One of my favourite things about the holidays is that I get to find extra excuses to spend time with friends. I have been trying to get my really good friend Anna to do some sort of blog collaboration/ guest appearance on here for the loooongest time. Anna is super impressive in many ways - she is a wonderful photographer, a wonderful baker (even though she doesn't admit that), an occupational therapist (!!), and an all around amazing friend. When I told her that I really wanted to do some sort of elaborate holiday cookie box, she jumped at it right away. It was hard to find a date that worked for both of us because of our different work schedules, but she drove all the way to my house before her 2:30pm shift to make this happen. Well, her boyfriend Alex drove her. Being around Anna and Alex really makes me realize that I am surrounded by the most talented people. Alex is a wonderfully talented chef (ummm, best young chef in Canada to be exact ;)).
Anna and I knew that if we were to create a cookie box together, we wanted to create one that we would be proud of gifting to others (even though we ate a lot of the cookies ourselves). It took us quite a while to decide what type of cookies to make - we wanted a variety of textures, colours, and flavours. Anna made jam thumbprint cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, and peppermint sugar cookies. I made my favourite chewy ginger molasses cookies, linzer cookies, sugar cookie hedgehogs and sparkly squirrels, and cinnamon stars. Alex joined in as well and made marshmallows and hot chocolate!
With the holiday season in full swing, Anna, Alex and I hope that you find some sort of inspiration from this if you are still looking for some holiday gift ideas. Making an assorted cookie box isn't as daunting as it may seem. My biggest tip would be to choose one cookie recipe to be your "base" and create different types of cookies from that one dough. I used the same dough for my jam linzers and my animal cookies. I just topped them with different garnishes (royal icing, sanding sugar, jam, etc.) to create different types of cookies. If you have a go-to shortbread cookie, I would highly recommend that! Shortbread is extremely versatile and great cookies for cookie boxes because they stay fresh for so long. You can always start baking those a few days before you need to gift them - just keep them in an airtight container. Anna and I are sharing some of our favourite recipes used for this cookie box with you. As for the marshmallows, you're going to have ask Alex for his recipe yourself. Happy baking!
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating
In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, sugar, and melted butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth and shiny.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the cocoa mixture to the dry ingredients and mix just until smooth.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Using a small ice cream scoop, portion dough into 2 inch balls. Coat each dough ball with icing sugar.
Place dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheets.
Walnut Jam Thumbprint Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Jam of choice
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until well-combined.
Gradually add flour and salt to butter-sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Divide dough into 16 pieces and roll into balls.
Beat egg white in a separate small bowl. Dip each dough ball in egg whites and then into chopped walnuts. Press lightly to make sure nights adhere to dough.
Place each dough ball about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.
Using the back of a teaspoon or your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie. Chill cookies in freezer for 15 minutes.
Bake for 16 - 18 minutes. Remove from oven and fill indentation with jam.
From My Name is Yeh
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla and almond extract. Gradually mix in the flour until combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut out into whatever shapes you desire. Chill cookies in freezer for 15 minutes (this ensures they stay their shape!)
Bake the cookies for 10 - 12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies turn slightly golden.
Let cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a wire rack.
Sparkly sugar cookies: apply a thin coat of egg wash and sprinkle cookies with coarse sanding sugar before baking
Hedgehog cookies: decorate with royal icing
Linzer cookies: fill each cookie with 1/4 teaspoon of jam of choice then dust with powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon meringue powder
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon warm water
Gel food colouring
Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Transfer icing into pastry bag with a piping tip. I like piping tip #1 - 3 for decorating sugar cookies.
Decorate cookies and let dry fully before stacking.