NEW YORK (MainStreet) When it comes to holiday baking, all families see tradition differently. Christmas dessert can be a highlight of the season to capture all the joy of the season with sweetness and often comically bad frosting decorations. There are pies, cakes and, if you're lucky enough, the long-awaited homemade cookie platters! No matter how big your food baby is from dinner, there is always room for at least one cookie. The hardest decision of the day is which one to pick!
The following is a list of recipes for the five most popular Christmas cookies from some famously well-known bakers and baking brands.
1. Gingerbread cookies. One of the most timeless flavors of the Christmas season, gingerbread has grown so popular over the years that it is now presented in many different forms: regular round cookies, cookies in the shapes of men and women (and pets!), breads, cakes, and even lattes (thanks, Starbucks!). The possibilities are truly endless. Gingerbread cookies are usually a favorite for both adults and kids, because they combine traditional flavor with fun activities, like building and decorating miniature cookie houses or frosting gingerbread men and women. If you don't mind taking some time out of your day to prepare these babies, this recipe from Martha Stewart is a great choice!
2. Thumbprint cookies. These little drops of butter and jam goodness are both traditional and delicious. They're fairly simple to make as well, considering that most of the ingredients in the recipe are most likely already in your pantry or refrigerator. Like the gingerbread cookies, these cookies can also come in different forms and they leave a lot of room for experimentation as far as the presentation goes.
Thumbprints are the simplest, with the jam placed in the concave center of the cookie, but these butter-based cookies have also been served as sandwich cookies, similar to Linzer tarts, with the jam in the center of two cookies, or shaped as crescents and dipped in various kinds of sprinkles and other edible decorations. For a fool-proof recipe, be sure to check out this one from the Food Network!
3. Snickerdoodles. Similar to sugar cookies, traditional snickerdoodle cookies consist primarily of butter, flour and sugar -- yet they're then then rolled in cinnamon sugar prior to baking. Interestingly enough, the etymology of the name "snickerdoodle" is one of the most debatable topics in cookie history. Some sources say the name is of German descent, while others say it just sprouted up just as a funny name without any specific meaning attached to it. Either way, these cookies are quite tasty, and, like the thumbprints, are simple to make. This recipe, courtesy of Taste of Home, estimates total preparation time as being approximately 25 minutes, with cooking only requiring a mere 10 to 12 of those minutes. For such a short amount time, there is no excuse not to make these!
4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Blossoms. Chocolate and peanut butter: is there a better combination? In my book, the answer is no. These cookies are a guaranteed party favorite, popular not only during the holidays, but year-round as well. The peanut butter cookie base in this recipe is fantastic, and I speak from experience! Hershey's kisses, or any kind of milk chocolate chip, are traditionally used in the blossom; however, feel free to make it your own and test it out with any type of chocolate. White chocolate chips, peanut butter chips or mint chocolate chips are sure to please even the toughest of cookie critics!
5. White Chocolate Cranberry cookies. These just look like the Christmas holiday itself morphed into tiny cookies. The white of the chocolate chip and the red of the cranberry combine to make such a gorgeous looking cookie, one must pause before he eats it. The pause should only last a few seconds though, because, let's face it, they taste even better than they look! Betty Crocker provides a great recipe for these cookies here, and believe me when I tell you that the picture alone is mouth-watering! The recipe even gives the option of adding in some almond extract for a bit of added flavor, so when people ask you for your "secret ingredient," feel free to pass on the tip!
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet