31 Best Recipes and Tips of Cookie Week 2013
Cookies are important. Our favorite food blogs and magazines know this, and so every year, they give us Cookie Week.
We’ve sorted through the piles of cookie recipes that flooded in last week and have chosen the 31 best cookie recipes and tips for you as we approach the cookie-heavy holiday season (though maybe every season should be cookie heavy). For easy navigating, the recipes are sorted into the following categories:
- Tips and tricks
- All things gingery
- Boxes of chocolate
- Make mine a double: cookie sandwiches
- We didn’t forget you (a selection of gluten-free and vegan cookies)
- Pretty sweet shortbreads
- Souped-up classics, parts one and two
Happy baking, brought to you by Cookie Week — click through to find the tips and recipes.
Tips and tricks
This is the year you make flawless cookies, friend, because this is the year you have these six tips and tricks in front of you.
Before you start, read this article from Food & Wine on five common cookie mistakes and how to avoid them. One example: how you cream your butter can make or break your cookies.
America’s Test Kitchen’s big tip is about giving your cookie batter some R&R. Turns out that the secret to cookies that are chewy in the middle and crispy on the edges is all about letting the batter rest.
The best icing to cover the face of a sugar or gingerbread cookie is the undisputed king: royal icing. Did you know, though, that there’s an easier and more aesthetically pleasing way to frost the face of your cookie? By using two bags of icing — one thicker and one thinner — you can create an outline of the area you want covered with thicker icing and then flood it with the thinner one. No marks left from your butter knife, no mess to clean up from pouring icing over your cookies and watching it all slide right off. Get the details from Food52′s ”How to Flood Royal Icing.”
Maybe you made snowflake-shaped cookies and it’s time to pipe a pretty design on them. Before you do, check out Food52′s tips on decorating anything that comes out snowflake-shaped.
Maybe, just maybe, you don’t need icing at all. Maybe the answer is pure melted chocolate. Alice Medrich certainly thinks so.
Planning ahead? Good for you! We definitely think you should prep ahead of time and freeze your cookie dough until you’re ready. Before you pop that dough in the freezer, though, make sure you read The Kitchn’s article on how to freeze cookie dough.
One bonus tip we want to make sure you know:
Scooping cookie dough onto a hot cookie sheet is going to leave you with some undesired effects post bake. When you’re baking a lot of cookies and don’t have enough cookie sheets to start each one on a cool sheet, use parchment paper (not wax paper!). Scoop or portion out your cookie dough onto a piece of parchment so that when you pull the first batch out, you can lift it all off at once, lower the second batch on quickly, and pop the whole thing right back into the oven. Repeat until all your cookies have been baked.
All things gingery
America’s Test Kitchen, per usual, made gingersnaps until they cracked the code. We’re big fans of using science to improve food, and they’ve figured out how to get the snappiest ginger flavor bombs in town. For true gingersnap lovers, don’t miss this recipe.
Bon Appetit gets in on the ginger-packing, too. If you can’t get enough ginger in your ginger cookies, these Triple Ginger Cookies might be for you.
Apparently, there are a lot of people out there with a serious disdain for ginger snaps! Is it the spice? The snap? What gives? Because we don’t believe in giving up on people, here are a couple of non-traditional gingery cookies that you can try.
If you don’t like so much heat but you like the spice, give these Chewy Molasses Cookies from Bon Appetit a try. They say these dark beauties stay chewy for days.
For a softer, more tender gingernap, look no further than A Cozy Kitchen. Blogger Adrianna Adarme has gifted us a recipe for just that.
Boxes of chocolate (cookies)
We’re serious about chocolate. We have four recipes for chocolate cookies that we deemed outstanding enough to be included in the Best of Cookie Week lineup, but one is over in the cookie sandwiches section and another is gluten free, so this section brings you only two of those recipes. That just means you have no excuse — barring a chocolate allergy — and you have to make them both.
The first is brought to us by Food52: a Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie. Seriously. We don’t mess around. Word to the wise, try to find unsalted peanut butter.
Also a savory-sweet combination, this Salted Chocolate Rye Cookie from Saveur uses an ingredient that is sweeping the foodie world this year for cookie making: rye flour.
Make mine a double: cookie sandwiches
Sometimes, more is just more. Two cookies bound together with a delicious filling certainly sounds like a winning idea, and these recipes will definitely set you up for a win.
Borrowing from the chocolate list is Food52′s Two Bite Buckeye Cookies, which feature two intensely chocolatey sables with a little kick from some cayenne pepper, peanut butter, and chipotle ganache filling. You can adjust the amount of pepper to match your affinity for Mexican chocolate, but don’t exclude it altogether — the cayenne actually serves the purpose of making the chocolate flavor seem deeper.
Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen brings us a twist on the classic Florentine Christmas cookie recipe with these Eggnog Florentine Cookies. These sandwiches are two thin, lacey cookies made from pecans and a bit of flour and filled with a firm pastry cream boasting all kinds of delicious eggnog flavors. This recipe has an extensive ingredient list, but they sure are impressive.
Saveur brings us another nut-based cookie with La Deliziosa, a hazelnut cream cookie sandwich. The recipe is adapted from Rosetta Costantino’s cookbook, Southern Italian Desserts. Gently use a vegetable peeler on your lemons to get the 1-inch-wide strips of zest you need for the filling. If you can’t find hazelnut paste, make your own simple version:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Blanch 1-2 cups of hazelnuts by submerging them in 2 cups of boiling water with 3 tablespoons of baking soda for 3 minutes, and then submerge them in ice water. The skins will slip off. Dry the nuts and spread them out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven on the middle rack for 7 minutes or until they’re all golden and toasty. Toasting time may vary depending on how accurate your oven’s temperature gauge matches up with its heating element, so check them at 5 minutes and toast them up to 10 minutes. You definitely don’t want burnt hazelnuts. Add the nuts to your food processor and start blending. Don’t stop when you get nut dust; continuing to process the nuts will bring out the oils and make a paste.
We didn’t forget you (a selection of gluten-free and vegan cookies)
The holidays can be tough for those with dietary restrictions. Really good vegan or gluten-free cookies can be hard to find, but Cookie Week doesn’t disappoint.
The only really noteworthy vegan cookie we found was this Vegan Gingerbread Cookie from Food52. This recipe replaces the melted butter with melted coconut oil and the milk with your choice of soy, almond, or rice milk. Personally, I think the slight nuttiness of almond milk and the subtle coconut flavors from the coconut oil makes this an interesting variation on gingerbread men for non-vegans, as well.
The first of two gluten-free cookies is borrowed from the chocolate cookie category with Food52′s Divine Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookies. These don’t have any sort of flour in them at all, so they’re perfect for anyone who has to make gluten-free cookies with short notice and a pantry lacking gluten-free flour substitutes. For an airier, meringue-like cookie, whip the egg whites and then gently fold in with the rest of the batter.
The second gluten-free cookie is Edible Perspective’s Chocolate Chip Cookie with Pistachios flecked with orange zest, and it sounds absolutely addicting. To make these vegan, this recipe is two substitutions away: Trade the unsalted butter for coconut oil and the egg for a flax egg. Blogger Ashley McLaughlin went through a great deal of recipe testing to bring you a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that actually tasted like a real cookie, not a lightened-up breakfast cookie — and I think you owe it to her to make a batch of these.
Pretty sweet shortbreads
This section is a showcase of Food52′s Cookie Week recipes. Though a number of blogs and magazines had a number of shortbreads, we found that Food52 really had the top three.
Keeping with the chocolate and pistachio theme of our last cookie, we have a Chocolate-Dunked Pistachio Shortbread Cookie. It’s adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe that called for hazelnuts and milk chocolate, but we think the substitution of the world’s most addictive green nut and bittersweet chocolate is just genius.
For the first of our only two oatmeal cookies in the series, these Oatmeal and Lavender Shortbread Cookies are begging for a cup of tea to be dipped into, but the blogger who posted this recipe also suggests pairing them with champagne and vanilla ice cream — and with New Year’s Eve just around the corner, we think it’s a perfect time to test that claim. For the sake of balance, try dialing the salt back to a half-teaspoon. This recipe would also be perfect for practicing your cookie freezing skills.
Did you buy a jar of coconut oil? Are you looking for really delicious ways to use it up? You should make these Coconuttiest Shortbread Cookies. According to Food52, they could be the way to sway coconut haters.
Souped-up classics: part one
We found enough recipes for reinvented classic cookies that you could have a cookie swap just using this list (which sounds like the best idea ever).
Who doesn’t like a good sugar cookie? Better question: Who doesn’t like an improved sugar cookie? Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen gives an extra layer of flavor to her sugar cookies with this year’s “it” cookie ingredient: rye flour. Even better, she has a cookie cutter that’s shaped like a cloud with a cutout that’s perfect for attaching to a mug of tea, eggnog, or hot chocolate.
From Food52, check out these snickerdoodles that have been tricked out with cardamom and currants. They have an ideal snickerdoodle texture, they’re wicked buttery, and they have a perky tang from the dried currants.
The better-known name for these cookies in the United States is Piroulines, but we like the less-P.C. names of these cookies from Smitten Kitchen – anything from French Cigares to Cigarettes Russes Cookies. Dip them in chocolate, pipe ganache in, go crazy! Just make sure you bake them on parchment paper or a Silpat.
This recipe for Lemon Almond Cornmeal Diamonds from Food52 is a must-try, souped-up polenta cookie for citrus lovers if we’ve ever seen one. The best part? No scooping! Fill a pan, bake, chill, and cut.
Wrapping up this section, this heirloom recipe comes from Food52 blogger Anna Hezel’s Aunt Clara: a frosted Anise Seed Cutout Cookie. Classically Christmas, Anna recommends eating these alongside a cup of tea and a clementine. The best thing about them may be that they’re lighter on the sugar than most related cookies.
Souped-up classics: part two
Coming straight from Smitten Kitchen with tricks from America’s Test Kitchen are these Sugared Pretzel Cookies. Arguably the best cookie in the big blue holiday tin, Deb shows you how to make these at home. The secret? Hard-boiled egg yolk.
As a combination of thumbprint cookies and chocolate kiss cookies, these Almond Thumbprint Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt from Food52 are gourmet additions to your cookie arsenal.
Bon Appetit brings us delicate but flavorful Orange-Almond Lace Cookies. As a take on the classic Florentine, this is a great way to incorporate winter citrus into your cookie making.
As the second of our two oat cookies, these Fig and Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies from Food52 are inspired by Boston’s Sofra Bakery and some chocolate-stuffed and dipped figs the blogger had in Seattle.
Can you have a Cookie Week without a recipe for meltaways? No, probably not — so we’re going to end this Best of Cookie Week list with the Cooking Channel’s recipe for Peppermint Meltaways. If this doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, it’s possible that nothing will. Here’s a secret: They’re stuffed with Hershey’s Kisses. We think you should make them the peppermint kisses, but the choice is yours.
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