December 15: Almond Butter Sticks


Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.

Almond Butter Sticks

(courtesy of Saving Dessert)


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon (divided)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated (white reserved for glazing)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sugar for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine the sugar and almond extract; cover and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter and cream cheese. Beat on low until blended. Add the egg yolk and blend until smooth. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until combined. Add the remaining flour and blend just until the dough starts to come together.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Knead by hand about 25 strokes until the dough is pliable. Roll or press into a 12×12 inch square. Spread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.
  7. Cut the dough in half and place one half on the prepared cookie sheet, butter side up.
  8. Spoon the sugar mixture to within 1/2-inch of the dough edges all the way around. Place the remaining dough half, butter side down, over the sugar. Press the edges tightly to seal.
  9. Brush the dough with a lightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with almonds and coarse sugar.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. It’s best removed from the oven when you think it needs one or two more minutes.
  11. Cool at least 30 minutes.
  12. Cut the pastry in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 to 1 inch strips crosswise.
  13. Store in an airtight container.

Somewhere in the original recipe for this, it says that the author likes that these don’t immediately appeal to children, and therefore are leftover when cookies trays are passed.

I feel this in my soul.

These are my hands-down favorite fave cookie that I make. I love almond extract. I love butter and cream cheese and sugar and actual almonds, and I love making a cookie so good, it flies under the radar like a spy drone.

Here’s the link to when I made them last year, if you need the play-by-play. I doubled them last year, because I don’t like sharing. I still don’t like sharing, but I only had one brick of cream cheese left in my fridge and it’s supposed to be 10 degrees outside tonight.

No problems at all making these, as usual. Even with the rolling out and measuring going on here, these are pretty straight forward. By far, the biggest challenge with these cookies are hiding them from my kids, because they’ve caught on how awesome they are.

December 14: Meringue Cookies


Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.

Snowflake Meringue Cookies
(from The Spirit of Christmas Cookbook, Volume 4)


4 egg whites
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. almond extract
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. cream of tartar
decorating sugar


1. Cover baking sheets with waxed paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add powdered sugar, almond extract, cinnamon, and cream of tartar; beat until very stiff.
3. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Make snowflake design. Add decorating sugars.
4. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

I think these may be my kids’ favorites all around. They ask about them more than another cookie. When they smell the batter in the air, suddenly they are three obedient kids who get along fabulously and do any chore I ask of them.

I did something a little different this year. At the end, I put a little gold or white sprinkle pearl at the top of them, just for a little pizazz. And they stuck!

So maybe when these disappear, my kids will at least feel fancier as they snarf them down.

December 13: Nate’s Eggnogg Cookies


Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.

Nate’s Eggnog Cookies

(adapted from Cooking Classy)


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg , plus more for topping
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog


  • 1/2 cup butter , at room temperature (I used 1/4 cup salted and 1/4 cup unsalted butter)
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp eggnog
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon for 30 seconds, set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Mix in egg yolks one at a time, blending just until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla extract, rum extract and egg nog. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. 
  4. Scoop dough out by the heaping tablespoonfuls and drop onto Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven 11 – 13 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheet several minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely then frost with Eggnog Frosting and sprinkle tops lightly with nutmeg.

For the Eggnog Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until very pale and fluffy. Add in rum extract and 3 Tbsp eggnog and mix in powdered sugar. Add additional eggnog to reach desired consistency.
  2. Recipe Source: slightly adapted from and inspired by Parent Pretty

Many years ago, my precious first-born came to me at 7 o’clock at night on a school night, and said, “Mom, I read a cookbook for my book report, and I have to bake cookies for it. Oh, and it’s due tomorrow.”

Ahhh…here’s that sweet boy, and how that turned out. That’s right, I was the meanest mom in the world and made him make his own cookies.

And in the seven years since this fateful night, it turns out I have not gotten any nicer and he hasn’t gotten any better and forethought.

Nate had a cookie exchange at school in his AP Chemistry class. He told me the night before, and I said cool, get a recipe and go at it.

He acted like he was annoyed, but I could tell he was into it. Well, until the mixer turned on for the first time. There might have been a jump and a scream. And by might, I mean there was.

This is the cookie he found for me last year, that properly demonstrates his love of eggnog. I brought the eggnog home and the other two kids were so excited! Until they found out Nate would be making cookies with it. I’m the mom in these parts, so I’m sure I’m not privy to all that happens here, but I’m pretty sure the other two made credible threats to their brother for not sharing the eggnog.

I think he did a pretty good job. I said I’d frost them if he mixed up the frosting for me, which he did.

And I hear the cookies were a hit at school, too.

December 12: Kolaczki


Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.


  • 3/4 lb. margarine or butter
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • Solo filling of your choice, like Raspberry, Cherry, Almond, or Apricot


Allow shortening and cream cheese to soften before beginning. Mix cream cheese and butter; gradually add flour and salt. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Set out 1 hour before rolling out. Roll very thin (1/4″), cut, fill, and press seams closed. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

I’ve never made kolaczki before, because as I’ve said before, my family has about as much cultural heritage as a piece of loose leaf paper. Though I have enjoyed these through the years. Fruit filling? Powdered sugar? Yes and yes.

Man Friend’s mother had this recipe, typed, that she would make at Christmas. She was nice enough to share it with me a few weeks ago.

I consider myself pretty good at the cookie baking. Every now and then, one challenges me. And these were challenging for me.

Here’s why–I have no sweet Polish or Hungarian or Czech grandmother to show me how to make these. I had two grandmothers, both lived a 1000 miles away, and while one definitely could bake, the only thing I ever saw the other make was a reservation. And I don’t remember really being around Granny (the baking grandmother) before Christmas. (Not that she made kolaczki…but she would make delish southern things.)


I had a heck of a time getting these to stay closed. After two trays and many words I wouldn’t want my children to say, I finally looked up a video on how to fold these. There’s water involved to have them stick together, and way less filling than I was hoping for.

And no, I took no pictures of my failures. But they were delicious just the same.

Now, one word on filling. Jam and preserves still seep out the cookie, so use the Solo filling. Also, as much as I love almond things, almond filling — at least in this cookie — tasted the way play-doh smells. And no one wants that!

December 11: Stroopwafels


Note: I got behind because of illness.. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.




Waffle cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water


1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons dark corn syrup


Preheat a pizzelle iron.
To Make Waffles: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Cut butter into the flour. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, eggs and yeast mixture. Mix well and set aside to rise for 30 to 60 minutes.
Roll dough into 12 small balls; Squeeze each ball into the preheated pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds. Cut the waffles into two thin waffles and spread with filling.
To Make Filling: In a saucepan boil the brown sugar, the remaining one cup of the butter, cinnamon (this is a must-have ingredient), and dark corn syrup until it reaches the soft ball stage (234-240°F, 112-115°C), stirring constantly.

I haven’t made these the past couple of years, mainly because I like to try different recipes and something has to go. Generally that means something with yeast, because it takes too long.

But I love these. They are definitely in my Top 3 faves. You can buy them out in the wild; I’ve seen them more and more in places like Trader Joes and even Target. Which is how I was reminded that I haven’t made this in a few years.

There’s something about the cinnamon caramel in the cookie…it’s so welcoming and homey. You’re supposed to heat this on top of a steaming cup of coffee or tea, which definitely makes the cinnamon caramel filling become gooey and wonderful.

I use a pizzelle iron, because I can’t find a stroopwafel iron for less than three figures. (If you find one, let me know!) So if you have a pizzelle iron, give these a shot. It’s a different process and a different flavor, but in the end it’s another cookie, and that’s always a good thing.

December 10: Italian Sand Cookies


Note: Because of illness, I got behind. Now that I can at least sit upright for more than a few hours, I am catching up. But with that, these are going to be more bare-bones than in the past.

Italian Sand Cookies

(courtesy of Chef Tess Bakeresse)


1 1/2 cups flour (we used AP)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar *
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 eggs
*(we also liked 3/4 c. conf sugar & 1/4 c. granulated which made them a slight bit sweeter)


Creaming method. Put through bag with large star tip. Bake @ 375 F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown. Decorate with choc chips, sprinkles or leave plain and dip half in melted choc., etc.

So, in making these, I realized too late that I was out of my traditional red, white, and green sprinkles. So, the Italian Sand Cookies this year represents my vast sprinkle collection. Well, at least the ones that show up on chocolate.

These don’t last very long in my house, even with my threats to the kids.

December 9: Deconstructed Cherry Macarons


French Macarons

(from The Tasty)


  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and process on low speed, until extra fine. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  2. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar until fully incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  4. Add about ⅓ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a spatula to gently fold until combined. After the last addition of almond flour, continue to fold slowly until the batter falls into ribbons and you can make a figure 8 while holding the spatula up.
  5. Transfer the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.
  6. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  7. Pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1½-inch (3-cm) circles, spacing at least 1-inch (2-cm) apart.
  8. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface 5 times to release any air bubbles.
  9. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry to the touch.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
  11. Bake the macarons for 17 minutes, until the feet are well-risen and the macarons don’t stick to the parchment paper.
  12. Transfer the macarons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

So I like to keep it real with all of you. I’m not a professional baker. I’m a writer. And since I’m not a professional baker, sometimes, a little batter must fall.

Yes, there was a baking fail. And that’s okay. Because one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. And a variety of other cliches about things not going right.

I made the exact same recipe from last year, the exact same way, and the results were not the same. Here’s a pictorial account of my cookie for the day:

And after doing everything right, this is what I got:

Macarons with feet that were too big. They still tasted great, but looked hideous.

Which is when I invented the Deconstructed Macaron. I tell ya, if this was a real thing before I coined it, you’d be paying double for one at your local bakery. It’s like when the Cronut was invented. Or penicillin.

Instead of going into the center of my misshaped macarons, the buttercream I made (butter, powdered sugar, cherry juice, cherry butter) got ladled (yes, ladled) on top.

And though they are ugly–and they are–they are still delicious. But make no mistake; they are ugly. Not even this Spode Christmas plate could pretty them up.

But that’s okay. You heard it here first. Deconstructed Macarons were invented in 2019 by a writer in Chicagoland!

December 8: J-Dub’s Toffee Grahams


J-Dub’s Toffee Grahams

(from Gooseberry Patch’s Old Fashioned Country Cookies)

  • 24 square graham crackers
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange cracker squares on a lightly greased cookie sheet with edges around it. In a saucepan, bring the butter and sugar to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Pour over crackers, covering them well. Sprinkle with nuts and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares or 48 “fingers.”

If there’s an easier cookie out there, I don’t know what it is. Aside from buying a pre-made roll of cookie dough or the individual raw sugar cookies with pictures on them, there probably isn’t one. If there is, let me know! I want to see!

If you’re one of my regulars, you know I make this every year. Seriously, every year. Why? Because it’s easy and I can be unbelievably lazy for someone that runs a crazy cookie endeavor each year. But also because these are always popular with my cookie-eaters. Young and old alike love these. I make enough cookies that are weird and specialized as it is; it’s good to have an old standard that I know will please most people.

Today, I’m at Man Friend’s while he watches sportsball on TV. We ran to Trader Joe’s (I love you TJ’s) and I asked if he minded if I made cookies here. He did not, and I came back with the ingredients for today’s cookie.

Now, Man Friend is a man living by himself. While he’s a neat freak (more on this later) and a great cook, my kitchen has more general stuff in it than his. I attribute that to me living with three growing kids, and also, you know, running this cookie blog. He doesn’t have a cookie sheet, so we made do.

He’s Italian and he calls this a lasagna dish. Because I’m a little bit of everything and nothing all at once, I call this a 9×13 pan. I like his name for it better.

Him being a neat freak is something that scares me, mostly because I’m…not. Scroll back through the pictures of my kitchen during cookie season for evidence of this. I knew I couldn’t make his kitchen look like this. At all. Not even a little.

I asked for a sauce pan and he hands me a small saucepan. I flip it over to see how big it is.

Okay, 1 quart. With two cups of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar, that’s three cups. This should work.

Or not.

Right after I took this last picture, I said, “Honey, how many cups are in a quart?” He answered “Four,” which is right, so now I have a beef with Circulon and will be writing them next, asking how long it’s been since their cookware has been regulated by the Department of Weights and Measures. But I digress.

The last thing I wanted in my neat freak’s kitchen was a mess. And unfortunately, thanks to Circulon’s version of a quart, I had one.

This is once we poured it into a different–and bigger–sauce pan.

That’s a small spillover mess there. But in the terms of my baking messes, we all know this is minor.

I tetrissed the graham crackers in the lasagna pan, as well as in another smaller square pan and poured the toffee mixture on top of it.

Added the nuts and put it in the oven for 10 minutes. Actually, because I wasn’t using cookie sheets, I left them in the oven for 15 minutes.

December 7: Sour Cream Cookies


Yeah, I took the lazy way out this time in putting this recipe up. But, I think there’s a lot of character here too. As I was with Man Friend at his parents’ home for his birthday and his mom and I talked about cookies, she pulled out this recipe and let me take a picture of it. She said (if I’m remembering correctly…again, there was some wine involved) that this was an old one she remembers her mother making. “I mean, this was typed,” she said to me.

For those of you that don’t know this, before computers, there were typewriters. You might see some with bearded men wearing skinny jeans at Starbucks. But before they were retro-cool like that, they were just…necessary.

Anyway, I made these and remembered the importance of reading ahead. More on that later.

First of all, this recipe starts with a pastry blender. If you don’t have one, you can use a couple of forks. You cut the butter into the flour, making tiny little crumbs of butter covered with flour, if you’ve done it right. You do the same thing for biscuits, some pie crusts, basically anything with high amounts of butter in it.

Butter and flours successfully combined.

I cube my butter first, which essentially means I make a cut down the length of the stick of butter, then flip it on its next edge and do the same thing. Then I cut the stick like I would to get a pat of putter. Ouila. Butter cubes.

This recipe is called sour cream cookies for a reason. As you’d imagine, there’s sour cream in it. I love sour cream. It’s probably my favorite food. A half cup of sour cream and an egg yolk mixed together goes into the flour and butter crumbs. Butter’s also a favorite food; so far, this recipe has allllll the right moves.

Once it’s all combined, it goes into the fridge. I didn’t do overnight, nor did I split it into 4 different sections. When I was mixing together the fillings, it took me longer than I’d like to admit to understand that this recipe lists three different types of fillings. Not all together. Reading: it’s not for everyone!

I pulled it out of the fridge and rolled it to a 10 inch circle. Then I tried to put all of the brown sugar mixture in it on one go. Note: don’t do this.

When in the oven, some of the cookies expanded and unrolled and, while super tasty, aren’t quite what you are supposed to get.

Man Friend’s mother said these are almost like Rugalach cookies, and that was important when I was rolling them up. I used a pizza cutter instead of a fluted pastry cutter, mostly because it’s 2019 and even I don’t have a fluted pastry cutter.

I rolled them up like crescent rolls and put them on the tray.

And then I tried it with the other fillings. The one with apricot and nuts was exceptionally good, especially since I wasn’t planning on liking it. It’s definitely an old school filling.

INTENSE Apricot!

There’s no sugar in this dough, so the filling makes up for it. In the brown sugar, it’s evident. But in the apricot preserves it’s not as apparent. But there’s a good amount in there, which I was worried about.

However, I will also warn you, dear readers, to not try to use regular old strawberry preserves, straight from the generic aisle at the grocery store. I did. And those cookies looked like a homicide. I ate the evidence. There’s just not enough fruit in there to make the cookies hold together and not bleed. Bleed strawberry jelly, of course.

A sprinkle of sugar on the tops and they go in the oven. I would make these again, happily, and would do so knowing my kids won’t touch these with a 10 foot pole. Those are my favorite kinds. They just don’t know what they’re missing!

December 6: Cherry Surprise Cookies


Cherry Surprise Cookies (from Honest and Truly)


  • 10 T unsalted butter, softened (or coconut oil to make them dairy free)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk (or rice or soy or almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla bean extract (I used almond actually)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 30 maraschino cherries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until they are creamy and have come back together and the color is lightened. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Once it’s mixed together, turn it up to high again for another thirty or so seconds to get it nice and fluffy.
  3. Add the salt and baking powder, and mix well. Then add the flour, and stir slowly until it’s combined.
  4. Prepare your cherries. Place a paper towel in a small bowl and remove the maraschino cherries from their juice. If they have stems, go ahead and remove them and let the cherries dry out a bit on the towel.
  5. Scoop out cookies using a cookie scoop or make little mounds with about 2 tablespoons of dough each. This is what you’ll use to start the cookie itself. They don’t need to be pretty yet, as we’re just focused on making sure that your cookies will all be approximately the same size.
  6. Next, start making the surprise. Pick up a dough mound and carefully flatten it in your hand. You want it to be a little over two inches in diameter, but they don’t have to be perfect circles.
  7. Place a cherry in the center of your flattened disc and fold the edges up around it. Crimp and seal the opening and roll the balls in your hand until they are completely sealed and nicely rounded. Place on a cookie sheet. Make sure they are a couple inches apart, though they don’t spread as much as many other cookies and can be a little closer than normal.
  8. If you’re dipping them in sugar, now is the time to do it. Place your sugar or sprinkles in a small dish and gently press the top of your cookie into the sugar before placing the cookie onto the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake in your 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edge and the outside is starting to crack. Cool on your cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.

I have been looking for the same cookie recipe for the better part of a decade. It has almond extract and maraschino cherries. The dough is almost like a butter cookie, and the cherry sits in the middle of it, totally hidden.

This isn’t it.

But it’s pretty close.

Butter cookie-based, maraschino cherries, and almond extract…okay, this recipe calls for vanilla bean extract, but I used almond because I love almond.

I mixed it together, poured a bottle of maraschino cherries in a strainer and rinsed, dried said cherries, and took mounds of dough and turned them into mini cookie dough pancakes. The cherries found a home in the dough, where I rounded them into balls.

I also dipped the cherry balls in red sugar. I have a small problem with sprinkles, as I’ve mentioned before. Here’s the current collection:

And I like looking for different colors, sizes, and mixes. But for these, I just used regular old red sugar.

For the first batch, I just dipped the tops in red sugar. This was before I knew the cookies would spread the way they did. And the result out of the oven looked like slightly pornographic cookies, if that particular industry was interested in middle age women.

So for the next batch, I rolled the whole cookie in red sugar, and we had success.

Once they cooled, my taste-tester and I determined that these were pretty darn good.

Maybe not the recipe I’ve been trying to recreate over the years, but still delicious.