Favorite Holiday Sweets!

Mini Animal Cracker Cookies
By Miranda Lamake
2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Have a little flour nearby when you’re rolling out the cookie dough. Keep your work surface, hands, and rolling pin lightly floured. This is a relatively soft dough.
It is important that you follow the instructions carefully!
1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the
 butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2
 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1
 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. If the dough
 seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for
4. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or
 a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch
 thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
5. Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate
 for at least 1 to 2 hours and up to two days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top
 dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
6. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment
 paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and cut
 into shapes with animal cookie cutters (I love these, these, and these). Re-roll the remaining
 dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with second dough piece.
7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 1 to 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 to10 minutes, until lightly
 browned around the edges. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking time. Allow
 cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool
 completely before decorating. I like to decorate cookies directly on baking sheets so I can
 stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the icing. So place the cooled
 cookies back on baking sheets.
8. Decorate. Sometimes we use frosting and sprinkles. Sometimes, we dip them in Nutella or
 peanut butter!
If you cover tightly and leave at room temperature, they will last five days. If you cover and refrigerate, they will last up to 10 days.
Eggnog Biscotti
By Sarah Rizzo
For the Biscotti:
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Glaze:
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons eggnog
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. In mixer, beat butter with granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs and rum extract. Add flour,
 baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 12x6-inch rectangle
 (Square the corners using fingertips, smoothing the top of the dough too!)
3. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 28 to 30 minutes. Remove.
4. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. Slice biscotti into 12 to14 slices (about ¾-1 inch each). Place
 them upright and put back in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely before
 adding glaze.
5. For the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar, eggnog and nutmeg together until desired
 consistency. Drizzle on cooled biscotti. Allow to set (about 20 to 30 minutes) or refrigerate to
 "speed set" the glaze. Store biscotti in airtight containers! 
Ricotta Cookies
By Sarah Rizzo
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
 1 egg
 1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
 1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking soda
 1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon

 1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese, softened
 1/4 cup (50 mL) unsalted butter, softened
 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) icing sugar
 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
 Assorted paste or liquid food coloring 
 In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in egg, ricotta and vanilla, beating well after each.
 In separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder; stir into ricotta mixture.
 Drop by generous 1 tbsp (15 mL) onto parchment paper-lined rimless baking sheets. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until bottoms are golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.

 In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter. Beat in icing sugar until creamy; beat in vanilla. Divide into thirds; tint each desired pastel color. Spread over tops of cookies. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Refrigerate until icing is firm, about 30 minutes. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to two days.)
Chocolate Mint Cookies
By Pam DiFiore
 3/4 cup butter
 1 1/2 cup vbrown sugar
 2 T water
 2 cups choc morsels
 2 eggs 
2 1/2 cup flour
 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp salt
 Andies mints
 Over low heat, cook butter, sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat. Continue to stir until completely melted. Pour into bowl and let stand 10 minutes. At high speed, mix in eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients just until blended. Chill for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheets with foil. Roll tsp full of dough and bake 12 to 13 minutes … no longer. Remove from oven and place mint on each cookie. As mint melts, swirl with knife.

Chocolate Rugelach
By Sarah Rizzo
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, cold and cubed
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces or shavings
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, whisked with 1 Tablespoon water
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
1. Make the dough by combining the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt in the bowl of a food
 processor. Blend the ingredients together until the fat becomes evenly dispersed within the
 flour and it begins to form into a ball.
2. Remove the dough from the food processor (squeezing it into a ball as needed), then place it
 in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then refrigerate the dough for one hour or up to
 one day.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 4 pieces. Place 3 pieces back into the
4. Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set it aside.
5. Lightly flour your work surface, then using a rolling pin, roll it into a circle about 1/8-inch
 thick. (The dough will be very hard, so it's best to first beat it down with a rolling pin to flatten
 it slightly. It will loosen up as it comes to room temperature.)
6. Immediately brush the rolled-out dough with one-fourth of the melted butter and sprinkle it
 with one-fourth of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Sprinkle one-fourth of the chocolate onto the
 dough, pressing it lightly into the dough.
7. Cut the dough into 12 wedges.
8. Roll each wedge up, starting from the thickest end, until you form a crescent shape.
9. Repeat the rolling, topping and shaping process with the other three pieces of dough.
10. Place the rugelach on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate it for 30
 minutes. (You can also freeze the rugelach at this point for later use.)
11. Brush the tops of the rugelach with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with additional
 cinnamon sugar.
12. Bake the rugelach for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the rugelach to a
 cooling rack to cool completely. 
Butterscotch Cookies
by Emma Rizzo
Chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside!
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups light brown sugar, packed (divided)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1. Heat butter in small skillet on medium heat. Allow to froth up, then brown. See below for a
 recipe on how to brown butter. (for today's cookies, you want the butter to JUST begin the
 browning process) Remove from heat.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, add browned butter plus 1 ¾ cups brown sugar. Mix on medium speed; add salt, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder.
4. In small bowl, mix ¼ cup reserved brown sugar and 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar together. 
5. Using a tablespoon small scoop, scoop up dough (will be consistency of play-doh) and roll
 into a ball. Then roll in sugar mixture.
6. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on
 wire rack.
How to brown butter:
Take the 3/4 cup unsalted butter:
1. In a small saucepan or skillet, add butter and melt over low heat.
2. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium. Continue heating for about five
 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. The butter will start to foam at this point.
3. With the rubber spatula, move the foam aside to monitor the brown flecks on the bottom of
 the pan. The butter will begin to smell nutty and develop into a golden-brown color.
4. Continue to heat until desired level of browning is achieved. At this stage, close monitoring of
 the butter is very important. The butter can go quickly from brown to burnt, depending on
 the heat level.
5. When done browning, immediately pour the browned butter into a heatproof bowl to cool. Do
 not cool in the pan, as it will continue to brown.