Showing posts with label Christmas cookie recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas cookie recipes. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Kinder, Gentler Pfeffernüsse from Cleo Coyle

Like any recipe that's been around for several hundred years, there are countless variations of the German cookie pfeffernüsse (aka "pepper nuts"), and I've made several. Some bakers, for example, put finely chopped nuts into their "pepper nuts. Some don't. 
Cleo Coyle, baker of
a kinder, gentler
pfeffernüsse, and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Some bakers like to add a potent amount of black or white pepper into the cookie, giving them very peppery bite. Some add ground cloves. 

The version I'm sharing with you today is my favorite way to make it: soft on the inside but with a light crispness on the outside shell. No nuts to take away from the contrast of spicy, delicious gingerbread flavor with the sweet dusting of powdered sugar.

My version also takes a kinder, gentler approach to the spice aspect, using only a pinch of pepper and leaning more heavily on the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. (Allspice, I find, delivers that ground clove flavor at a much lower price.)

BTW: I've encountered people who are under the impression that allspice is a spice mix (like pumpkin pie spice). Not so. Allspice is actually a pea-sized berry that mimics the flavors of cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The berry comes from the evergreen pimiento tree, grown in South America and the West Indies, including Jamaica.

Cleo Coyle's Pfeffernüsse "Pepper Nuts"
German gingerbread snowball cookies

To get a free PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, just click here.


3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 pinches of ground white (or black) pepper 
¾ cup butter (1-1/2 sticks), softened
½ cup white, granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses, unsulphered (not blackstrap!)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered (confectioners' or icing) sugar (for double-dusting)

Yields: 4 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size

Mix the dough: Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg, molasses, and vanilla. Now gradually add in the dry flour mixture, blending just until the dough comes together. (Do not overwork this dough or you’ll produce gluten in the flour, which will toughen your cookies.)

Chill the dough: Form dough into a disc or ball. Wrap in plastic and allow to rest in refrigerator for two hours or overnight. (The resting allows the dough to hydrate and the flavors to develop for better tasting cookies.)

Bake the cookies: When ready to bake, break off small pieces of dough and roll into balls. I make mine a little less than 1-inch in diameter. If you prefer a softer cookie, roll balls larger. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, depending on oven and whether you’re using parchment or a silicon sheet. You’re looking for the cookies to bake up a nice, golden brown and crack slightly on the surface. For softer cookies, underbake them.

Cleo’s double dusting: While the cookies are still very warm, roll them in powdered sugar. The heat of each cookie will melt the sugar into a lovely, light crust of glaze. After the cookies have cooled a bit more, roll them a second time and you’ll have your final snowball dusting. These are the perfect treat to leave for Santa on a snowy Christmas Eve.

Storage tips: Make sure your cookies are completely cool before storing in an airtight container. When cookies are stored warm, condensation can occur, turning your treats soggy. Of course, you can always serve them warm and...

Eat with Joy to the World!

Merry Christmas,
  ~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, 
find out more about my books,
or sign up to win free coffee,
my *virtual* coffeehouse at...


Holiday Grind: 
A Coffeehouse Mystery,
a Top-9 national mystery
bestseller in hardcover
is now a Publishers
in paperback!

by Cleo Coyle

“Fun and gripping…”
 —The Huffington Post 

“Some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read. Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all.”
Mystery Scene

Just Released!

Congrats to Krista Davis
on the publication

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crinkle Cookies!

It's Crinkle Cookie Day! How I wish there were more time before Christmas. I would love to keep baking cookies and having more winners. My heartfelt thanks to each of you who entered the Christmas Cookie Contest. I've had a wonderful time, and I hope you've enjoyed it, too.

When I began, I didn't have any particular selection parameters. As the recipes rolled in, I realized that I started to look for variety in flavors. The most submitted cookie recipe by far was rolled or sliced sugar cookies. Decorated, undecorated, in colors, in logs, or to be cut out. With lemon extract, vanilla extract, almond extract. I have to say, they all sounded wonderful and some of the photographs were absolute show stoppers! This suggests to me that sugar cookies are what we usually think of when we think of Christmas cookies. For a while there, I was tempted to bake all the sugar cookie recipes! I realized, though, that we needed to cover all tastes, and found myself looking for more variety.

The second most popular cookie recipe was a wedding cookie type of recipe. They're obviously Christmas favorites! Surprisingly, I received only three bar cookie recipes, and two of those were almost identical! What are the odds of that?

No brownies, no lemon squares, no linzer cookies, no spritz cookies, no gingerbread cookies! I'm not quite sure what that means.

This contest has turned out to be terrific for me personally. Baking one batch (or two today!) of cookies a week isn't an overwhelming proposition. We still have over a week to go before Christmas, and I already have a fabulous selection of delicious cookies ready to be served! I would love to do this again next year. Maybe we can work it into some sort of challenge so that some of you will end up with a lot of terrific of cookies, too. I'm not quite sure how to work it yet, but I love the idea of a cookie a week. I sent out my winter newsletter this week and included links to the winning cookie recipes. One of my friends who will be coming for a visit emailed me right away to ask if there would be any left when she arrives! LOL!

I'm also tempted to ask Berkley to let me do another Christmas book featuring *your* recipes! Wouldn't that be fun?

On to this week's winners. Originally, I thought we would have five winners. I was so intrigued by both of these recipes that I made them both anyway so we have six winners! Curiously, they're made in almost exactly the same manner but the flavors are totally different.

Our first winner today is Elisa Varey for her Mocha Crinkles! Elisa grew up in Alexandria, near Old Town, where my protagonist, Sophie Winston lives. She was just there and says it's all decorated for Christmas!

Here's Elisa's recipe ~

*** I love the mocha crinkle cookies...

Mocha Crinkles

1 1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp instant espresso/ coffee granules
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Beat brown sugar & oil in medium bowl with electric mixer. Mix in sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.

Mix flour, cocoa, espresso, baking soda, salt and pepper in another medium bowl.

Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture and mix well. Refrigerate dough until firm to 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place powdered sugar in shallow bowl. Set aside.

Cut dough into 1 inch pieces. Roll into balls in powdered sugar.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 10-12 mins or until firm to touch.

Krista's take ~

When you walk into really great cafe, the aroma of coffee envelops you, and there's that undercurrent smell of freshly baked cookies. That's how these cookies smell when they're baking.

The dough mixed up very nicely. This is another easy Nina Reid Norwood recipe that anyone can tackle. One of the things I like about both of these recipes is that they have to be refrigerated. I made both in the evening and baked them in the morning. That means you can whip up the dough, stash it in the fridge and bake them later at your convenience.

They're rolled in powdered sugar and baked on an ungreased baking sheet. Very easy.

And then they come out of the oven all crinkled and smelling heavenly of coffee!

Our second winner this week is Laura Kramarsky for her Very Ginger Chocolate-Chip Cookies! I was intrigued by the combination of ginger with chocolate, and fascinated by the fact that the recipe uses crystallized ginger instead of powdered ginger.

Here's Laura's recipe ~

This is one of my favorites: very ginger chocolate-chip cookies.

Very Ginger Chocolate-Chip Cookies

½ cup crystallized ginger, chopped

¾ cup sugar, divided

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

¼ cup molasses

1 large egg

2 cups flour, all-purpose white

2 teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks or large chocolate chips

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°

In a food processor or blender, cut ginger into 1/3 cup sugar until ginger is finely ground. Pour from container and set aside.

Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar in mixer and beat until fluffy. Add ginger mixture, molasses (or cane syrup), and egg, continue beating to mix.

Mix flour, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture; beat to blend well.

Stir in chocolate chunks.
Cover dough and chill until firm to the touch, about one hour. (Dough may also be frozen into a sliceable log at this point.)

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and coat in remaining sugar. Place balls 2 to 3 inches apart in lined or non-stick baking sheets.

Bake in a 350° oven until slightly darker brown, 11 to 14 minutes total (if using 1 oven, switch pan positions after about 6 minutes). Transfer cookies to racks to cool. Serve, or store airtight up to 1 week; freeze to store longer.

Krista's take ~

If you love gingersnaps and chocolate, you'll adore these cookies! Grinding the ginger made all the difference. The flavor is evenly spread through the cookies.

The hardest part of this recipe was grinding the ginger. I started with the small bowl of my food processor. It broke the ginger down, but only into tiny balls. I had more luck with a mini food processor, but be prepared to let it run a bit. Except for that, this recipe falls into the anyone can do it, Nina Reid Norwood category. I do think you need some kind of electric food processor or a very good blender to grind the ginger so that it's fine.

Once again, this recipe called for rolling the dough into balls and then rolling them in sugar. Both recipes would be fabulous choices for little kids who want to help bake. The dough was nicely manageable and it's fun to roll it in sugar.

And the result is two very similar cookies that don't look alike or taste alike!

The cookies in the middle are Mocha Crinkles and the cookies around the edge are Very Ginger Chocolate-Chip Cookies. Congratulations to Elisa and Laura!

And now, can you believe it -- I have to bake three kinds of cookies that are favorites in my family!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

A warm welcome to delightful Betty Hechtman. Betty has a Christmas book out this year, YOU BETTER KNOT DIE. Isn't that the best title? It's also Betty's first hardback in her crocheting mystery series. Congratulations, Betty!

My original plan was to write about a recipe I considered, but didn’t include in You Better Knot Die, but when my family heard I was writing about food, which meant I’d be making what I wrote about, they talked me out of it. Instead, they thought I should write about making my giant chocolate chip cookie. They argued that it’s good for the holidays or really any day. They reminded me I have even stuck candles in it and made it into a birthday cake.

And then when I was shopping for chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s, my son showed me a container of mini peanut butter cups. Why not use those instead of chocolate chips? Hmm, milk chocolate and peanut butter. How could you go wrong?

My baking night finally arrived and at around 11 p.m., I was ready to start. I had the jelly roll pan buttered, the two sticks of butter were cut up in the bowl of my old (it’s avocado, if that’s any hint) Kitchenaide mixer. BTW, I love using it, instead of having to juggle things in one hand while holding a mixer in the other. But then I went to measure the sugar. White sugar, no problem. Brown sugar, the rock of Gibraltar. I tried chipping it with a spoon, which worked okay until I tasted it. Uck!

There’s nothing like a midnight trip to the grocery store. You get a weird crowd - except me, of course. On my way through the baking aisle, I passed an adult couple pushing one of those carts the store has for little kids. There were groceries in it, too. I kept seeing these two sixty-something guys with white hair. They were having a big discussion about ice cream. They ended up in front of me in line. They were buying a garish cake in the shape of a Santa Claus head and a quart of rum raisin ice cream. Visions of an upset stomach danced in my head.

Once I was home with the nice soft brown sugar, the mixing process went smoothly. I thought the mini peanut butter cups might be a little too rich, so instead of adding the whole 12 ounce container, I added half. (Traditional chocolate chip cookies call for 12 ounces of chocolate chips.)

Getting the batter in the jelly roll pan was no problem, but then it sat like a big mountain in the middle. I found the best way to spread out the batter was to lay a piece of wax paper over the whole baking pan and use my hands to push the batter all the way to the ends of pan.

The great part about making a giant cookie is that you just pop the pan in the oven. No endless in and out with cookie sheets. And you have the 20-25 minutes it takes to bake to clean up. I don’t know about anybody else, but I always end up with flour all over the place.

At last the moment of truth. I took the delicious smelling golden brown monster cookie out of the oven. I laid it on a rack to cool. But, hey, nobody in my house was going to leave it alone that long. We were on it, like white on rice. As fast as I could cut it into bars, they were disappearing. All agreed it was a yum, though my husband thought I used have used the whole 12 ounces of mini peanut butter cups. But then he likes everything really sweet.

I admit it, I had cookies for breakfast, but I don’t think they count because I went to the gym right afterwards.

The Recipe

2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into slices
3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
6-12 ounces of mini peanut butter cups (But if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, Nestles make a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter chips that would probably have a similar effect.)

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix the flour, salt and soda in a small bowl and gradually add to the butter, sugar, etc. mixture. Stir in the chopped nuts and mini peanut butter cups. Spread in a 15 inch X 10 inch jelly roll pan and bake in a oven preheated to 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until it’s golden brown. Cool the pan on a wire rack and cut into bars.

Betty Hechtman writes the national bestselling crochet mystery series. The latest release is You Better Knot Die. She lives in Southern California with her family and growing stash of yarn. For more information go to

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Crime Writers' Cookie Swap and Congrats to Krista Davis!

Release day is a huge one for any author and today  is that day for my fellow crime-writing cook Krista Davis! Congratulations, Krista!!!

THE DIVA COOKS A GOOSE is the 4th mystery in her award-nominated Domestic Diva culinary mystery series and this one has a very special holiday theme. If you haven't seen her book trailer yet, you're in for a treat.

Click the arrow in the window below to view the fun video. (Krista beautifully narrates it herself.)

You can find The Diva Cooks a Goose at all the major bookstores, your favorite Indie store, and online, too. Pick up two! One for your own stocking and one for a friend, who is sure to thank you for the introduction to this wonderful culinary mystery series...

Join me in congratulating Krista
on her Release Day for

Crime Writers'

Cleo Coyle, baker of
non-poisonous cookies
and author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
Because we have so many new blog followers and so many people getting ready for their own cookie swaps, I'm using today's post to share some favorite cookie recipes previously posted by my fellow crime-writing cooks.

Bake with joy,
and not with poisons!

~ Cleo

P.S. Do you have a favorite holiday cookie recipe (sans poisons)? Send it to Krista Davis! She's having a contest. If she bakes and posts your recipe, you'll win a fun prize (along with bragging rights!). Click here to learn more. Or send your recipe to Krista (at) KristaDavis (dot) com.

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookie

from author
Krista Davis

Click here for
Krista's recipe.

Candy Shortbread

from author
Riley Adams/
Elizabeth Spann Craig

Click here for
Riley's recipe.

Candy Cane Cookies

from author
Avery Aames

Click here for
Avery's recipe.


from author
Julie Hyzy 

Click here for
Julie's recipe.

The Hooligans’ Sugar Cookie Recipe

from author
Jenn McKinlay

Click here for
Jenn's recipe.

Below are a few of my own recipes.
Just click the links below to download them
in a free, PDF format.

Little Chocolate

Click here for
author Cleo Coyle's
free recipe PDF


Click here for
Cleo's free
recipe PDF

Eggnog Cookies
(2 ways)

Click here for
Cleo's free recipe PDF.

Bake with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Holiday Grind
Now a
Publishers Weekly

To get more of my
recipes, sign up to win free coffee, or find out
about the books in my Coffeehouse Mystery series, visit my virtual coffeehouse at...

Monday, November 22, 2010


And the winner of week two of Krista's Christmas Cookie Contest is . . .

Wait a minute. Hold everything. I haven't been here in an entire week.

Okay, I've been posting this everywhere, so a lot of you have probably seen it already. But, just in case there's still one person in the world who hasn't seen it -- here's the new book trailer for THE DIVA COOKS A GOOSE!

Don't forget that Cleo's HOLIDAY GRIND is available this year in paperback!

Cleo, congratulations on hitting #18 on the Barnes & Noble paperback bestseller list!

And now, back to Raggedy Anne Cookies. Our winner this week is Helena Georgette Mann, who sent a recipe using two ingredients that I love, but wouldn't have thought of combining -- maple and coconut.

Here's Helena's recipe ~

This cookie recipe comes from my mother. It is a tradition to have cookies with hot chocolate after decorating the Christmas tree. This is one of the three cookies we have. It's a dense cookie with the essence of maple, texture & taste of coconut & the sweetness of sugar. It's a delicious cookie!


1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1 large egg
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
granulated sugar

Beat together brown sugar, shortening, egg & maple flavoring until fluffy. Add flour, baking powder & salt; mix well. Stir in coconut. Drop by spoonfuls, 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Grease bottom of glass with shortening & dip in granulated sugar. Press cookies flat with glass. Reapply shortening to glass as needed & dip in sugar. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

Krista's take ~

On our difficulty scale of one to three, Raggedy Anne Cookies came in at less than a Nina Reid Norwood (a one). Anyone with a mixer and an oven can whip these cookies up. In fact, I think it took me twenty-five minutes from the time I pulled out the mixer to the time I pulled the first tray of baked cookies from the oven. These are great last minute cookies for those times when you need cookies fast.

The recipe says to drop by spoonfuls, but my dough was fairly thick, so I used my fingers to plop small rounded amounts onto the baking sheet.

I had to look for a glass with a flat bottom. Who knew so many of my glasses had concave bottoms? Greasing the glass, dipping it in sugar and flattening the cookies would be a wonderful job for little helpers. Don't twist when removing the glass, though, that makes it stick. Just lift straight up.

I thought the coconut might give these cookies a fuzzy look, sticking out at the edges, but it blended in very well. You can see a few of the slightly bigger pieces in the pictures.

The smell is heavenly! I found maple extract without any problem at all at my natural foods store. If you're a fan of maple, these are the cookies for you. They're also a great choice if you're making a lot of different kinds of cookies because they're not similar to anything else.

Thanks for sending me your recipe, Helena! Your tree trimming tradition is lovely and must be a lot of fun for the whole family.

If your recipe didn't win this week, don't worry. All recipes are still contenders. We have three weeks of recipes to go, so keep sending your favorite Christmas cookie recipes to Krista at KristaDavis dot com!

There's one popular cookie ingredient I haven't seen yet in any of the recipes . . .