The smell of cookies baking in the oven as you walk into a warm house full of garland and cheer might just be one of the best holiday feelings. Christmas cookies ignite our senses and provoke memories of holidays that have passed. This year, our staff got together to share our own special holiday memories through our favorite holiday cookie recipes.
Photo courtesy of Theresa Medoff
Shared by Theresa Medoff, AAA World editor
I grew up eating Tastykake snack-sized baked desserts made by the Tasty Baking Company, which is based in Philadelphia. You can only get them on the East Coast, and primarily in the mid-Atlantic. People who’ve moved away from the region have been known to stock up on their favorite Tastykakes when they visit the area.
My favorite lunchbox treat was always Tastykake Kandy Kakes: a thin yellow cake topped with peanut butter and enrobed in chocolate. Last year, a friend served these Candy Cakes for dessert, and they were like a flavor memory from my childhood. They taste just like Kandy Kakes! They’re easy to make, too.
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 to 1½ cups of peanut butter
- 10-ounce bag of chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate, but milk or semi-sweet chocolate is fine, too.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour a half-size sheet cake pan (approximately 11 inches x 15 inches)*
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Separately in a smaller bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
- Pour the liquid from the smaller bowl into the dry ingredients in the large bowl and whisk together.
- Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- While the cake is still warm from the oven, spread peanut butter over the top. Then refrigerate until the peanut butter is firm (30-45 minutes).
- Melt the chocolate and spread it over the peanut butter, covering the cake completely.
- Chill slightly and then cut into slices and continue to chill. (If you try to cut into slices when the cake is too cold, the chocolate will crack instead of cutting.)
*If you don’t have a half-size sheet cake pan, so you can used a standard 9 inch x 12 inch pan. The cake comes out thicker when baked in the smaller pan, but the recipe still works. Just add a couple of minutes to the baking time. The cake is done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Richinelli
ITALIAN LOVE KNOTS
Shared by Anthony Richinelli, Manager, Creative Services, Content & Publications
This is my grandmother’s recipe. My mom, who passed away earlier this year, used to make them every Christmas and Easter. It’s a very simple cookie but they bring back so many fond memories. In my mom’s absence, I will be making them for the first time this Christmas.
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Combine eggs, sugar, oil, salt, and vanilla, mix well. Then add flour and baking powder mix with spoon until blended. Don’t over mix. It will be quite sticky.
- Chill dough for 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- By the tablespoonful, form the dough into a ball then roll out into a 6-inch long rope on a slightly floured surface. Bring both ends around and form into a knot shape.
- Bake 10-11 minutes until lightly golden brown underneath.
- Cool before icing.
- 1½ cup confectioners’ Sugar
- 2¼ tablespoon milk or water
- 1/4 teaspoon anise or lemon flavoring
Whisk milk or water with sugar until smooth. Add flavoring if desired. Dunk the tops of the cookies into the icing. Decorate with sprinkles before the icing dries. Yield: About 2 dozen.
JAM THUMBPRINT COOKIES
Shared by Jan Shallcross, Supervisor, Advertising Operations
This is my absolute favorite cookie recipe. I found it in the Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook. The recipe calls for any type of raspberry or apricot jam, but my favorite to use is Smuckers Seedless Raspberry Jam.
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
- 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
- Raspberry and/or apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1-1/4 inch balls. (If you have a scale, they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.
Shared by Barbara Haas, mother of Matthew Haas, Managing Director, Marketing
This is my grandmother's recipe. I now bake these cookies every Christmas, as well as for both of my boys and my grandchildren’s birthdays. They are a family favorite. There is a similar recipe on the molasses jar, but this is the recipe I always follow. Some people add raisins to the dough.
- 3/4 cup melted shortening
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of molasses
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine shortening, egg, molasses, and sugar until shortening cools into a liquid.
- Add in flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon.
- Chill dough.
- Roll dough into balls the size of a walnut.
- Roll dough balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
- Bake 10 – 12 minutes.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
NO BAKE COOKIES
Shared by Fact & Fiction, Content Agency located in Boulder, Colorado
No bake cookies are ooey, gooey, and delicious! They are a staple addition to any holiday cookie combination. They are a typical crowd pleaser and so easy. Whether you are a first-time holiday cookie creator, or a longtime lover of cookies, this recipe is for you.
- 3 cups quick oats
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
- Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa powder in a 3 quart saucepan.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally; once the mixture is boiling, set a timer and boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and stir in quick oats, peanut butter, vanilla extract, and salt.
- Begin scooping mixture using a medium cookie scoop and drop onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Wait 20 – 30 minutes or until cookies are set up; store in an airtight container.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Bumbaugh
Shared by Nicole Bumbaugh, Manager, Print and Digital Content
These sugar cookies remind me of my childhood. This recipe was passed down to me by my mother, who learned it from my grandmother, whom received it from her mother, my great-grandmother. As a child, I used to love helping my mother and grandmother decorate these cookies during the holidays. Now, I am enjoying passing this job down to my children. In my house, the holidays are not complete without decorated sugar cookies.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda in milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 4 teaspoons baking powder in flour
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Add baking soda to milk and stir until dissolved.
- Combine all ingredients and chill dough.
- Roll out chilled dough by handling small amounts at a time.
- Use cookie cutters to create cookie.
- Decorate with colored sugar prior to baking.
- Chill dough, handle small amounts at a time, adding flour to roll.
- Color sugar can be added prior to baking.
- Bake for 6 – 8 minutes; bottoms of cookies should be slightly browned.
THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE
Shared by Ben Young, Manager, Content & Publications
The easiest way to win me over is with a slightly under baked chocolate chip cookie, and this gooey, oversized cookie is a winner in my book. This recipe was shared to me by a friend out of a new cook book by Joey Skladany, and the core of the recipe is below. What I love about this recipe is you can easily adjust it to include some of your favorite ingredients. Want a sweet and salty cookie? Add in crushed Ruffles potato chips. Enjoy peanut butter? Throw in some miniature peanut butter cups. Use this as your base recipe, and make as many delicious variations as you’d like.
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup margarine
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cup milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt in bowl. In a separate bowl or mixer, mix margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix. Gradually add flour mix until fully incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips—dough will be extremely thick. Portion dough into tennis ball-sized balls, which will yield 12 (or so) cookies. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve right away with ice cream, or wait 15 minutes for decadent gooey center, or allow to cool completely for a soft, moist cookie.