12 Days of Holiday Baking
Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies
The dough recipe here is ideal: durable enough to withstand rolling and rerolling, yet soft enough to cut neatly. The cookies themselves are extremely versatile. They can be simply sprinkled with sugar and baked; or, after they’re baked, they can be decorated with royal icing or sandwiched with jam and sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.
Chocolate-Raspberry Swiss Roll
Maria Helm Sinskey created this delicious cake as an homage to the classic European princess cake; her simpler version substitutes whipped cream for pastry cream and a luscious chocolate glaze for marzipan.
Incredibly, these light, crispy and fragrant crescent cookies require only five ingredients to make.
Best-Ever Nut Brittle
Tina Ujlaki adapted this crunchy, buttery, slightly salty brittle from a recipe by pastry chef Karen DeMasco. When her children were younger, Tina would make it as a holiday gift for their teachers.
Thumbprint cookies—made by pressing a small round of dough with the thumb to form an indentation—are great for filling with chocolate or jam.
Chocolate-Almond Saltine Toffee
Pastry chef Nicole Plue was intrigued by a recipe she discovered for matzo covered in toffee and chocolate. But she knew she could improve it by using crackers instead of matzo for a hit of salt. Now the saltines, slathered with buttery toffee and bittersweet chocolate, are a favorite on her petit four tray.
Delicate and substantial at the same time, Nick Malgieri’s pistachio-topped coconut meringues are chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. For the best results, bake them on a dry day: Humidity can make meringues disappointingly soft.
These delightful nut bars, inspired by a recipe from Ken Oringer’s mother-in-law, are both gooey and crisp. Oringer sometimes adds a pinch of curry powder to the caramel because, he says, “I like for people to bite into these and wonder what the spice is. I love that element of surprise.”
These marvelous Christmas cookies combine chocolate with spicy gingerbread. “I was tired of basic gingerbread,” says Matt Lewis. “And my connection to chocolate is really deep.” An added benefit of these cookies: The supple dough is very easy to work with, and the scraps can be rerolled and cut out.
Ganache-Stuffed Chocolate-Chip Cookies
A stuffed cookie is like a sandwich cookie, only with more cream on the inside—it’s fatter, fuller and (if you’re the kind of person who twists apart the cookies to get to the cream) better. Pastry chef Jessica Sullivan makes hers with nutty chocolate-chip cookies and silky chocolate ganache.
Ginger Sandwich Cookies
Nick Malgieri adds a puckery note to his gingersnap cookies by sandwiching them with a fresh lemon cream.
Cranberry and Orange Pavlovas
Pastry chef Wendy Boys unconventionally flavors this Australian dessert with vanilla and fresh oranges, and then—in another break from tradition—tops it with cranberries and mint.