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Tradition-worthy Christmas cookies

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Favorite holiday treats

Every family has their favorite Christmas cookies, and we are no exception. We like to make and decorate sugar cookies, of course, but there are a couple other Christmas cookie recipes that we look forward to every year.

Cinnamon Star Cookie

What makes a cookie tradition-worthy?

Well....do you think about hoarding some for yourself to enjoy after the Christmas season? Do you start looking forward to making your Christmas cookies around the middle of August? Do you willingly spend an extra 20 minutes on the elliptical so you can indulge without guilt?

While we make several types of Christmas cookies each year, these are the cookies that are the foundation of our repertoire. These are the cookies we cannot do without. We think about them in August - and we often make more than one batch so that we can each have a private stash.

Recipes for Christmas cookies


Cinnamon Stars

Makes 3 dozen cookies

These Christmas cookies are a variety my husband remembers from childhood - an ooey, gooey mess. I used to dread them. There was the grinding of almonds into almond flour and the plain stickiness of trying to work with the dough. But then I discovered two things: bags of ground almonds at our local Trader Joe's and the delightful little trick of rolling out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and dipping the cookie cutters in cold water between cuttings. Awesome!

Ingredients:
3 large eggs whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
12-3/8 ounces confectioners' sugar
14-1/8 ounces ground almonds
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:
1. Beat egg whites and lemon juice until still peaks just form. While continuing to beat, slowly sift in the confectioners' sugar. When the sugar is incorporated, set aside 1/4 cup of the meringue.

2. Mix together the ground almonds and cinnamon, then fold that into the meringue until it is well incorporated. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Roll out half of the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap until it is very thin - about 1/8-inch or so. Cut the dough into shapes (stars are traditional), and carefully transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Spread a thin layer of the reserved meringue over each cookie. Bake about 8 minutes. Watch closely, as you don't want the meringue to brown.

Note: The ingredients for these cookies are listed by weight because of how I evolved and adapted the recipe from it's original translation in German. Weight is a more accurate measure of ingredient amounts.

Chocolate Snowballs

Makes about 50 to 60 cookies

These Christmas cookies are perfectly-sized nuggets of chocolate goodness. I have been known to make a double-batch and hide half for my personal enjoyment. If you don't already have a scoop for portioning out cookie dough, this recipe is a great excuse to get one.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into little chunks
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whir the flour, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, and coffee powder in a food processor for a few seconds. Sprinkle chunks of butter over the top and pulse until the mixture looks like crumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse some more. Add the chocolate chips and pulse several times more.

2. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out about 1 teaspoon of the dough, drop it into your hand and firmly press and roll the dough into a ball. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake 25 minutes. Allow to cool.

3. Mix the remaining cocoa and the confectioners' sugar in a resealable plastic bag and shake well. Put 2 or 3 cookies in the bag and shake to coat. Repeat with all the cookies.

Love cookies? Here are a few more Christmas cookies to nibble


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