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holiday cookies

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By Heidi Sutton

Tradition plays a big role during the holiday season. Food is at the center of many families’ traditions, which may include big family dinners and Sunday brunches together. 

Holiday baking sessions also hold a sacred spot in many households. Such sessions are a great opportunity for adults and children to have some fun in the kitchen and create some tasty treats the whole family can enjoy. 

Baked goods devotees may find it hard to imagine the holidays without gingerbread, and this recipe for “Soft Glazed Gingerbread” from Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson’s Tartine cookbook (Chronicle Books) can ensure the whole family enjoys this holiday season staple.

Soft Glazed Gingerbread

YIELD: Makes 12 to 20 cookies



3 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

4 teaspoons ground ginger

11⁄2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

11⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1⁄2 cup dark molasses

2 tablespoons light corn syrup


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons water


To make the dough, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Add the egg and mix well.

Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper on a nonstick liner. Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. Roll out the dough 1⁄3-inch thick, lightly dust the top with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. 

Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes. The timing will depend on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking.

While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth. 

When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly covering it. Let the cookies cool completely. When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny, opaque finish. The cookies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for about 2 weeks. Do not freeze.

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

By Heidi Sutton

Biscotti, the “twice baked” cookie treat from Italy, can be a perfect pairing to a cup of coffee or tea. They also make great holiday gifts — simply line a decorative holiday tin with waxed or parchment paper before filling or wrap the biscotti in cellophane and place in a holiday mug.  

Enjoy this recipe for Double-Chocolate Biscotti courtesy of Culinary.net and Almond-Orange Biscotti courtesy of Chef John Nash. To keep the cookies crisp, store them in an airtight container, preferably a tin, and they’ll will keep for up to two weeks. Do not refrigerate.

Double-Chocolate Biscotti

YIELD: Makes 40 cookies


3  cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2  cup extra light olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for coating pans

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

1/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate morsels


On sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat olive oil with sugar until smooth and light. Add eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating until smooth. Add milk and vinegar; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in chocolate morsels with large spoon; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Heat oven to 325 F. Grease two large baking sheets with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil each. On lightly floured surface, divide dough into quarters. Roll each piece of dough into log, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place logs on baking sheets, leaving space in between. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden and set. Transfer to rack; let cool 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 F. On cutting board using serrated knife, cut each log into 3/4-inch-wide slices diagonally. Place slices, cut-side down, on baking sheets. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until toasted. Transfer to racks; let cool.

Almond-Orange Biscotti
Almond-Orange Biscotti

YIELD: Makes 36 cookies


3 large eggs, separated

1 1⁄2 cups sugar

1⁄3 cup melted butter, cooled

1 cup lightly toasted, coarsely chopped almonds

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur

1⁄8 cup chopped, candied orange peel or 3 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder


Beat the egg yolks with 3⁄4 cup sugar until light and sugar is dissolved. Stir in the melted butter, nuts, Grand Marnier, and candied orange. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they just begin to form peaks, and gradually beat in remaining 3⁄4 cup sugar until whites form stiff peaks.

Sift flour and baking powder together and alternately fold 1⁄3 of flour and egg white mixtures into yolks until well combined. Dough will be firm and slightly sticky. If dough is too soft, add more flour. With floured hands, divide dough into two logs approximately 11⁄2 inches in diameter. Arrange logs on a buttered or parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until logs are lightly brown and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let logs cool on baking pan on a rack for 10 minutes. 

On a cutting board, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1⁄2-inch widths. Arrange biscotti cut side down on baking pan and bake for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until biscotti are very lightly browned and crisp. Cool on racks and store airtight.

Allergy Free Sugar Cookies. Photo from Stop & Shop
Allergy Friendly Sugar Cookies
Are you looking for the perfect holiday cookie recipe that can be made allergy free? Look no further than these delicious allergy friendly sugar cookies, courtesy of Stop & Shop!
YIELD: Makes 36 cookies
2 sticks plant-based buttery sticks (1 cup), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons oat milk, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Assorted food gels
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat buttery sticks and granulated sugar 3 minutes or until fluffy, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add 3 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract; beat 2 minutes or until incorporated, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt; beat 1 minute or until just incorporated.
  2. Transfer dough to work surface; divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece to 1/4-inch thick between 2 sheets parchment paper; stack dough on rimmed baking pan and freeze 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°; line 3 rimmed baking pans with parchment paper. Place chilled dough on work surface; remove parchment paper. With winter-themed cookie cutters, carefully cut out cookies; transfer cookies to 2 prepared pans, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 10 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned, rotating pans halfway through baking; cool cookies on pans 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Gather dough scraps, roll out between 2 sheets parchment paper and freeze 30 minutes; cut out and bake cookies on remaining prepared pan as directed above. Makes about 36 cookies.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar, cream of tartar and remaining 2 tablespoons milk. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
  5. Divide icing into smaller bowls; add color gels to create desired colors. Transfer icing to piping bags with small round tips.
  6. In small microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in microwave oven on high 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 20 seconds; stir in oil. Transfer chocolate mixture to piping bag; snip tip of piping bag with kitchen scissors to make small hole.
  7. Decorate cookies with desired icing colors, chocolate and sprinkles, if desired; let dry at room temperature 6 hours or up to overnight. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Russian Tea Cakes

By Barbara Beltrami

For me, a highlight of the winter holiday season is the annual cookie exchange hosted by my wonderful neighbor who gathers a bunch of her friends, neighbors and relatives to bake and share holiday cheer. Everyone brings her favorite cookies, deposits them on the dining room table and stashes an empty container somewhere to collect the assortment of cookies from other ovens later. Then we always gravitate to the kitchen to meet and greet, chatter, munch and sip.

As the evening winds down and the anticipation builds up, we adjourn to the dining room and line up with our containers to ogle the assortment of cookies on the table and select a few from each platter.

And what an assortment it is! Spread before us is each woman’s childhood favorite, treasured heirloom family recipe and often her ethnic root ID. Greek kourabiedes, German spritz, Scottish shortbread, English mincemeat tarts, French sables, Mexican biscochitos, Russian tea cakes, Italian biscotti regina, Finnish Finska kakor and Israeli sufganiyot are but a few of the ethnic cookies that over the years have rendered the assemblage of goodies a veritable United Nations.

As I’ve researched recipes for this wonderful but daunting list of ethnic holiday cookies, I’ve discovered that with few exceptions, every cookie, no matter its origins, calls for virtually the same ingredients: butter, flour, sugar and eggs and is really just a variation of another culture’s recipe. Give each of them a different shape and name and you’ll still have pretty much the same delicious cookie! Wouldn’t it be nice if the world could take a lesson from its cookies?

German Spritz Cookies

German Spritz Cookies

YIELD: Makes about 6 dozen cookies


1 cup butter, softened

²⁄₃ cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2½ cups flour

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl mix butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla thoroughly. Gradually work in flour. Divide dough into quarters; fill cookie press with one quarter at a time and force dough onto ungreased cookie sheet in desired shapes. Sprinkle with colored sugar and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until set but not brown. Serve with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, ice cream, fruit punch, eggnog or any liqueur.

Finska Kakor

Finska Kakor

YIELD: Makes about 4 dozen cookies


¾ cup butter, softened

¼ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups flour

Dash of salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup finely chopped almonds

DIRECTIONS: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, the quarter cup sugar and extract. Sift together the flour and salt and, working it in with your hands, gradually add to mixture. Chill for one to two hours. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut into 3-inch by 1-inch strips. Brush lightly with beaten egg white, then sprinkle with mixture of remaining sugar and almonds. Carefully transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 18 minutes or until pale golden. Very gently remove to cooling rack until room temperature and crispy. Serve with coffee, tea, eggnog, milk, hot chocolate or amaretto liqueur.

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

YIELD: Makes about 4 dozen cookies


2 sticks butter, softened

½ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2¼ cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

¾ cup finely chopped nuts

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl cream together the butter, the half cup of confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Sift together flour and salt and along with nuts, stir into butter mixture. Chill for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and, while still warm, roll cookie in the remaining cup confectioners’ sugar. Then when cool, roll in the sugar again. Serve with coffee, tea, hot cocoa, milk, fruit punch, eggnog or any liqueur.

By Barbara Beltrami

Hello, all you cooks and bakers! I’m back after a 25-year vacation and will once again be bringing you my favorite recipes; usually easy, original, healthful, calling for quality ingredients and sometimes modified from other recipes and tested.

For a good beginning to this column and to any company or holiday meal, what else but hors d’oeuvres? In the tradition of the season, what else but cookies? While the kids are wolfing down sugar cookies and gingerbread people (we must be politically correct and not call them gingerbread men anymore) from Grandmas’s treasured recipes, the grown-ups will be sitting around calmly sipping their cocktails and wine and nibbling (or binging) on these savory cookies.

Think thin biscotti with black olives, sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts. Imagine Parmesan wafers with pungent rosemary, or olive oil-black pepper cookies. So pour yourself a drink, preheat that oven and start baking!

Parmesan-Rosemary Wafers

YIELD: 2 1/2 dozen wafers


1 ½ cups freshly and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (not the kind in the package!)

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 ½ teaspoons dried

½ teaspoon coarse or sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Using a measuring teaspoon, not a regular teaspoon, and mixing well before each spoonful (the flour tends to drop to the bottom), drop mixture into little mounds onto prepared baking sheet. Bake midoven until golden, about 9 minutes. Cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes; with spatula gently remove and place on wire rack to cool.

Best if served immediately; otherwise reheat to crisp.

Biscotti with Black Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Walnuts

biscotti-with-black-olivesYIELD: 3 1/2 dozen biscotti


1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 ounces freshly and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese (don’t use the packaged kind)

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

one stick of unsalted butter, sliced into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup Italian or Greek black olives, pitted and chopped

½ cup oil-packed and drained sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 ½ tablespoons milk

one large egg

DIRECTIONS: In a bowl, combine flour, cheese, salt and pepper. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in olives, tomatoes and walnuts. In a small bowl, beat together the milk and egg; combine egg mixture with dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Shape dough into a ball. Divide dough in half; pat and roll each piece into a 6- to 8-inch log and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate till firm, preferably overnight, but at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter two large baking sheets. Diagonally cut the logs into ¼-inch slices and place one inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the biscotti are just brown around the edges (10 to 12 minutes). With a spatula, transfer to wire racks to cool.

Best if served immediately; otherwise reheat to crisp.

Olive Oil Cookies with Black Pepper

oliv-oil-cookies-with-black-pepperYIELD: 4 to 5 dozen cookies


Nonstick cooking spray

2 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon sea or coarse salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup extra virgin olive oil (yes, it does make a difference!)

¾ cup dry red wine

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly spray 2-3 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients. Beat together the eggs, oil and wine. Add liquid ingredients to dry mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonsful onto baking sheets. Bake until browned around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove with spatula and cool on wire racks.