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Countdown to Christmas: 12 days of delicious & healthy holiday cookies

By Carolyn Malcoun, December 14, 2009 - 12:07pm

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I come from a long line of holiday-cookie bakers. My great-grandma baked oodles of cookies each year for the grand cookie platter that served as the only dessert on Christmas Day. My mom started her own cookie-baking tradition when she got married 30-plus years ago. On Thanksgiving weekend we’d pick out all the holiday cookie recipes she was going to make and then for weeks she baked one kind of cookie a day. She hit her peak when my sister, Jennie, and I were kids, baking 1,000 cookies or more each holiday season, at least 100 of each variety. Crazy, huh?

While I’m not going to bake quite that many cookies this year, today marks the last 12 days before Christmas and I plan to bake one cookie recipe a day until the big day! Want to see what cookies I’m making? Here’s what’s on my cookie-baking menu this year:

Lava Rocks
This low-fat cookie has three layers of chocolate flavor from cocoa powder, grated bittersweet chocolate and cocoa nibs.

Princess Tea Cakes
This makeover of a classic Russian Tea Cake is a beautiful addition to your holiday cookie platter.

Fig ’n’ Flax Thumbprint Cookies
We love how the ground flax adds a nutty flavor and the brown sugar caramelizes on the outside of these thumbprint cookies. Fig preserves make this cookie special; other fruit preserves could be used as well.

Cranberry-Orange Pistachio Bars
Bright red cranberries and toasted green pistachios stud these tart-and-tangy bar cookies and make them a colorful addition to any cookie platter. They hold well in both the refrigerator and the freezer so they’re an excellent make-ahead option.

One Nutty Date
Once you try these peanut-butter-date cookies, you may never make an ordinary peanut butter cookie again.

Leslie Malcoun’s Pecan Tartlets
My great-grandmother used to make hundreds of Christmas cookies for our family and friends. My mom, Leslie Malcoun, took over the baking when she got married more than 30 years ago, and to this day spends hours on old family favorites and experimenting with new recipes. I can’t imagine Christmas without my mom’s delightful mini pecan tarts.

Cranberry-Orange-Nut Cookies
Crisp, moist and chewy, this cookie has the essential ingredients for the holidays: citrus, nuts and cranberries. These cookies travel well for gift-giving and lunchboxes.

Ginger Crinkle Cookies
These ginger cookies are made healthier by substituting whole-wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour and canola oil for shortening. They are delicious either slightly underdone or crispy

Dark Chocolate Florentines
Apricot preserves fill these oat-chocolate sandwich cookie, but you could use raspberry or cherry instead.

Double Nut & Date Tassies
The two-bite pecan tarts satisfy the sweet tooth with far less guilt than pecan pie.

Double Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chewies
These soft chocolate cookies have a big peanut flavor since they use peanut butter and peanut butter chips.

Raspberry-Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies
These cookies taste decadent, yet are made with ingredients that have healthful benefits: oats, almonds, fruit and chocolate. The thumbprints are versatile as well—use a different type of filling or different extracts to create a completely different cookie.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Food Blog

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

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