9 favorite cookie recipes

Remember the tastes of home with these recipes
9 favorite cookie recipes
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

There are certain tastes that bring you right back to your childhood. For many, there has always been a beloved tradition of an all-day cookie-making marathon in preparation for the holiday ahead. Mixing beaters, cookie cutters and rolling pins fill kitchen countertops as puffs of flour fill the air and little fingers find their way into the mixing bowl. Below, some of our staff members and writers share the cookie recipes that remind them of home.

Piparkūkas: “Growing up in a Latvian household, almost every year we make piparkūkas during the holiday season. Directly translated, it means pepper cookies. They are these fun-shaped cookies that are almost a mash-up of gingerbread and molasses cookies, but they’re packed with spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper and ginger. My family always participates in our Latvian community bake sale, so starting at 4 years old, we would help press cookies (I would sneak tastes of the cookie dough) and prepare all sorts of other traditional things. To this day, I go home every year to help out at the bake sale whenever I am able to.” – Maija Inveiss, web editor

Recipe: Omite Anna’s Piparkūkas (Pepper Cookies)

16 oz. dark Karo syrup
1 lb. butter
1 lb. brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/3 lb. flour
2/3 Tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. orange peels

1. Boil the dark Karo syrup in a large pot, then add the butter.
2. Put in everything except the baking soda, egg and 1 lb. of flour.
3. Take it off the stove.
4. Put in the rest of the flour when the temperature is cooled down, mixing the dough with your hands.
5. Put in the baking soda and the egg, then stir.
6. Refrigerate and let the dough sit overnight.
7. Add more flour if the dough feels too thin. It should be fairly sturdy and thick.
8. Roll out the dough and using cookie cutters, create various shapes.
9. Put on a baking sheet and add an egg wash to the top.
10. Bake at 350°F until golden brown and fully cooked (7-10 minutes).

Cranberry White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies: “This was my father’s favorite cookie and he would always buy the Betty Crocker cookie mix that was sold in a pouch…so I created my own recipe just for him and I would made them for Dad every Thanksgiving and Christmas.” – Denise McMullen, advertising coordinator

Recipe: Cranberry Chip Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla (sometimes I use 2 tsp. of vanilla and 1 tsp. of almond or orange extract)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 bag of white chocolate chips (I usually only use half of the bag, depends on your taste)
8-ounce bag of chopped macadamia nuts

1. Heat oven to 350 °F. In a large bowl, sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla.
2. Beat until creamy; add all remaining ingredients, except the cranberries and chips.
3. Drop large spoonfuls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 11-12 minutes or until golden brown: let the cookies set 2-3 minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet. Makes 2-3 dozen.

Grandma’s Melting Moments: “She would make these for Christmas every year and bring a few extra for my sister and me, which we didn’t have to share with anyone. She would tint the frosting pink and mint green.” – Emily Culp, senior production designer

Recipe: Grandma’s Melting Moments

1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 pound butter, room temperature

1-3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Combine powdered sugar, cornstarch, flour and butter until it forms a dough.
2. Shape the dough into a roll and then chill it.
3. Once chilled, slice the dough and place the slices on baking sheets.
4. Bake at 350°F.
5. For frosting, combine ingredients and leave at room temperature until it reaches a spreading consistency.

Gingerbread Men: “Some with happy faces, some with sad–but all laden with colored sugar.” – Barbara Walsh, freelance copy editor

Recipe: Gingerbread Men*

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves or allspice
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cream together the butter, brown sugar, spices and salt. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and blend.
3. Sift together twice the flour, soda and baking powder. Add to the molasses mixture and stir until blended. Chill at least 30 minutes.
4. Using a third to a quarter of the dough at a time, roll it to one-eighth inch or slightly thicker on a lightly floured pastry cloth with a floured, covered rolling pin.
5. Cut with gingerbread man cutter or any other cutters desired. Transfer carefully to a greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Press eyes, mouth and button details into each gingerbread man with a toothpick, or use raisins and thin strips of red licorice. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
6. Place in oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a rack. If desired, decorate with decorative frosting.

*Adapted from “The New York Times Cookbook” by Craig Claiborne, 1961

Pecan Crescents and Chocolate Cookies: “My mother wasn’t much of a baker. I remember two cookies, though, that she made every year. One was pecan crescents (also known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes). The other was a chocolate cookie and the recipe was from one of my sister’s arithmetic books.” – Dan Curd, writer

Recipe: Pecan Crescents

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
¼ tsp. salt
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven 325°F.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in the salt, flour, pecans and vanilla extract.
4. Roll the dough into small balls and then shape into crescents.
5. Bake on cookie sheets lined with baking parchment for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly colored.
6. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cool completely.

Recipe: Arithmetic Chocolate Cookies

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 375°F
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Stir in the flour, salt and cocoa. Then add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until well combined.
4. Form the dough in a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least for 30 minutes.
5. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough ¼-inch thick. Cut into 1¼-inch rounds and place on cookie sheets lined with baking parchment.
6. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Chocolate glaze:
1. Melt the chocolate chips.
2.Add the water and stir until smooth.
3. Ice the cooled cookies with a thin layer of the chocolate glaze. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Holiday Tin and Kentucky Bourbon Balls: “Stretching back at least four decades, my Aunt Sue (a refined Southern lady who was the best cook and baker I know) sent a holiday tin of homemade sweets from Nashville to Wisconsin every Christmas. I am certain that the first alcohol I ever tasted was bourbon in her bourbon ball recipe. When that tin arrived, my family knew Christmas was around the corner. Aunt Sue passed away several years ago, and my husband misses the bourbon balls so much he wants to make them for the upcoming holiday season.” -Tamira Madsen, writer

Recipe: Kentucky Bourbon Balls Recipe

1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
4 Tbps. Kentucky bourbon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped shredded coconut
1 tsp. salt
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 pound powdered sugar
1 1/2 pounds chocolate candy coating, melted

1. In mixing bowl, beat butter, vanilla, bourbon and salt until its fluffy and then beat in sweetened condensed milk.
2. Stir in coconut and powdered sugar until well blended
3. Roll the candy into 1-inch balls. Set in refrigerator or freezer until firm.
4. Melt chocolate and drop balls in pot one at a time. Take balls out of chocolate with toothpick and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet to set.

Tea Cakes: “Tea cakes, believed to have origins in slavery, are large cookies from the Southeastern U.S. made with sugar, butter, eggs, flour, milk, and flavoring. It is thought that they are an African American version of the English tea cake. Tea cakes are best when 1 or 2 days old. Traditional cooks, like my Grandma Effie Partee, only used vanilla, but modern cooks change flavors by substituting almond or lemon extract for the vanilla. Also my Grandma Effie, my Aunt Mattie Partee, and Uncle Robert Partee never add nutmeg or cinnamon. (1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg or cinnamon can also be added to dry ingredients) All good cooks slightly adjust ingredients to fit their tastes. Grandma Effie’s tea cakes were the best.” – Fabu Phillis Carter, writer

Recipe: Tea Cakes

1 cup butter
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
4. Knead soft, wet dough for a few turns on a floured board until smooth.
5. Cover and refrigerate until firm.
6. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into round shapes with cookie cutters or a glass. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Depending upon size of the circles, this will make 10-15 cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies: “These were my favorite Christmas cookies as a kid (other than cutout, of course!) perhaps because I love the idea of putting my thumbprint in them as they baked! Both my Grandma Laura and my mom made these each year, and they are one of the few I make today. The combination of not-too-sweet cookie with the bit of frosting on top are the perfect combination. Happy memories and happy tummy whenever I eat one!” – Patti Zarling, writer

Recipe: Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 cup soft shortening (half butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup finally chopped walnuts
1 egg yolk

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix shortening, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla thoroughly.
3. Sift in flour. Roll into 1-inch balls.
4. Dip slightly into beaten egg whites. Roll into finely chopped nuts.
5. Place dough about 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for five minutes.
7. Remove from oven and gently press thumb on top of each cookie.
8. Return to oven and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Cool and frost with pink and/or green frosting for Christmas colors. Makes about 2 dozen (1 1/2-inch cookies)

Mum’s English Trifle: My mum, being British, always had an English Trifle for dessert. It has layers of sponge cake, custard, jam and fresh fruits. It’s served in a tall glass dish, and the layers looked festive. MY second favorite was her famous plain cheesecake, which was a request from all! -Marilyn Parlapiano, account executive

Recipe: Mum’s English Trifle

Powdered sugar jam jelly roll (Find recipe for jelly roll here.)
Fresh fruit (traditional toppings include halved strawberries, sliced bananas and blueberries)
1 packet of Bird’s Eye Custard powder

Garnish with:
Whipped cream (optional)
Nuts (optional)

1. Cut a powdered sugar jam jellyroll in slices.
2. Spread a layer of jam on one side of each slice.
3. Layer each slice on the bottom of a tall glass serving dish.
4. Then layer with fresh fruit.
5. Make Bird’s Eye Custard powder (directions on packet).
6. Once cool, pour custard over the jelly rolls and fruit.
7. Add whipped cream and nuts on top. Refrigerate for two hours or more before serving.

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