Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just the New Year, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without platefuls of festive cookies. Sure, classics like chocolate chip and sugar cookies are great, but why not bring something more creative to the cookie swap this year — especially if you really want to make those pre-resolution indulgences worth it? Here, unique ideas for some truly standout sweets...
Italian biscotti is a year-round treat, but it makes an especially terrific end to a rich holiday meal. Crispy and usually not too sweet, the double-baked cookies are easy to make, and they can usually be stored in airtight containers for up to a month (great news, given the bounty of baked goods this time of year). We’re also big fans of French-style meringues, made from whipped egg whites and confectioner’s sugar. They’re a light, airy and delightfully low fat addition to any dessert cart.
Barks & Brittles
You might be used to seeing them pre-packaged in gourmet stores, but brittles and barks are surprisingly simple to make provided that you have the right tools: Typically a double-boiler for melting down the chocolate, caramel or toffee, a thermometer, and a baking sheet or silpat. From various spices (think cinnamon, peppercorn and cardamom) to nuts and seeds, you can tailor these confections to just about anyone’s taste, mild or adventurous.
Bars and Squares
Part-cookie, part-kitchen sink, these treats are easy to put together with basic pantry ingredients, but the combinations are endless. Think about it: No two seven-layer bar recipes are the same. Give a delicious nod to the fruitcake with candied or dried fruits and nuts. Or, add your favorite preserve and crumble topping. Chocolate, peanut butter, toffee and butterscotch chips are all crowd-pleasing additions, as are oatmeal and coconut. And because you can bake a lot at once, they make especially smart goodies for parties and larger get-togethers. Note: If you’re planning on transporting them, be sure to use a baker’s sheet with a lid.
Oldies but goodies
Still think your grandma’s sugar cookie recipe is the best? We understand completely. But, might we suggest updating this year’s batch with festive cut-out shapes (like a smaller star within a star) and jazz it all up with an icing gun. Don’t be afraid to go all out with the sprinkles and glitter, either. ‘Tis the season!