Holiday cookies for one and all

Cookies shown include Mademoiselle Cherry's Incredibly Good Looking and Incendiary GingerDoodles, Chocolate Mint Brownies, Vegan Molasses Cookies, Mini Cheesecake Tarts, Caramel Cashew Chewies and 7-Layer Cookies.

Cookies shown include Mademoiselle Cherry's Incredibly Good Looking and Incendiary GingerDoodles, Chocolate Mint Brownies, Vegan Molasses Cookies, Mini Cheesecake Tarts, Caramel Cashew Chewies and 7-Layer Cookies.


Cookies shown include Mademoiselle Cherry's Incredibly Good Looking and Incendiary GingerDoodles, Chocolate Mint Brownies, Vegan Molasses Cookies, Mini Cheesecake Tarts, Caramel Cashew Chewies and 7-Layer Cookies.


These cookies with a cute name — Mademoiselle Cherry's Incredibly Good Looking and Incendiary GingerDoodles — were topped with chocolate almond bark, though white almond bark might be more festive.


These Mini Cheesecake Tarts are topped with strawberry jam, but any jam or jelly will do.


Vegan Molasses Cookies topped with green sugar.


Clockwise from top are Chocolate Mint Brownies, 7-Layer Cookies and Caramel Cashew Chewies.

Every baker has her (or his) secret weapon.

The recipe that is a signature, staple or begged for by all previous tasters.

And, because it’s the season of sharing, we asked specifically for area bakers to be generous with their signatures, staples and favorites of the holiday season.

What we received are beloved recipes that are all across the (smorgas)board — cookies, bars, family heirloom recipes, ones fresh and new, simple and delightful treats, and ones more difficult but worth the effort.

Try one or all of these to make your holiday season a little bit sweeter.

Mother’s Fruit Cake Cookies

1 pound candied mixed fruit diced (or scant 2 cups)

2 cups chopped pecans

2 cups all purpose flour divided

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl combine candied fruit, pecans and 1/2 cup of the flour, toss until evenly coated, set aside.

In another large bowl, cream margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and milk. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg (if desired). Beat until well blended.

Stir in fruit mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls 1 inch apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 18 min or until golden. Remove to wire rack to cool.

— Recipe from Mary Pitts, Lawrence

7-Layer Cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 cup graham crumbs

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 package butterscotch chips

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup coconut

1 can Eagle Brand milk

Melt butter in bottom of 13-inch-by-9-inch pan. Spread all other ingredients in layers in order, starting with the graham crumbs and ending with the milk. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

— Recipe from Nicole Green, Lawrence

Mademoiselle Cherry’s Incredibly Good Looking and Incendiary GingerDoodles

3/4 cutter butter

2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

2 teaspoons vinegar

3 3/4 cups unbleached flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons powdered ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

3/4 tablespoon fine ground black pepper

1 package almond bark

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together. Slowly add eggs, molasses, crystallized ginger and vinegar.

Sift dry ingredients together well. Yes, that means the black pepper, too. Trust me.

Add dry ingredients to butter/egg mixture. Mix well.

Drop by heaping spoonful onto cookie sheet covered in parchment. I like big chewy cookies, and use a big melon baller as a scoop.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Tops should be attractively crinkly. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, melt almond bark in Dutch oven. Dip your perfectly baked and subsequently cooled gingersnap halfway into the melted almond bark. Scrape excess almond bark on side of pan and place that gorgeous cookie to cool and harden on wax paper. Repeat until all cookies are this incredibly good looking.

— Recipe by Bonnie Cherry, Lawrence

Delectabites (Snow Drop Cookies)

1/2 cup butter

2 tables granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Powdered sugar

Thoroughly mix butter, sugar and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour and walnuts. Chill dough. Shape into marble-sized balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees 15 to 17 minutes (until firm but not brown). Roll gently in powdered sugar, cool, then roll again in powdered sugar. Makes 50 cookies.

— Recipe from Mary Pitts, Lawrence

Caramel Oat Bars


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup flour


14 ounces sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons cocoa, sifted

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

For base, beat butter and sugar in small bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add oats and flour. Beat until smooth. Press into a greased 8-inch-square or 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake until set, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare caramel mixture. Heat condensed milk, butter and brown sugar to a boil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour caramel mixture over cooked base. Allow to cool completely.

To prepare icing, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cocoa and water until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar. Stir until mixed well. Spread over cooled caramel layer. Allow to set before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

— Sue Reeder, Lawrence (adapted from

Chocolate Mint Brownies


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 can (16 ounces) chocolate syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt


1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon mint extract

3 drops green food coloring


1 package (10 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Dash mint extract

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter (9 tablespoons)

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in syrup and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Pour into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (top of brownies will still appear wet). Cool on a wire rack.

For filling, cream butter and confectioner’s sugar. Add water, extract and food coloring until blended. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until set.

For topping, melt chocolate chips and butter. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread over filling. Chill in the freezer. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

— Nicole Green, Lawrence (adapted from “Taste of Home”)

Vegan Molasses Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt.

In a second bowl, mix brown sugar, vegetable oil, molasses, vanilla and apple sauce.

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just mixed. Scoop into balls and roll each ball in sugar before placing on baking sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, rotate, then bake about 8 minutes more.

— Luke Johnson, St. Louis (former Lawrence resident)

Trim the Tree Butter Cookies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon almond extract


4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup butter

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Food coloring

In large mixer bowl, combine all cookie ingredients. Beat at med. speed, scraping bowl often until well mixed (3 to 4 minutes). If necessary, chill dough until firm enough to be rolled (about 2 hours). Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough half at a time on well-floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters. Place 1-inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 6 to 10 min or until edges are lightly browned.

While still warm, use a wooden pick to make a hole for string to hang ornament. Cool completely. In small mixing bowl, combine all frosting ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often until fluffy. If desired, color frosting with food coloring. Decorate cookies with frosting. Serve cookies or use them as tree ornaments.

— Recipe from Nicole Green, Lawrence

Polish Xmas Bows (Chrusciki)

5 egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon butter (melted, then cooled)

1 tablespoon vinegar (white)

1 tablespoon dark rum

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 cups flour

Crisco oil for frying

Mix eggs yolks and sugar. Add melted butter and mix well. Add vinegar, rum and heavy cream and mix well. Add flour in small amounts and knead well.

Divide the dough into two parts, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into strips of 2 inches by 6 inches. Slit each strip in the middle and pull one end through the slit. Pull until there is an equal amount of dough on each side of the slit. Drop the dough into hot oil and lightly brown, turning once to brown both sides. Remove with slotted spoon or tongs and drain on paper towels. After completely cooled, sprinkle with a snowstorm of powdered sugar. Smacznego! (Bon appetit!)

*Chruscki (pronounced khrush-cheeky) are a traditional Polish treat.

— Recipe from Krystyna Hilding, Lawrence, and Teresa Jurkowski, Venice, Fla.

Mini Cheesecake Tarts

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup margarine or butter

2 to 3 tablespoons water

2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Jelly, jam or preserves (or can of cherry pie filling)

For Pastry: In small bowl stir together flour, 1/3 cup sugar and cocoa. Cut in margarine till pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing till all is moistened. Form dough into a ball. Divide into 24 balls. Place each in an ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cup (small mini size). Press evenly against bottom and sides of cup.

For Filling: In small mixer bowl beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar till fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add egg, beat until just combined. Fill each muffin cup with 1 tablespoon filling.

Bake 325 degrees 15 to 18 minutes or till set. Cool 30 minutes in pans. Remove from pans, cool completely. When ready to serve, top with jelly, jam or drop a cherry from a can of pie filling.

— Recipe from Mary Pitts, Lawrence

Sunny Oat ’n’ Raisin Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

3 cups oats (quick or old fashioned)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well, then add to “wet” mixture.

Stir in oats, sunflower seeds and raisins.

Drop by rounded (cereal) spoon size blobs onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes — the cookies will look slightly golden on the edges and too gooey in the middle, but take them out, allow to set on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes then move to a cooling rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

— Recipe from Lindsay Frentrop, Lawrence

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup soft margarine

2 eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 ounces chocolate chips

1 small package instant vanilla pudding

1/2 cup nuts, if desired

Cream margarine, brown and white sugars, vanilla and instant pudding. Add eggs and beat until light. Add flour and baking soda. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop on cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Note: I often add more chocolate chips.

— Recipe from Krystal Burenheide, Lawrence

Caramel Cashew Chewies

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 package (14 ounces) caramels

1/3 cup half-and-half cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

1 cup salted cashew halves, chopped

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg. Stir in flour and oats. Press into a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine caramels and cream. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring occasionally. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chunks and cashews.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes of until chocolate is melted. Cool on a wire rack before cutting. Yield about 3 dozen.

— Recipe from Nicole Green, Lawrence

Peanut Blossoms

1 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter (or margarine)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 dozen candy kisses (unwrapped)

Set oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Gradually add sugar and brown sugar, creaming well. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Blend in dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Shape dough in balls, then roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and place candy kiss in center of each cookie pressing down until cookie cracks around edge. Return to oven for an additional minute.

— Recipe from Mary Pitts, Lawrence

Coconut Macaroons

1 package (14 oz) coconut ( 5 1/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

6 Tablespoons flour

4 egg whites (slightly beaten)

1 teaspoon Almond extract

Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Stir in egg whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by tablespoonsfuls onto greased and floured cookie sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown.

Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

You can also dip half of cookie in chcocolate.

Recipe from Betty Lynds

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Cream together:

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Add and mix well:

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons milk


1 1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon soda

Mix together well and roll into balls and roll in white sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately place one small Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the center of each cookie and press down. Then remove From cookie sheet onto a plate to cool.

— Recipe from Betty Lynds

Almond Biscotti

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, 1 egg yolk and one egg white for brushing

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond

1 cup sliced almonds

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle and upper positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat eggs, egg yolk and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light (about 2 minutes). Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.

Mix sliced almonds in whisked dry mixture. Fold in egg and sugar mixture into dry mixture.

Divide dough into two portions forming 3-inch by 10-inch logs on the parchment paper. Brush each with egg white.

Bake until pale golden and just beginning to crack, 25 minutes.

Cool cookie logs on baking sheet until tepid, about 10 minutes. Keeping oven racks in position, heat oven to 200 degrees. Place logs on cutting board and slice logs diagonally 1/2 an inch thick with a serrated knife laying slices on baking sheet on parchment paper in a single layer. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes on one side and turn over and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Store in airtight container up to two weeks. (I got 24 slices)

— Recipe from Betty Lynds


LaBelleFrancaise 10 years, 1 month ago

I luuuuuvvvv all the recipes on right now!!! thank you!!! :)

LaBelleFrancaise 10 years, 1 month ago

aw this is christina the new style scout!!! gotta share the luv!! :)

guppypunkhead 10 years, 1 month ago

I collected my favorite frugal holiday cookie recipes on my blog- and they are easy, too!

Kris Adair 10 years ago

You should have called me for recipe testing. I am the best cookie recipe tester!

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