From savory to sweet, cookies are a holiday must-have! Make one or make them all, then swap or give them to family and friends. Or spread the joy by treating your co-workers, neighbors or children’s teachers.
Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Bars
The buttery crunch of classic shortbread serves as the foundation for a refreshing layer of peppermint “ice” topped with decadent chocolate for a lovely addition to any holiday cookie tray.
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/4 t salt
2 egg yolks
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
Peppermint and Chocolate:
3 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
4 T boiling water
1/2 t good-quality peppermint extract
1/3 c peppermint candy, such as starlight mints, crushed
7 oz good-quality bittersweet chocolate, preferably Callebaut*
1 T vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 8 x 8″ pan with oil. Line pan with parchment paper to the top edges of the pan. With a stand or handheld mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt until fluffy, approx. 3-4 min, scraping down the sides and bottom. Add yolks, one at a time, then vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add flour all at once and mix at low speed until combined; do not overwork. Press dough into prepared pan and level the surface. Prick with a fork in several places and bake 15-18 min, until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before proceeding with next steps.
For peppermint layer, place powdered sugar in a bowl, add boiling water and extract then mix with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add crushed candy and mix well. Working quickly, spread over cooled crust and level. Refrigerate 1 hr.
Chop chocolate and place into microwaveable bowl. Heat 1 min on 60% power. Mix with a rubber spatula then heat again 30 sec, mix then heat another 30 sec. Add oil and blend well. If there are lumps, heat again 30 sec, being careful not to scorch. When smooth, pour over peppermint and quickly spread into an even layer to cover. Allow chocolate to harden.
Lift parchment paper to remove from pan. Using a large, sharp knife, slice into bars of desired size and serve. Makes 30, 2 1/2 x 3/4″ bars.
* Callebaut chocolate is available in your Market Bakery retail area.
Crystallized Ginger, Cashew and Cardamom Biscotti
Three fabulous flavors come together in these “cookies” fit for a king. Bake and enjoy these beautiful biscotti with coffee or tea.
Special tools: mixer, sharp serrated knife, pastry brush, parchment paper
Advanced prep: dough can be made, formed and frozen up to a week in advance
3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 t ground cardamom
1/4 t salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1 c sugar
2 t vanilla extract
3 T milk
3 lg eggs, room temp, beaten
2/3 c organic crystallized ginger, diced
2/3 c raw or roasted unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt; set aside.
In a mixer bowl, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and milk until light and fluffy. Reserve 1 T of beaten egg in a small container, then add remaining eggs to sugar mixture in three increments and mix until well incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl from time to time. Add flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until combined. Add ginger and cashews and combine; do not overwork.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Lightly dust counter with flour, turn the dough onto counter and divide into fourths. Shape each fourth into a log, approx. 1″ thick and 2″ wide. If the dough is too sticky to handle, dampen your fingers, then shape. Place two logs onto each cookie sheet. Brush logs with reserved egg. Bake until slightly firm and golden, approx. 25 min. Rotate pans halfway through, if needed. Let cool completely, at least 30 min before continuing.
Reduce oven to 275 degrees. On a cutting board with a serrated knife, cut logs at a slight angle into slices, about 1/2″ thick.
Dry biscotti with one of the following methods:
- Lay flat on cookie sheet and bake 20 min, then flip and bake 10-15 min more, until dry.
- Stand biscotti up with a small space between them and bake 20-30 min until dry.
- Place a cookie rack on each cookie sheet with biscotti lying flat and bake 20-30 min until dry.
Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. Makes 3-4 doz cookies, depending on thickness.
Savory Cheese Cookies
Add a savory spin to your next get-together by serving these cheese cookies dressed in sesame seeds to make it a fantastic formal affair.
Special equipment: food processor, pastry brush, parchment paper or silicone baking mats, grater
Advanced prep: dough could be made ahead and frozen up to 2 weeks
1 1/2 t salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t paprika
1/2 t black pepper
2 c + 2 T all-purpose flour, chilled
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, very cold
2 2/3 c (1/2 lb) Emmental or Gruyère cheese, shredded large, very cold
1 lg egg yolk, beaten with 1 t water
1/2 c white and/or black sesame seeds
In food processor or large bowl, combine salt, cayenne, paprika and pepper and 2 c flour. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms small crumbs.
Add cold cheese and pulse, just until mixture comes together. Lightly dust counter with 2 T flour, and divide dough into three equal pieces, approx. 1/2 lb each. Gently work dough into cylinders, approx. 1 1/2″ in diameter, with the goal of eliminating any holes or “cavities” in the center of the cylinder; otherwise, cookies will break. If unsure, cut the cylinder in the middle and check for holes.
Place cylinders onto baking sheet lined with wax paper and freeze at least 2 hr. If you are freezing for later use, wrap dough tightly with plastic.
To prepare for baking, brush cylinders with egg yolk and roll in sesame seeds to coat; set aside. If your dough is frozen solid, allow it to sit for 20 min before brushing with egg yolk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. On a cutting board, with a sharp, thin knife, cut cylinders into 1/4″ disks and place onto baking sheets, with only a small space between them.
Bake 15-20 min until golden brown, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool. Cookies will become firm and crispy when cooled completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes approx. 5 doz cookies.
Cranberry Pillow Cookies
Cranberry and orange come together in these tender, fluffy Cranberry Pillow Cookies. Feel free to sub your favorite jam for the cranberry filling.
2 1/2 c frozen cranberries
1 c fresh-squeezed orange juice
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
In saucepan, all over med heat until thickened. Chill.
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter,
1 c sugar
2 lg eggs
1 t vanilla
crystal sugar, for garnish
Combine flour, soda and salt in med bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Add dry ingredients until combined; do not over mix. Cover and chill at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough 1/8″ thick on floured board; cut into 2 1/2″ squares. (A metal ruler and pizza cutter make this easier.) Choose a mini cutter no larger than 1″ in diameter and cut out center of half of the squares for the cookie tops. Place 1 t filling in center of solid cookie square and cover with top square. Press edges of two squares together to seal in filling. Crimp edges with fork. Sprinkle with crystal sugar.
Bake 8-10 min until slightly browned; cool on wire rack. Makes 18-24 cookies.
Winter Molasses Cookies
Known for its deep, rich flavor, molasses has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product. Moist and delicious, these cookies are sure to be a holiday hit.
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole-wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground allspice
1/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 c dark molasses
1 t vanilla
1/3 c Lars Swedish pearl sugar or other coarse sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In med bowl, mix flours, soda and spices. Set aside.
In a mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy, scraping bowl often. Add yolk, molasses, and vanilla; mix well. Gradually incorporate dry mixture. Cover; chill 1 hour, until easy to handle (cold dough spreads less when baking).
Shape dough into 1″ balls and roll in pearl sugar. Place onto cookie sheet, 2″ apart. Bake 8-10 min until bottoms are light brown. Let rest 1 min; transfer to wire rack.
Makes 18-24 cookies.