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The Cookstr 10: Ten Cookies for the Holidays

December 17, 2009

Something about this past year makes a holiday cookie extravaganza seem like an even better idea than usual. Surrounded by bags of brown sugar, piles of cookie cutters, the rolling pin (which may or may not have seen the light of day since last December), a light dusting of flour on the counters, your face, the dog…if you’re feeling a little short of fa la la, then may we suggest you preheat your oven and rev up the mixer.

What we love most about baking cookies (besides the actual cookies, duh) is that no matter how stressy or tech-filled or confusing our lives can get, it all fades away in the face of butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Even the simplest homemade cookies have a certain capacity to bring some happy into the day, both to the baker and to the recipient. And if you can, nab a friend or family member to bake with, or organize a big old-fashioned cookie swap, and have at it. What would you rather receive: a scented candle or some Linzer Hearts? Us, too.

Oh, and um, PS, guess what? This newsletter marks the one-year anniversary for The Cookstr 10! That’s right, 52 of these puppies, each crammed with 10 themed recipes and a bit of rambling prose. It’s been a pleasure to write them, a pleasure to hear back from you about them, and a real joy to watch the number of subscribers climb. Many thanks to all of you for being our inaugural readers, and for passing the newsletters along to your friends. And thanks for all of your suggestions on what topics you’d like to see! After we elbow our way through the holiday season, you can bet that the subjects you suggested will be featured in the shiny new year.

PPS: All of the old newsletters are archived on our Facebook Page, and will soon also be available on The Cookstr Blog (that’s right here!), in case you want to catch up on some back reading.

1. Tina Davis’s Gingerbread Men. If you have kids, grab them. If you don’t, rent them. Making gingerbread men (or women, or stars, or trucks or any other shape that catches your fancy, and that you own a cookie cutter for) is simply one of the most purely joyful and great-smelling holiday activities on the planet. Not that we’re prone to overstatement or anything.

2. Rick Rodgers’ Peppernuts. Just about every country in northern Europe has some version of these spicy drops in its Christmas cookie culture. The cookies can sometimes be outrageously hard, but these have the right amount of give and are properly spicy with pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and anise. The simple glaze is a pretty finishing touch. And the great news? The cookies can be baked up to 2 months ahead.

3. Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. Deep chocolate crinkles are kind of the original black-and-white cookie. They go into the oven as unimpressive balls rolled in confectioners’ sugar and emerge with an appealing contrast between the fissures of dark chocolate and the sugar. The crinkles can be soft and chewy or crisp, depending on how long you bake them. The dough freezes well, so they are a nice make-ahead option.

4. Dorie Greenspan’s Old-Fashioned Almond Cookies. A simple, unusual batter–a mixture of almonds, sugar, and egg whites–comes together quickly in the food processor. These are amazing in their plainest incarnation, and can also be gussied up with nuts, cocoa power, or cinnamon. And you can “glue” them together with anything from raspberry jam to lemon curd, or chocolate ganache.

5. Georgeanne Brennan Candy Cane Cookies. These adorable two-toned cookies, delicately flavored and with a soft, buttery texture, are especially fun for children to make because the dough is shaped by hand, just like modeling clay.

6. Nick Malgieri’s Smooth French Macaroons. Macaroons seem to be the “it-girl” of cookies this fall. You see them at the best French bakeries, pastel-pretty and piled high. The macaroons may be sandwiched with some raspberry, or filled with the contrasting flavor of butter cream or chocolate.

7. Marie Simmons’ Dried Fig, Walnut, and Chunky Chip Sugar Cookies. A brown sugar and vanilla batter makes these a moist, figgy version of the classic chocolate chip cookie.

8. Judith Finlayson’s Chewy Oatmeal Coconut Cookies with Cranberries and Pecans. These luscious cookies are appealingly chewy with just a hint of honey flavor. If you’re looking for a cookie that is kind of good for you, then you will be extra happy with these.

9. Sarah Leah-Chase’s Espresso-Grand Marnier Balls. No-bake, boozy little Christmas balls, a sort of mock truffle, are made from ground cookie crumbs, nuts, liqueur, and sugar. And talk about make-ahead: they require at least a week of aging, tucked away in a tin out of sight and out of mind. Once unveiled they are the perfect sweet to end to a festive evening.

10. Elinor Klivans’ Celebration Sugar Cookies. A wonderful, simple and classic sugar cookie, and another perfect excuse to break out the cookie cutters. This is a dough that is not fussy about being rolled out several times and manhandled by little people. The cookies are good for a week, dress up nicely, and can handle transportation (which is more than we can say for some of us over the holiday season).

All best,

Katie Workman, Editor-in-Chief, and all of us at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. lizzie permalink
    December 18, 2009 6:05 pm

    congrats on 1 year! i have totally enjoyed each and every blog and recipe and introduced my famiy to a new tradition that is known as Cookstr. keep it up!

  2. An American in Germany permalink
    December 19, 2009 12:58 pm

    RE: Chocolate Crinkle cookies. It sounds like you’re saying roll them in a ball and then roll them in the sugar. I did this the first time I made them years ago – what a mess!!!! Drop a ball-sized dollop in the sugar and toss it around and THEN form it in a ball. Saves lots of chocolate goop on the hands.

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