Baking Cookies Together Makes Holiday Magic
Gingerbread Cookies, Macaroons, White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle, Chocolate-Raspberry Rugelach and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles
A lot of things about the holidays look different this year.
Visits to Santa, watching The Nutcracker, Christmas parties with friends, parades – we won’t take any of it for granted once the veil of COVID has been lifted.
But the opportunities to make the holidays magical for kids – even in 2020 – are endless. We can still drive around looking at Christmas lights, watch favorite Christmas movies in our pajamas, dry orange slices to make homemade ornaments for the tree. And we can bake. We can make fudge, cakes, cookies and candies. We can make them for neighbors, leaving them on their porches with sweet notes. We can send a box of sweets to grandparents or teachers. And we can bake just for the pleasure and fun of doing something together with our families.
Cookies are probably the easiest thing to make with kids. We’ve included several easy Christmas cookie recipes, some kids can make almost entirely on their own and others that will require help from parents.
Classic gingerbread cookies are a holiday must-have. This recipe makes a soft gingerbread cookie, which some people prefer over crisp.
Makes 2 dozen
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, melt the shortening. Remove pan from heat. Beat in sugar and molasses until creamy. Beat in the eggs.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the molasses mixture and about half of the flour mixture. Beat in the remaining flour. Divide dough in half, then cover each section with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or until easy to handle.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Arrange on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack. Frost when cool, if desired.
This is one of those recipes perfect for kids. Macaroons are an easy drop cookie that look pretty on a Christmas cookie tray.
Makes 2 dozen
- 2 2/3 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg whites, beaten
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in egg whites and almond extract. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
This is a really different cookie. It’s park peppermint bark, part cookie – the best of both worlds.
White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle
Makes 2 dozen pieces
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 ounces good white chocolate, chopped and divided
- 3/4 cup coarsely crushed peppermints or candy canes, divided
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just blended. Stir in 1 cup chopped white chocolate and ½ cup crushed peppermint candy.
- Transfer dough to prepared sheet. Press dough into 8-by-14-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. Bake for about 30 minutes or until top is firm and dark golden. Cool on sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to rack, and cool completely.
- Melt remaining chocolate by cooking at 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring each time until melted and smooth. Using a small spoon, drizzle about half of the melted chocolate in thin lines over the cooled cookie. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppermint. Drizzle remaining melted chocolate over the top. Let stand until white chocolate sets, about 1 hour. Break cookie into pieces, around 2- to 3-inches each.
Rugelach is fun to make, and this version, with chocolate and raspberry is really delicious. We’ve made it easy, starting with refrigerated pie dough.
- 1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
- 3 tablespoons raspberry preserves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
- 2 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.
- On work surface, unroll crust; spread preserves to within 1/4-inch from edge. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips. With sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut crust into 16 triangles. Roll up each triangle starting at short end to opposite point; place point-side-down, 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Brush with beaten egg.
- Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool 5 minutes; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Note: Store cookies in an airtight container in single layers between parchment or waxed paper in refrigerator up to 2 days. Cookies can be frozen up to 2 months. To thaw, let stand uncovered at room temperature 1 to 2 hours.
You can’t beat a two-ingredient holiday treat. These are perfect for kids to make, though you’ll need to help with melting the chocolate.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles
Makes 2 dozen
- 1 roll (16.5 oz) refrigerated peanut butter cookies
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape cookie dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
- Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes. With buttered hands, shape each cookie into ball; refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes or until completely cooled. Meanwhile, line cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside.
- In medium bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on high 1 minute, stirring until smooth. Keep cooking at 10-15 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted.
- Dip cooled cookie balls, one at a time, into melted chocolate; place on cookie sheet. If necessary, reheat chocolate. Refrigerate truffles about 10 minutes or until coating is set.
Natalie Mikles is a mom of three. She writes about food, sharing recipes for busy families and picky eaters. She has been recognized for her food columns as well as features on families and issues affecting local children. She loves pizza and movie nights with her family.