As I have said over and over and over: I love cookies. I love cookie platters. I love holidays, which are the perfect excuse to make a cookie platter.
A cookie platter should be a reflection of you: your personality, your time and expense and effort. Look, cookie recipes are a dime-a-dozen, so you want yours to reflect your heritage, your homeland, your family traditions or your favorite flavors. Time spent making your platter should be filled with nostalgia and warmth and familiar remembrances you only have time to think of when you are elbow deep in flour or licking the spoon.
Here are several recipes for our favorite platter cookies, plus links to others we love.
* If you don’t plan to frost these cookies, which have just the slightest crisp exterior and tender interior, then sprinkle with a little sea salt before baking.
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ts baking soda
- 1 ts cinnamon
- ¼ ts nutmeg
- ¼ ts salt
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 2 ts vanilla or almond extract
- Mix dry ingredients together. Set aside.
- Cream sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add egg and vanilla; mix well.
- Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed.
- Refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight until firm.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Roll out dough on lightly floured surface* to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into shapes with favorite cookie cutters.
- Place on parchment lined, light-colored baking sheets.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until firm but not colored.
- Cool slightly then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Frost or not. So delicious!!
Chocolatey & Nutty Thumbprint Cookies
- ¾ cup pecans, plus 4 TB lightly roasted
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ ts baking powder
- ½ ts baking soda
- ½ ts salt
- 2 ts Korintje cinnamon (see recipe, the amount is divided)
- ¼ ts nutmeg
- ½ ts ginger
- 3/4 cup super fine sugar
- 1 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 1 large egg
- 2 ts vanilla extract
- 2 ts almond extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 4 TB butter
- Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F.
- Pulse nuts in a food processor until ground. Add dry ingredients plus 1 ts cinnamon and pulse to thoroughly mix.
- Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, at least 2 minutes. Add egg, beat to combine. Add extracts, beat to combine.
- Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients, and beat until just combined
- Combine sugar, remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a small bowl.
- Form 2 inch balls of dough. Roll the balls in the sugar.
- Leave about 2 inches between each ball on the sheet. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until puffed and set but still moist, 10-12 minutes.
- Immediately make an indentation in the center of each cookie with the small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a rounded 1-tsp. measuring spoon.
- If you want your thumbprint to be a simple nut, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, place a small dollop into the thumbprint, place a roasted pecan into the indentation, then let the cookies cool. Alternatively, you could use a Hershey kiss and garnish with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt and finely minced candied ginger.
- Transfer cookies on parchment to wire racks and let cool completely.
- If you want to fill the thumbprint, while the cookies are baking, finely chop the remaining 2 Tb pecans and set aside.
- Heat chocolate and remaining 4 TB butter in a small bowl over steaming water or in the microwave until melted.
- Transfer chocolate mixture to a small re-sealable plastic bag and snip a 1/4″ hole in one corner.
- Pipe chocolate into cookie thumbprints.
- Immediately sprinkle chocolate with reserved nuts. Let cookies stand until chocolate sets and the cookies cool.
from Bon Appetite Magazine, December 2003
- 2 cups cups pine nuts, divided
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1/3 cup (packed) almond paste* crumbled
- Grated lemon peel from one organic lemon
- 1 ts vanilla extract
- 1 ts almond extract
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- Pulse 3/4 cup pine nuts and next 4 ingredients in processor until crumbly mixture forms.
- Transfer mixture to large bowl; add egg whites. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture is smooth.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in small bowl to blend. Add to pine nut mixture; beat until smooth (dough will be soft and sticky).
- Place remaining 3/4 cup pine nuts in shallow bowl. Spoon a ball of dough, shaping it into a round cookie. Roll the top of the cookie in the pine nuts. Yes, the dough is sticky. Yes, you can lick your fingers when you are done.
- Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet, pine nut side up. Smooth edges of dough to form even round. Repeat with remaining dough, flouring fingertips as needed to prevent sticking and spacing cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake cookies 1 baking sheet at a time until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, transfer to plate, and serve. (Cookies can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)
*Almond paste is available at specialty foods stores and in the baking-products section of most supermarkets.
I’ve mentioned my friend Frances Vavloukis before on this site and in my newspaper columns. She is just a force of nature. Not only is she a stunning (literally–meaning physically– and figuratively–meaning skilled) cook, but she is also an amazing baker. Essentially, she is the entire box of chocolates. I am a mere brownie next to her perfectly formed petit four. This recipe is from her father’s sister, Marianthe Costakis!
“Marianthe sponsored my father to come to the United States from Greece in 1955. When my mother died, my sister Katherine and I were 9 years old. Thea Marianthe was our go-to person on how to cook and to make authentic Greek pastries. Before she died, at the age of 92, she contributed this recipe to the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Philoptochos Society Woman’s Organization and I still use it today”.
- 1 lb. sweet butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 TB brandy (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 4-5 cups flour, sifted
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 packaged powdered sugar
- Cream butter. Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy
- Add egg yolk and beat thoroughly. Add vanilla and walnuts (if using)
- Add flour, a little at a time, until dough is soft and pliable.
- Form into little crescents or balls.
- Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1” apart
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned
- Spread newspaper or brown paper on the counter top. Cover the paper with waxed paper. Spread a little powdered sugar over the surface.
- Remove cookies from oven and immediately move to the wax paper. Immediately sift powdered sugar over until each cookie is covered completely
- Let cookies cool completely.
- Serve in cupcake papers
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, spooned in and leveled
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted, spooned in and leveled
- 1 ts vanilla or almond extract
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts, pistachios, pecans or pine nuts
- Position the shelves in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, several minutes.
- Add ¾ cup sugar, just a little at a time, allowing each addition to by fully combined before adding more, then continue to mix for several minutes until very light in color.
- Turn the stand mixer to “stir” or use a wooden spoon to add the flour in three additions, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Do not over mix.
- Divide the dough into 1 or so inch inch balls. Roll each ball into 2 inch logs, tapering the ends then forming a crescent and place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them, because the time always seems to vary for me, depending on weather, ingredients, etc. About halfway through baking time, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back to ensure even baking. The Kurabia are done with the bottoms of the cookies barely show signs of browning.
- Remove cookies from the oven and let rest on the sheets for 1-2 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the cookies to a wire rack, but don’t touch. They are very fragile when hot. Cool completely then air dry for about an hour.
- Roll the cookies in the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar, coating heavily. Let the sugar settle before storing. These freeze nicely.
from Sunset Magazine
- 3 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 6 cups flour (see Tips for Success, above)
- About 1 3/4 lbs. powdered sugar, divided
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract (yes, that’s 2 tbsp. and not 2 tsp.)
- 3 cups (6 sticks) butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 300°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Beat butter, vanilla, and 1 cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until creamy, well-blended, and fluffy.
- Add flour 2 cups at a time, beating on low speed, then on medium speed after each addition until well-blended, stopping occasionally to scrape inside of bowl. Add nuts and beat on low speed until blended. Stir by hand a few times to be sure dough is evenly blended.
- Roll even 1-in. balls of dough in your hands and space 1 in. apart on lined baking sheets.
- Bake until dough is pale golden on top and golden on the underside, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Gently toss warm cookies a few at a time in a bowl of powdered sugar (the sugar will melt and form a coating), then set on wire racks to cool completely. Repeat to make more cookies.
- Gently toss cookies in powdered sugar again to coat generously. Store airtight up to 1 week, or freeze.
Burano’s Sugar Cookies
These very special Italian cookies remind me of Venice in particular and Italy in general, where they are quite famous and popular. This recipe is by Marcel Hazan from her wonderful book Marcella Cucina (1997, p.433)
- ½ lb. butter (2 sticks), room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Grated peel of 1 lemon
- ½ ts vanilla
- 5 egg yolks
- 4 ½ cups flour
- 2 TB milk
- Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and run the blade until they come together. You will have to scrape down the bowl a couple of times.
- Transfer to a tightly sealed container and chill for 2 hours
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Smear the bottom of a pan with butter, sprinkle with flour, being sure to tap off any excess flour
- Sprinkle flour on a work surface. Take a piece of cookie dough about the size of a jumbo egg and roll it on the counter into a cylinder about 8 inches long and 1 inch thick. Curl it into a circle, overlapping the two ends. Place it on the baking pan. Do this for all the dough, spacing about 2 inches apart on the pan.
- Bake in the upper middle level of the oven for 10-15 minutes until they become a very light gold. They will keep in a tightly closed biscuit tin for 2-3 months.
In college I had a dear friend, Hanaan, who held a Moroccan passport and strong ties to Saudi Arabia. She said her parents had died…she was all alone. She was not what I expected a Moroccan ward of the state to be, in that she was incredibly sexy, smoked like a fiend, danced like she learned from Salome herself and cursed like a proper sailor. Eventually, she found a boyfriend– nasty creature, I must say, and nearly instantly her partying days were over. After graduation I visited her one day, where she seemed nearly shackled to her apartment. I never heard from her again. I make these cookies when I want to remember my friend, who took this small town girl and turned me into a proper collegiate party animal.
- 3 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds
- 1/4 cup golden unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, currants, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or any combination of the above, soaked in warm water until plump and then drained
- 1/2 cup almonds, walnuts or pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup orange flower water
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk)
- Mix together 3 1/2 cups of flour with the sugar, salt, baking powder, sesame and anise seeds. Stir in the raisins and almonds.
- Add the eggs, oil, butter, orange flower water and vanilla and mix well to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add up to an additional 1/2 cup flour only if you need it to make the dough manageable.
- Divide the dough into large balls about the size of baseballs. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls of dough back and forth to form smooth logs about the diameter of a banana. Place the logs about two inches apart on the greased baking sheet.
- Brush the logs with the egg wash, and pierce the logs with a fork in several places to let steam escape. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the logs barely begin to take on a pale golden color.
- Carefully transfer the logs to a rack to cool. Cover with a towel, and leave until the next day or at least 10 to 12 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices (a long serrated knife works best). Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheets, and bake in batches for 15 to 20 minutes, until medium golden brown. Remove the cookies to a rack to cool.
- Store fekkas in an airtight plastic container for up to a month. They will keep well in the freezer for several months.