Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap

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Ruth Reichl
Hermine's Oatmeal Cookies

Classic lace cookies (although I didn't know it at the time I wrote the book), these are chewy, delicate, and very addictive. Although they contain no nuts, the combination of butter, oats and brown sugar gives them a distinctly nutty flavor.

- 2 1/2 cups instant oats
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 stick butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients together.
Melt the butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the egg and the vanilla.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a well-greased cookie sheet and flatten with the back of the spoon. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to brown. Remove from oven, let sit a minute or two and then remove from the sheet. If they stick to the cookie sheet, put them back into the oven for a minute.

Barbara Jones from Chester NJ

My absolute favorite cookie is a not too sweet tiny pastry-like cookie from (I believe) Hungary:


3 1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 C unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 C sour cream
1 egg white: for pastry's edges
Nut mixture:
2 egg white
1 C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Shift four and salt together.
2. Cut in butter.
3. Add yolks and sour cream, mix well. Chill for 1 hour.
4. Make nut mixture. Beat egg whites till they form peaks. Gradually add sugar. Add lemon juice. Fold in chopped nuts.
5. Roll out portion of dough on a floured surface. cut into 1 1/2" squares. Spoon on 1/2 teaspoon of nut mixture onto the square. Using extra egg white, fold opposite corner together with a touch of egg white. Can glaze top with egg white (forms little boats w/ 2 corners of square together on top).
6. Bake for 18 minutes till browned. Cool on rack. When cooled, dust with confectionery sugar.
7. Can freeze for future consumption! Makes aprox 8 dozen cookies. Recipe can be cut in half.


Lynn Brailsford Teaneck, NJ

These cookies were made by Grandma Hines and will forever be associated with feelings of being loved and cherished. Our family is from Mt. Airy, NC (aka Mayberry of Andy Griffith fame) so I always thought this was a southern recipe. I have seen and tasted northern 'imposters', but none have come close to the delicate, mouthwatering melting of butter, flour, and powdered sugar accompanied by the delicate crunch of pecans in your mouth! Grandma called these 'Sand Dabs'. Mom makes them for us and the grandkids now...I hope this posting passes on the love for another family!


3/4 cup butter
4 tsp powdered sugar
2 cup flour
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream the butter and sugar. Combine other ingredients. Take about a tablespoon of mixture and roll it into a ball. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 45 min @ 325. After cooling, use a sifter to sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar.


Daniel Isengart a/k/a the Foodcommander

Spitzbuben (pronounced: Sh-pits-boob’n)
(German: Rascals; presumably named so because only little rascals would dare to sneak one of these delicious cookies out of the cellar without mom’s permission)
Spitzbuben are traditional Christmas cookies whose recipe stems back to the Viennese court of the 19th Century. Making them is a true act of love, for it is quite an intricate and time-consuming procedure. Once you get to taste them, though, you will know it was worth every minute of your efforts.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups of white sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 sticks butter, softened
2 cups whole almonds
2 cups red currant jam
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 egg white
3 tsp Grand Marnier or similar liquor
Using a food processor, grind almonds, vanilla seeds and sugar into a fine powder. Add flour and butter and knead until you have a smooth dough. Chill the dough for one hour.
Pass the red currant jam through a fine mesh sieve to remove all seeds.
Roll out the dough to a good 1/8 inch thickness und cut out equal numbers of small rounds and rings of 1 1/2 inches diameter. Bake at 350˚F on parchment paper-lined baking sheets until light golden, about 8 minutes.
Put a small amount of jam, onto each round (turned upside down) and press a ring onto it.
Make a smooth glaze out of the confectioner’s sugar , egg white and liquor. Apply a small circle onto each cookie ring. Store the Spitzbuben in a parchment paper-lined tin box.

Barbara Kiszonas from New Jersey


This is a super simple cookie recipe I got from my husband's aunt the first year we were married. Now our family, including grown daughters, doesn’t consider it Christmas without these cookies. (No sugar is needed in the dough since the preserves and powdered sugar add enough.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2 cups flour
1-1/2 sticks butter
1 - 8 oz. pkg cream cheese
Preserves (we use raspberry or apricot)
Powdered sugar
Blend first 3 ingredients until combined. Shape into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Using one half dough at a time, roll out on floured board to ¼” thickness. Cut in circles with small juice glass. Place on ungreased, nonstick baking sheet and lightly press thumb in center of each cookie. Fill center with ½ tsp. of preserves. Bake about 12-15 minutes until light golden color.
Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack. Place on serving tray and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Ben Austin, Brooklyn

My mother-in-law Evelyn is a good cook, a great grandmother, and a truly extraordinary baker.
I have included her lemon squares recipe here, with her permission and a note.

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares have been my signature confection for at least 30 years. They have appeared at numerous events and are expected to be served at all of my parties. I first saw the recipe in a recipe book published by a Baltimore Museum.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine in food processor:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
pinch of salt
Process until ingredients become coarse meal and then a ball.
Pat evenly into a 10 x 13 inch metal pan. Bake for about 20 minutes. The crust should be barely golden.
Meanwhile mix together in the food processor (I do not wash the bowl):
4 eggs
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of one lemon or two if a more pronounced lemon taste is desired.
Do not overbeat.
Pour over partially baked crust. Bake 25 minutes more. Top should be set but not brown. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.
I trim the edges for a clean look. Sometimes, instead of powdered sugar, I have frosted the squares with a thin icing of lemon juice and powdered sugar.


Ann Allen Ryan, Brooklyn

I am a compulsive December cookie baker. I start early and end up with many sealed tins in my refrigerator - with about 10 different kinds of cookies selected for a balance of flavor, texture and color. One of my favorite recipes is for Chocolate Spice Cookies - ice box cookies that can be frozen for later baking. A favorite because the recipe was given to me by a dear friend and I think of her when I make it and because it has superb flavor and can me mixed well in advance of baking and gifting ---

Chocolate Spice Cookies (Gourmet Sept. 1980)

Cream 1 stick unsalted butter (softened) and 2/3 c sugar; add 3 oz unsweetened chocolate melted and 1 lg egg (lightly beaten)
Sift together 1 1/4 c all purpose flour, 1 tsp double-act baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp each of ground cloves, allspice, freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. (I can't resist increasing the amount of spices; 1/8 tsp seems so little)
Stir the dry mixture into the butter mixture. Chill dough covered for 1 hr so it is firm enough to shape. Form dough into 12 in log on doubled wax paper and seal with foil wrap; can be stored in freezer until ready to bake.
To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees; cut log into 1/4 inch slices, arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment; bake for 10 min. (Note: I heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 9 min for a slightly softer cookie)


For the last few years I've been giving out cookie boxes as holiday gifts. In my mind, they get more elaborate and more grand, but in reality by the time the holidays roll around and I realize that I have 800 cookies to bake, it's back to the basics! (No more French macarons as gifts!!)
This recipe is always a favorite with the recipients:

Matcha Shortbread

2 C all purpose flour
2 Tb good quality green tea powder (matcha)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 C powdered sugar
Sift flour and green tea into a bowl; set aside. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift the powdered sugar and salt in and continue to beat until well combined and paler in color; this should take another 2 minutes. Add the flour and green tea mixture and mix just until everything is combined and the dough sticks together; don't overmix or you'll have tough cookies. Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour.
Preheat oven to 325 F. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" and cut into shapes. I like kitschy Christmas tree shapes. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and chill until the cookies are firm (15 minutes or so). Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are set; don't let them brown or you'll lose the nice pale green color. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Makes 24-48 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

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