Merry Christmas to all, and to all a cookie!
I have been whipping up a hurricane of cookies this season, because I love Christmas and I love cookies, and it’s a match made in heaven.
My cookies fall into one of four categories:
- Traditional family favourites
- Brand new recipes that seemed super tasty
- On the healthier scale of things
- Super secret family recipes
So, if you’re looking for the best of all I’ve baked this season, continue on. There’s something for everybody here. Most of these recipes are very simple, with few ingredients, which only makes them more delicious in my opinion. Simple = the best. I’ve labelled recipes as gluten-free and nut-free, where applicable.
Traditional Family Recipes
I’ve always known this as Bodicop, but as I’ve researched the recipe as an adult, I realize this is a bastardization of the Dutch Boterkoek, or Butter Cake. And as the name tells you, it is resplendid with butter. Throw in a little almond extract and you have these chewy morsels of perfection. I actually believe that the very best thing to eat in the whole world (taste-wise) is a combination of butter, flour and sugar. There is an alchemy here that cannot be denied. I would put these as an all-time favourite for me. It also has the benefit of being incredibly easy to whip up. Be sure to not overcook them!
The recipe I use is super simple and is found at Allrecipes.com.
Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark
This is a fan favourite, especially when it comes to the kids. It is colourful and pretty, and tastes amazing. With only four ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong … but it can happen. I find that when peppermint extract is added to melted chocolate, the chocolate seizes up. So you have to work quickly and stir continuously in order to be able to spread the bottom layer. Recipe as follows:
2 (12 ounce) packages milk chocolate chips
2 (12 ounce) packages white chocolate chips
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
8 peppermint candy canes, crushed, divided
Line a 12×18 inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Melt the milk chocolate in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting, for 1 to 5 minutes (depending on your microwave). Do not overheat or chocolate will scorch. Stir in the peppermint extract. Chocolate will start to harden, so keep stirring! Spread the chocolate evenly in the prepared pan; chill until set, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring after each melting, for 1 to 5 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes. Spread the white chocolate mixture evenly over the milk chocolate. Sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces evenly over the white chocolate layer. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Break into small pieces to serve.
Classic Shortbread Cookies
Nothing says Christmas like cutout shortbread cookies, and these are always the cookies I make with the kids. By far the most fun! We have the oddest collection of cookie cutters, and I break them out for this. So we have our Santa Claus and stars, but also our Christmas penguin, porcupine and teapot as well! You can find the recipe at Simply Recipes.
I didn’t make a specific icing to decorate this year, instead purchasing some easy-to-apply bottled stuff. The result was … utter carnage. It was so drippy and the red went everywhere, taking things from festive to slaughterhouse. Think: Santa meets Dexter. The kids found this hilarious and they are still delicious, though!
Mind-Blowing New (to me) Recipes
Chip and Chocolate Bark
I don’t know why I’ve never thought of it before. Regular potato chips … and chocolate. The sweet and the salty, the velvety and the crunchy. Throw in some peanuts and you have yourself a winner. Find the recipe at Food52! This is so easy you could whip it up in minutes, and I guess you could throw whatever snack foods in there you like: pretzels would be a winner, too. I’d avoid anything with additional seasoning beyond salt, though. For me, my next great experiment will be chocolate-covered chips. Is this a thing? I think it would be a perfect Superbowl snack. Stay tuned for that!
Pecan Pie Bars
Holy cookies, guys, this one is the winner of the year! I found the recipe on the Minimalist Baker, which is one of my absolute favourite food blogs of all time. She shares vegan recipes year-round and they are normally very healthy. My thing is, though, that I am not vegan, so I change her recipes as I choose to. In this case, I substituted real butter for vegan butter (as opposed to the other way around!) and these are the richest, most decadent cookies I have had in ages. The maple, the pecans, the almond-based crust, are so good, and it is absolutely dripping in butter. Dangerous, all around. Find the recipe here.
Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Here’s another new favourite from the Minimalist Baker. Seriously, I go on her site, and end up making eighteen different things that I found because it all looks so good!
I adore chocolate mint. I think it’s one of those perfect flavour combinations. Fun fact: you cannot find chocolate mint in Switzerland. In fact, you can’t even purchase peppermint extract in order to make your own. I once was standing in line at immigration in Geneva, chatting with a guy from Venezuela, and he told me peppermint extract was illegal in the country. No idea why. I have since found no evidence to support this, but anecdotally it stands up because you can’t find it anywhere. I would have friends smuggle in peppermint extract for me, or I would pop over the border to France to get my chocolate-mint fix.
Assuming you have access you peppermint extract, you will love these cookies.
The Healthier Side of Things
Salted Chocolate-Orange Almond Bark
To continue in my exploration of chocolate barks, I have discovered my new favourite cookie: chocolate-orange bark. And the amazing thing is it is kinda on this side of healthy. The key is to use top-quality dark chocolate. Mix it with the orange and almonds, and I think it tastes just like a Terry’s Orange. Only, you’re getting your antioxidants in there … or so I tell myself. A grown up treat, set these aside to have with your afternoon tea, and I swear you won’t regret it. Find the recipe at Flavour and Savour.
Keto Almond Flour Shortbread
These shortbread cookies are grain-free and keto – if you use a keto sweetener. I go back and forth over whether I like keto-approved sweeteners, like erythritol, but generally fall on the side of no. I prefer to use real sugar, and enjoy my treats in moderation. But, if you follow a keto diet I don’t fault you for this, and these cookies are a real treat. If you’re not keto, no worries! I used a 1-for-1 substitute of powdered sugar here, and they turned out absolutely delicious, and are still grain-free. You can find the recipe at Wholesome Yum.
Lemon Turmeric Balls
These are really up there when it comes to health … and to taste! If you want to lighten things up over the holidays (or maybe in the aftermath), but you need a treat in the afternoon, these are absolutely for you. The base is dates and oats, so they are both sweet and filling, but it’s also boosted with tons of anti-inflammatory superfoods like turmeric and chia seeds. These will be my go-to in the new year! Find the recipe at Natalie’s Health.
Super Secret Family Recipes
I have some family recipes that are so requested I carry the recipes around in my phone so I can easily share them … and I want to share them with you! You’ll find them on my monthly newsletter, coming out December 20, so sign up below for the goods. Honestly, you don’t want to miss this!
This will be my last post of the year. This author-baker is taking a well-deserved rest over the holidays, and I hope you do too. I mean, it will be full of hockey games and hopefully family get-togethers, but here’s hoping there will be time to cuddle by the fire with a good book. I will be back in the New Year with lots more book recommendations, recipes and writing advice.
To all my readers: Have a Joyful Holiday and a Happy New Year. See you in January!