Posts Tagged ‘easy holiday cookies’

So. Here we are. Twelve Days of Cookies. I thought after 48 cookie recipes (linked below) plus 12 for crackers (here) over the years, I was out of ideas. And I was, for a while. This year has been crazy busy and all my creative recipe brain space has been consumed with work projects but somehow, in a corner of my notebook, I’ve been scribbling cookie ideas here and there. Apparently, the idea portion of my brain takes a break and come back strong. So once again, here we are. A brand new set of Twelve Days of Cookies. Buckle up.

If you’ve played along in the past, you know the drill. If you’re new to this game, we start with one good, solid butter cookie dough and divide it into four, maybe eight, maybe only two pieces. Maybe even something in between. Then you add various things to those blocks of dough – brown sugar, cocoa, nuts, chocolate; all kinds of things – then roll, press, fill and cut to turn them into different cookies. Turning one basic dough into several completely different cookies is the solution to alleviating your holiday baking stress. Works remarkably well unless you try and bang out all 12 cookies the Monday before Thanksgiving like me. That brings a certain amount of aggravation into your life but is do-able if you have to. Sometimes you do what you have to do.

I did a recap a few years back on how to think about your selections and getting organized here and below is the basic dough recipe that starts every cookie. Make a batch or two to start and every other day until Christmas, I’ll throw a new cookie recipe at you in a few different batch sizes. There are a few bars this year, that workhorse of easy holiday baking. A filled cookie, some shortbread. Some are easy, some more involved. Plus don’t forget about the archive of years past – 48 other options to peruse. It’s a choose your own cookie adventure.

12 Days of Cookies from years past:

Basic Butter Cookie Dough: (see below)

FruityJam ThumbprintsJam Streusel TartsRaspberry Linzer SquaresLemon Poppyseed ButtonsOrange Sesame CrispsCranberry Pistachio CoinsAlmond Raspberry StripsOrange Sandwich CookiesApricot Rosemary ShortbreadCoconut Lime SticksBourbon Glazed Fruitcake ButtonsLemon Cornmeal BiscottiBlueberry Lime ButtonsDate Swirls

NuttyMexican Wedding CookiesRussian Tea CakesPecan TassiesMaple Black Walnut CookiesPB&J Sandwich CookiesPecan Triangles

SpicedCinnamon Sugar PinwheelsCandied Ginger Spice ButtonsCardamom Rose CoinsBrown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze

ChocolateBasic Chocolate Butter Cookie DoughMexican Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Cocoa Nib Wafers,Raspberry Chocolate DropsChocolate Hazelnut ButtonsDark Mocha Sandwich CookiesEspresso CrinklesCranberry Cocoa Nib WafersChocolate Dulce de Leche Sandwich CookiesChocolate LebkuchenFudge TartsChocolate Marzipan DropsChocolate Coconut BullseyesChocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich CookiesChocolate Almond CrescentsChocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

BarsRum Butter BarsPeppermint Brownie BarsBanana Walnut BarsChocolate Banana Petit Fours

Holiday ClassicsCream Cheese WreathsClassic Molasses CookiesPeppermint Candy CanesAndes Mint Chip CookiesHoliday Mallomars


Makes dough for 2 or 4 or 8 batches of cookies

Vanilla has come down in price from years past (thank god) but if it’s still out of your price range, raid the liquor cabinet. I’ve used bourbon and dark rum as decent substitutions.

1 pound unsalted butter, softened (4 sticks)

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

4 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Scrape the bowl and with the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, then the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Scrape the bowl.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the flour until combined.  Scrape a final time and turn the dough onto a work surface and gently knead to incorporate all remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough into two, four or eight equal pieces (a scale is ideal here) and use as is for a delicious butter cookie or proceed with one or several of the variations that will follow in the next twelve posts (or the forty-eight posts from year’s past). 


  • Dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly wrapped, for 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  Let return to room temperature before continuing.
  • If using salted butter rather than unsalted, decrease the salt in the recipe to ¾ teaspoon.

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We’re right in that sweet spot, still a little drowsy and cozy from the post-Thanksgiving blow outs and almost but not quite into the chaos of Christmas. Don’t get too comfortable; it will only last another day or so. December 1st hits and we’re off to the races. It’s non-stop chaos from that point on; an endless stream of shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas concerts and holiday parties for the next 24 days. Somehow we work it all in, squeezing in those late night baking sessions between all the other commitments. It’s a mad, mad dash. I am no different. This is the busiest time for me, and every year I wedge my cookie baking in the odd hours between everything else. My cookies are a lot of damn work but over the years I’ve come up with some tricks to make it just a bit easier. Several years back, I posted a Holiday Cookie Primer with some tips that I’m going to revisit here to make the season a little more peaceful.


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