I mentioned in my previous post that I gave myself a huge baking challenge for the holidays this year. I wanted to make 25 different batches of cookies for the holidays. What started out as a brainstorming session for cookie ideas turned into an over-ambitious goal for myself. I was only on batch number three when I came to the conclusion that this was a terrible idea. I decided to carry on and finish the project though because that is just how I roll. Is there such a thing as too many cookies?
You can see the first twelve batches of cookies in my last post, The Twelve Days of Biscotti. On top of the twelve types of biscotti, I made twelve different types of holiday cookies and one batch of chocolate bark. I couldn’t post this until today, because some of these were gifts for my family, and I wanted them to be a surprise.
Peppermint Mocha Latte Cookies
I got the inspiration for these cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but I didn’t exactly follow her recipe. I decided to go a different route because I don’t really like crushed candy canes in desserts. In its place, I used peppermint Hersey’s kisses that I had leftover from another recipe and dipped them in silver sprinkles for a festive look.
These cookies were nothing short of divine, and they are so cute! Due to the chocolate and espresso, they had just a hint of peppermint flavor. I felt it was the perfect combination of flavors, since peppermint can get too overpowering. I would 100% make these again.
Red Velvet Peanut Butter Blossoms
I had this recipe by I am Baker in my Google Drive recipe catalogue for awhile, but I never had the chance to make them. I decided to add them to the list this year. I followed the recipe, except I decided to switch out the regular Hershey Kisses for Hershey “Hugs” Kisses. I thought the white chocolate would pair better with red velvet.
I brought some of these cookies to work before our annual holiday party. They seemed to be a big hit, and I greatly enjoyed them. Peanut butter blossoms have never been my favorite cookie, but I did like them with the addition of the cocoa powder.
Peppermint Sugar Cookie Blossoms
I got the idea to make these cookies from Averie Cooks. I didn’t want to use a cookie dough mix, so I used this sugar cookie recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Mel writes one of my favorite food blogs, and I trust her recipes. I have never made anything from her blog that I haven’t loved. These cookies are festive, bright, and chewy with that bite of peppermint in the middle.
These cookies are supposed to be like those frosted cake-cookies that you find in the bakery section of the grocery store. This recipe from Serious Eats really does taste like the cookies from the store, only better. I decided to make these in a festive fashion, keeping the icing white and using the holiday sprinkles. You can add gel food coloring to the icing to make it different colors. I wanted to keep these white for a more classic look since it would take a lot of red or green die to get these the proper shade.
Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made another recipe from Averie Cooks. This was also in my Google Drive recipe collection, and I finally got around to making them. I am a sucker for anything with cranberries in it, and these did not disappoint. I brought a dozen of these to work before our holiday party, and they disappeared.
Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies
I found this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and it looked intriguing. They were these cute looking shortbread cookies with maraschino cherries. I had high hopes for these cookies. Honestly, I was very disappointed in these cookies though. The texture was incredibly weird. I couldn’t even tell that they were baked. They also weren’t sweet at all and mostly tasted like butter. They looked adorable, but I just couldn’t get behind the taste.
Marshmallow Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
This was another recipe I had in my Google Drive. They seemed like a good addition to my spread. These reminded me of hot chocolate, so I figured they’d be a great pairing when we make some on Christmas Eve.
In reality, I didn’t quite understand these cookies. They are decent chocolate cookies, but there were no discernible marshmallows in them. Each cookie had only three mini marshmallows in it. They basically baked into the cookie. I was hoping for a gooey marshmallow inside, and what I got was a small shadow of marshmallow presence.
Cutout Sugar Cookies
I couldn’t imagine making cookies for the holidays without making cutout cookies. I found a recipe from Live Well Bake Often. The interesting part of this recipe was that it uses Crisco vegetable shortening instead of butter. I am no stranger to using Crisco in baked goods, as it is an ingredient in many of my grandmother’s recipes. I just had never seen a sugar cookie recipe without butter. I actually did like this recipe. They turn out crispy but chewy. I even made my first attempt at using royal icing. I think they turned out cute, even though my filling skills could use some work. Maybe in the future, I would try half butter and half Crisco to get the structure but still have the butter flavor.
Chocolate Cutout Cookies
This was a recipe from Taste of Home. I thought that these would be an interesting addition to my mix. I had never made chocolate cutout cookies before, but I had this crimped square cutter that I really wanted to use. These turned out well despite me almost forgetting to add salt. I was planning on making a snowflake design on these, but that was a little too advanced for my skill level. I went with a zig-zag design instead and added the snowflake sprinkles.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
These last few batches of cookies were something special to me. I decided this year to make a batch of cookies for each of my immediate family members that I felt represented them and their tastes. To begin, I made chocolate chip cookies for my youngest brother, Luke. He is a picky eater, and there aren’t many cookies he will actually eat. Chocolate chip cookies are always guaranteed to be on the list of things he will eat though. This is another recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.
These turned out fine and tasted good, but the shape was a bit weird. They did not spread as I thought they would. Maybe I needed to spread them out more, but that would have left only six cookies on each tray. It would have taken longer, but it would have gotten a more desired effect.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
These cookies were for my mom. This was another recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, the third on this list from that blog. I knew I wanted to make something chocolate peanut butter for my mom since she loves buckeyes and Reese’s. This recipe seemed perfect for her.
These cookies were fun to whip together, and they made my apartment smell great. I allowed myself to sneak one of these, and they were delicious. My mom really appreciated this gift. She thought it was sweet that I wanted make everyone something special just for them.
Loaded M&M Cookie Bars
I made these loaded M&M cookie bars for my other younger brother Matt (the older of my two brothers). He is a snack guy, and I have never seen him to not like Oreos and candy. This is another Taste of Home recipe that was simple to bring together. I really think my brother will enjoy these.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Bark
I had this idea to make salted caramel chocolate bark for my older sister. I know this isn’t technically a cookie, but I liked the idea of bark for her. She loves salted caramel and chocolate. I basically winged making this, but it turned out so well. I even made the caramel myself.
If you read this far and are thinking, but wait…what about your dad? Don’t you worry; he got his treat. His special gift was the chocolate espresso biscotti I made to go with his coffee and chocolate covered espresso beans. I was already bringing him a supply of biscotti, but I knew he’d really love these ones.
So, at this point, I have successfully (well mostly) made 25 types of holiday treats (12 batches of biscotti, 12 batches of cookies, and one batch of chocolate bark). I didn’t begin planning this until after Thanksgiving, so I had less than a month to put this all together. I have really been challenging myself to increase my pastry skills since I am more of a savory cook. This process has been exhausting, especially while dealing with tons of fatigue, but I am so happy I did it. I even learned a few lessons along the way.
- Make sure to preheat your oven plenty of time in advance, even letting it run a few cycles before use so it really is up to temperature.
- Cookie scoops are a godsend.
- Read recipes thoroughly before beginning.
- Make sure that you allow your butter to soften.
- Don’t overcrowd pans. It is tempting to want to cut down your total cooking time if you only have so much room in your oven, but it it worth it to do things in batches to get the right look and texture.
- Plan ahead if you are making a large number of cookies. I made a schedule for how many batches I needed to make each week, and even which kinds I was making each week. That way I could plan accordingly for my grocery store runs.
- You can make cookies ahead of time and freeze them once baked. Just pull them out a day in advance before serving or giving away.
I am sure there are other things I am forgetting, but I really did learn a lot during this month. I baked more than I could ever believe I would, but I really enjoyed it. There is just nothing better than getting to see the looks on people’s faces when they enjoy the treats you make.
Edit from June 6, 2021: If this post didn’t foreshadow my attraction to pastry when I came to the Culinary Arts program, I don’t know what would. This is the backdrop to the pastry queen I am becoming.