Baking & Desserts
dec 19, 2020

Great Big Cookie Roundup!

HERE IT IS! The Civic Kitchen’s great big holiday cookie round-up from many of our teachers, special guests, visiting authors and friends. Some recipes are below, and we’ve linked out to many more, so you can check out what all of these fabulous, talented people are up to!
For your holiday baking adventures, and beyond:
  • SASHA CREHAN’S Iced and Spiced Shortbread Cookies (pictured above, recipe below) are so pretty, you’d hesitate to eat them if they weren’t so delicious. The rose and lemon combo is great (& optional), and is made extra special with a sprinkling of dried rose petals (be sure to get the culinary kind, easily found online and at many Persian and Indian grocers.)
  • CHRIS TAYLOR and PAUL ARGUIN’S Cranberry Cointreau Cookies (recipe below) are simply elegant. If you know them as "the pie guys" from their wonderfully inventive and super fun book, The New Pie, just wait til you see what they have up their sleeves in Fabulous Modern Cookies, due out in 2022!
  • KAUSAR AHMED’S Nan Khatai (recipe below) are traditional Pakistani cookies, which Kausar says "everyone makes in their own way". This is Kausar’s way, and they really are delicious! We urge you to discover Kausar’s book, The Karachi Kitchen. Every dish we have cooked from it has been terrific.
  • VIOLA BUITONI’S Parmigiano Sablés (recipe below) are one of the tastiest things you could ever nibble with a glass of prosecco. Season them in a multitude of different ways - rosemary, hazelnuts or pecans, smoked paprika - then be sure to hide them carefully. Viola’s been busy writing lots of lovely holiday recipes over at La Cucina Italiana. Brava!
  • JANET FLETCHER’S Panforte is moderate on the spicing and heavy on the toasted nuts. It would be perfect for your next cheese platter and a welcomed, sturdy addition to any basket or tin you’re filling with gifts. Janet’s excellent books are on her website, along with info for signing up for Cheese O’Clock. Really, that is an indulgence we highly recommend!
  • CAMILA LOEW’S GF Quince Thumbprint Cookies (recipe below) make good use of ready-made quince paste, and you can customize them will all sorts of other toppings. Camila’s beautiful debut book, The Sobremesa Cookbook, hot off the presses, makes a great holiday gift! We’re so proud to know her!
  • MARIA ZIZKA’S family favorite Vanilla Horns are melt-in-your-mouth awesome! Maria’s blog and newsletter are always full of thoughtful words and great recipes. As if her many cookbook collaborations aren’t impressive enough, she has two new books available for pre-order (coming in April, 2021) that would make superb gifts!
  • JILL SILVERMAN HOUGH’S is already renowned at our school for her Caledonia Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe below), and she also thinks you should make some Checkerboard Cookies. She even shared a handy tutorial over on her blog, where you’ll find lots of great recipes and links to Jill’s books.
  • CATHY BARROW’S All I Want For Christmas Peanut Butter Cookies. Cathy (a.k.a. Mrs. Wheelbarrow) calls these her "best holiday cookie". Poems have been written in their honor. Readers of Cathy’s wonderful pie and preserving books already know this recipe will be epic.
  • MOLLY STEVEN’S Cheese-Pecan Cocktail Coins; Molly says "these delicate little wafers have a surprisingly big flavor"! The will appear on our next charcuterie platter without fail. If you don’t own Molly’s much-lauded cookbooks, each one a standout, please buy one for yourself or someone you care about.
  • JACKIE APPLE’S pick, Susan Spungen’s Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies, will spice up your collection. Jackie says "Spices and the little bit of espresso are a perfect combination...You can get about 3 dozen cookies by making them a little smaller. They are very easy to make. Just don’t overcook, and you will have flavor-filled cookie gems!"
  • MARTI BUCKLEY’s Erroskilak (recipe below), from her award winning book, Basque Country, are not technically cookies, but they definitely say "party" (hello, anise fritters!!) We wait with great anticipation for Marti’s next book, and in the meantime keep up with her @martibuckley and her blog.
  • AMANDA CUSHMAN’S Bishops Hats (recipe below), from an index card written by Amanda’s mom and a recipe passed down from her mom, Amanda’s grandmother. Isn’t that the shared history of so many of the best cookie recipes? Find her @chefamandacushman.
  • LORRAINE WITTE’S Magrit’s Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies (recipe below) is an old (and many bakers say better) version of the Quaker Oats canister recipe —altered by Quaker several times since—with changes (no cinnamon! fewer raisins! less soda! nuts!) from Lorraine’s friend Magrit, who she met at the Y. If you’ve spent time with Lorraine, this story completely makes sense. Find Lorraine’s charming books here.
  • FRANCES WILSON’S Sour Cherry Linzer Cookies spread some cookie swap love on our blog last week. If you haven’t visited the post yet, see her words of wisdom there.
  • CO-FOUNDER JEN’S all-time fav for any occasion is Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Chocolate Cookies, along with childhood favorite Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars, and her next bake will be the Tangy Lemon Cookies from Gourmet Magazine in 1986, all because of the Home Cooking podcast from Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway. If you haven’t yet checked it out, you should absolutely binge all 14 episodes (in order) as soon as you can. It has brought us blazing bright moments of joy over these past months.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND HAPPY BAKING TO ALL! We’re here to help if you need baking advice or ideas. If you’d like to share your cookie exploits, tag #TCKatHome and #TalkCookbooks. We’ll be back in January with new cooking and baking inspiration.

Iced and Spiced Shortbread Cookies

Author Sasha Crehan

You can add as many of the suggested enticing spices as you like - the idea is to give the cookies a gentle warm flavor without making them taste like ginger cookies, and not to color the dough too much. Rose water and lemon add a special touch to the icing, along with any decorative embellishments you like!

Adapted from: (Original plain shortbread recipe) from Star's Desserts by Emily Luchetti
Yield   30-35 (2-inch) cookies



8 oz. cold butter, cut into ½-inch chunks

½ cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt


¼ teaspoon of all or some of the following:

Ground cinnamon

Ground nutmeg

Ground ginger

Ground cardamom

A few scrapes of nutmeg

Vanilla extract


1 cup sifted powdered sugar, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon rose water

1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more as needed

FOR DECORATING (optional):

All or some of the following:

Dried rose petals

Hibiscus salt

Sprinkles or dragees

Chopped nuts


Preheat the oven to 250℉.
Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the butter and sugar are gently combined. Add the flour, salt and any of the spices/extracts you like. Mix on low until the dough comes together. It will look dry just before it coheres.
Put the dough on a lightly floured board and roll it out ¼ inch thick. Cut the cookies into whatever shape you like. Chill in the freezer or refrigerator until firm.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cookies, so they are not touching, on the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until firm. They should remain white in color. Cool the cookies completely before icing.
For the icing:
Mix together the sifted powdered sugar, rose water and lemon juice. Mix until the icing is soft enough to spread without running over the sides of the cookies. Adjust with more powdered sugar or lemon juice to achieve the desired consistency.
Once the cookies are iced, decorate with dried rose petals, hibiscus salt, sprinkles or dragees, or some chopped nuts.

Cranberry Cointreau Cookies

Author Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin

Yield   About 30 cookies



½ cup (60 grams) dried cranberries

2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

1½ cups (213 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch of ground cloves

8 tablespoons (1 stick | 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup (100 grams) light brown sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup (113 grams) confectioner’s sugar, preferably organic made with tapioca starch

3 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

Pinch of salt


For the cookies
Finely chop the cranberries and place them into a small microwave-safe bowl along with the Cointreau. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for about 30 seconds on high (100%) power. Set the cranberries aside to absorb the Cointreau and cool completely.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and cloves; set aside.
Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment for about a minute or two until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is uniform. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed just until almost all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated and no white streaks of flour are visible. Finally, add the cooled cranberries and continue mixing on low speed for about another 30 seconds until it forms a uniform dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on your clean countertop. Roll the dough into a log approximately 11 inches long and 1¾ inches in diameter. Wrap the log in parchment paper or plastic wrap and place it into the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until it is firm.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick discs and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, about 13 per sheet. Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, until set and just beginning to brown at the edges.
Immediately transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze
Whisk the confectioner’s sugar, Cointreau, and salt together in a small bowl. (You may need to add additional confectioners' sugar or liqueur to create a loose consistency for dipping). Dip the top surfaces of the cookies into the glaze and place them back on the wire rack to set.

Nan Khatai

Author Kausar Ahmed

Yield   18 nan khatai


1 cup (142g | 5 oz) all-purpose flour

1 cup (100g | 3½ oz) chickpea [garbanzo] flour, sifted

1 tablespoon semolina (for the slight crunch)

1 cup (200g | 7 oz) granulated sugar

1 cup ghee (195g | 6.88 oz), at room temperature

1 cup (143g | 5 oz) whole almonds

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 large egg yolks, whisked


Preheat the oven to 350°F and set aside a parchment lined baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, chickpea flour, semolina, sugar, ghee, almonds, ground cardamom, and baking powder. Mix until thoroughly combined and a cohesive dough comes together*.
Spoon the dough out using a cookie scoop or about 2 tablespoons of dough (I weigh mine to about 1⅓ oz each) and roll into balls. Place spaced 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. (You do not need to press them down)
Brush the tops with whisked egg yolk.
Bake until the edges are just barely golden, about 10 to 15 minutes (cookies will set once cooled). Cool completely on the baking sheet.


*I like to cover my dough with a dry kitchen towel and pop it into the fridge for 8-10 minutes. This step can be omitted if you are short of time.

Biscotti friabili al parmigiano

Parmigiano sablés

Author Viola Buitoni

Adapted from: Inspired by my friend Flavia De Stefanis
Yield   About 40 cookies


4 oz grated parmigiano

4 oz butter, diced and chilled

4 oz AP flour


Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until you have pea sized pebbles. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and quickly press together into a puck, preferably with cold hands. Enclose the puck, and push out the air by rotating the disk between your hands while running your thumbs from top to bottom along the edges.
Seal tightly and let rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour and up to two days.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and turn the oven to 300˚F.
To form the cookies, roll the dough into long cylinders of 1" diameter. Flatten slightly on top with lightly floured hands. Using a bench scraper, cut on the slant at 1-inch intervals to form diamonds.
Lay them on the sheet pan, leaving ½ inch between one cookie and the next. Place in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to harden, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are a lovely golden blond and slightly crumbly at the foot. Be mindful with the cooking time, as burnt parmigiano becomes quite bitter.
They are decadently crumbly when still warm, but try not to eat them all. Let them cool on a rack for your family and friends to enjoy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.


Note that you can flavor these cookies with spices, herbs or zest and make them even more addicting. I have used lemon zest, smoked paprika, allspice, rosemary, among others, all to great acclaim. Sometimes I press a hazelnut in the middle before freezing.
Freezing tip: you can freeze the finished product, but even better is to tightly wrap the uncooked dough cylinders. Cut them in diamonds when the desire hits, and bake freshly as described above.

GF Quince Thumbprint Cookies

Author Camila Loew

You could also fill these delicious cookies with any jam or preserve of choice, or even with some melted dark chocolate or Nutella!

Yield   About 30 cookies


⅓ cup olive oil

⅔ cup honey (melted if solid), or maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups GF flour of choice: I use brown rice, but could also be Cup4Cup

¾ cup GF rolled oats

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

Zest of 1 orange

Quince paste, to fill


1. Preheat the oven to 350F, with a rack in the top third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, pour the olive oil over the honey or maple syrup and whisk in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, cornstarch or arrowroot, sea salt, baking soda, and orange zest. Add the dry mixture to the honey and stir until just combined. Let the dough sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir again.
3. With your damp hands, roll the dough into balls, one level spoonful at a time, and place them an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use your damp pinky finger to make a well in the top of each ball of dough. Fill each well with a bit of quince paste.
4. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the bottom and edges of the cookies are just golden.

Caledonia Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies

Author Jill Silverman Hough

Yield   About 4 dozen 3½-inch cookies or 10 dozen 2-inch cookies


6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 cups packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate


Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar, beating until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just short of combined. With the mixer on medium-low, add the walnuts and chocolate chips, mixing until just combined.
For 3½-inch cookies, form the dough into 1¼-inch balls. Place the balls about 5 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake until slightly golden brown, about 18 minutes, turning halfway through. (For 2-inch cookies, form the dough into 1-tablespoon balls, place them about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through.)
Remove to a rack and cool cookies on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and thoroughly cool before storing in an airtight container.


Copyright Jill Silverman Hough, 2018. All rights reserved.


Anise-Scented Fritters

Author Marti Buckley

It may seem strange, how a single sweet can suggest both the warmth of a flame on an open hearth and the cold mist hanging over a town surrounded by mountains. The scent of erroskilak does just that. A dough laced with anisado, an anise liqueur, cooks to a golden brown and releases the sweet scent of fried dough with a hint of anise. The erroskila’s big moment is at the country fair, where it’s sold in bags or freshly fried, tossed into a pile of white sugar and served warm. Form the fritters by rolling the dough between your hands or on the counter like a snake and folding it around back onto itself. You could also make a knot where the dough meets. Mass-produced or bakery-made fritters are more doughnutlike in appearance, but homemade erroskilak have a charm of their own, with their uneven ends and imperfect circular shape. Note: The size of the erroskilak is up to you. These are on the small side. However, you can make them larger—say, the size of a doughnut—if you’d like.

Adapted from: Reprinted from Basque Country by Marti Buckley with permission from Artisan Books, 2018
Yield   20-30 Fritters


2 large eggs

½ cup (100g) sugar, plus more for dusting

½ cup (120 mL) anisette liqueur

⅔ cup (160 mL) sunflower or olive oil

3½ cups (440g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

4 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

Olive, sunflower, or vegetable oil, for frying


In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, anisette, and oil. In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions, mixing well after the first before adding the second. Stir just until all the flour is combined.
Dust a clean work surface with flour and dump the dough out onto the surface. Knead it, giving it a few turns and adding a bit more flour if necessary to make the dough easy to work. Once it has fully come together, form into a ball and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour oil into a heavy-bottomed pot to the depth of about two fingers. Heat the oil over high heat to between 350°F and 400°F (175 and 200°C).
To shape the erroskilak, pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough. Roll it out into a rope about 4 inches (10 cm) long and then bring the edges together and press to seal, forming a circle. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, carefully place the circles of dough in the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes, or until golden, turning once so they cook evenly.
Remove the erroskilak with a slotted spoon as they finish cooking and drain on paper towels. Pour some sugar on a plate or shallow bowl and toss each piece in the sugar to coat. Serve. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a few weeks. Not that they would ever make it past a few days . . . or a few hours.

Bishops Hats

Author Amanda Cushman

Yield   3 dozen cookies


½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough

½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Zest of one lemon or orange

2 large eggs, divided

Raspberry or apricot jam for centers


1. Combine the butter and flour in a medium bowl and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sugar, salt and zest, and mix well. Stir in one egg and form a soft dough.
2. Preheat the oven to 375℉. Combine the other egg in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of water and mix well. Set aside.
3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut into 3-inch rounds. Add ½ teaspoon of the jam to the center and brush the edges with egg wash. Pinch three corners together to form a hat and place on unglazed baking sheets.
4. Bake until slightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Magrit's Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies

Author Lorraine Witte

You've probably seen a similar title on a Quaker Oats canister. This version is an old one—altered by Quaker several times over the years—with changes (no cinnamon! fewer raisins! less soda! nuts!) from Lorraine's friend Magrit, who she met at the Y. A good recipe is meant to be shared!

Adapted from: Lorraine's friend Magrit
Yield   about 4 dozen cookies


2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 packed cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, at room temperature

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 cups Quaker old-fashioned oats

¾ cup raisins

¼ cup nuts, optional


Heat the oven to 350℉.
Cream together the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to incorporate fully after each.
Stir in the flour, baking soda and oats. When no dry areas of flour remain, stir in the raisins and nuts, if using. Stop stirring as soon as they're well dispersed.
Drop the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased sheet pans. Bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for one minute on the pans, then transfer to racks to cool fully. For bar cookies, bake 30-35 minutes in an ungreased 13×9 inch metal or Pyrex baking pan.