Holiday Cookies: Recipe for peanut butter and jelly cookies

Peanut butter cookies — with that iconic crosshatch pattern pressed into their tops — are a holiday classic for many Canadians. But as good as they are, we decided to play with the tradition a bit. We spiked our peanut butter cookies with a “jelly” of finely chopped golden raisins. We also ditched the flour in favour of upping the peanut flavour.

The result is a slightly sweeter and delightfully chewy take on this holiday cookie. And of course we kept the crosshatch.

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PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY COOKIES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup golden raisins

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

15-ounce jar natural peanut butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a food processor, combine the granulated sugar and golden raisins, then pulse until chopped to small pieces, but not a puree.

In a medium bowl, beat together the brown sugar, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and salt until thoroughly mixed. Mix in the sugar and raisins until evenly distributed.

Working in batches, scoop 1 tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Use a fork to make crosshatch design on the top of each cookie, slightly flattening them in the process. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheet to cool between batches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 130 calories; 60 calories from fat (46 per cent of total calories); 6 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 1 g fibre; 14 g sugar; 3 g protein; 35 mg sodium.

BY ALISON LADMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ice Cream Cone Caramel Date Bars
Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for no-bake cranberry coconut bites

12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Recipe for no-bake cranberry coconut bites

For anyone who loves macaroons, these chewy, cranberry-speckled no-bake cookies should help you satisfy your coconut cravings.

Feel free to decorate these cookies however you like. We prefer to roll them in yet more shredded coconut (toasted is a nice touch), but you also could roll them in chopped pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts; even pine nuts would be delicious. Or for a sweeter version, get colored decorating sugar from the baking supply shop and roll them in that.

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NO-BAKE CRANBERRY COCONUT BITES

Start to finish: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 cups shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch salt

1 cup chopped dried cranberries

1 cup toasted shredded coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk, 4 cups of shredded coconut, the water, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until it forms a thick paste, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, then set aside off the heat and allow to cool completely.

Once the mixture has cooled, set out a bowl of toasted coconut, finely chopped nuts or colored sugar. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in the coating of your choice. The cookies should be stored in an airtight container between layers of kitchen parchment or waxed paper.

Nutrition information per cookie: 110 calories; 60 calories from fat (55 per cent of total calories); 6 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrate; 2 g fibre; 11 g sugar; 1 g protein; 15 mg sodium.

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Bites

Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for strawberry pistachio icebox cookies

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

12 Days of Holiday Cookies: Recipe for strawberry pistachio icebox cookies

Freeze-dried strawberries add a potent blast of flavour to these cookies without watering down the dough. You’ll find them in the grocer’s natural foods section, or sometimes in the toddler food aisle. To crush them, either pulse them in a food processor or place them in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over them.

The dough for these cookies is easily prepped ahead of time. Follow the recipe up through forming the dough into logs. The logs can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen up to three months. If frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and baking.

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STRAWBERRY PISTACHIO ICEBOX COOKIES

Start to finish: 3 hours 45 minutes (30 minutes active)

Makes 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup crushed freeze-dried strawberries

1 cup chopped shelled pistachios

Sanding (coarse decorating) sugar

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add the egg yolks and beat to combine. Stir in the flour until a dough just comes together. Stir in the strawberries and pistachios until evenly distributed.

Divide the dough in half. Using a sheet of waxed paper to help you work with the dough, shape each half into a log 1 1/2 inches around and 12 inches long. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 F.

Place the sanding sugar in a dinner plate. Unwrap one of the logs and roll it in the sugar to coat the sides. Using a paring knife, slice the log into about 30 rounds. To prevent the log from losing its shape, turn the log a little with each slice. Working in batches, arrange the slices on a baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining log.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 70 calories; 35 calories from fat (50 per cent of total calories); 4 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 7 g carbohydrate; 0 g fibre; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein; 15 mg sodium.

By Alison Ladman, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Bites

Photograph by: AP Photo, Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for apple-orange spice drops

These drop cookies may be fast and easy to make, but they deliver big, bold flavour just right for the holidays.

We take a basic brown sugar and butter-based drop cookie dough, then add tons of deliciousness with a blend of cloves, allspice, nutmeg and orange zest. We also tinker with the texture, adding the delightful chew of tender dried apples. Top it all off with an orange glaze and you have a cookie that begs for an eggnog accompaniment.

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APPLE-ORANGE SPICE DROPS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg

Zest of 1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped dried apple

3/4 cup toasted slivered almonds (optional)

For the glaze:

1 tablespoon orange juice

2/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, almond extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, cloves, allspice and nutmeg until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice, then the flour. Stir in the apples and the almonds, if using.

Working in batches, scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, or until just pale golden brown on the bottoms. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheet to cool slightly between batches.

To make the glaze, whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over each cookie. Once the glaze sets, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 70 calories; 20 calories from fat (29 per cent of total calories); 2 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 12 g carbohydrate; 0 g fibre; 7 g sugar; 1 g protein; 40 mg sodium.

BY ALISON LADMAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Apple-orange Spice Drops
Photograph by: AP Photo , Matthew Mead

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for oatmeal blues drop cookies

Everyone loves a basic oatmeal cookie. But these are no ordinary oatmeal cookies. In addition to studding them with chewy, sweet dried blueberries, we’ve also given them a sugary-and-salty topping. The result is a deeply flavoured, addictive combination that elevates an otherwise simple treat.

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OATMEAL BLUES DROP COOKIES

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Makes 3 dozen cookies

14 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt, divided

Zest of 1/2 lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups dried blueberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, baking soda, nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the lemon zest and the vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. Stir in the flour, then the oats, followed by the blueberries.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the granulated sugar.

Working in batches, drop the dough by the tablespoonful into the salt-sugar to dunk their tops. Place the dough, sugar side up, on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies for spreading. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges and no longer shiny on top.

Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Nutrition information per cookie: 150 calories; 50 calories from fat (33 per cent of total calories); 5 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 2 g fibre; 12 g sugar; 2 g protein; 95 mg sodium.

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for sweet-and-salty kitchen sink cookies

Holiday Cookies: Recipe for sweet-and-salty kitchen sink cookies

This is the cookie to make when you’re looking to clean out the cupboards. We’ve packed them with all manner of treats — and oddities — from rolled oats, peanuts and chocolate chips to chopped prunes, crushed potato chips and even coffee grounds (trust us on that last one). The more unusual the combination, the better the results.

But don’t feel you have to stop there. Got any other crackers, chips, nuts or dried fruit handy? Toss them in and let these cookies truly earn their kitchen sink name.

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SWEET-AND-SALTY KITCHEN SINK COOKIES

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teasp