There is nothing more nostalgic than the smell of cinnamon and spice making the home smell oh so nice during the holiday season. For centuries, Christmas traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. Such customs are a part of what makes this annual holiday special and unique for families. Memories of grandparents and moms baking in the kitchen, all the while guarding the bowl and spoon until it’s ready to be passed on to the youngsters for licking up.
If you’re in need of some baking inspiration this season or looking for a new recipe to start your own holiday tradition, check out these Christmas cookies from some of our favourite local chefs.
Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog Icing
Coming from a family of four other siblings along with a large extended family of nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, Chef Tanya Foster from Tanya’s Kitchen spends a lot of time in her kitchen, especially during the busy Christmas season. Her favourite go-to recipe is her Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog Icing.
“My ginger cookies with eggnog icing are going to become your new Christmas staple. Not only are they soft and chewy, but they smell and taste like Christmas with aromas of ginger, nutmeg and eggnog. They’re even Santa approved!”
Looking to make your cookies even fancier? We recommend going all out and using this recipe to create gingerbread men, houses, towns and so much more!
¾ cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
Granulated brown sugar (garnish, optional)
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon eggnog
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Using a kitchen mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, constantly scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Add the molasses and ginger until well incorporated into the dough mixture. Add the baking soda and 1 cup of flour and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in the remaining cup of flour. Do not overmix.
Scoop or roll the cookie dough, separate and evenly place on a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle each cookie with a little brown sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.
The rolled cookie dough can be stored in the fridge up to a week or in the freezer. To bake, simply thaw to room temperature first and then bake.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add vanilla, eggnog and nutmeg and mix well. Fold in powdered sugar and stir until well blended.
Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle, ice or half dunk them in eggnog icing. Allow the icing to harden.
For Pastry Chef Paula Stonoga of Kirk Market, her favourite cookie recipe is the sugar cookie. “I find myself waiting to make the cookies all year long, not only for Christmas! Even for our Summer days treat, I try to find a unique way to enjoy these yummy treats.
“I often try sandwiching a mixture of lemon curd and marshmallow cream between two cookies. If you want to change it up a bit, you can also add chocolate chips, lemon zest and extracts. I just love the house smelling wonderful. The spices, the sugar bring together a peaceful feeling of joy.”
For more family-friendly times, invite the kids to decorate and personalise their cookies with icing, sprinkles and tasty flair!
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set this mixture aside.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extract, mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
After the last addition, the mixture will look very thick and crumbly. Prepare a rolling surface spreading flour and roll out a portion of dough. Cut as many shapes from the dough as possible and place them onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies on the centre rack for 9 to 12 minutes, or until they appear done in the centre. The cookies will not change much in colour, and the edges will not brown. Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool down completely. Once baked and cooled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container for a month. Cookie dough can be kept in the freezer for 3 to 6 months.
Linzer Wreaths with Raspberry Jam
Another favourite treat by Chef Paula Stonoga are her Linzer Wreaths with Raspberry Jam. “These cookies are everything about Christmas to me! I love how rich they taste and their beautiful wreath design. The recipe may be a bit more complex than my sugar cookies, but the cookies are worth every extra minute of work.”
3 1/3 cups whole hazelnuts (or almonds), roasted, then finely ground
1½ cups salted butter, room temperature (3 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 1/3 cups unsifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Seedless raspberry jam
Sifted powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake hazelnuts on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 to 10 minutes until browned and skins are beginning to crack. Wrap in terry cloth towel and sweat for 10 minutes. Rub nuts vigorously to remove as much of skin as possible. Grind fine in food processor.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a fork until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, yolk, lemon zest and vanilla. Stir in the ground nuts. Blend in flour, baking powder and cinnamon — it may be stiff. Divide dough in half, form each into 1-inch-thick disc, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill well for several hours or overnight.
Remove one dough disc from the refrigerator for about an hour, until it is soft enough to roll out. Cut two pieces of plastic wrap about 2 feet long and place on rolling surface, overlapping about 6 inches. Place disc of dough in the middle. Place two more pieces of plastic wrap over dough, overlapping them 6 inches.
Keeping the other half chilled, roll out the half of dough between pieces of plastic wrap to ¼-inch thick or lightly less. Remove the top sheet of wrap and cut 2-inch round cookies. Remove the rounds from the wrap with an offset spatula and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Cut out the centres of half the cookies with a ¾-inch round cookie cutter. Bake the rounds in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 9 minutes or until the edges of cookies are golden. Remove from oven and let stand 1 minute, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Re-form the remaining dough back into a ball and roll out, cut and bake. Continue until entire piece of dough is used. Repeat with the other ball of refrigerated dough.
Sift powdered sugar over the rounds with the cut-out circles (optional). Spread the remaining circles with 1 to 2 teaspoons raspberry jam.
Top each with a cut-out round and press gently together. Spoon a little more jam into the opening of each. Enjoy!
Author: Cynthia Hew