The ultimate cookie basics for holiday baking
Do-anything-with-them vanilla and chocolate cookie dough recipes to play around with, and share
Since you might be opening this while I’m flying across the Atlantic from Paris to New York, I couldn’t decide on the best greeting and so I covered the bases — take your pick. Having just written that, I realize that this month’s Bake and Tell/do-what-you-want-with-it recipe might just as well be called Take-Your-Pick.
For December, as we gear up for the month with so many holidays — most of them sweet — I’m sending you two recipes, each a basic and each exceedingly play-aroundable. Take your pick!
One recipe is for a vanilla cookie dough and the other is for a chocolate dough. Both recipes come from one of my favorite books (there, I’ve said it!), DORIE’S COOKIES. In the book, the recipes are called
Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough (click here for printable recipe)
Do-Almost-Anything Chocolate Cookie Dough (click here for printable recipe)
Both recipes make a lot of dough, so I like to divide each batch into four and make a different cookie from each quarter. And there are so many different things you can do — the doughs are perfect for cut-out cookies, since they hold their shape so nicely; both take to icing and decoration; and both have interesting textures — a cross between crisp and sandy — which means that the cookies will be delightful even if all you do is roll, cut and bake them with no embellishments.
Each dough is labeled “A Basic Recipe” and so, as always, I hope you’ll put your own spin on the recipes.
If you’re a member of Bake and Tell — and anyone can be (it’s free and it’s fun and it’s for everyone who likes baking or even the idea of baking) — I’ll be popping into the group often to see what fun things you’re doing with #holidaycookies. If you’re an indie baker, I hope you’ll tag me (I’m @doriegreenspan on Instagram and Facebook), so that I can see what you’ve come up with.
Some Ideas for Playing Around
When you click on the printable recipes, you’ll see that I’ve given you directions for making simple vanilla or chocolate cut-out cookies. But from there, it’s all up to you — there are so many possibilities.
To get you thinking, here’s a look at some of the ways I used each of the doughs (all of the recipes are in DORIE’S COOKIES and some are in the links below).
Double-Ginger Crumb Cookies
Ground and minced fresh ginger are added to the vanilla dough and the cookies are topped with ginger streusel. To get the most flavor out of the fresh ginger, mix it with a pinch of sugar, wait a few minutes, then use the ginger and the syrup that has developed.
Chocolate-Cranberry and Almond Cookies
Here, the chocolate dough gets mixed with dried cranberries and then, before the cookies go into the oven, they’re topped with almonds that have been coated with a mix of confectioners’ sugar and egg white. They bake to a crunch, which is fun.
Vanilla Polka Dots
These are adorable — the dough gets scooped into balls and then coated with crunchy Swedish or pearl sugar. They’re plain, easy and pretty.
This is a great cookie to make with kids — the chocolate dough gets rolled into balls between your palms and then poked with a finger to make a place for some jam. Little fingers are just the right size for these chocolate-and-jam cookies.
White Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cookies
By mixing white chocolate into the vanilla dough, you build up the vanilla flavor in the cookie. As for the poppy seeds — they add flavor, crunch and a bit of sophistication to a simple sweet.
Christmas Spice Cookies
Because the vanilla dough is so easy to work with and because it holds its shape so beautifully, these spice cookies can be as elaborate or as straight-forward as you’d like. The spices are the warm, cozy spices of the holidays, so the cookies are as right for milk, cider or tea as they are for coffee or cognac.
Cherry-Nut Chocolate Pinwheels
Rolling the dough around some dried fruit and chopped nuts, then finishing the cookies with squiggles of icing make these appealing in every way. While I love dried cherries with the chocolate, apricots (or dare I suggest raisins) would also be good.
Bits of toasted pecans get mixed into the chocolate dough and then “meringue” crusted nuts get piled on top. The crown of crunchy nuts is dramatic — playful too.
Go nutty, go fruity, go plain, go fancy. Go wild! I hope you’ll have some fun with these. I always do.
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