Christmas cookies, fresh from the oven this holiday season

There’s nothing like the scent of cookies baking in the oven, especially during the holidays. Whether your recipes are family favorites for soft sugar cookies or a recipe for crispy-edged treats shared by a friend, homemade cookies are sure to bring a smile to kids of all ages.

They’re also a delicious way to say “thank you” to people who work so tirelessly all year long: caregivers, pastors, teachers, nurses and more. And don’t forget about the jolly fellow who visits homes around the world on Christmas Eve. It’s rumored he likes milk with his warm cookies!


Old-Fashioned Iced Cookies

(as seen in the photo at the beginning of this post)

For cookie dough:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Extra flour for rolling dough

For icing:
3 to 4 tablespoons milk (more if icing isn’t as thin as desired)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 cups powdered
sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Gel food colorings, optional
Sprinkles or sugar crystals, optional

Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until creamy and well combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat until completely combined. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet until combined.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer approximately half of the dough onto the wrap (dough will be quite sticky at this point). Form dough into a disc shape; fold wrap to cover dough. Repeat step with remaining dough. Chill dough at least 30 minutes before continuing with recipe. Once dough is chilled, heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Dust clean counter surface with flour and place one cookie dough disk onto the surface. Lightly flour the dough and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness (for crispier cookies) or 1/4 inch thickness (for softer cookies). Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and transfer shapes to prepared baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until edges begin to turn light golden brown. Allow cookies to cool before frosting.

For icing: In a medium-sized bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of milk and corn syrup together until well combined. Next, add powdered sugar and vanilla and stir well. If frosting is too thick, add more milk, about a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is thin enough to pipe. If coloring frosting, divide into bowls and color as desired at this point.

Transfer frosting to a zip-style food storage bag and snip the corner off the bag so icing can be piped out. Ice cookies as desired and decorate. Allow frosting to harden before storing (could take more than an hour.)

Crispy Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra sugar for coating cookies before baking

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a stand mixer on low speed, cream shortening and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until completely incorporated. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves and salt and add to the mixture. Stir until combined.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in additional sugar. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with fingertips or fork. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Eggnog Snowballs

1 cup almond flour
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons rum flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the almond flour and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and combine well. Add the butter and process until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape the dough off the inside of the bowl as needed. Add the rum flavoring and vanilla and pulse until smooth. Add the flour and salt and pulse until the dough forms a ball.

Roll mounded teaspoons of the dough into balls about 1-inch wide and place on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the cookies are firm when gently pressed, completely dry and just beginning to crack. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes — they will become firm as they cool.

Place the remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a pie plate or baking dish. Toss the warm cookies gently in the powdered sugar until evenly coated; the cookies need to be warm for the first coating of powdered sugar to stick. Cool the cookies on a wire rack completely, about 30 minutes, then toss again in the sugar mixture so they are totally white.


Cake Mix Cookies

One 15.25-ounce box yellow cake mix
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup water
2 cups dark chocolate chunks
1/4 cup sprinkles (whatever colors you prefer)
1 cup stick pretzels, crushed

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Stir together the cake mix, eggs, butter and water in a large bowl until smooth and combined. Stir in the chocolate and sprinkles until they are completely coated, then gently fold in the pretzels.

Scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart using a 2-ounce scoop or large spoon. Bake, rotating the baking sheets on shelves halfway through baking time, until the cookies start to turn golden brown on top, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla and beat until well combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until it is just incorporated with the butter mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Chill the cookie dough at least 30 minutes. Create cookie balls with a small ice cream scoop and place cookies on lined baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until edges are light golden brown.

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