Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Get ready for Santa with these five St. Nick-approved cookie recipes [Free read]

Want to make some cookies for Santa? Don't have a ton of time, or expert baking skills? (Port City Daily photo / FILE)
Want to make some cookies for Santa? Don’t have a ton of time, or expert baking skills? (Port City Daily photo / FILE)

Christmas is upon us. But with last-minute shopping and wrapping presents — not to mention making merry with friends and family — time can be short.

Still, best not to stiff Santa on cookies.

Here are five easy cookie recipes (one requires a little skill for decorating, but we believe in you) good enough to leave out for Santa.

Note: all of the recipes require baking sheets, and some require a hand-mixer (a basic $10 one from any store will do, you don’t need anything fancy.)

Peanut Butter Kisses

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: easy

Equipment: baking sheets


  • ½ cup sugar, plus a little extra
  • ½ cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 36 Hershey’s Kisses-style chocolates


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two baking sheets or cover in parchment paper.
  • Cream sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, softened butter and egg. Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder. Don’t overwork, just incorporate dry ingredients. 2
  • Shape into 1-inch balls, space about two inches apart on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (edges will be light brown).  As soon as cookies are out of the oven, press one chocolate into each cookies.
  • Allow to cool on a rack.

Thumbprint Cookies

Time: about an hour

Difficulty: easy

Equipment: baking sheets, a good-sized thumb


  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cups butter (softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Your favorite jam


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix only until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet, adding in small batches. Don’t overmix, just incorporate all ingredients.
  • Scoop dough into 1-inch rounds, roll each in sugar, and set on the baking sheet, spaced about two inches apart.
  • Press a thumbprint into the center of each dough round. Fill the thumbprint with jam — about a teaspoon.
  • Bake cookies for about 15 minutes, turning trays and alternating top and bottom positions in the oven about halfway through.
  • Cool on a rack. Keep in a closed container at room temp for up to five days.

Apple cinnamon snickerdoodles (a.k.a. appledoodles)

Time: about 30 minutes

Difficulty: easy

Ingredients: baking sheets, grater


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon for rolling cookies
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling cookies
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large apple, peeled and shredded (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Ready three baking sheets with parchment paper  or non-stick spray
  2. Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together
  3. Combine remaining dry ingredients: flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  4. Fold together flour mixture and wet ingredients, add apples
  5. Mix ½ cup sugar with a tablespoon of cinnamon, roll dough into approximately 1-inch balls, coat in cinnamon-sugar and space evenly.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes.

Whoopie Pies

Time: About an hour

Difficulty: Moderate

Equipment: baking sheets



  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, grease two baking sheets.
  2. Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. Mix buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. This should take about 5 minutes with a handheld mixer. Add the egg, combining thoroughly.
  5. In alternating batches, add small amounts of the dry (flour, etc.) and wet (buttermilk) ingredients. Mix until smooth.
  6. Space ¼-cup mounds of the batter, set about 2-3 inches apart.
  7. Bake in upper part of oven for about 12 minutes  — if you bake on two separate racks, switch the trays’ position halfway through. When fully baked, cakes will be puffed and springy.
  8. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  9. For filling, mix together until smooth the butter, sugar, marshmallow fluff and vanilla.

Cookies should be cool and firm before assembly. Use about a tablespoon of filling on each half of the Whoopie Pie.

Gingerbread Cookies with Royal Icing

You will need a rolling pin for this recipe, but you could use a wine bottle in a pinch, if one happened to be lying around. (Port City Daily photo / FILE)
You will need a rolling pin for this recipe, but you could use a wine bottle in a pinch. You know, if one happened to be lying around. (Port City Daily photo / FILE)

Time: about 1 ½ hours

Difficulty: Moderate (easy cooking, tricky decoration)

Equipment: rolling pin (or wine bottle), hand mixer


  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 egg (yolk only)
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Christmas spices

  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Royal Icing

  • 2 large egg whites (about ¼ cup of egg white)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioner sugar



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper
  • Separate egg yolk. You can do this by gently cracking the egg in half. By pouring the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, allowing the whites to drain off, you’ll end up with just the yolk. You can also use your hands, or use the cool method seen here.
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth, gently stir in molasses and egg yolk.
  • Combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking power, and Christmas spices.
  • Cover mixture, set in the refrigerator for an hour.
  • Lightly flour a countertop, roll dough out until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes, space cut dough shapes about two inches apart.
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Royal Icing

  1. Beat egg whites at low to medium speed with vanilla until frothy.
  2. Add sugar, with mixer on low, until smooth and shiny.
  3. Turn mixer up to high, add food coloring if desired, beat for about 5 minutes — mixture will form stiff peaks.
  4. Add to pastry piping bag, or put in a one-quart Ziploc bag and cut a tiny piece of one corner 

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