I am swirling in a cloud of powdered-sugar dust, my hands covered with butter and sugar and eggs. Chopped walnuts and almonds and pecans command the scene. Powerful scents of orange zest, ground ginger, ground cloves, and Amaretto dominate the apartment. You get the idea. It’s cookie time!

I’m pleased with what I’ve done so far. My stand mixer has had a good workout. I tried to make 3 dozen “Holiday Snowballs,” but the batter gave me many more than that. You know what these cookies can do: pop one in your mouth and swoon at the rush of butteriness and chopped pecans, all coated in that snowy sugar. Then, reach for another one…

Determined to involve Amaretto in a cookie, I made slice-and-bake-style “Amaretti.” Mine were colored blond, due to my use of ground blanched almonds (rather than toasted almonds). These were lovely.Then, I bent the cookie rules and used phyllo dough to roll and bake pastry logs. The “Lusciously Nutty Holiday Logs,” were quite a surprising treat, filled with walnuts, sugar, and orange zest, then drizzled with melted chocolate. Wow.


Is it too much of a pain to use your rolling pin? I rolled the dough for the “Brown Sugar & Spice Cutout Cookies,” directly onto the baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Then, I cut the cookies and pulled away the excess dough, which I chilled, then rolled and cut again for another tray of cookies. The recipe permits the use of “mixed spice,” so I went ahead and sprinkled in some mahlab, a spice ground from sour-cherry seeds (thanks Sahadi’s!). My oddball cookie shapes include Christmas trees and menorahs and reindeer. In order to prove to myself that I could make a royal icing, I mixed egg white with powdered sugar and enough pomegranate juice to produce a faintly lavender icing, which I drizzled sloppily over the baked, cooled cookies. These cookies improve as they sit. Take a bite and smile, every time.

And now for a sugar cookie! To recover from the previous cookie-rolling exercise, I made the “No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies.” This recipe allowed me to hand-roll dough balls, then flatten them with the bottom of a glass.

I buttered the bottom of this glass first, then dipped it into colored sugar. What a brilliant way to coat your cookies with colorful sprinkles! These cookies do everything they should; they dazzle you with butter and stun you with a sugary punch.

Next, I made the “No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies,” as my curiosities have turned toward this “no-bake” phenomena: take ready-made ingredients, combine them (in a food processor), and never turn on the oven. Three ingredients! I rolled two logs in plastic wrap which I sprinkled generously with colored sprinkles, fit the logs into spare cardboard rolls from paper towels, and refrigerated them for a bit. Slice these and refrigerate until you want to serve them. These cookies cross the border into “candyland,” if you ask me.

Finally, I made the “Life-Changing Vegan Thumbprints” which are indeed revelatory. Imagine this: no eggs, no butter. Instead: almonds, oats, maple syrup. And then, you make a little dimple in each ball that you roll and fill it with a bit of jam. Any jam! Open your fridge and find all those half-full bottles. These are fun and delicious.