Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Cookies...Mmmmmm...

For the past few years, sometime around Christmas, my family holds a "Cookie-Off".  We each find a recipe, bake our cookies, and judge to see whose tastes the best.  In the end, it doesn't really matter who wins.  It's more about having a tradition and spending time doing something you love with the ones you love.  And of course, gaining a few pounds in the process.  Kate Moss was once quoted as saying, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels".   Forget that!! I guess she never had a Cookie-Off in her house.  Poor, Kate, she doesn't know what she's missing!

Here are the cookies we created this year!  Enjoy!

Two-Tone Cinnamon Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

Made with love by...Me!
I really liked the way these cookies came out.  They're so cute!  They have a very mild sweetness and are very light feeling.  I tasted a few one before I put the glazes on, and they were still good, kind of reminding me of shortbread.  These would be great cookies for someone who likes their sweets to be, well, not too sweet.

Makes: multiple, depending on size of cookie cutter


1/2 cup butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 recipe Cinnamon Glaze (see below)
1 recipe White Glaze (see below)

  1. In a large bowl, combine butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixture.  Use a wooden spoon to stir in any remaining flour.  Cover in the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick.  Using a cookie cutter (whatever shape you like - I used a small heart with fluted edges, about 2 1/2 inches wide), cut out the dough.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges start to lightly brown.  Cool on wire rack.
  4. When the cookies are cooled, make your glazes:
    1. Cinnamon Glaze:  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup chocolate chips, 2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tsp shortening.  Stir over low heat until melted.  Scoop melted glaze into a piping bag or Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off.
    2. White Glaze:  In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup white chocolate chips and 2 tsp shortening.  Stir over low heat until melted.  Scoop melted glaze into a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off.
  5. Working with a few cookies at a time, spread the White Glaze over the top of the cookie from edge to edge.  Drizzle with the Cinnamon Glaze and use a toothpick to marble the glazes together.  If either glaze begins to cool in the bag, simply warm in the microwave for a few seconds.  Let the cookies stand until the glazes are set (about 25 minutes).
Surprise Cookies (from Martha Stewart)

Made with love by...My husband!
These cookies were decadent and so delicious!  Actually, they reminded me a little of those Snackwells Devil's Food cookies, which I love, only richer tasting.   They're the kind of cookie that you can have just one and be good...well, maybe!  If you're looking to make it easy on yourself, buy a chocolate cookie premix and a jar of premade chocolate frosting.  I'm sure the results will still be very tasty and you'll save some time! 

Makes: about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients for the cookies:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 bag jumbo marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

Ingredients for the frosting:

2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture and beat on low until combined.
  3. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, drop dough onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies start to spread and become firm. 
  4. Remove cookies from oven.  Squish a marshmallow onto each cookie, sticky side down.  Put back in the oven and cook about 2 more minutes until the marshmallows start to melt.  Cool the cookies on wire racks.
  5. To make the frosting, whisk the powdered sugar, butter, and cocoa in a bowl.  Whisk in milk and vanilla until everything is well combined.
  6. When the cookies are completely cooled, spread the frosting over each cookie, fully covering the marshmallow so it is hidden (hence the surprise!) inside.
Dainty Lemon Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies Magazine, 2002)

Made with love by...My mom!
I love lemon sweets.  They always seem so refreshing, like when you eat them somehow they aren't going to be bad for you.  Lemon is a fruit, right?  Anyways, these little lemon cookies are delicious and great to have on hand in your freezer.  You can just keep the roll and slice off a few at a time, when the mood strikes.

Makes: about 3 dozen cookies, depending on how thick you slice them.


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
sanding sugar (looks prettier, but you can use regular sugar, too)


  1. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and beat until combined.  Add egg, milk, lemon zest, vanilla and lemon extract (optional) and beat until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can and use a wooden spoon to mix in the rest.
  2. Divide dough in half and shape each portion into an 8 inch (or so) log.  Wrap each log in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours.  
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut each log into slices, 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle slices with sanding sugar and set on parchment paper lined cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes or until edges start to become golden.  Cool on wire racks.

Almond Joy Cookies (adapted from

Made with love by...My stepdad!
These ended up being a pretty hearty cookie, reminding me a little of Ranger cookies.  My mom said they seemed like something you'd take on a hike... :).  I liked them, but to be honest, they didn't really taste like an Almond Joy.  I think it needed more coconut.  Feel free to play with the amounts of coconut, chocolate and almonds to find the right mixture for you!

Makes: 2 to 3 dozen, depending on how big you make them


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter together with the white and brown sugar.  Beat in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture until well combined, using a wooden spoon if needed.  Add in chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds.
  4. Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, drop balls of dough onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

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