Inventing a truly great cookie requires a kind of genius. Baking talent Nick Malgieri shares some of his best Christmas cookies with Food & Wine.

Nick Malgieri, director of baking at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education and author of nine cookbooks, is no-nonsense about cooking technique: “I like to eliminate the unnecessary. There’s just so much overcomplicating—it really doesn’t have to be that way.” His latest cookbook, The Modern Baker, reflects this philosophy, as do his streamlined recipes, such as spectacular gingersnap cookies sandwiched with lemon cream and airy, pistachio-topped coconut meringues, which require just 20 minutes of prep before they go into the oven.