There is perhaps no more loved bakery item to have at Christmas than a home baked cookie. Yet any search for cookie recipes will literally turn up hundreds of recipes and sometimes this is for just one type of cookie! This is often confusing and overwhelming for the home baker who wants to have Christmas cookies available for their family and friends. But there are tips to help narrow the search in the decision of what are the best cookies to make for Christmas. Before you begin your recipe search, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the cookie I am making going to be shipped? Not all cookies ship well. It is important to choose a cookie that can hold up well to traveling and possibly changing temperatures. Bar cookies of almost every variety, brownies and heavier chip cookies (chocolate, butterscotch etc) tend to do better in shipping than the more fragile and delicate cookies.
2. Do I need to make my cookie dough ahead of the holiday rush? Some cookie dough freezes better than others. If your chosen cookie has a lot of butter and is a drop or sliced cookie than the dough should be fine to freeze and thaw out later when you want to bake and decorate the cookies. Sugar cookie dough also freezes extremely well and can be thawed and cut out at a later date. Avoid freezing delicate dough or batter that includes fruit, coconut, or lots of extract since these items do not freeze and thaw well for baking.
3. Are my cookies going to be gifts? If you are baking cookies that are going to be gifts consider a few factors: is this cookie something the gift recipient will love and do they have any dietary restrictions? Will this cookie present well? What am I going to give this cookie in? There is a huge selection of tins, bags and boxes that can be used to give a gift of cookies; just make sure that your cookie will sit well in them and not end up as a gift of delicious crumbs.
4. Do I want my cookies to be reflective of my family heritage? Or should I consider making an heirloom recipe a tradition in my Christmas baking? A really fun way to include recipes from your family heritage is to bake a cookie that comes from your family’s country of origin. If your family hails from Mexico consider making Mexican Wedding Cakes, a delicious soft powdered sugar cookie. If your ancestors came from Scotland a shortbread recipe (the best have lots of butter) might just be appropriate to have at Christmas. If you have an heirloom recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, Christmas is a wonderful time to gather family together and bake that cookie
in honor of your forbearers. This is the type of baking that makes lasting
memories while teaching children a lot about their family.
5. Do I want a cookie that my children can help make? If you plan to have young
children help with the Christmas baking be sure and choose a recipe that is doable with lots of young hands helping. Delicate Florentines that must be removed from the cookie sheet and rolled immediately are not a good choice. Consider making a drop cookie or cut out cookie that kids can help mix and assemble for baking. In addition, by baking with your kids you have a chance to instill a love of cooking, discuss math by using the recipe and just have a lot of fun together!
So what is the best cookie to make for Christmas? The real answer is this: whatever one you want to! Baking at Christmas should be a real joy so gather those nearest and dearest to you, put on an apron, open up a recipe book and get baking!