‘Tis the Season for Holiday Baking!

Holiday baking is such a fun way to really celebrate the season. It’s the time of year where there indulging in your favorite treats seems a bit less sinful. As they say, sharing is caring, and I really thing there is no better treat to share than homemade holiday cookies.

My family’s traditional Christmas Cookies are made from a basic sugar cookie dough, cut into fun shapes, and decorated with a really simple yet delicate icing and sugar sprinkles. While I adore cookies in all shapes and sizes, this recipe is the one that is especially pertinent this time of year.

This week, to help with some of your baking business, I’m going to share a few of my favorite recipes and tips for deliciously care free holiday treats. All of the following cookie recipes are what we call ‘ice box dough’. This term means the dough should be refrigerated prior to baking, as opposed to ‘drop cookies’ in which the dough is simply spooned straight after mixing, and dropped onto the cookie sheet to bake immediately.

Christmas Sugar Cookies


  • 1 c. butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 ½ c. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 2 ½ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • ½ c. powdered sugar (1 each for icing)
  • 1-2 tsp. water
  • food coloring

For Cookies

  • Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add egg, vanilla and almond extract, and combine thoroughly
  • Sift together flour baking soda and cream of tartar, and then add to the mixing bowl. Mix well until dough forms.
  • Cover dough with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to just under 1/4 inch thick, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool, and decorate away!

For Icing

  • Stir 1-2 tsp. cold water into ½ c. powdered sugar, a few drops at a time, until icing thickly coats the back of a spoon. Stir in a drop of food coloring at a time, a little goes a long way.

Chef’s tip:After you cut the dough into cookie shapes, place them onto a baking sheet about 1 inch apart on all sides, and put the whole tray into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This should help the cookies keep their shape while cooking, so the butter doesn’t melt & spread so quickly, giving the flour more time to cook and gelatinize (aka- hold their shape).


Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscuit Cookies

  • ¾ c. butter, softened
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract1
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 c. AP flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ c. crushed almonds
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter & sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients into creamed mixture until fully incorporated. Finally, fold in crushed almonds until evenly dispersed throughout the dough. Transfer the dough to a large piece of wax or parchment paper, roll into a 1 1/2 inch thick dough log, wrap in the paper, and twist off the ends like a sausage. Refrigerate for 1 hour prior to baking.
  • Slice the cold dough log into slices just under 1/2 inch thick. Place 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Bake at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
  • Place chocolate chips into a heat-proof glass bowl. Heat in microwave in 30 second increments until melted, stirring in between. Dip cookies in chocolate as desired, and allow to cool on wax paper lined trays.

Chef’s tip:Make ahead! Wrap the cookie logs tightly in saran wrap, or seal into zip top freezer bags, and freeze until you’re ready to use. Remove dough from the freezer and allow to sit out on the counter for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Run hot water over a knife to warm the blade, and use the hot knife to slice through the dough. Reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees F, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.


Maple Cinnamon Shortbreads

  • 1 c. butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ c. maple syrup
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ salt
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and maple syrup.
  • Add flour, cinnamon, and salt, and continue to mix until cookie dough starts to come together. If dough texture is too crumbly, you can add more butter 1 Tbs. at a time.
  • Gather dough into a ball, and transfer to a piece parchment paper on the counter. Roll the dough inside the parchment paper into a log approximately 2 inches in diameter, and twist the ends to seal shut. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Slice dough log into ¼ inch pieces. Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 365 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until edges are just slightly browned.
  • Remove shortbreads from baking sheets and allow to cool.

Chef’s tip:Make into ice cream sandwiches! Once the cookies are completely cook, place a scoop of ice cream in-between 2 cookies, and gently squeeze together. Wipe around the edges of the cookie sandwich to clean up any errant ice cream, place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, and allow to freeze at least 1 hour. Roll the ice cream edge of the sandwich into mini chocolate chips, sprinkles or crushed cookies for fun flavor boost.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from my Kitchen to yours!



Shiso Fresh is brought to you by Chef Jessica Roy of Shiso Kitchen in Boston, MA. Follow along on Social Media Via @shisofresh and @shisokitchen