Christmas cookies that capture regional flavors

Yo, Santa! Put down that gingerbread man and grab a New York black and white. / Photo by Annalise Sandberg via Flickr Creative Commons

Yo, Santa! Put down that gingerbread man and grab a New York black and white. / Photo by Annalise Sandberg via Flickr Creative Commons

Christmas cookies don’t have to be all about wreaths and colored sugar. Anything that feels celebratory — and decadent – is fair game for the holiday cookie jar. We’ve gathered a handful of recipes to spice up your season.

In my own family, baklava is that once-a-year treat we plunge into at Christmas. Buttering the phyllo and layering it just right requires so much effort that we only summon the nerve once a year. (Confession: these days, I leave the baklava to my mother, and get the rest of my Syrian sweets from the annual bake sale at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean, Va. See the ladies in action in this week’s My American Roots video.)

If it’s chocolate you want, we direct you to Exhibit A: this double-chocolate espresso cookie from Food52. Stacked with two chocolate delivery systems (cocoa powder and chocolate chips) and espresso powder, it’s coffee and dessert in a single bite. The chewy chocolate cookies with rum-soaked raisins capture the spirit with spirits.

New Mexican bizcochitos cut in the shapes of the season. / Photo by Emily Barney via Flickr Creative Commons

New Mexican bizcochitos cut in the shapes of the season. / Photo by Emily Barney via Flickr Creative Commons

Ginger-spice sandwich cookies from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures had me at “lemon cream cheese filling.” A nice take on the traditional gingerbread man, these cookies step up the game by ditching that thin, sugary icing for tangy lemon cream.

Nuts are traditional ingredients this time of year, and in North Carolina, winners of the Raleigh News and Observer’s holiday treats contest offered recipes for sour cream pecans and pecan brittle spiked with maple and bacon.

For a regional take on the season, New Mexico’s anise-and-cinnamon scented bizcochitos are a good choice. And aren’t Baltimore’s famous fudge-topped Berger cookies just begging for a sprinkle of crushed candy cane? (try adapting them from this King Arthur Flour recipe.) Just in case Santa’s from the Bronx, a plate of New York’s black-and-whites from Smitten Kitchen won’t hurt.

Send us your favorite holiday cookies.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Christmas cookies that capture regional flavors

  1. Eva Critchfield December 13, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    So enjoyed your story on Swiss-German Xmas Baking! Wish I had not lost my Grandmother’s cookie recipe for Zimtsterne and Spitzbuben. They were so delicious!

    • Avatar of Bonny Wolf
      Bonny Wolf December 13, 2013 at 9:54 am #

      Dear Eva,
      I’m heartbroken you lost those recipes because if they came from your family I know they were wonderful! What DO you bake at Christmas? You’re such a beautiful baker!

      • Carol Guensburg December 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

        Eva, if you’re looking for the cookies without the effort, you can find them at the Swiss Bakery in Springfield, Va. It ships, too — as I suspect other bakeries do. But so much of the joy of the holiday season comes from baking — especially with dear ones joining you in the kitchen.

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