What’s Christmas without cookies?

A plate of warm Christmas cookies can help you bond with the neighbors, and taking a tray to the office is a sure way to win points with your co-workers. Christmas cookies can also be a fun part of frugal holiday gift-giving.

Every year, Kris and I assemble holiday gift bags to give to our friends. We fill these with candy and cards and candles and books and other small things we’ve gathered year-round. And we always include lots of home-made cookies.

This Sunday, Kris will spend all day in the kitchen with her sister Tiffany and friend Eila. They’ll be on a cookie-baking bonanza. They’ll use some classic recipes, of course, but this year they’ll also be making one of Kris’ new discoveries: the Oreo truffle. She’s already made two batches for friends and co-workers, and they’ve drawn rave reviews.

Because it’s the last weekend before Christmas — and because the video post I’d originally planned for today has run into technical difficulties — Kris has agreed to share five of her favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Yum.

Note: Cookies are inherently bad for your diet. Consume in moderation. Substitute organic, low-fat, or sugar-free ingredients as desired.

The first recipe makes a festive cookie:

Minty Chocolate Crinkles

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup peppermint candies
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine oil, cooled chocolate and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in extracts. Add blended flour/salt/baking powder. Chill dough several hours or overnight.



Grind peppermint candies in coffee mill until reduced to a powder. Measure 1/4 cup peppermint candy powder and mix with powdered sugar in a small bowl.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll in the powdered mixture until well-coated. Place 2″ apart on a greased baking sheet and bake 10 minutes — they will look underbaked. Cool on tray for 2 minutes and remove to a wire rack. Makes 72.

The second recipe makes a frugal Christmas cookie:

Molasses Spice Cookies

  • 1-1/2 cups shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp EACH of baking soda, ground ginger, cloves and cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and molasses, blending well. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly to combine. Place spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, about 2” apart. Bake 8-9 minutes. Makes 48.

The next Christmas cookie is a fancy cookie (er, candy):

Nut Brittle

  • 1 cup dry roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with Silpat or buttered parchment paper (do not use wax paper!). In a heavy saucepan, mix all ingredients over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it becomes a nice amber color and thickens — about 10 minutes. You will know you are done when you smell the first hint of burnt sugar, so pay attention!



    Quickly pour onto the baking sheet and spread to cover. 
Cool for 4 minutes and then score the brittle with a pizza cutter or sharp knife into about 36 pieces. Once it has cooled completely, snap along scored marks.

    Note: Good with other varieties of nuts, but be sure to include some peanuts.

    Options: Add 1/2 tsp espresso powder for a coffee brittle (with hazelnuts). Scatter chocolate chips over warm brittle; press in or spread when melted.

    The fourth recipe features a family-friendly Christmas cookie:

    Chocolate Marshmallow Sandwiches

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
    • 1-1/4 cups sugar
    • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 24 large marshmallows
    • sugar for rolling

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

 Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in corn syrup, egg, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed, scraping down bowl. Refrigerate 15 minutes.



    Place 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow dish. Form tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

    

On a paper plate, invert one cookie, top with a marshmallow and microwave for 12 seconds (or until marshmallow is hot). Immediately press another cookie, flat side down, to form a sandwich.

 Makes 24.

    And the final Christmas cookie recipe makes a fun cookie — the afore-mentioned Oreo truffle. These are pure evil:

    Oreo Truffles

    • 18 ounces Oreo cookies
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 14 ounces chocolate candy coating
    • sprinkles, nuts, white chocolate

    
Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper. 

Crush cookies in a food processor until fine. Dice cream cheese and add to food processor. Process until no streaks of cream cheese are visible.

 Transfer to a bowl and chill 45 minutes.

    Make small balls using a cookie dough scoop and place on baking sheet. Chill 15 minutes. 

Melt the chocolate (microwave or double boiler). Dip chilled candy balls into chocolate coating and return to the sheet. Chill until set, then store in the fridge in an airtight container. Makes 30.

    One of these days, I really will compile a GRS cookbook. (Maybe Trent and I could join forces.) I’d love to share the favorites from our kitchen. (Well, it’s mostly Kris’ kitchen, of course. I’m mainly just there to chop onions and make clam chowder.)

    Until then, what are your favorite Christmas cookie (and candy) recipes? Do you have any special traditions that go with the baking — or the sharing? Are any of your Christmas cookies especially frugal? Share your tips below!

    (And don’t forget to leave out a plate of cookies for Santa!)

    Photo by Ana Branca.

    GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, GE Capital Bank, and more.