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Think ahead with Christmas cookies

IT seems that no matter how well organized you think you are, every year Christmas comes sneaking up and before you know it there are only days left to prepare.

IT seems that no matter how well organized you think you are, every year Christmas comes sneaking up and before you know it there are only days left to prepare.

One way to avoid lastminute panic is to bake some Christmas cookies in advance and freeze them in preparation for future parties and family gatherings. Most cookies freeze well; pack them in tins or plastic containers in layers separated by waxed paper. Frosted cookies should be frozen uncovered until the icing is firm, then packed into containers. Frozen cookies will thaw in about 15 minutes at room temperature - remove crisp cookies from the container before thawing to maintain their crunch.


This is such an easy recipe and everyone loves them - I've been making them since I was a teenager (yes, they had electric ovens back then).

1 cup softened butter

½ cup icing sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1½ cups all-purpose flour Candied cherries or coloured decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With an electric mixer whip the butter until fluffy. Stir in the dry ingredients; beat on low speed for one minute and then on high for three to four minutes. Drop spoonfuls of dough two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Top each cookie with a piece of candied cherry or sprinkle with coloured sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching carefully to ensure that the edges don't get too brown - they should be just golden. Cool on wire racks; store in tins or freeze if desired. Makes about 36 cookies.


These snow-capped chocolate mounds make a nice contrast on a plate with shortbread.

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (use only a premium quality cocoa)

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup icing sugar

In a medium bowl mix together cocoa, granulated sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least four hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one-inch balls with lightly greased palms. Roll each ball in icing sugar before placing on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes; let stand on cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool. Makes about 80 cookies.


You can also freeze the unbaked dough for these; let the frozen dough soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then slice and bake.

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

2 2 ?3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 cup chopped candied red and green cherries (or a combination of dried cranberries and chopped pistachios if you prefer)

With electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (three to four minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add gradually to the butter mixture, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in the cherries until evenly distributed throughout dough. Divide the dough into thirds; place each third on a large piece of waxed paper. Smooth and shape the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle about seven inches long. Wrap the logs in the waxed paper, twisting ends to seal. Chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours (or freeze and bake later).

To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp thin-bladed knife, cut the logs into ¼inch thick slices. Place the slices on the baking sheets about two inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned; cool completely on a wire rack. Store in tins at room temperature or freeze. Makes about 72 cookies.

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