Christmas is coming, and you know what that means: Christmas cookies! Whether you plan to make them or just eat them, I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the five main types of cookies you meet (and eat) during the holidays. Enjoy!
The Spectacular Slice-and-Bake
Southern Living‘s Cranberry-Orange Slice and Bake Shortbread is the perfect Christmas cookie: it is delicious, it is easy, and it is ready when you are. Have you never made Christmas cookies before? Are you worried you don’t have time? These are great because you can make a couple logs in less than 30 minutes (four dozen cookies!), throw them in the freezer, and bake them off just when you need them!
Photo from Southern Living. Pictured (clockwise from top left): cranberry-orange, pecan, coconut-macadamia, and toffee-espresso.
There are other variations listed, but the cranberry-orange version is ideal for Christmas: light, crispy, sweet, and tangy. But you could make a plain version and press the slices into sanding sugar (a type of decorative sugar), or dip them half into dark chocolate after baking and sprinkle them with crushed peppermint candies . . . the possibilities are endless. And easy! And if you use margarine (real margarine, not cooking oil spreads), they’re vegan!
The Retro Spritz
I appreciate Classic Spritz Cookies for what they are: a classic butter cookie that’s sweet and easy to do with the kids. My dad inherited his mom’s cookie press and made them for a few years and it was the cutest. Delicious!
Photo from Betty Crocker.
The Gingerbread Man
I could eat an army of gingerbread men. But there are so many recipes to choose from! I like Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Cookie recipe: it makes a lot of cookies, and the black pepper gives it a nice sharp edge.
Oh Martha. You’re so crazy. Photo from Martha Stewart.
The Pain-in-the Ass (That Is Totally Worth It)
These cookies. These cookies. These Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies (another Martha Stewart recipe) are soooooo good. Chocolate-peppermint cookies wrapped in luscious white chocolate (I recommend Ghirardelli) and topped with crushed candy canes? These are so f*cking good. They’re like Thin Mints that died and went to Santa’s workshop.
(Kinda crappy) photo from Martha Stewart.
I’m not going to lie. These cookies are work. Make the dough! Chill the dough! Roll the dough! Freeze the dough! Cut the cookies! Freeze the cookies (I’m not kidding)! Bake the cookies! Dip the cookies! Top the cookies! But then. You can eat these cookies. If I didn’t make them every year my family would cry.
The No-Bake Retro Gem
I saved the best for last. But first: let me tell you about my good friend Melissa. She’s smart, funny, and stylish. She spent a year of college in France. She worked for a major financial company in London. She’s the perfect dinner party guest, because she can talk to anyone about anything. Years ago, she bought a shirt for my husband that he still tries to wear every day (he will never wear anything I buy him).
But! She’s also from Illinois, home to the best, down-home, retro Christmas cookie classics (see the spritz cookie, above–my dad is also from Illinois). Melissa makes the greatest Christmas cookies and delivers them to her friends every year, and her Special K bars–an old family recipe–are the best. I hoarded most of them for myself last year and I didn’t even feel guilty: they’re crispy and peanutty and chocolate-y and glorious. And she shared the recipe, with her alterations, below!
Moser Family Special K Bars (Updated by Melissa)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 cup Special K cereal
6 oz chocolate chips
6 oz butterscotch chips
Bring sugar and Karo to a medium boil. Take off heat and add peanut butter, vanilla, and Special K. Press into a buttered 9″ x 13″ cake pan.
Melt chips on very low heat or using a double boiler. Spread on top of bars.
Alterations that I usually do:
- Golden syrup instead of Karo
- Whatever gluten-free organic-ish cereal that’s on sale at New Seasons
- I double the bar portion of the batch (not the topping) and put it in a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet) to make more, but I don’t like too much chocolate
- Add a bit of sea salt flakes to the top!
Unfortunately, there are no known pictures of these bars, because they are immediately inhaled.
Phew! So what are your Christmas cookie plans? I’m making the Slice-and-Bakes, Chocolate-Peppermints, and Gingerbread Men (Melissa has promised me extra Special K bars).