Just about everyone I know has a tradition surrounding the making—or at least eating—of certain cookies at this time of year. Inevitably, we all wind up making those familiar recipes that have been handed down through the generations. For me, I feel compelled to make my grandmother’s walnut biscotti, though, to be honest, they’re not particularly exciting. This Christmas I decided once and for all to revamp my cookie arsenal, to really find some showstoppers I could make for parties, for gifts, and for the office. It Luckily, this year, we asked Fine Cooking’s contributing editor and baking guru Abigail Johnson Dodge to pull out all the stops and develop seven fabulous cookies, each of which would suit a different occasion or taste. And, wow, did Abby deliver. Who knows, one of these cookies may turn out to be your newest cookie tradition, to bake and eat at every holiday. As for me, I think Grandma’s biscotti are an endangered species.
When it has to be chocolate
Abby didn’t hold back on the flavor in these Dark Chocolate Crackles. Not only is the chocolate flavor deep and intense, but the nuance of a little orange really makes the cookie.
For a decorating party
Decorated rolled cookies are often a little, well, lacking in the flavor department. But these Cardamom-Honey Cutouts are unlike any rolled cookie you’ve ever made before. Their subtle spiciness makes them taste as good as they look. See our test kitchen tips for decorating ideas.
The perfect hostess gift
These buttery, flaky Rugelach feature a jewel-like filling of raspberry or apricot jam and a dusting of chopped pistachios. They’re delicious with a cup of tea or coffee.
Cookies for swapping
” I knew for a cookie swap I would want a big batch that everyone in the family would love, but that wasn’t boring,” says Abby. “That’s how I came up with the Vanilla Slice & Bake Cookies, which can also be spiked with crystallized ginger, cinnamon, and a hint of pepper.”
For the office celebratiion
Pricey macadamia nuts are perfect for a holiday splurge—and these Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars are decadent in every sense of the word, pairing a gooey nut and coconut topping with a deep-chocolate base.
To leave out for Santa
These soft, flourless Peanut Butter & Chocolate Sandwich Cookies house a bittersweet chocolate filling, for a taste combination that appeals to the kid in all of us. If you’d like a sweeter kick to the filling, simply substitute semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet.
For a sophisticated dinner party
One bite of these delicate Maple-Walnut Tuiles, and you’ll forget any associations you have with cookies and kids’ food. The thin, crisp cookies can be molded into corkscrews, cigars, or any shape you like, making them the perfect garnish for an elaborate dessert—or just a simple bowl of ice cream.