25 Days Of Cookies - Each and Every One

December 23, 2019

 While some dread long, cold, winter nights I for one, do not, because what else is there to do than crank the oven up and bake breads, cookies and more! Its been some time since my 100 Days of Pasta, and I couldn't think of a better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a new baking challenge - 25 Days of Cookies! 

 

Originally I was going to post 5 times, focusing on 5 cookies. Instead, they'll all live here! In one big post dedicated to their greatness. If you want the details, scroll leisurely through. For a complete list with recipe links, hop down to the bottom! This post is best viewed on a desktop or laptop, some of the pictures (including those that are pictures of the recipes themselves) are cut in the mobile version! 

 

One quick thing - in an effort to make this quick and easy I'm giving cookies a 1-5 star rating. Unfortunately I haven't figured out how to make half stars, so this has gotten a little more cut throat than I intended, lets remember that three stars isn't all that bad...

 

Day 1: Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★  If you need a gingery cookie to make it feel like the holiday season, I'd choose this one over gingerbread every time. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- This is a really wet sticky dough. Its very important that it chills for a few hours in the fridge, and I highly recommend using a cookie scoop to portion it

- The butter / shortening situation is no joke. It helps keep your cookies from spreading into monsters. Really, use both. 

- These can be made probably up to a week in advance - but they probably won't last that long

 

These are a favorite in my house during the holidays. Chewy, and crunchy (thanks to the addition of some sanding sugar on the outside) they're really just super flavorful. My family uses one of two recipes, one being a recipe card from Brer Rabbit Molasses - the other an easily linked online recipe from Bon Appetit. The big differences between the original and the Bon Appetit version is the amount of molasses (1/4 cup vs 1/2 cup), fresh ginger vs dried, and the addition of crystallized ginger. We typically omit the crystallized ginger (not something we usually have at home) and I'm guessing you could omit the fresh as well for something not SO strong. 

 

Day 2: Palmier or Elephant Ear Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★☆☆ - If you have leftover puff pastry go for it! But you could put your dough to better use. Bonus Point: Making puff pastry is really fun and you'll feel very accomplished when these finally puff

 

Important takeaways: 

- Keep it cold! Cold butter + Hot Stove = Steam and steam means lots of puffy layers!

- Simple ingredients and flavors here mean quality matters - use the good stuff (butter cinnamon and more!)

- I would recommend making these no more than a day before serving, consider making the dough in advance and cutting/cooking the day of

 

Although these received a seemingly harsh rating - I can't stress this enough - there are few things in the baking world more satisfying than making your own puff pastry. Really. Its literally magic to see these quadruple in size. Maybe don't make these for the holiday, but in the slow aftermath of celebrations, or better yet, during dark dreary January, spend half a day creating these magical little cookies. 

 

Day 3: Cookie Brittle - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★ - I would give this another star if I could, but that would throw off the whole system and its only day 3. Here is what I will say regarding this cookie - its not a "must have" on a cookie plate - but is an EXCELLENT gift (because its meant to be broken anyway) so ship it, send it or bring it to the people you love this year. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- The recipe said "it won't look like it'll fit on the sheet pan but it will" and they weren't lying. I really didn't believe it. 

- You don't have to pre-toast your nuts- they get plenty toasty in the oven!

- This keeps really well! Just make sure not to store it with soft cookies 

 

Day 4: Pistachio, Almond and Sour Cherry Wafers - Recipe Here 

Overview: ★★★★☆ - These tasted borderline... healthy? Not too sweet, with a lot of fun crunchy textures. They were great with coffee or tea. What I loved about them were how many the recipe made because they're sliced so thin. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- These should be stored in an airtight container the second they cool! Mine were left out, by the window... and got a little stale for my liking

- Keep them thin! They thinnest ones were my favorite

- Mix it up - I could see these being great with other dried fruit and nut combos

- These will store well in an airtight container with similarly dry cookies (see the cookie brittle above as a great example) - don't store with soft cookies, it will make these go stale faster

 

Day 5: Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprints - Recipe Here

 

Overview: ★★★★★ - It honestly wouldn't be Christmas without these. Or at least for me it wouldn't (I don't think my family members all share this opinion.) These were a little different from our usual route - see the original recipe below - and to be honest, I shouldn't have messed with a good thing. Stick to the classic version below! 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Use Jam you actually want to eat! It doesn't get any better if you bake it.

- If these start to spread, chill the dough and add a bit more flour

- There are about 1,000,000 riffs on these cookies, find one you love - this is a simple, easy, place to start

- These store well! Make up to 3-5 days in advance, I would separate layers of cookies with parchment paper so that crumbs don't end up in the pretty puddles of jam

 

A few more things on these: I added some whole wheat flour, and an egg, and they were pretty great! But not as good as the original cookies. We've (my family) have never glazed them, even though many recipes call for it. I don't know why, I just accept it as something we do. Lastly, the photo with 4 cookies showcases a rough, scooped cookie surface vs. a rolled out ball surface. Its a personal preference, I thought I'd prefer the smooth but after staring at them for quite some time, settled on the perfect imperfections that came from the scooped cookies. You decide what works for you!  

 

Day 6: Brownie Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆  Delicious and fudgey, but kind of tricky! 

 

Important takeaways: 

- This dough is time sensitive! Take the time to prepare everything in advance

- These didn't keep super well - I preferred them the day they were made

 

I have about 10 different photos of this cookie saved on my instagram. I just love the look of it, shiny, crackly, and so dark and chocolatey. I finally decided to dive in, and used the recipe from a Great British Bakeoff Winner - @boywhobakes. He stresses how time sensitive these are, and thats no joke. See the photo below for what the cookies look like after the batter has been sitting around at room temp for an hour or so. 

 

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Day 7: Checkerboard Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - These cookies were popular with half of the lucky few who got to try them. Not overly sweet, I think they look just a little bit better than they tasted. Additionally - I loved eating them square by square, because thats how I roll. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Great for perfectionists, take the time to use a ruler to get perfectly square spacing

- Don't be afraid to use a little water or egg whites to hold your pieces together, or to hold your coating on. I had trouble getting my hazelnuts to stick

- About the hazelnuts: texturally, loved them, but they were a bit acrid and the cookie wasn't really sweet enough to balance that out

- Great to freeze then slice, and they keep really well! 

 

These were on my agenda because I've been wanting to try a millefiorie cookie technique (think grocery store style christmas cookies with the reindeer/santa pictures) and this is a similar style. Vanilla shortbread is carefully layered with chocolate/espresso shortbread and then sliced to create these. Half of my taste testers swore they were just like the store bought cookies, but I found they were definitely less sweet, and a little drier. I amped up Martha Stewart's recipe, by adding a tsp of instant espresso powder to the chocolate dough, and have no regrets. 

 

 Day 8: Snickerdoodles - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - Here is where the rating system gets complicated, because I learned recently that I just don't LIKE snickerdoodles. Texturally though, they excelled, so 4 stars it is. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- You either love them or you don't, cream of tartar can taste metallic to some people (like me!)

- There is not a ton of variance in recipes, and after a little research, I learned the main differences between this and a classic sugar cookie are the cream of tartar, and the cinnamon

 

I made these, even though I remember not really loving them, because while I was home for Thanksgiving I saw a few recipes for them in my Mom's recipe binder. I snapped a few pictures of each, and decided to give them another chance. The recipes were basically identical, to both each other and to the few I read online, so I dove in headfirst to making them. Unfortunately, they just weren't for me. I loved the crisp edges and chewy center (recipes advised me to cook them for EXACTLY 8 minutes, no more no less) but couldn't quite get over the "tanginess" the cream of tartar imparted on the cookies. 

 

Day 9: Orange and Pistachio Madelines - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - While we've determined these weren't exactly "cookies" they were still great! The original recipe calls for saffron, but I chose to omit it because its both expensive and not a flavor I love! These were best served hot from the oven, but ended up keeing better than anticipated. I happily ate some the following day. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Butter and flour your madeline pan well or you'll end up with splotchy cookies like me. 

- Use good honey for this, as it is one of the main flavor components. You won't regret it.

- Make them soon before serving, and serve them warm if you can

 

Day 10: Millionaire Shortbread - Recipe Here

 

Overview: ★★★★★ - Literally like homemade twix bars. And you'll feel like a million bucks because you made caramel and tempered chocolate. Wow. Go you!  

 

Important takeaways: 

- Please don't make these without a thermometer that can register high temps (a candy thermometer is ideal here), if your caramel doesn't reach the proper temperature it WILL be a gooey (delicious) mess. 

- The recipe makes a 9' x 13" pans worth, I split it into a 8" cake tin and an 8" x 8" square. It was perfect, wouldn't change a thing. 

- The cookie, well my cookie, was soft and crumbly, aka not crisp or snappy. I'm planning on baking it a little more next time so that the texture of the cookie contrasts a little more with the caramel

 

This was my most saved cookie post out of all of the cookies! I know it is a pain to write down the ingredients from the video, so you can find it here too. I was a little worried because my caramel seemed gritty, but with so much going on you couldn't really tell. Overall I'd say its very forgiving!

 

Day 11: Iced Sugar Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★ This recipe for cut out sugar cookies is PERFECT. It isn't very sweet (thats okay, they're iced) and they don't move much, so no puffy trees or stars over here. Lots of perfect crisp edges. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Keep things cold! It will just make your life easier. 

- I love his tip to dust with powdered sugar instead of flour. it did make some of my cookies have slight crackle to the top, but becuase they were frosted, it didn't matter

- Royal Icing and I do not get along, so these are buttercream cookies. They took forever to dry, but were delicious. So my advice is make a frosting that works for you, and don't get too caught up in perfect pinterest cookies. 

 

Day 12: S'mores Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - These are SO FUN to make. Just know my definition of "so fun" usually translates to so much work. Why not 5 stars? These were good, but my ideal holiday cookie is one I can't seem to stop eating. These were kind of a one and done cookie for me, but I loved them all the same. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- You get to make your own graham crackers! This usually calls for graham flour, I used a whole wheat eikorn flour I had on hand instead. Look for the Bob's Red Mill Graham flour in your baking aisle.

- You get to make your own marshmallow! This process is ADDICTIVE, making marshmallows is very satisfying, and not as hard as you'd think! 

- These kept okay, but were a little delicate because of the chocolate shell. 

 

I've been wanting to make these forever, well, since last Christmas when I received a copy of Erin's Cookbook, the Fearless Baker. So I was VERY excited for an excuse to make them. I've made marshmallow before, but never with egg whites. It was fine! Great really. These cookies were a hit at work, if you're a competitive baker, consider wowing your fellow cookie swappers with these! 

 

Day 13: Russian Teacakes - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★ - These are a very very popular cookie. They go by a lot of names, but all have the same idea - lots of nuts, bound by butter, sugar and flour. The results are a sweet, melt in your mouth, butter ball of deliciousness. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- You can use different types of nuts. Walnuts! Pecans! 

- These keep well - they'll last a while in an airtight container, but its unlikely they'll last long enough to really test that shelf life. 

 

Day 14: Cigarette Cookies - Recipe Here 

Overview: ★★★★☆ -  I've learned a lot about my personal cookie preferences doing this project. And I love this texture, thin, crispy, and buttery. These were a bit of a pain to make, but I love that kind of thing, so just make sure you give yourself some time. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- These are best made on a silicon baking mat

- I liked mine lightly browned on the edges, completely brown cookies were hard to roll

- If you're feeling ambitious you can use this same dough to make fortune cookies! Something I 100% plan on doing at a later date 

- These should be stored in an airtight container, our apt. is super humid (lots of pasta water boiling?!) and you want to keep them crisp. 

 

Day 15: Magic Bars (7 layer cookies) - Recipe Here

 

Overview: ★★★★☆ - These are the perfect "last minute" cookie. 15 minutes to make, and you dont have to dirty any dishes. Now I understand why they always seemed to just "appear" this time every year growing up. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- We slightly deviated from the recipe by pouring sweetened condensed milk over everything, rather than just over the graham crackers. I was skeptical, but it totally worked and I love how it sort of bound everything tegether. 

- I imagine you could make these nut free - just replace that layer with something awesome (like pretzels!)

 

Day 16: Jamaretti Cookies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★  THESE ARE IN THE RUNNING TO BE TOP COOKIE. Garrett and I literally ate half of these the night we made them. I'm obsessed. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Almond paste in the dough adds a delightful chewy texture that traditional almond thumbprints don't have. Marzipan, while similar, isn't necessarily a great substitute - so make sure you just use the paste! 

- I'm so enamored with this shape, its definitely different and a welcome change from your standard drop cookie.

- Pictured above, peach, raspberry, and cherry. All delicious, raspberry was the star. Tempted to make a dreamy ombre one with the remaining piece of dough I have. 

 

One more thing: make these. 

 

Day 17: Salted Peanut Butter Cookies (GF) - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - These cookies are good. Not just in a "gluten free" good kind of way, but in a dreamy peanut buttery souffle type way. They don't scream "holiday" to me, but I like them all the same. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- They're Gluten Free!

- Don't use natural PB here, think thick - the processed stuff will help the cookies hold their shape. 

 

I'm not going to wax poetically about these - the creators of the recipe (Ovenly) and Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen do a much better job than I would. Read more about these above! 

 

Day 18: Pecan Sandies - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★★ - As mentioned above -. I love butter cookies. Especially crumbly, melt in your mouth cookies. These are reminiscent of the pecan snowballs/russian teacakes above, just imagine them rolled thin, and cut into melt in your mouth squares. I couldn't stop eating them. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- This recipe makes a lot! Great for freezing, then baking as needed

- Take Deb's advice and deeply toast your ecans in the oven. With such few ingredients is really important that the few that are in there are super flavorful and good! 

 

Day 19: Vanilla Meringues (GF) - Recipe Here

Overview: ★★★★☆ - I love these. They're just so pretty! And easy! MY only complaint is that due to the aforementioned humidity issues we have in. my apartment they did not stay crisp, and a soggy meringue just isn't the same as the crisp melt in your mouth kind. But thats on me! 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Pick a dry day to make these, or at least one where you're not also boiling/steaming lots of things

- Perfect for pastry tip piping practice - I loved the mini bite sized ones the most

- Put in an airtight container immediately after cooling to keep them crisp and fresh! 

 

Day 20: Chocolate Cracks - Recipe Here

 

Overview: ★★★★★ - These get 5 stars because they're beautiful and delicious. And, well if we're being honest, its late and I'm feeling generous. 

 

Important takeaways: 

- Coating it in all the sugars is important! The dough was so similar to the Brownie Cookie dough I thought they'd be the same, but not quite. Look below to see no sugar, just granulated and then the combo granulated/powdered it calls for

- This dough is super sticky! Drop the palls directly into the sanding sugar. 

- Store in an airtight container to keep them fresh and fudgey. 

 

Day 21: Almond Horns (GF) - Recipe Here

 

 

more info to follow! 

 

Day 22: Rugelach Pinwheels - Recipe Here

 

more info to follow! 

 

Day 23: Spritz Cookies - Recipe Here

more info to follow! 

 

Day 24: Classic Pizzelle - Recipe Here

 

Day 25: TBD - 

 

Master List 

Day 1: Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 2: Palmier or Elephant Ear Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 3: Cookie Brittle - Recipe Here

Day 4: Pistachio, Almond and Sour Cherry Wafers - Recipe Here 

Day 5: Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprints - Recipe Here

Day 6: Brownie Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 7: Checkerboard Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 8: Snickerdoodles - Recipe Here

Day 9: Orange and Pistachio Madelines - Recipe Here

Day 10: Millionaire Shortbread - Recipe Here

Day 11: Iced Sugar Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 12: S'mores Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 13: Russian Teacakes - Recipe Here

Day 14: Cigarette Cookies - Recipe Here 

Day 15: Magic Bars (7 layer cookies) - Recipe Here

Day 16: Jamaretti Cookies - Recipe Here

Day 17: Salted Peanut Butter Cookies (GF) - Recipe Here

Day 18: Pecan Sandies - Recipe Here

Day 19: Vanilla Meringues (GF) - Recipe Here

Day 20: Chocolate Cracks - Recipe Here

Day 21: Almond Horns (GF) - Recipe Here

Day 22: Rugelach Pinwheels - Recipe Here

Day 23: Spritz Cookies - Recipe Here

 

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