I’m a big Christmas baker. If I don’t bake it’s not Christmas. I’m not sure how this came about, but at some point I started making cookies to give away. Every year, I buy a cookie tin for each household in my family and fill it with a variety of cookies. I usually pick 4-6 recipes for the tins but this time of year tends to have lots of get togethers/potlucks/office parties etc., so I usually make cookies for those as well.
I know many people have a tried-and-true recipe that they make year after year, but I like using these tins as an opportunity to try a bunch of new recipes. I tend to pick these out in advance, to make life a little easier for the days leading up to Christmas. By planning it out, I can also make sure that there’s a variety of flavours, not just chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! (Not that all chocolate would be a bad thing… but it wouldn’t be ideal for some non-chocoholic family members.) The actual baking is usually accomplished in the 2 or 3 days leading up to Christmas because I used to bake in advance and freeze, but then I had a couple disasters!
Martha Stewart’s Rum Balls are delicious. I’ve made them a couple times now, and they’re always SO good. The recipe is a two-step process, where you make the brownie-ish chocolate cake, then it’s crumbled, mixed with dark rum, and rolled into balls. Instead of rolling them in sugar, they’re better off with a chocolate coating or a roll in cocoa powder mixed with icing sugar. Recently, I’ve been using the brandy from Brandied Cherries instead of rum, which is really tasty!
Chocolate or Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies are super simple and always a hit. I usually just google a recipe for basic cookies (or use the recipe on the peanut butter jar). Before the cookies go into the oven, press your thumb into the centre of the cookie to make a little well. When they’re fresh out of the oven and still soft, press an unwrapped Hershey’s kiss into the centre. Hershey’s has been making some really cute variations on kisses lately and many of them pair well, like the chocolate caramel kisses with peanut butter cookies or the candy cane kisses with chocolate cookies. The candy cane ones are extra cute and Christmassy, too!
Martha Stewart’s Coconut Macaroons are also super simple with only 5 ingredients (coconut, egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt). I’m not a big coconut fan, but the boys in the family seem to really love these, so I’ve made them a couple of times now. I actually double the recipe every time because they’re so popular (and I make them a little bigger than instructed!). They’re also really good with a drizzle of (or a dip into) dark chocolate.
I’ve been scouring all my favourite resources looking for recipe ideas. So far, there are lots that appeal! I think the rum balls and macaroons are a must, so here are some flavours and recipes I think might be nice to round out the variety:
- Coffee: Mocha Madeleines (these would be a really different texture from everything else in the tin) or Espresso Bean Shortbread (such a cute idea to make them bean-shaped!)
- Pecan: Maple Pecan Shortbread (my boyfriend’s a maple addict) or Pecan Tassies (making the little dough cups might be quite frustrating though!)
- Lemon: Cream Cheese Lemon Bows (I can’t figure out if we’d like this flavour combo) or Lemon Pistachio Wreaths (these are so pretty)
- Spiced: Molasses Spice Cookies (or I could use the recipe on the carton of molasses) or Cardamom Cookies (cardamom is my mom’s favourite)
- Peanut butter: Chocolate Caramel Kisses in Peanut Butter Thumbprint cookies
- Something else: The cookie-a-day Advent Calendar in the newspaper keeps giving me new ideas!