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These cookies were not in my original holiday baking plan, but Little Bayley gave me a hard time about it because she liked them so much last year and I capitulated. You can use just about any kind of brandy for the cranberries – I use a Vanilla Cognac that I’ve had for ages, but you could really use anything you have on hand. They are a really fun twist on a basic white chocolate chip cookie, and don’t worry – there’s nearly no alcohol flavor left by the time you bake these delicious treats.

Brandied Cranberry White Chocolate Orange Cookies
(Adapted from SimplyRecipes.com)

Cooking Time: 10-12 Minutes
Servings: About 2 1/2 Dozen Cookies

  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Grated peel of 1 large orange
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Soak the cranberries in the brandy in a wide, shallow bowl/dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Strain the cranberries, reserving 1 1/4 teaspoons of the brandy.

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the eggs, vanilla, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the brandy, and grated orange peel. Mix well, scraping down sides of bowl to ensure even mixing.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Fold in brandied cranberries and white chocolate chips.

If you want thicker, softer cookies, chill dough in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. If you want thinner, crispier cookies you can skip this step like I did this time.

Place by rounded tablespoons on to your lined baking sheets. Bake cookies at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.


Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes on baking sheet and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy, preferably with a glass of brandy!

I really wanted to make a fruity cookie to complement the other cookies I was baking for the holidays, and these looked so cute in my holiday cookie book that I had to make them. They turned out to be cute little sandwich cookies with crispy lemon shortbread and a tangy lemon filling.

Lemon Snowballs
(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Cooking Time: 10-12 Minutes
Servings: About 3 Dozen Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Butter Filling

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract and rind.

In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture and beat well.

Roll teaspoons of the batter into small balls and place on lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the Lemon Butter Filling.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the egg, sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind, and butter. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and refrigerate until fully cooled.

Spread Lemon Butter Filling on half of the cookies, pressing cookies together to create sandwiches. Tip: lay out all of the cookies round side down on a cookie sheet and sort into those that are flat and those that aren’t. Use the flatter ones as the bases for the cookies.

Sift extra powdered sugar on to the sandwich cookies to create the “snow” topping.

I had never made gingerbread from scratch before, so I knew it was something I wanted to try for the holidays. I found this recipe in my holiday cookie book and decided to give it a shot!

Gingerbread Cookies
(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Cooking Time: 12 Minutes
Servings: About 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a very large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the molasses and water.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flours, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick slabs. (I did this with about 1/3 of the dough at a time.) Use cookie cutters to cut out your cookies and place them on the lined baking sheets. Tip: To keep your cookies from sticking to the cookie cutter, dip your cookie cutter into a dish of flour every 3-4 cookies.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are firm. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Sugar Cookie Frosting
(From AllRecipes.com)

  • 4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring as desired

In a medium bowl, beat the shortening until light and fluffy.

Beat in the powdered sugar until well combined.

Add the milk and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

Divide frosting and mix with food coloring (gel or liquid food colorings work well with this recipe).

Decorate the cookies as desired.

This frosting is great because it will harden nicely, so your cookies can be stacked without lining in an airtight container for storage/gifting. Enjoy!

I first made this recipe last year at the holidays, and I was unsurprised that Hannah S. specifically requested them again this year. These cookies are delicate but delicious, and this year I added some nonpareils to the chocolate coating to make them extra festive!

Pecan Lace Cookies

Cooking Time: 8 Minutes
Servings: About 3 Dozen Cookies

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • Nonpareils or sprinkles (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (this is essential to this recipe).

In a food processor or by hand, finely chop pecans.

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix very well.

Stir in pecans. Place by teaspoons on your lined baking sheets. Note that this dough will look very different from regular cookie dough. Make sure not to make the cookies very large or too close together as these spread out quite a bit.

Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes, or until the cookies are dark golden brown. They may look a little puffy – they will sink down as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

If you don’t allow the cookies to cool completely on the sheet, when you remove them you may end up with cookies that look like this:

Whoops! Anyways…

When the cookies are completely cooled, you can start working on the chocolate coating. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and shortening.

Stir every 30 seconds until smooth and fully melted.

Using the back of the spoon, spread chocolate over half of each cookie and then place on waxed paper to dry. If desired, add sprinkles to the chocolate side.

Store in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.

Vanilla and peppermint are two flavors that I love, and I love them together–especially around the holidays! I modified a recipe from the owner of Sprinkles Cupcakes (found here on Oprah’s web site), adding my own twist to make them EXTRA vanilla-tastic. They turned out adorable, and were a huge hit at the holiday party!

Vanilla Bean Peppermint Cupcakes
(Adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes)

Cooking Time: 22 Minutes
Servings: 18 Cupcakes, or 12 Cupcakes + 16 Mini Cupcakes

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your cupcake pans with liners and set aside.

Prepare your vanilla bean by splitting it lengthwise down the center. Using the side of your knife, scrape out the vanilla beans.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the vanilla beans, the shell of the vanilla beans, the milk, and both flavoring extracts. Stir well until the milk is warm, about 5 minutes – don’t let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean shell. (This can be washed, dried, and then inserted into a container of sugar to create vanilla sugar – yum!)

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and cream together. Next add the egg and egg whites. Beat well until fully mixed.

Add half the flour mixture and mix well.

Add in the vanilla milk mixture and beat until combined. Do not wash the saucepan! (You will use it again for the frosting.)

Add the remaining flour and mix again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that the mixture is fully incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, fill your cupcake liners until about 2/3 full.

(Look how nice the vanilla beans look in the batter!)

Bake for 22-25 minutes (15-16 minutes for mini cupcakes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in cupcake pan for 2-3 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Peppermint Frosting
(Adapted from Sprinkles Cupcakes)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon milk

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy.

Sift in 1 cup of the powdered sugar and beat well.

Grab the saucepan used for the vanilla milk mixture for the cupcakes. Add the vanilla and peppermint extracts and the milk. Swirl them around the saucepan, using a spoon to help pick up some of the remaining vanilla beans. Alternatively, you could just save some of the original vanilla beans, but I found that this method gave just enough vanilla beans to the frosting mix. Add this to the bowl and beat well.


Add the remaining powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. If you accidentally add too much sugar, you can add a little bit more milk.

Now you have frosting ready to pipe onto your cupcakes! If you don’t have a nice piping bag set, you can use a great little trick: scoop your frosting into a ziploc baggie and then cut off a tiny bit of one corner.

Add sprinkles (in this case I used peppermint flavored mini candy cane sprinkles) or any other decorations.

Enjoy!

Earlier this season, I was killing time at a bookstore and stumbled upon the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Candies 2010 magazine. Flipping through the pages and pages of recipes and adorable decorated treats, I knew that the magazine was coming home with me and that I was going to have some fun trying new recipes out this season. This was my first new recipe, and I am very happy with the results! My only deviation from the original recipe was to substitute whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour – I just wanted them to be a bit healthier and chewier.

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 36 Minutes
Servings: About 24 Cookies

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and eggs together. In a separate bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the large bowl and mix well. Note that the dough will be sticky. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Aren't the colors pretty?

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10″ x 2″ x 1″ box or log, like below.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Err on the longer side of this time amount if you’re unsure. Remove your baking sheet from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the logs to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 3/4″ slices. Place the slices cut side down on your baking sheet again.

Bake for 5 minutes, flip the slices over and bake 5-6 minutes longer. The edges should be nice and golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then let them cool completely on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container, and serve with a festive cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

These cookie bars are deceptively simple to make, but absolutely heavenly! They’re always one of my first choices for holiday baking, and can easily be modified based on who you’re making them for or what you have on hand.

7 Layer Cookie Bars

Cooking Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: About 18 2″ x 3″ bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free or regular)
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350. You’ll notice that I lined my 9″ x 13″ baking pan with waxed paper – I do NOT recommend this, and you will see why later. I think, for this particular recipe, you don’t need to line the pan at all.

Place the stick of butter in the pan and put it in the oven for a few minutes until the butter is melted. Be careful not to let the butter scorch! Remove the pan and make sure the butter is swirled around the full bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the butter evenly with the graham cracker crumbs. Next layer the semisweet chips, the butterscotch chips, and the walnuts.

Poke two holes in the can of sweetened condensed milk so that you can drizzle it all over the top of the other layers. You should end up with a very solid coating of the condensed milk. Top this all with the shredded coconut. The layers should look something like below.

Put the layered pan into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the coconut starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. If, like me, you used wax paper, you can lift it up out of the pan to make your bars easier to cut; however, the wax paper will not remove from the edges so you will need to leave a “shell” as I did below. Cut the bars into your desired size and enjoy!

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