Whether you’re pulling a faded card out of grandma’s recipe box or Googling “how to make gingerbread,” holiday desserts often mean more to us than your average sweet treat! Familiar flavors have the power to bring us together, remind us of loved ones, and transport us to memories of holidays past. From our table to yours, we’ve compiled a collection of holiday cookie recipes that fill our hearts with joy year after year.
Myelita Melton’s Favorite: Hello Dolly Bars
Here’s one of my family’s favorite holiday treats – Hello Dolly Bars. My mom didn’t make a lot of things from “scratch.” She worked at a hospital ER, and time off during the holidays was precious, so she was always looking for something quick, easy, and delicious to fix! These Hello Dolly bars are the easiest thing in the world to throw together. I have varied the chips I add depending on what I have in the pantry. If you don’t like butterscotch chips, leave them out. If you prefer semi-sweet chocolate chips, use those. If you go for milk chocolate, use those. Just go with what you feel, and what you have on hand! Enjoy!
Rodger Clark’s Favorite: Bird’s Nest Cookies
One of my best holiday memories is my mother busily baking cookies for the various family gatherings. My absolute favorite was what we called her “Bird’s Nest” cookies. These were wonderful confections that featured a crushed-up Life cereal coating and a dab of strawberry preserves in the middle – purposively indented to look like a nest. She only made these during the Christmas holidays. Thankfully, she passed on the recipe to my wife (in her handwriting) and now we have to have at least one batch every Christmas!
1 cup soft shortening (1/2 butter)
½ cup light brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
Blend all ingredients. Roll into 1” balls and dip in slightly beaten egg whites. Roll in crushed Life cereal (or crushed nuts). Place about 1 “ apart on ungreased cookie sheet and press thumb into the center of each cookie. Bake 375º for about 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool.
Place red or green jelly in the center of each.
Mary Lathem’s Favorite: Snowballs
I’ve heard these called Danish Wedding Cookies, Russian Teacakes, and plenty of other names, but whatever you call them, they always disappear quickly in a Christmas cookie spread. My family loves them so much that I got the party started early this year and made some the day after Thanksgiving! I’m sure there will be many more batches of these coming out of my oven this season.
Here’s the recipe I use: Land O’ Lakes Snowball Cookies
A few tips!
- Use raw, unsalted pecans. I like the texture best when they are crushed until they resemble coarse crumbs. You can use a food processor or a Slap Chop to make this faster.
- For a (truly) delicious gluten free version, I use an even mixture of Bob’s Red Mill oat flour and 1-to-1 baking flour.
- A BIG ONE: After the first roll in powdered sugar, sift fresh powdered sugar onto a new plate and let the cookies cool completely before the second roll. This makes the finished cookie look much neater than the ones in the picture, but I only do this if they need to be presentable – usually we just eat them immediately!
Will Keible’s Favorite: Laurie Squares
My favorite Christmas treat comes from my mother-in-law and stalwart WDAV supporter, Marilyn Bradley, who lives in Voorheesville, NY. They are a bar cookie affectionately called Laurie Squares, named after her niece. Marilyn makes these every year and they alone are worth the trip to the cold, dark North. (Side note: I’m hopeful that this public recognition earns me my own named treat 😊)
32 caramels (unwrapped)
2/3 cup (5.5 oz can) evaporated milk
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats (uncooked)
1 cup chopped nuts
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup melted butter
1 cup M&Ms
- Cook the caramels over low heat with evaporated milk until blended.
- In a bowl, mix dry ingredients with melted butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. RESERVE 1 CUP.
- Press remaining mix into bottom of 13 x 9 pan. Bake 10 min.
- Sprinkle M&M’s over partially baked crust.
- Drizzle melted caramel mix over candies.
- Sprinkle reserved crumb mix.
- Bake another 20-25 minutes at 375º.
Rachel Stewart’s Favorite: World Peace Cookies
I love this recipe from Pierre Hermé via Dorie Greenspan. These cookies have the perfect taste and texture as well as the perfect name for sharing during the holiday season. The World Peace Cookie is a chocolate sablé (French shortbread cookie) with a touch of salt and a just-right chewy texture. Once you’ve tried one, you’ll want more, and you’ll want to add them to your holiday baking repertoire.