Christmas is less than a week away and even if you’ve still got presents to buy and wrap and cards to address and mail, I bet you can find an hour to whip up a batch of holiday cookies.
I spent one morning last week trying out three new recipes: a chocolate chip recipe that adds toffee bits, a tiny iced sugar cookie that’s about the size of a postage stamp, and an almond melt-in-your mouth cookie (don’t skip the orange zest).
Just about all the ingredients for the cookies are things you probably already have in your fridge or pantry. I did have to purchase almond meal for one recipe, which was quite pricey – about $8 for the bag. But there’s enough left to make another batch, so that made me feel a bit better.
On the mini sugar cookies, there’s no liquid in the dough except for the softened butter, so you really have to knead it well. Trust me when I say it will eventually morph into a dough ball.
On the chocolate chip cookies, I kept waiting for the dough to spread out on the pan, since the butter in the recipe was melted, but these cookies stayed tall and small. The texture was perfect.
The sugar cookies and snowballs came together, making and baking, in less than an hour, but the chocolate chip cookies took a bit longer because the dough has to chill a bit.
So find that hour, carve that time and make those memories. You’ll be glad you did.
ALMOND SNOWBALL COOKIES
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup almond flour or fine almond meal
1/2 tablespoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream together butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Switch to paddle attachment and gradually mix in flour and salt. Once incorporated, add almond meal and orange zest and mix until well blended. The dough will stick slightly to the spatula but not to finger tips. If very sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls (a small ice cream scoop makes it easy and exact). Place them on prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart. Don’t make them too large or they won’t bake through properly.
Bake 11 to 13 minutes, or until bottoms are golden and edges are barely golden. Remove from baking sheet and cool 5 minutes.
Fill a bowl with remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and roll the cookies in it while they are still warm (not hot). Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Once cookies are at room temp, roll in powdered sugar again or dust the tops with a mini sieve for a snowy look. Makes 38 to 40 cookies.
TOFFEE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or scant 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup toffee bits
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add brown sugar to a large bowl. Pour melted butter over sugar and stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes.
Add egg and egg yolk; stir to combine. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just combined. Stir in toffee bits and chocolate chips.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes to give the ingredients a chance to meld.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 to 14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
SUGAR COOKIE BITES
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tube white cookie icing
1 tube red cookie icing
1 tube green cookie icing
Red and green sprinkles
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter until combined. Place dough in bowl and knead until it comes together.
On waxed paper, roll dough into a 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick square. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares. Place dough onto large cookie sheet. Bake until cookies are light brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Frost the tops of cookies with red, green or white icing and sprinkle with red and green sprinkles. Makes about 4 dozen.