2020 Christmas Cookies

Every year I make 12 different type of cookies (Twelve Days of Christmas) to share with neighbors and friends to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

A few constants regarding my baking are as follows.

I always use what my mother called “air bake pans”. The bottoms of cookies are less likely to burn when using these.

I always line the pans with parchment paper for easier clean-up.

When a recipe instructs to combine dry ingredients separately, I usually use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring pitcher for ease of pouring ingredients into wet mixture in mixing bowl.

To make evenly rounded cookies, I use an “ice cream” scoop.

First batch:

Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t salt
3 cups uncooked oatmeal
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped into small pieces (use food processor)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the large bowl of a mixer, add butter and sugars an beat until creamy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in oatmeal then gently stir in cranberries, pecans and white chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoons (or use 2″ ice cream scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies start to brown around the edges.
Remove from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 36

Second batch:

Striped Icebox Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup (1-6oz. jar) chopped maraschino cherries, drained
2 drops red food coloring
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
4 t nonpareils

Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add into wet mixture.

Divide dough into thirds. Add the cherries and food coloring to one portion, chocolate to another portion and nonpareils to the remaining portion.

Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Spread cherry dough over bottom. Cover with chocolate dough, then remaining nonpareil dough. Refrigerate, covered with aluminum foil until firm. About 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove dough from pan and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each portion into 1/4″ slices. Bake 1″ apart on parchment lines baking sheets until edges begin to brown, about 10-12 minutes. Cool on racks.

Yield – 50 cookies

Third batch:

Butterscotch Chip Spice Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
12 oz. butterscotch chips
powdered sugar

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add flour mixture. When mixing in the flour mixture, combine until just blended. Do not overmix as cookies can become tough.

Fold in the butterscotch chips, then cover and chill dough until firm. About 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 2″ balls using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon.

Pour powdered sugar in a medium size bowl about 1/2″ deep. Roll balls of dough in powdered sugar and arrange on prepared baking sheet, spaced about 3″ apart. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until golden and just set. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack.

Yield – 50 cookies

Fourth batch

Cherry Streusel Bars

For the base and streusel:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup almond paste NOT marzipan
1/4 t almond extract

For the filling:
16 oz. frozen sweet cherries
1/4 cup sugar
3 T water
2 T cornstarch
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T unsalted butter
pinch of salt

1/2 cup almonds

1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 T heavy cream
1/4 t almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 9″ square baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

Combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl for the base and streusel. Add one stick cubed butter, almond paste and extract and cut in with a pastry blender. Remove and reserve one cup for the streusel. Sprinkle remaining mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly and evenly over the bottom to tamp down the base. Bake 15-18 minutes or until just beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from oven and leave oven on.

Simmer all ingredients for the filling in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. (Use a long handled spoon as the mixture gets very hot.) Cook until mixture thickens and turns transparent, about 8 minutes. Spread filling over baked base.

Sprinkle with reserved streusel mixture and sliced almonds. Bake until filling is bubbly and streusel is lightly browned, 30-40 minutes. Cool completely and cut into desired size bars and place on a cooling rack.

Whisk powdered sugar, heavy cream and almond extract together in a small bowl. Add more sugar or cream as needed to achieve desired consistency for drizzling. Place a sheet of waxed or parchment paper underneath rack (for easy clean-up) and wave the whisk over bars to coat lightly with icing. Allow the icing to set before packaging the bars for storage.

Yield: 50 small bars

Fifth Batch

Christmas Mouse Cookies

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (about 46), divided
1/3 cup sour cream
36 nonpareils
1/4 cup sliced almonds
18 pieces chocolate Twizzlers cut into tail size lengths and halved or quartered

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Stir in 1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs and sour cream. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or until firming up.

For each mouse, roll about 1 tablespoon chocolate mixture into a ball (I use and small scoop for even sized mice), tapering one end to resemble a mouse. Roll in remaining chocolate crumbs to coat evenly. Use a toothpick or the sharp end of a wooden skewer to slightly poke holes in each “mouse” where the eyes will be and poke a little further in their “rears” where the tail will be. (This helps keep the nonpareils and tails in place.) Place matching color nonpareils in holes, almond slices for ears and chocolate Twizzlers pieces for the tails.

Yield: 18

Sixth Batch

Chocolate Orange Checkerboard Cookies

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 t salt
1 large egg
1 t vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 t grated orange peel
1/2 t orange extract

In a large bowl, cream together, confectioners’ sugar and salt until blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in pecans.

Divide dough in half. Mix baking cocoa into one half (adding a tiny bit of water if too dry and not coming together) and mix orange peel and orange extract into remaining half.

Shape each dough portion into a 5 1/2 x 2 x 2 inch block. Wrap each block in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Unwrap dough, cut each block lengthwise into quarters (or halves if you want bigger cookies). Switch two of the chocolate sticks with two of the orange sticks, forming two checkerboard blocks. Gently press sticks together to adhere. (You can pound each side gently on a hard surface to mash blocks together well.) Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes (11-14 if baking larger size cookies) or until set. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 35 large cookies

Seventh batch

Mint Chocolate Bark

1 t plus 3 T shortening
10 ounces Andes Creme de Menthe thins
2 cups white baking chips
1/2 cup crushes peppermint candies

Line a 13X9 inch pan with foil. Grease foil with 1 t shortening.

In a microwave, melt together Andes thins and 1 T shortening and stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.

In top of a double boiler or a metal bowl over slightly simmering water, melt baking chips with remaining shortening and stir until smooth. Spread over chocolate layer and sprinkle with crushed candies. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Break into small pieces and store in an airtight containner.

Yield – 1 1/2 pounds

Eighth batch

Turtle Cookies

4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 – 12oz. package semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/4 cups caramel bits

1 cup (6oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
2 t shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Microwave butter on high until melted. Add chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. Microwave until chips are melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in vanilla. Add flour and mix well. Stir in nuts and caramel bits.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls (or use a small scoop) 2″ apart onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake until edges are set, 10-12 minutes. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

For icing, microwave chocolate chips and shortening on high until melted. Drizzle over completely cooled cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 52 cookies

Ninth batch

Dictionary Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, (1 cup), softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 T red currant jelly
4 T apricot jam
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts
3 T unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 T heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
red and green sugars

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Lightly butter and flour the back of a 15×10″ jelly roll pan.
Cream the butter until light in color. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in the flour just until blended – do not over beat.
Spread 1/3 of the batter (1 generous cup) onto the prepared pan using an offset spatula. Spread it to within 1″ of the edge, the layer will be thin.

Offset spatula

Bake 10 minutes or until golden on the edges: do not overbake.
Cut cake layer evenly in half crosswise (cut from long edge to opposite long edge) and transfer halves to a cooling rack. Repeat the process 2 more times with remaining batter, buttering and flouring the pan each time. When finished, there will be 6 thin cake layers.

Stir jelly and jam in two separate bowls until spreadable. Set aside.
Combine sour cream and walnuts in another bowl and set aside.

Place 1 cake layer half, top side up, on an inverted jelly roll pan (or plastic cutting sheet I mentioned in my “helpful tips” post as at the end, it is easier to have the “cake” already on what you will be cutting on – cutting on pans is not good for knives nor the pans). Spread with 2 T currant jelly followed by 3 T of the sour cream mixture. (There is no way to avoid mixing the fillings when spreading.) Do not add any more filling than prescribed as it will squish out later.

Top with second cake layer half and spread with 2 T apricot jam followed by the sour cream mixture. Repeat layering with remaining cake, alternating jam and jelly between each layer. Leave the top bare and cover with parchment or wax paper. (I also envelope the whole cake and pan with aluminum foil.)
Weigh cake down with a dictionary or other large, heavy book. Chill weighted cake overnight.

Frosting and decorating:
Beat the butter with a mixer until smooth. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, cream and vanilla. Mix until just combined. Gradually stir in the remaining powdered sugar using a spoon until the frosting is thick but still spreadable.
Remove the book and paper (and foil if using) then trim the edges (which make a tasty snack).
Spread the frosting over the top of the cake.
Sprinkle with the red and green sugars.
Cut cake crosswise (down the long side) into 8 strips, then cut each strip into 4 or 5 pieces.

Yield – 50 small squares

Tenth batch

Hot Cocoa Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows cut in half (more if you make smaller cookies)

for the chocolate icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 t vanilla extract
Christmas sprinkles

I a double boiler or microwave, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside to cool.
In a standing mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until combined.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until combined.
Gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until combined.
Scoop the dough into a bowl and cover with foil and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop some batter into your hands and roll into a ball.
Place cookies 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes.
Once cookies are baked, place a marshmallow (dry side up) into the center of the cookies and lightly press down.
Place cookies back into the oven for another 2-3 minutes.
Place a wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper to allow of icing to drip off for easy clean-up.
Once cookies have finished baking, let cool for a few minutes on pan before transferring to the wire rack to fully cool.

For the icing:
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until combined.
If the icing is too thick, add up to 3 T of hot water to thin it out.
Using a spoon, spoon some icing onto the marshmallow on each cookie.
Sprinkle icing immediately with Christmas sprinkles as the icing dries fast. (Only ice a few cookies at a time.)

Yield – 50 cookies

Eleventh batch

Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Minced zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
2 T heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
Cream butter, both sugars and zest in a bowl with a mixer, blending until smooth and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Blend egg cream and vanilla into butter mixture. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix until nearly incorporated. Then, blend in the remaining dry ingredients.
Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut chilled dough in half and return one portion to the refrigerator. Roll the other half out on a very well floured work surface to about 1/8″ thick. This is a very sticky dough, so to prevent it from sticking as you roll it, flip it over often, reflour the surface and dough as needed and work quickly to prevent the dough from warming and softening too much. You can also rub some flour onto the rolling pin. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 1/2″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set and lightly golden around the edges. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack.

Royal Icing for decorating cookies
1 lb. powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup water
2 T powdered egg whites or meringue powder

Beat all ingredients together in a bowl with a mixer until stiff and peaks hold their shape when beaters are lifted out. Transfer to a resealable container

From here, decorate as you wish. You can color the Royal Icing with food coloring, create a “glue” with light corn syrup microwaved briefly to thin out then brush onto a cookie for sprinkles to adhere to or paint with a paintbrush directly from food coloring bottles onto the iced cookies. The options are endless using one’s imagination.

Batch twelve

Double-Mint Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
24 small (1 1/2 to 2 inch) chocolate covered cream-filled mint patties, unwrapped and chilled
4 oz. semi-sweeet chocolate, melted for icing
In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on medium high for 30 seconds. Add both sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat on medium 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg until combines. Beat in the cocoa powder and flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill dough for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. scoop out about 1 1/2 T dough, divide in half and flatten each piece on either side of the mint patty. Press the dough around the patty to seal, making sure there are no openings. Repeat with the remaining dough and patties.
Place on baking sheets about 2″ apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or just until set. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.
If desired, after completely cooled, spread melted chocolate lightly with a spoon.

Yield – 24 cookies


13 thoughts on “2020 Christmas Cookies

  1. This is so wonderful Nancy! I hope you will inspire me to try a few of these! I’ve always enjoyed viewing your wonderful meals and salivating over them so now we can all “try our hand” at cooking some of these wonderful creations! You are a dear to post all of these recipes and a true inspiration to get us all cooking a little more! Especially in these covid times! 💕


  2. Nancy! You are amazing! What a pro you are! So proud to know you. A cookbook is in you for sure. Love your website. Thank you so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try your beautiful, yummy recipes and tips. With love and gratitude, Merry


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