Christmas week really got to me – besides a very busy schedule the week before for Mathias, Lucas also was very busy finishing up everything at the shop and then we hosted! So I ended up slacking. I’m making up for it by posting my favorites here.
First of all – I made so many cookies and didn’t even hit all of the cookies I wanted to make!
From top to bottom:
My favorite of this bunch, and make my top 5 of the challenge. They’re flaky and not overly sweet, and look stunning and much harder than they are.
2. Rosemary Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
These are from Smitten Kitchen Everyday and I don’t think they’re online, but they are super simple, vegan and unexpected. Rosemary and dark chocolate, paired with a olive oil, are sophisticated while still remaining in the realm of a sweet rather than savory cookie. Worth trying to see if they’re your style (I love them, Liv loves them, Lucas does not).
3. Whiskey Pecan Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (slightly adapted – see my original post!)
I liked but did not love these in comparison to other chocolate chip or pecan related cookies. I would make again, for the right occasion.
4. Chocolate Pecan Cookies
These are from The Dominique Ansel Cookbook so unfortunately I can’t link the recipe, but these were the only all chocolate cookie I made and also really one of my faves of the whole bunch. 10/10.
5. Slice and Bake Peanut Butter Cookies
If you’re a fan of Girl Scout Tagalongs, you will love these. I made the comparison to Lucas and he said yeah, but these are better.
They’re really that good. The cookies are very simple to make but they’re multi-step, so you need a little bit of time. I made half the batch and put the other half of the dough in my freezer which is a win in my book. Will definitely make again.
6. Babywearing Sugar Cookies
The cookie recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction and was pretty much perfect, for a sugar cookie. I didn’t use her icing recipe because it required meringue powder (which I didn’t have). I doubled it and made a ton of cookies which I gifted and also ate. If you need a classic cutout cookie recipe, use this one. Also her tip here is to roll out the cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper and then refrigerate for 1-2 hours; so you get your rolling out of the way. I froze mine for time purposes for 45 minutes and it was plenty, and then put my cut cookies in the freezer between batches. I did this for my gingerbread too and think it was an amazing tip since none of my cookies spread!
7. Chewy Chai Masala Snickerdoodles
These are the best Snickerdoodles I’ve ever made, and you should make them too. They’re soft and chewy, and the depth of flavor from the other spices makes these memorable. And they don’t need chill time, which is always a perk in my book. I’m never making a different recipe.
8. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
This recipe from SBA was good but needs some edits. I would make again, but add baking powder.
9. Vegan Green Monstah Whoopie Pies
My vegan adaptation of the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, plus other changes. I liked these better than the non-vegan ones!
10. Chewy Molasses Cookies
These were soft and chewy but honestly they didn’t spread, and so failed the molasses cookie test. Would suggest a different recipe, or different molasses (I used Blackstrap because that’s what I had on hand, but it called for Grandma’s, but that should affect the flavor profile rather than their spreading).
11. Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I think the fault is mine here; the recipe calls for brown butter and softened butter, but I walked away from my brown butter for too long and it solidified and I expect that that’s why I didn’t get a chewy cookie. These ranked #2 on The Pancake Princess Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake-Off and my cookies didn’t look like hers or Joy the Baker’s, so I know I made the mistake here. Would definitely try again.
12. Cream Cheese Stuffed Red Velvet Cookies
These were AMAZING and one of my favorites from this challenge. They are time consuming, but the finished product is a perfectly chewy red velvet cookie filled with a tangy cream cheese surprise and dang they are good. 10/10 highly recommend to impress your friends and family, but you need to plan this well since you need fridge/freezer time.
13. Peanut Butter Cookies
These are from Alton Brown’s EveryDay Cook, and are extremely simple: no mixer, one bowl, dairy free and gluten free. I’ve made these before and I’ll make them again; they’re a good recipe to make with kids!
14. These were supposed to be Chocolate Snow Caps, from the Mast Brothers Cookbook. Total fail.
15. Vegan Lemon Cookies
I slightly adapted these, but I’m sure they are good both ways! They were soft, lemony and cakey and stayed soft for almost a week! Liv loved them! My slight edits are here.
16. Bakery-Style Butter Cookies
From Smitten Kitchen Everyday, these are actually super easy – just multi-step. And they’re adaptable in the sense that you don’t have to do sandwich cookies, but could pipe them into a variety of other bakery-style shapes with different fillings.
17. Lace Cookies
Sally calls these “easy” but I screwed up MAJORLY the first time I made the batter and it turned into a solid rock. The trick is not to overmix on the stove. Hoping to get around to showing you what these should and should definitely not look like step-by-step.
18. Pignoli Cookies
These are a favorite of mine and Lucas, but I made my cookies too big so we only got 10 out of this recipe instead of 14. I would also suggest more pine nuts – it calls for one cup but I ran out maybe 7 cookies in. BUT these are pretty dang bakery perfect: chewy and almond-y in a way that only almond paste can aid a cookie.
19. Gingerbread Brownstone!
I’d love to share more on this but didn’t take nearly enough pictures. I based this off of A Cozy Kitchen’s Cozy Gingerbread House, using a different royal icing recipe (again, no merengue powder). It wasn’t perfect but considering I freehanded it and baked/decorated it in one night, I’m not too displeased. Plus she posted it in her stories, so that redeems the architectural sloppiness.
20. Ninjabread Men
These are vegan and I did slightly adapt the recipe when baking (I used egg replacer instead of a flax egg, brown sugar instead of coconut sugar, and added 1/2 tsp of baking powder) but I liked these better than the gingerbread I used for the brownstone. I also rolled these out via Sally’s Sugar Cookie method and had no spreading!
21. Vegan Soft Baked Sugar Cookies
These were a simple, no-mixer, no-fancy-vegan-ingredients recipe and a pretty solid winner for Livia. I was skeptical at first (she uses oil, not a vegan butter replacement) but was really pleasantly surprised about how good these are. I would add an extra tsp of vanilla or a hit of almond extract to up the flavor but for kids this is kind of perfect.
22. Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies
I LOVED these. I got some brown butter redemption (these came out exactly like the recipe) and only used dark chocolate m&ms (no chocolate chips). Kind of want to make these all the time and deeply regret not freezing any dough.
23. Classic Madeleines
I always thought Madeleines were hard; turns out they’re super easy and everyone should make them. They’re perfect with an espresso and an easy way to impress guests. 10/10.
24. Seven Layer Cookies
Also known as Rainbow Cookies, these are an Italian-American bakery classic that I make for Christmas every year. They aren’t hard but take time, but are so much better than any store bought (or frankly, bakery bought) ones. Plus they keep in the freezer for a long time, so you can enjoy them past the Christmas season (I think this year we finished ours in June….). These are my favorite on the whole list and a necessary bake for Christmas.
So I bought the shells in Little Italy and made the recipe up because I couldn’t find a recipe that didn’t include heavy cream or mascarpone which aren’t traditional Italian ingredients for this pastry! When I have time I’ll upload it!
BONUS: Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
I follow The Pancake Princess pretty religiously and she did a cinnamon roll bake-off that had me curious. These ranked #2, but were a morning-of recipe. Definitely the best I’ve ever made (Lucas agreed) and strongly suggest that you try them. The frosting was a little on the sweet side (according to Lucas) but that’s an easy fix (less sugar!). Whipping the butter + cinnamon sugar together for the filling is a game changer.