My poor waistline during the holidays, lol. I blame it on my yearning to have traditions that my kids will one day have fun memories of. That’s why every December I like to indulge in baking cookies. I’ve tried quite a bit of recipes from easy to some that are perhaps above my skillset, but helps me feel festive. Plus its the one time of year I bust out my Kitchen Aid Mixer! (I bought mine at Macy's)
Here I’m giving you a few classic fail proof favorites, a few festive recipes and some to challenge your baking skills. Try them out and dm me your reviews!
1. BUCKEYES - Reindeer Edition
Obvi a girl from Ohio loves a peanut butter truffle dipped in chocolate. These are a traditional Ohio holiday cookie but we make it festive by creating reindeer faces of with edible candies and pretzel antlers. It’s a fudge lovers dream cookie, I promise you won’t be able to just eat one. The first time I made these myself tho, I giggled that it’s an art covering your toothpick holes so they don’t look like nipples, lol. And this festive additive wasn't the prettiest either, but they are still delicious. Hint, chilling in the freezer part is crucial, don’t skip it:)
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 6 cups confectioners' sugar
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, butter, vanilla and confectioners' sugar. The dough will look dry.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping) and chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until smooth.
Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick. Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeyes.
Put back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until serving.
2. Kringle Krinkles
These are so festive and so yummy. My kids had so much fun making these and watching the process of food coloring turn the dough green. If you love red velvet and moist soft cookies, you’ll love these. Helpful Hint - remember do not add the water that the box recipe requires, otherwise you’ll end up with cupcakes.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE RED VELVET DOUGH
1 box red velvet cake mix
1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
FOR THE GREEN VANILLA DOUGH
1 box white cake mix
1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (optional)
10 drops green food coloring
1 c. powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°.
Make the green vanilla dough: In another mixing bowl, stir together cake mix, oil, eggs, vanilla, and food coloring and mix until combined.Refrigerate both kinds of dough for 20 to 25 minutes.
Then, add the red velvet dough to the green vanilla dough, twisting the two together using your hands, kneading just enough to create a swirled, marbled effect.
Roll dough into 1" balls, then roll in powdered sugar.
Place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies have flattened and the center is no longer gooey or jiggly when you move the baking sheet.
3. Browned Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles
Last year was the first time I made these cookies and let me tell you, they are so unbelievably good. Warning: you’ll eat more than you need so my advice is to buy some of these adorable Holiday Cookie tins and get prepared to gift some cookies! (I got these at Target)
Note, this is a recipe that will challenge you as a baker. I had never ‘browned butter’ before and the window of the perfect browned butter is less that the window of a perfectly ripe avocado - you’ve got like 20 seconds, really. And when a recipe calls for cream of tartar (which I thought it’s only purpose was homemade playdoh) you better stay on exact recipe instructions! Needless to say I was intimidated to try these but these cookies are now on my absolutely-must-make-every-year list.
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt1 cup unsalted butter, sliced
1¼ cup dark brown sugar½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 cup caramel squares, cut into ¼ squares
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Coarse Sea salt for sprinkling on completed cookies
In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, cinnamon, and set aside.
To brown the butter, heat a medium saucepan to medium high heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently. You will notice the butter starting to become frothy on the top and brown specks will start to form along the bottom. You have to watch it closely because the turn happens quickly and you don't want it to burn. You will start to smell a nutty aroma and once it turns to a brown color, remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
While the butter is cooling, cut the caramel squares into ¼ squares.
In a stand mixer, combine the brown butter and brown sugar, and ½ cup granulated sugar. (The ¼ cup sugar will be used for rolling in the cookies). Mix until blended and smooth.Beat in egg, yolk, vanilla and yogurt and mix until combined.
Slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Once you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball and place 1-2 caramel squares inside, wrap the cookie dough over the caramel and roll back into a ball. Make sure it is completely covered so that the caramel won't stick to the pan.
Mix ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and roll each cookie in the mixture. Place on a cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. (I used course sea salt)
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges turn lightly brown. The centers will be soft. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
4. Peanut Butter Blossoms
These are one of those fail proof recipes that is guaranteed to be delicious. Chris isn’t a huge sweets fan, but this is one cookie he can’t resist. The recipe is daily easy so I always get my boys involved in the process with placing the Hershey Kisses in the middle of each cookie.
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extractHershey Kisses
Preheat oven to 375° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter until smooth.
Add sugars and beat until light in color and fluffy. Beat in egg, then add milk and vanilla and mix until combined. Gradually add flour mixture, stirring on low, until just combined.
Roll a tablespoonful of cookie dough into a ball, then roll in sugar.
Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies at least 2” apart.
Bake until cookies have poofed and no longer look raw, about 8 to 10 minutes. (They won’t brown!)
Immediately top with Hershey Kisses before serving.
Unwrap your Hershey's Kisses while your cookies are baking because once they come out of the oven, you need to pop them in FAST.
5. Snowballs (Mexican Wedding Cookies)
These festive snowy cookies are buttery and nutty and delicate. These are my absolute favorite holiday cookie. There are a few different recipes that call for almonds or walnuts, but I prefer pecans. This is a simple recipe and they aren’t too sweet.
1 cup butter, softened
1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1⁄4 cups sifted flour
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup chopped pecans
Powdered Sugar (for rolling baked cookies in)
Cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy; stir in vanilla.
Whisk together flour and salt; add gradually to butter mixture; stir in chopped nuts.
Chill dough if it seems too soft.
Form dough into 1 1/4" balls and place onto parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or just until the cookies start to turn light golden-brown; remove from oven and allow to cool slightly; while cookies are still warm (but NOT hot) remove them from baking sheets and roll, a few at a time, in powdered sugar until evenly coated; cool cookies completely on wire racks.
Cookies may (optionally) be rolled in powdered sugar a second time once cooled to room temperature.
6. Peppermint Pattie-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
For me, nothing like peppermint says Christmas. These cookies will delight everyone with the surprise hidden inside this stuffed chocolate cake batter cookie. Sadly my picky kids won’t eat these, they love eating the chocolate cake mix & decorating with red and green sprinkles.
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
1/2 c. canola oil
14 York Peppermint Pattie Minis
Sprinkles, for decorating
Preheat oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together cake mix and baking powder; in another bowl, whisk together eggs and oil.
Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until fully combined.
Using your hands, form small balls of dough. Flatten a ball, then place a Peppermint Patty in the center and fold dough over to completely cover.
Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough (you should have enough for about 14 cookies).
Top with sprinkles and bake until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.
I hope this helps you find your favorite cookies recipes this holiday season & I would love to hear all your stories about how your kiddos destroyed your kitchen in the spirit of baking traditions just like mine did!