The Twelve Ways of Christmas Cookies

At The Papaya Exchange, we love fostering a culture of gift giving, and that includes treats, too! We recently featured a fun Thanksgiving-themed sugar cookie by Honolulu’s Paradise Sweets in our limited-edition Thanksgiving gift. In the spirit of giving something sweet, we thought we’d share some of our staff favorites for holiday cookies. If you’re attending a holiday cookie exchange, need something for the office break room, or have been tasked with cookie duty at your family gathering, we’ve got you covered!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love made for me…

  1. Krumkake
    1. My family heritage is largely Scandinavian, so this Norwegian cookie has always made an appearance at family holiday gatherings. This year, I tried making it myself with my cousin and sisters-in-law, and it was so fun! The electric Krumkake irons you can buy don’t require stovetop turning like the vintage irons. I’ve actually made these cookies a few times this month because they’re so easy, fun, and tasty.
    2. Here’s a tip: follow this recipe and let the batter sit for about 30 minutes prior to pouring the cookies on the iron. The first time we made it, we didn’t let it sit, and the cookies turned out very soft instead of crispier like a waffle cone, as it’s traditionally intended. My dad actually liked the softer version, but I prefer the crispier traditional version!
  2. Chocolate Crinkle Cookie
    1. My mom said out of the typical choices on a Christmas cookie platter, she always gravitates toward these delectable bites. I remember baking them with her using a recipe from a vintage Betty Crocker cookie book, chock full of midcentury cookie photos. Here’s that original Betty Crocker recipe for you!
  3. Sugar Cookie
    1. There’s no escaping the essential holiday staple, the sugar cookie. Buttery, sugary dough and hours of artistic expression through frosting and icing décor? Count me in. You can find countless recipes for baking the classic sugar cookie, and The Kitchn has some tips for getting the perfect sugar cookie.
    2. Here’s a tip: use meringue powder in your icing to get that vibrant color, beautiful sheen, and quick dry time.
  4. Gingerbread
    1. A hearty and heartwarming classic that, like the sugar cookie, lets you get your creativity game on as you bake. I like The Pioneer Woman’s recipe, plus her pretty examples of gingerbread house cookies!
  5. Spritz
    1. Another iconic buttery Christmas cookie hailing from Germany, spritz cookies are usually pressed or squirted (from the German spritzen) through a press into small trees, wreaths, flowers, bars, and twists. When I was a kid, we bought an electric spritz shooter at the hardware store, and have been making them every year since. My mom likes to jazz them up with sprinkles, or sometimes dye some of the dough green for the tree shapes.
  6. Rugelach
    1. Though I’ve never made it myself, I love this Hanukkah treat, and usually find a good bakery to purchase a batch during the holidays. This year, I plan to try Ina Garten’s simple recipe!
  7. Russian Tea Cake
    1. Many kinds of cuisine have their version of the classic butter cookie, and the one we tend to see the most often is the Russian Tea Cake. It’s like the powdered doughnut hole of cookies, with even more crumbles! Who can deny that these cookies are perfect when paired with a cup of coffee or cocoa on a cold winter night?
  8. Snickerdoodle
    1. Certainly not limited to the holidays alone, snickerdoodles are the perfect vessel for cinnamon and sugar consumption in general. My sister-in-law made some unforgettable snickerdoodles last Christmas, and I’m hoping she repeats the gesture. Here’s a mouth-melting recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.
  9. Coconut Macadamia Macaroon
    1. Okay, macaroons may not be a registered trademark of the holidays, but they should be! There’s something luxurious about coconut, and especially about macadamia nuts. I also appreciate the versatility of macaroons. They’re a great gluten-free option that’s still a decadent dessert. And if you’re a coconut fanatic like me, you’ll enjoy this Triple Coconut Macadamia Macaroon recipe from Taste of Home.
  10. Rum Ball
    1. Sugar? Check. Chocolate? Check. Rum? Check. These treats taste like Christmas with the rum and allspice edge. Another great gluten-free treat that doesn’t require modifications for edibility! Here’s Emeril Lagasse’s method.
  11. No Bake
    1. Okay, technically a few of the cookies on this list don’t require actual baking. But what I’m talking about here is the tried and true, oatmeal chocolate peanut butter, timeless pantry cookie. These cookies don’t require anything fancy, and yet they’re always I can never eat just one. The original Quaker Oats recipe does not include peanut butter, but I think that PB is a common sense addition here with its brother chocolate. Amiright?! So here’s the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies.
  12. Maui Sweet Cake’s Ginger Spice Shortbread
    1. We could seriously eat 12 of these! Our founder, Janean, says these are her current favorite cookie. Janean recommends them because they have “a nice ginger spice without being too strong or too sweet.” When it comes to cookies, I’m a big believer that it’s all about the ratios, and Maui Sweet Cake has got it figured out on their Ginger Spice Shortbread. Treat yourself and your family to these cookies this holiday season!
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