What exactly would Christmas be if not for cookies? Well for one thing, it probably would mean less people running to the nearest gym come January 2nd. For me, and for many others I am guessing, Christmas cookies are about more than sweetness, flour, and sugar. As they should be.
A plate left for Santa, a cookie exchange for friends, a mother-daughter moment in the kitchen. The feeling of home.There is something so personal about cookies, a perfect gift, a small homemade gesture with endless possibilities for decorating and packaging.
Iced sugar cookies, though bright and festive, were never really my calling. The icing was too sweet and my frustration with imperfection came too soon. Chocolate chip cookies are tried and true but never seemed like the quint essential holiday cookie. As in previous posts, I have already shared my memories of ginger snaps, a perfect paring to holiday tea.
It seems as though any cookie can really weave its way into the spread of holiday traditions. This year I decided to continue to experiment with various recipes. Utilizing some of my favorite tricks of the trade.
Allow for Rest – Allowing the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes prior to transferring them to a cooling rack allows the cookies to set. This greatly reduces your chances of crumbling cookies.
Cool the Sheet – By popping the cookie sheets into the freezer for about five minutes in between batches will prevent cookies from spreading (beginning to cook) prior to the sheet going back into the oven.
Refrigerate the Dough – Depending on the dough – sugar snap, peanut butter and some sugar cookies in particular – will benefit from an hour or so of refrigeration prior to baking. This time allows for the dough to become more uniform and proves easier to handle come scooping time.
So far, two reports of successful cookie experimentation include peanut butter cookies which include my favorite peanut butter of all time – Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate. This recipe from was adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s master recipe (14 in 1). The other is a delicate, but candy like, Macadamia Lace Cookie, a recipe found in the Cookie Edition of Fine Cooking magazine. The recipe can be found here.
Joy of Cooking’s Master Cookie Recipe (14 in 1)
Makes about 3-4 dozen
In a medium bowl, beat on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, processed in the food processor for 30 seconds, or superfine sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup peanut butter
Tip: spray the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray to allow for easy removal of the peanut butter
Add and beat until well blended: 1 large egg yolk
Add and beat until well combined: 1 large egg, 2 tsp vanilla
Reduce the speed to low and beat in just until combined: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour OR 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour & 1 cup whole wheat flour
Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F and position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Remove one half of the dough from the refrigerator and scoop dough into 1-tablespoon balls, place the dough balls onto parchment lined baking sheets, space about two inches apart. Using the bottom of a smooth glass, lightly coated in flour, flatten each dough ball and use the tongs of a fork to make a criss-cross pattern. Bake until golden brown about 12 minutes.