All across the country, little elves are hard at work churning out batch after batch of Christmas cookies. According to the research firm NPD Group, 60% of American households are whipping up cookies, cakes, pies and other goodies. For many of us, it’s the only baking we do all year long, says NPD VP Harry Balzer. “We keep to long-standing holiday traditions in December and many of those traditions include baking,” he says.
Cookies top the list of holiday baked goods. That makes sense, since they’re pretty much goof-proof, you can make several different kinds with little extra effort, and you can get a lot of gift-giving mileage out of a single batch. These attributes make them especially appealing to the occasional baker.
“We keep to long-standing holiday traditions in December and many of those traditions include baking.”
Sadly, I can’t participate in this year’s holiday bakefest–my kitchen is packed up in a moving pod and trundling across this great land of ours. So, I’ll have to enjoy the fun vicariously (or nibble on the fruits of others’ labor). Here’s what I would make if I could get to my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and cookie sheets:
Chocolate Mint Bars–Cooking Light. These triple-layer brownies may be light, but the result is decadent. I’d add a few extra drops of green food coloring to the peppermint layer so these scream “Christmas.”
15-Minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge–Cook’s Illustrated (membership required). The chef’s in CI’s test kitchen came up with a supereasy fudge recipe, which ran in the January 2007 issue. Last year, I went turned out many batches, playing with different types of nuts and flavorings. My favorite used pecans and bourbon.
Chocolate-Drizzled Mandelbrot–Cooking Light. These Hanukkah cookies are great dunked in coffee.
Chocolate Shortbread–Cooking Light. This recipe is easy enough for a child to make, and the addition of bit of canola oil lightens the saturated fat load without compromising the short texture.
Swedish Rye Cookies–101 Cookbooks. I love the flavor of rye, and I’m intrigued by this recipe, which would be flavorful but not too sweet.
Ali-Gyver Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. I make these babies year-round, but this time of year, I’d be sure to use dried cherries or dried cranberries, and I’d replace up to 1/2 cup of the flour with almond meal.