Cookie Exchange

From classic iced sugar cookies to interesting pistachio-infused treats, these recipes are sure to freshen up your traditional Christmas baking routine.

Recipes by Sarah McCullen | Photographed by Joe Worthem


For many, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the timeless tradition of the Christmas cookie. The sweet treats are shared with friends, taken to parties and left out for Santa. Often filled with nostalgia, holiday goodies can be fantastic conversation starters about years past, especially when they come from family recipes that have been passed down through generations. One thing is for certain: There is always room for more.


Online only!

Iced Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups salted butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons meringue powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 to 2 tablespoons water


In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy and pale in color, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks, vanilla and salt, and beat until blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add flour, 1 to 2 cups at a time, beating on medium speed just until blended after each addition. Shape dough into a ball, and bowl with plastic wrap; then chill for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.


When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Divide dough into fourths. Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, roll dough to about ½-inch thickness on a floured surface. Using cookie cutters, cut dough into shapes, rerolling scraps of dough as needed to use all of dough. Place cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 1-2 inches apart. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.


Bake cookies, in batches, in preheated oven until cookies are just beginning to brown on edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies from baking sheets to wire racks, and let cool completely, about 20 minutes.


While cookies cool, in a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, meringue powder, almond extract, and 1 tablespoon of the water. If needed, add remaining 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing thickly coats the back of a spoon. Transfer icing to a ziplock plastic freezer bag, and snip 1 corner to make a small hole. Pipe icing onto cooled cookies, and let cookies stand until icing is set, about 10 minutes.


Online only!

Chocolate-Drizzled Orange Biscotti

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and dough

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons grated orange zest plus more for garnish, plus 2 tablespoons fresh juice (from 1 orange), divided

¼ cup cold salted butter, cubed

¾ cup chopped walnuts

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons orange zest until just combined. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.


In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice until well combined. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, and stir until mixture becomes a thick dough. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead 8 to 10 times, adding in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour if dough is too sticky to manage. Shape dough into an 8-x 10-inch rectangle, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.


Bake biscotti in preheated oven until top is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool 10 minutes. Cut biscotti in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 4-inch slices creating individual cookies. Separate cookies, spacing 1 inch apart. Return biscotti to oven, and bake until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly on baking sheet, about 10 minutes. Transfer biscotti to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 10-15 minutes.


Place chocolate chips in a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high at 20-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add coconut oil, and stir until blended. Drizzle chocolate over cooled biscotti. Garnish with additional orange zest. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.



Online only!

Reindeer Tracks

½ cup unsweetened cocoa

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup salted butter, melted

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup butterscotch chips

1 cup crushed pretzels


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, sugar, butter and oil. Add egg and vanilla, and using a handheld or stand mixer, beat for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined. In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, one-third at a time, stirring just until blended after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and pretzels.


Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake cookies, in batches, in preheated oven until fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: Watch closely while baking because these are easy to overbake since they’re dark brown.) Let cookies cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely, about 15 minutes.


Pistachio-White Chip Cookies

1 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 (3.4-ounce) pkg. pistachio instant pudding mix

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white baking chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and pale in color, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until blended, about 1 minute. Add pudding mix and baking soda, stirring until blended. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring just until blended after each addition, about 1 minute. Stir in white baking chips. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing cookies about 3 inches apart.


Bake cookies, in batches, in preheated oven until just barely set, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cookies from oven, and let cool on baking sheets 5 minutes for cookies to set. Transfer cookies from baking sheets to wire racks to cool completely, about 15 minutes.


Caramel Pecan Pralines

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into tablespoons

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups pecan pieces


Place a 2-foot piece of parchment paper on a work surface. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine granulated and brown sugars, whipping cream, butter and baking soda, and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture is boiling and foaming and a candy thermometer registers 236°F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and salt until blended. Add pecans, and stir until mixture cools and thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Candy will become firm as it cools.


Santa’s Whiskers

1 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon rum extract

¾ cup chopped candied cherries

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and pale in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk and vanilla and rum extracts, and beat 1 more minute. Add chopped cherries, and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Gradually add flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula just until blended after each addition.


Divide dough in half, and roll each half into a 2-inch diameter log. Cover each log with plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove cookie dough logs from refrigerator, and roll in coconut flakes. Cut logs into ¼-inch-thick slices, and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake, in batches, in preheated oven until just beginning to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes.


Lemon Shortbread

¾ cup salted butter, softened, plus more for buttering pan

Pinch of salt

2 heaping tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh juice (from 2 to 3 lemons), divided

1 ½ cups powdered sugar, divided

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar


In a large bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer, beat butter, salt, 2 heaping tablespoons of the lemon zest, and ½ cup of the powdered sugar on medium until fluffy and pale in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually fold flour into butter mixture using a rubber spatula, until fully combined. Transfer dough to a lightly buttered springform pan, pressing mixture into bottom and toward sides of pan. (Dough should cover bottom of pan, creating a ¼-inch-thick layer). Sprinkle granulated sugar over top of dough, and press into dough. Cover and refrigerate dough 1 to 2 hours.


Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough from refrigerator, and bake until barely golden and fragrant, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly in pan, 15 minutes. Remove sides of pan, and cut into triangles, separating to create individual cookies. Gently transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely, about 15 minutes.


In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and remaining 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth, stirring in remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice as needed for desired consistency. Icing should be thick enough to create a drizzly ribbon. Drizzle over cookies, and allow to set, about 15 minutes.

54 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All