Christmas Cookies, Round 2

Happy holidays, everyone! It’s officially the most (albeit craziest) time of the year! Exams are over, shopping is more or less done, and the tree is set up. All we need is a little snow to officially get me into the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, the weatherman claims that we won’t be having a white Christmas this year. This may call for a snow dance.

As Megan already noted, nothing signifies the beginning of the holiday season like baking cookies.  My cookie list stays roughly the same every year. Megan actually gets quite a bit of credit for the cookies that make it onto my baking list! There are the chocolate ganache thumbprints and ginger cookies (which Megan introduced you to), plus Dorie Greenspan’s rugelach, lemony shortbread, coconut macaroons, and, my sister’s personal favorite, birds in a nest. To say that our house is overflowing with butter and sugar is an understatement. Most of these get boxed up and handed out to family friends, but I always keep a few rugelach for myself 😉

I’ve included links to most of the recipes below, but I’m typing out the full recipe for birds in a nest. This recipe comes from one of those old paperback cookbooks that they used to sell by the checkout lines at the grocery store. My mom picked it up when Liz and I were little, and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe comes from this book as well. These cookies first made an appearance as a gift for Liz when she returned from studying abroad during the summer between 10th and 11th grade. She hated them. Ever the persistent sibling, I made them the following Christmas. I don’t know if it was guilt from the first round or a sudden revelation, but she’s loved them ever since.

Anyway, I hope Megan’s and my recipes are helpful this holiday season. Happy eating and happy holidays!!!

Birds in a Nest
Recipe from Cookies! ed. by Marian Levine
You can theoretically make these without the nuts, but they just don’t taste as good. The original recipe calls for jelly, but I always use preserves; the fruit adds a nice bite. I personally prefer raspberry (as I do with most things in life), but peach and strawberry work well too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I prefer walnuts)
  • Preserves in your favorite flavors

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In a large bowl, cream together your sugar and butter. Add the egg yolks, water, flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir to combine.

  • Form 1-inch balls. Dip each in the egg whites, then roll in the nuts. Place about 1½ inches apart on baking sheet.

  • Flatten each ball slightly with your finger tips. Using your thumb, make a little well in the center of each cookie. Fill with some preserves. Be careful not to fill them too much or the preserves will melt over the sides of the cookie!

  • Bake for 12-18 minutes until the bottoms are just golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks.

Makes 3 dozen.

Other cookies to try:

Dorie Greenspan’s Rugelach: This link also features Dorie discussing cookies. You can’t help but love the woman who co-authored Baking with Julia. I usually use slivered almonds that I then coarsely chop and dried cherries. I almost always omit the glaze.

Martha Stewart’s Icebox Shortbread: Incredibly easy. The dough takes mere minutes to make and you just pop these into the freezer until ready to slice and bake. I always add in lemon zest and use coarse salt.

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