Homemade cookies add sweetness to the holiday season | WHIDBEY RECIPES

Whether you’re Christian, agnostic, Muslim, pagan, Jewish, Druid, atheist, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, or any other appellation you can come up with, it really shouldn’t matter when it’s the holiday season (or any other time, as far as I’m concerned.)

What matters at this particular time of year is, at least for a few days, friendship, family, hope, happy kids, smiles, good wishes for everyone, and if possible, a putting aside of anger, antagonism, pettiness and dissension.

And, as long as we’re talking about things that matter during the holidays, let’s not forget to add, hopefully, an abundance of cookies, which you may call Christmas cookies or not, as you wish.

If it were possible, I’d bake each and every one of you who read this column a batch of “holiday” cookies, just to say thanks and express my wishes for a happy holiday season.

Since that’s not possible, what I can do instead is give you cookie recipes, some very old, some from more recent years. I never give up collecting cookie recipes; I hope you can make use of these in the days to come. Bake up a storm, get the kids to help, and then pass some along to anyone with a smile on their face.

Happy holidays, good wishes to all, and may your cookies never crumble, nor your kids grumble.



I love recipes that make a lot of cookies, especially during the busy holiday season when you’d like to make as many as possible in the least amount of time, like this one. During the years I was teaching, I took homemade cookies to school for many occasions; this was one of the most requested cookies by kids and other teachers.


1¼ cups sifted flour

1½ cups sugar plus 1 t. (see instructions)

1 t. baking powder

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (see instructions)

2 T. brandy (or use milk)

¾ cup thick raspberry jam

2 t. vanilla

6 T. melted butter

2½  cups flaked coconut

Sift flour with salt, 1 t. sugar and baking powder; cut or blend in butter. Add egg yolk and brandy (or milk), mixing to combine. Pat into a buttered 11x7 baking pan. Spread with jam. Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in 1½ cups sugar, vanilla and melted butter. Add coconut. Spoon this mixture over the jam, spreading gently. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 min. Cool; cut into 1-inch squares. Store airtight or can be frozen. Makes 6 dozen.

This next recipe also makes 6 dozen cookies, but these are not your average holiday cookie; they look almost like candy and are a chocoholic’s dream cookie. First, however, you’ll need this recipe for basic butter cookie dough, in case you don’t have one handy.


4 sticks (1 lb.) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cups sugar

¾ t. salt

3 large egg yolks

2 t. vanilla

4 2/3 cup flour

In large bowl of a standing mixer, beat together butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks, one at a time, add vanilla, beat until smooth. Beat in flour gradually, beating dough just until well combined. Makes about 3 lbs. of dough, enough for two batches of the following cookies, or divide in half and use the other half for another cookie recipe (this dough is useful for many types of cookies).



½ of the prepared basic butter cookie dough (recipe above) at room temp.

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process for this)

2 t. instant espresso powder

1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

About 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together all ingredients except the confectioner’s sugar, until just well combined. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange about ¾ inch apart on baking sheets (let kids make the balls, if they’re around). Bake the cookies in the middle of a preheated 350-degree oven until just firm and beginning to brown, about 18 min. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 min.

Sift confectioner’s sugar into a bowl. After the 5 min. cool down of the cookies, toss the balls, a few at a time, in the sugar, coating them well and transferring them as coated to trays to cool completely. (Before storing or freezing, coat again lightly in the confectioner’s sugar to keep them from sticking to each other. These can be stored between layers of waxed paper in airtight containers and frozen for

up to 6 weeks.) Makes about 6 dozen.

You could use the remaining half of the basic butter cookie dough to make wonderful, old-fashioned cookies we used to call thumbprint cookies. My grandkids call them ...



½ of the prepared basic butter cookie dough (recipe above) at room temp.

¾ cup jam (raspberry, strawberry, apricot, peach, your favorite), strained (you want it to be a bit jelly-like)

Form level teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange about 1-inch apart on baking sheets. With your thumb make an indentation in the center of each ball and fill with about ¼ t. of the jam (Or, you could drop a chocolate chip in each center before filling with jam, as a surprise.) Bake cookies in batches in the middle of a preheated 350-degree oven until edges are pale golden, about 12 min. Cool on baking sheets for 2 min. before transferring to racks to cool completely. These may be stored between layers of waxed paper in airtight containers for up to six weeks frozen. Makes about 8 dozen cookies (hooray!).

The holiday cookie scene, for me, wouldn’t be complete without ginger cookies of some sort, but I gave up making gingerbread men (or women) long ago; these soft ginger cookies with a light icing more than fill the need for something ginger.


½ cup butter, at room temp.

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 t. baking soda

1 T. water

1 cup molasses (use your favorite type; I love dark)

4 cups sifted flour

1 t. ginger (a bit more if you like them very gingery)

Cream together butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Combine baking soda and water; add to creamed mixture. Blend in molasses.

Sift together flour and ginger; add gradually to creamed mixture, just until well combined. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto buttered baking sheets and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 12 to 15 min. Remove immediately to wire racks to cool. When cool, frost with confectioners’ icing (recipe follows).

To make icing, Combine 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, 1 T. white corn syrup, 2 T. softened butter and

3-4 T. hot water. Stir until thoroughly blended. Use to frost ginger cookies. If I have it on hand, and I usually do, I put a small piece of uncrystallized candied ginger on top of each iced cookie. Makes 6 to 7 dozen cookies. (You can find uncrystallized candied ginger at Trader Joe’s, possibly elsewhere but I haven’t found it yet in local supermarkets.)


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