Bake This Now: 3 Must-Have Holiday Cookie Recipes
Take a look at the calendar. It's time to do some major baking. Hanukkah beings Saturday; after next weekend, you'll be down to the Christmas shipping wire. And for those of us who simply use the season as a joyful excuse to eat more cookies, we'll be more than happy to take some of those Röckenwagner lebkuchen (LAYB-koo-kuhn; photo above) off your hands. Have Maida Heatter's Cookies book? You really should, it's a great book. And you can make your own version of the traditional German holiday spice cookies, as Heatter includes a recipe.
jgarbee Lebkuchen from Rockenwagner Bakery
In the spirit of sharing, after the jump, get three of our favorite cookie recipes from baking books published in recent years. One is generously spiced, one is loaded with nuts, the third relies on classic chocolate inspiration. Holiday baking diversity at its finest.
Even better: They all come with a bonus for you, dutiful baker.
Why: Because it's Maida Heatter, the maker of holiday baking memories for decades. And much as we loved her rough-hewn Mohn (poppyseed wafers; photo above), and that modern take on German lebkuchen, Moonrocks have a more universal holiday appeal. As Heatter says in the recipe introduction, "These are large and thick spice cookies with a crisp, chewy edges and semi-soft centers -- real old-fashioned "down home" cookie-jar fillers. In our home, and surrounding territory, everyone loves them."
jgarbee Maida Heatter's Mohn Cookies
Baker's Bonus: Per Heatter, "While they are baking, they perfume the house with an irresistible sweet-and-spicy aroma."
Mrs. LBJ's Moonrocks
Makes: 8 large cookies
From: Maida Heatter's Cookies; originally published in Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies.
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
3½ ounces (1 cup, packed) shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
5 ounces (1 cup) raisins (dark, light, or half of each)
8 ounces (1 cup, packed) dates (each date cut into about 4 pieces)
7 ounces (2 cups) walnuts, broken into large pieces
1. Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, and set aside.
3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is soft. Beat in the sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in the corn syrup. On low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.
4. Remove from the mixer and with a large, heavy wooden spoon or rubber spatula stir in the coconut, raisins, dates, and nuts.
5. Use a well-rounded tablespoon of the dough for each cookie. Place the mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the sheets.
6. Bake two sheets at a time, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back as necessary to ensure even browning. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are golden all over.
7. With a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool.
Get a recipe for pine nut cookies on the next page.