender cookie, this is it. These cookies are so delicate, they just melt in your mouth!! The secret ingredient might surprise you. It is oil. Yes, I know I said butter cookies – they also contain butter. But the combination of oil and butter makes them soft and delicate, even days after baking. They also contain both granulated and powdered sugar. Not your typical cookie recipe, for sure.   This just may be my “go to” butter cookie recipe from now on.

I found a sheet of paper with the ingredients written on it. No directions, just ingredients listed and a notation about cooking time and oven temperature. I wish I knew where I got the recipe. I would certainly give the source credit. I did increase the amount of vanilla a little. You don’t have to chill the dough and they roll very easily, without sticking to your fingers. You could chill the dough, but let it warm up a little before rolling. The dough can also be made ahead and frozen- I tested it.

I dipped the tops of the raw cookies in sprinkles, but you could leave them plain and then roll in powder sugar, once baked and cooled, or drizzle with melted chocolate.

 

Soft Butter Cookies

1 c. butter

1 c. oil

1 c. sugar

1 c. powdered sugar

2 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cream of tartar

½ t. salt

4 ½ c. flour

 

In mixing bowl, beat together butter, oil, sugars and vanilla. Once well blended, beat in eggs. Stir in the baking soda, cream of tartar and salt, then add the flour, mixing until well combined. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into one inch balls and press tops of cookies in sprinkles or colored sugar, if desired. Place one inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, or until light golden on bottom. Leave cookies on baking sheets 3 minutes before placing on cooling rack. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Pinwheel Cookies

I love the  sweetness of dates and really enjoy using that natural sweetness in baking. I always seem to make at least one dish with dates around the holidays.  This year I decided to make date filled cookies. Moist and cake-like with the wonderful flavor of the dates, nut and citrus zest these cookies taste even better than they look. The cookie dough, made with brown sugar has an almost caramel like flavor. The combination is a winner for sure.

 

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Date Filling

12 oz. pitted dates, chopped
1/3 c. brown sugar
¼ c. water
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
½ c. finely chopped nuts
Combine dates with all ingredients (except the nuts) in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in nuts.  Cool.

Dough
½ c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1¾ c. flour
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
In bowl combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients and stir into butter mixture. Divide dough in half. Roll or pat one half of the dough into a rectangle about 7×11- inches in size. Spread with half of the cooled date filling. Starting at long end, roll dough up . Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Wrap rolls in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill in fridge several hours. This dough/roll is pretty soft. I sometimes put the rolls in the freezer for an hour or two before baking to make them easier to slice.
To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the rolls into ¼ -inch slices and place an inch apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 12 minutes- or until cookies are a light golden color. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 5 dozen.

Cinnamon Nut Shortbread Cookies

Cinnamon Nut Shortbread Cookies

Cinnamon Nut Shortbread Cookies

These cookies are a lovely little shortbread cookie topped with cinnamon laced nuts. They are really tasty and because they are a bar cookie they are also a great time saver. You just make a batch of dough and press it into a small jelly roll pan. Top with egg white and a cinnamon nut mixture and bake. As soon as they come out of the oven cut them into little strips. I got nearly 100 out of one batch. It depends on the size you cut them. If you are looking for a simple, yet wonderful cookie, you might want to try these.

 

  Cinnamon Nut Shortbread Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg, separated
2 c. flour
1 T. water
½ c. finely chopped nuts                                                                                                                        2 t. cinnamon
Lightly grease jellyroll pan (10×15). Mix butter, sugar and egg yolk then stir in flour. Pat into pan. Beat egg white with water until frothy and spread over dough. Combine nuts and cinnamon. Sprinkle on nut mixture and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut immediately into tiny strips, makes 50- 100 .

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These cookies have a great lemon flavor and delicate texture. They are also easy to make. These are a slice and bake cookie. That means you make the dough, form into a roll, and chill. Now you can just slice and bake when you have the time. I sometimes make a batch and freeze them- so I can make fresh cookies whenever I like.

Lemon Meltaways

Dough:
1 ¼ c. flour
¾ c. butter, softened
½ c. cornstarch
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
Frosting:
¾ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel

In large bowl combine all dough ingredients and mix well. Divide dough in half and roll each half into an 8- inch roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 1-2 hours. Slice chilled dough into ¼ inch slices and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies are set, but not brown. Cool completely on a rack. Combine frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cookies. Makes 4 dozen.

 

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