Pinterest cookies

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a tween was when my mom would come home from her annual work Christmas party. Among the fun prizes and gifts she’d come with was a large holiday tin filled with a variety of incredible, homemade cookies. With more than a dozen different kinds of cookies, this tin was a great way to kick off the sweetest side of our family’s Christmas celebration.

Years before the cookie exchange tradition took hold, this cookie tin was a great intro to those popular parties. While this year’s cookie exchange parties have likely all been canceled, you still can create a mini version of this tin by creating several varieties of holiday cookies. Here are some great ideas for easy options, international cookies and even new recipe ideas.

For even more ideas, visit our Christmas board on Pinterest.

Easy options

When it comes to delicious-yet-beautiful Christmas cookies, I always look to shortcuts or minimal ingredient options. That’s why I love the adorable green corn flake wreaths. There also are perfectly simple shortbread cookies, beautiful red velvet cookies and even some three-ingredient sugar cookies that make for easy cookies that even your kids can help bake.

Try these 4 Ingredient Peppermint Cookies. Combine a dark chocolate or chocolate fudge cake mix with two eggs and 1/2 cup canola oil. Beat well. Stir in one 10-ounce package of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (or chopped Andes Peppermint Crunch Thin candies). Chill the dough for 1 hour. Drop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes at 350 degrees.

International flavors

Christmas is an amazing time to experience traditions from around the world. For instance, growing up I always loved the holiday traditions shared by my Dutch neighbors. Learning about Hanukkah and the traditional foods and games, too, was an incredible experience. So why not incorporate some international flavors into your holiday baking this year? For instance, consider recipes from Norway, Italy, Finland, Germany, France, Greece or Mexico.

Try these Italian Sprinkle Cookies. Beat six eggs until foamy. In another bowl combine 5 cups flour with 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Beat in 1 cup shortening, 3 teaspoons almond extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract. Gradually add beaten eggs. Roll into 1-inch balls and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees. Immediately dip into glaze of 3 3/4 cups powered sugar, 1/2 cup warm milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Top with sprinkles.

New recipes

One amazing home baker I met years ago has recently published a cookbook dedicated to all things cookies. “101 Greatest Cookies on the Planet” by Erin Mylroie is a book filled with incredible cookie recipes all perfect for the holidays. I love the idea of trying at least one new cookie recipe this year. Time to break out of all the traditional favorites and try something new.

Try these Christmas Meringues: Beat 2 large egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar and dash of salt until doubled in volume. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon each of almond and vanilla extracts. Gradually add in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high after each addition. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Paint stripes of red food coloring in a pastry bag. Transfer meringue to bag and pipe dollops onto lined baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour at 225 degrees. Turn off and leave in oven for one more hour.

— Jennifer Durrant