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Four Holiday Cookie Favorites
Tried And True Recipes That Will Be a Hit at Any Cookie Exchange

World Peace Cookies Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan

With an intense chocolate flavor and a sandy texture, these cookies will win over even the most determined Grinch.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips

Makes about 36 cookies.

Sift the flour, cocoa and bak ing soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter o n medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Check the dough. If there is still a  lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel.

Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baki ng sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

 Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes. They won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they reach room temperature, where their texture can be most appreciated.

Storing: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. They can be frozen for up to 2 months and baked directly from the freezer; just add one minute to the bake time.



Chocolate Peppermint Bar Cookie s Adapted from Gourmet, December 2006

These may look like brownies, but these cookie bars are chewy, minty, and totally tasty.

 Ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)

1 1/4 cup coarsely crumbled peppermint patties

Method:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan with 1 sheet of foil, allowing 2 inches of foil to hang over each end of pan, and butter foil (except overhang).

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minut es. Beat i n egg until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and 1 cup of the patties.

Spread dough evenly in pan, sprinkling the remaining patties on top. Bake until puffed and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Then, lifting with the  foil, transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars and lift off foil with a spatula.

Makes about 32 bars.

Storing: Packed airtight, bars will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days

 

White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Cashew Cookies Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2006 

An unusual twist on the typical - nicknamed “Hippie Cookies” for its earthy flavor combination.

 Ingredients:

 3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup coarsely chopped roasted salted cashews

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended. Using spatula, stir in cranberries, white chocolate chips, and nuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until just golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets.  

Makes about 32 cookies

Storing: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks.

 

Lavender Rosemary Shortbread Adapted from Gourmet, December 1994

These are great any time of year, but especially as a great break from the standard cookie exchange fare.

Ingredients:

3/4 sticks (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons dried lavender, slightly crushed

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and honey with sugar until light and fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, chopped rosemary, and lavender. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture until just combined.

On a lightly floured surface knead dough about 8 times, or until it just comes together. Roll out flat with a rolling pin to 1/8" thickness. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes - 2 x 1-inch rectangles make about 24 cookies. Place on the lined baking sheets.

Bake shortbread in middle of oven 12-15 minutes, or until pale golden - watching closely - and let stand in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Storing: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.