Christmas Cookie Madness

There are two types of holiday cookie bakers. First, there are those who faithfully recreate their favorite recipes year after year to the acclaim of gift recipients. Yes, tried and true recipes are successful…but they can get a bit boring! Do their friends really wait each year with gleeful anticipation for the same old pecan sandies and rum balls, or do they secretly yearn for coconut lemon macaroons and double fudge bar cookies? If you are one of these bakers, take a breather from your holiday traditions, and try a fabulous new recipe!

Perhaps you are already a holiday baker who feverishly scours books, magazines and Web sites to make lists as long as the Great Wall of China of things to bake this season. For family members, friends, distant third cousins in Antarctica, or the neighbor's dog - it doesn't matter. Drop cookies, icebox cookies, cookies with filling, and cookies dipped in chocolate… it all sounds scrumptious and incredibly doable in late November. A little less doable in the second week of December… and by the week of the actual gifting, we resign ourselves to Snickerdoodles and M & M cookies, hastily made and wrapped in wax paper. But the trip between the fantasy and reality is what we savor each year.

If you have other friends as crazy about cookies as you are - or perhaps you can willfully mistake their polite interest for a kindred fanaticism - invite them to a cookie exchange. Better Homes and Gardens recommends inviting 8-12 people, and asking everyone to bring enough cookies for each person attending. A neat addition to cookie exchanges is a cookbook that you compile from everyone's recipes; ask them to email the recipe to you beforehand and compile enough copies for each family.

The library has a bounty of beautiful and practical cookie books (note the difference here, at least for me) that are fun to browse. There are countless cookie web sites online as well.

In the Library

The Christmas Cookie Book by Lou Seibert Pappas
This petite book boasts some lovely photos, although not every recipe is illustrated. The recipes are similarly elegant, with more expensive materials and more time required for these recipes than many other books in the collection (Cardamom Shortbread Stars requires that you grind your own cardamom seeds in the grinder, for example). The section "Cookies for Gift Giving and Mailing" includes selections that would make beautiful gifts.

Christmas Cookies to Make and Bake! 25 Delicious Fun Recipes by Annie Rigg
Include Advent Numbered Cookies, Snowflake Cookies and little iced Christmas Wreaths to hang on your tree. 

Christmas Cookie Swap! More Than 100 Treats to Share This Holiday Season by Oxmoor House 
Features 120 perennial favorites ranging from Eggnog Crackle Cookies and Spiced Sorghum Snowflakes to Cherry-Lemon Candy Canes and Peppermint Brownie Bars. 

Christmas Is Cookies and Gingerbread and Fudge and Spice Cake and More by The Everyday Cookbooks
This homey cookbook has recipes that you may imagine your grandmother's family made: soft molasses cookies, pecan lace cookies, grasshopper pie, and so on. Unfortunately, there are no pictures, but the recipes are clear and relatively simple. Additional sections include cakes, pies and puddings, candy, and quick breads and coffee cakes.

Cookies for Christmas by Jennifer Dorland Darling
An impressive collection of cookie recipes that lets you roll, spritz, twist, cut-out, and drop your way to cookie ecstasy. Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photographs and numbered instructions that break down the process into easy steps. You'll find traditional recipes here, but also variations on a theme and many modern inventions. Kid-friendly recipes are marked by a special icon. Tested in Better Homes and Gardens kitchens.

FamilyFun's Cookies for Christmas edited by Deanna F. Cook
Fifty doable, nicely illustrated and clearly instructed recipes for kids and their parents to make together. Includes cookie decorating with a "Merry Christmas" Holiday Garland; such classics as Thumbprint Cookies and Candy Cane Twists; and a few international recipes like the British Isles-derived shortbread and Easter Europe's Czech Linzer cookies.

Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum
From the author of The Cake Bible comes this collection of both elegant and easy cookie recipes. Be sure to ogle the Gingerbread Cathedral, a stunning work of culinary art.

On the Web

Holiday Recipe: Merry Christmas
Lots of cookie articles and recipes under "Christmas Cookie Recipes". For gift ideas, look under "Christmas Gifts". This is one of my favorite places to get recipes because many of them are rated by Web visitors and are accompanied by their reviews and comments.

Homemade Cookies
There is something here for bakers of every skill level. Beginners will appreciate "Cookie Basics" and "How-To Videos." In "Cookie Recipes" you'll find all kinds of cookies, from cookies for kids, for adults, and for giving to cookies on a stick and a 50-state cookie salute.

The Holiday Cookie Jar
Fifty favorite cookie recipes like White Christmas Cranberry Florentines and Oatmeal Toffee Chip Cookies. No ratings included.

Cookies in a Jar and Other Gifts

Gifts in a Jar
Basic jar cookie recipes and ratings.

Gifts in a Jar: Easy Make-Ahead Gifts
Lots of easy, do-it-yourself gift ideas. Branch out from the cookie-in-a-jar mix and make "Peaches and Cream Bath Salts" or a "Journal Jar." Then print out color tags, address, and voila!

Kitchen Mixes
All sorts of mixes from your kitchen - sweet, savory, even cleaning mixes! Save your favorites to your recipe box.