I enjoy baking, so for me it just wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t have the opportunity to bake up a storm. Following in my mother’s footsteps, I always make an assortment of different cookies. Unlike her, I like to try out a new recipe or two every year. Sometimes they’re so good they return year after year, others appear once and then disappear into the back of the recipe binder.
Above is my 2014 selection of Christmas cookies. Let me take you on a tour of the plate, and share the recipes as well:
In the centre of the plate are Lime Meltaways. Fresh lime zest is incorporated into what is essentially a shortbread recipe, the dough is rolled into logs, refrigerated, sliced, baked and then dunked in icing sugar. For a Martha Stewart recipe, it’s quite simple.
Coconut macaroons are at the top of the plate. I use Ina Garten’s recipe with one modification–I use unsweetened coconut as I find them overpowering with the sweetened coconut she suggests. Delicious at any time of year, but since they look like snowballs I think they’re especially fitting for a holiday cookie platter. They happen to be gluten-free.
Next are your standard sugar cookie cutout cookies, sprinkled with coloured sugar. I make these more for colour and interest (who doesn’t like a festive cutout cookie?) than anything else, but I know that for some people the flavour of these says Christmas. I don’t have a particular favourite recipe for these–I find them all pretty similar and use whichever one I can lay my hands on.
Now these ones are dangerous; essentially, they’re like a brownie, a cheesecake and a Reese’s peanut butter cup all collided. Chef Michael Smith’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunches are pretty darn amazing. I use President’s Choice Extra Dark Chocolate to make them (three full 300g bars of it!). Warning, this is a huge recipe, I bake it in my large turkey roasting pan.
Next up on the plate is a recipe that purports to be a knockoff of Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss Bars. This was my first year making them but they will return to the plate in future, as I really enjoy the zing of the dried cranberries (and they look very festive!) However, next time I will put less icing on them than the recipe calls for, as they’re way too sweet for my liking.
These Chocolate Crackle Cookies are the messiest cookies I’ve ever made. But I keep making them year after year because they’re so darn chocolatey. I use Martha Stewart’s recipe but have figured out my own way of getting the chocolate mess onto the pan (I refrigerate the whole bowl of batter and then scoop out a cookie’s worth at a time, roll it into a ball with my hands, then toss it in a bowl of icing sugar, and then onto the cookie sheet.)
My friend in Sweden used to mail me a container of these Swedish Gingerbread cookies every year. Despite being so thin, they weathered the trip quite well. But I talked her into sending me the recipe so I could make more (as one container is never enough of these!) I’ve searched for an online version of the recipe to link to and never found it, so I have typed out the recipe from my friend here. I like to use Moose (and reindeer) cookie cutters for these, and usually refer to them as my Christmoose Cookies.
So that’s my Christmas Cookie plate for 2014. I’m looking forward to sharing them with friends, family and colleagues at several Christmas pot lucks and parties over the next couple weeks!