Back to the Kitchen: Who’s Got Their Hands in the Cookie Jar?

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As many of you know, this time of year is my favorite for baking. I love to bake lots of cookies and find new and creative ways to make gifts for friends and family. And of course, I receive tons of requests for holiday cookie recipes.  Below are my “best of the best,” as well as some new recipes I am working on to make the most fun assortment of delicious treats.

Cookies made sweet and easy.

I also love creating fun, new ways to present these cookies! The dollar store is a great place to find seasonal plates that you can cover with clear cellophane and tie with ribbon and vintage labels. Antique tins, ice cream containers and even shoboxes lined with parchment paper that the kids can paint make great holders for your spectacular creations.

Here are two websites to get printable labels:  Family Fresh Cooking and  here on Pinterests

You can bake with friends, have a cookie exchange party and even have the youngest family members participate even if you do the baking and let the little ones frost and sprinkle. Be creative and just have some fun making holiday traditions and memories (and yummy cookies, too!)

Rum Balls

1 cup butter

1/2 cup powder sugar

2 1/4 cup flour

1-teaspoon rum extract

1-tablespoon dark rum

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2-teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in rums and vanilla.

Add flour and salt. Mix in nuts. Roll in teaspoon size balls. Bake at 325 for 14- 17 minutes. Roll warm balls in powder sugar. Makes 3 dozen.

Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

Zest of one lemon

1 cup pine nuts, toasted and loosely chopped

1 1/4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

In a separate large bowl or stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and lemon zest and mix again, then add the flour mixture, nuts, and rosemary and mix until the dough goes just past the crumbly stage, and begins to really clump together Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough just once or twice to bring it together, then divide it into a ball and flatten into a disk 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into whatever shapes you desire, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are beginning to brown on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.


1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups Sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar together untill creamy. Mix in eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Shape into balls about one inch in diameter. Chill one hour.

Combine topping ingredients in small bowl. Drop dough balls into topping mixture. Coat well. Place on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool. Makes 4 dozen.

Basic Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 sticks Butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 ¼ cups Flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilia. Graudually add the flour mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide dough in two. Place each half in between large sheets of wax or parchmment paper. Roll out to a quarter inch thick watching for creases. Layer the dough on a cookie sheet and refriderate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease two cookie sheets.Remove 1 porton and leave the other until you are ready. Remove one sheet of wax paper and replace with a new one. (An old bakers trick to keep the dough from sticing when using cookie cutters. Throw away the second sheet and cut out the cookies using holiday cookie cutters. Gently place the cookies about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Roll out the dough scraps and place bak in the fridge and mix with the second half scraps. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; rotate half way through for even cooking. Place on a rack until they firm upand then transfeer to a wire rackand cool completely before using royal icing. Makes about 5 dozen depending on the size of the cookie cutters!

*Note- If you are working with kids, I like to do the baking a few days befor the decorating. The older kids can help and then all the cookies are done so you can just set out the icing and sprinkles and let the kids go to town.

Royal Icing

2 large egg whites

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. It really is handy to have a kitchen aide or standing mixer for this, but not essential. Beat together until stiff about 10 minutes. You don’t want it dry, but it has to be really stiff or else it does not harden. This makes over 2 cups so you can put in small bowls and add food coloring. Make as many colors as you like and use whatever sprinkles and or candy you like to decorate.

Pumpkin Cranberry Whoopee Pies

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

For the filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup dried cranberries

Make the cookies: Heat oven to 350 with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until just moistened (do not over mix). Drop mounds of the dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the side of the bowls and fold in the cranberries Make the whoopee pies: Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling on the flat side of half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies. Store in the refrigerator. Makes 12.

Spritiz Cookies

3 sticks, butter softened

4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add almond and vanilla egg, and milk and beat until well mixed. Whisk flour and baking powder together, and then add to dough. Mix with hands if necessary. (Dough will be very stiff). Push dough into spritzer gun and press shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Then let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes and then remove and cool completely on rack. Makes about 100 cookies.


4 cups chocolate chips or pieces

1 14-0unce can sweetened condensed milk

2-tablespoon water

2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

1-teaspoon vanilla

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread mixture into 2 9×6-inch rectangular pans that have been sprayed with bakers joy. Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 48 pieces

Peanut Butter Fudge

4 cups brown sugar

2 cups evaporated milk

1-cup peanut butter

2-teaspoon butter

2-teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped peanuts

Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently until a little dab added to cold water forms a soft ball. Add peanut butter, butter, and vanilla; beat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add nuts. Spread in a buttered 9×6 inch pan; chill until fully set and cut into squares. Makes about 30.

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles

1 cup sliced almonds

1 ¾ cup flour

1-cup dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1-teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ sticks butter

2 egg yolks

1-teaspoon vanilla

Juice of one lemon

1 cup dried blueberries

½ cup blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375.Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast stirring once until golden. Cool completely and leave oven on. In food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, 1-teaspoon lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add yolks and vanilla and process until mixture comes together in clumps. Transfer 11/2 cups dough to a bowl and stir in almonds for the crumble topping. Gather remaining dough into a ball. Spray 2 mini muffin tins (24 minis all together.) with bakers joy. Press 1 tablespoon of into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile stir remaining zest lemon juice, blueberries and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon 1-teaspoon blueberry mixture into each muffin cup. Crumble 1 teaspoon almond mixture evenly into each cup. Bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. When completely cool loosen edges with a sharp paring knife and carefully remove from pan. Makes 4 dozen.

Apple, cranberry, pear version

Follow the same recipe for the crust and crumble.

Peel and core 2 apples and a pear. Dice finely and in a mixing bowl toss with 6 ounces of dried cranberries, ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sugar. Proceed as in the blueberry version.

Chocolate Dipped Hazelnut Sticks

2 sticks (1 cup) butter

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups chopped hazelnuts

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

in a large bowl be at butter and sugar with an eltric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks one at a time. Add vanills and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix well. By hand add the hazlenuts. Half the dough and place into two peices of wax paper and shape into a 11x2inch loaf. Chill the dough for about 1 half hour. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange on cookie sheet about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Half each slice lenghtwise to form sticks and seperate them. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden. Carefull remove sticks and cool completely. In a double broiler or a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water melt chocolate.gently dip each stik into the chocolate covering half of the sstick.Remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper for chocolate to harden. Makes 6 dozen.

Pecan Bars


1/2 pound butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix in large bowl. Press the dough into a large (presprayed) jelly roll pan. Remember to press the dough up the sides too. Bake fo 15 minutes, until slightly brown. Set aside.


1/2 pound butter

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

5 cups chopped pecans

Melt butter and honey in a saucepan then add all sugars and bring to a boil(not stirring.) Let it boil approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat and then stir. Add cream and pecans. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour into crust and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes, reducing the heat the last 10 minutes to 250. Make sure it gets real bubbly looking. Let cool for an hour before trying to cut bars. Cut four rows x six rows. Then cut triangular, bite size pieces by slicing diagonally in both directions.


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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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