20 dozen. That’s roughly how many cookies I’ve made this month. 240 cookies. Rolled, sliced, filled, hand-shaped, and scooped. I’m tired.
But I love doing it. I make them for everyone — friends, family, colleagues, my husband’s colleagues, neighbors, the mailman, you name it. I make them for parties, cookie swaps, and even ship them to loved ones. If I have a pretty tin, a cute box, or cellophane bag and a ribbon, chances are I’m giving you cookies.
I like to try new recipes and often test what I want to give before planning the final list, but one is mainstay, Fine Cooking’s almond cookie dough*. It is, in a word, excellent. It’s what I look for in a cookie: delicious, not too sweet, easy to make, and versatile.
I can’t sing its praises enough. It’s a work horse. This single dough can be slightly altered to make three very different and extremely delicious cookies. Technically I’ve made only two — almond sables and chocolate thumbprints — but I assume the hazelnut almond crescents are just as heavenly.
Plus, it’s quite forgiving and requires only that you keep it cold but still pliable. As a good foundation recipe, it lends itself to creativity. I filled some almond sables with homemade cranberry curd for an original twist that was phenomenal (see pic below and more on that later). Other variations I envision are half-dipping the sables or crescents into dark chocolate and maybe even sprinkling almonds or toasted coconut on top of the chocolate, sandwiching with Nutella, or adding toasted coconut or mini chocolate chips to the dough before baking. Yummmm. I’ll be trying some of those versions next year.
So what else was on my list? I gave away:
- America’s Test Kitchen’s rolled sugar cookies, which are labor intensive but delicious, forgiving and super versatile. I filled them with whipped dark chocolate ganache, apricot-lemon preserves, and sour cherry-lemon preserves. They taste best the next day after they’ve set and the filling has softened the cookie slightly.
- ATK’s chocolate crinkle cookies, scoop-able, easy, fun, and festive looking.
- Fine Cooking’s thick Scottish shortbread, which I make throughout the year and often pair their absolutely divine classic lemon curd.
- Mrs. Field’s coconut mud bars, another year-round treat. My holiday spin is nut-free and includes oatmeal, less coconut, orange zest, and whole-wheat flour, but I make several versions throughout the year.
- The Kitchn’s cranberry curd, excluding the crust in the recipe.
*”But what about nut allergies!?” you might say. I know, I know. My sister and niece both have nut allergies so I’m extremely cognizant of this. I NEVER send these almond-based cookies to them, nor do I mix, bake, or store them near nut-free cookies. Also, I’m very selective about the recipients and give them only to small groups of non-allergic friends. People I don’t know well never get these.
What cookies did you make this holiday season?