Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Christmas Cookie Time

I love Christmas cookies. There, I admitted it publicly. I'm sure I'm not the only one!

A couple of years ago, I put out a call for favorite Christmas cookie recipes to include in a book. The winning recipes are in THE DIVA WRAPS IT UP. One dozen recipes with heartfelt memories from my readers! Many of them shared warm, loving stories about the people who baked the cookies or gave them the recipes. One of the things that I heard consistently was "It's not Christmas until these cookies show up." What kind of cookie says Christmas to you?

I feel a little guilty for putting all those fabulous recipes in a Christmas book that was released in June because the contributors probably didn't receive the kudos they deserve. Once again, I would like to thank them all, and I hope some of their favorites become favorites at your house, too!

Ellen-Marie's Famous Pinwheels – Ellen-Marie Knehans            
Ann's Peanut Butter Balls – Michelle Melvin                             
Lucy's Pineapple Squares – Kathy Kaminski                                          
Whoopie Pies – Nancy Foust
Real Good (Unbaked) Cookies – Jeanne Schutts
Helen Lou's Drop Chocolate Cookies – Margaret F. Johnson
Scotcheroos – Jessica Faust
Holiday Tizzies – James Ashcraft
Holiday Nut Drops – Elaine Faber
Pizzelles – Roberta Daniels
Gingersnaps – Helena Georgette Mann
Forgotten Cookies – Kitty Free

Recently, the Pensey's Spices holiday catalog showed up. I noticed that my mom had it open to a specific page. Hmm, that was a hint. Every time I walked into her kitchen, there it was staring me in the face – Almond Butter Cookies. And then I noticed that almond extract showed up (most mysteriously) on my grocery list! Hmm, Santa at work already?

There was only one solution. Bake the cookies. They turned out great! The first batch (minus one cookie for the baker to try) went straight to my mom. The cookies are unbelievably buttery in a good way. If you're big on shortbread and and almond flavoring, you'll love these. While it's not unusual to roll cookies in sugar, I don't recall adding salt to the sugar before. It's a really nice touch! I used pink salt, but almost any fine salt would do.

This is a recipe that would be wonderful for a novice baker because it's very easy. In fact, I think kids would love to help roll the dough into balls and then roll them in the sugar and salt mixture. I think the only place you could go wrong here is overbeating the dough after adding the flour. The recipe specifies "do not overbeat" at that point.

One more great thing about these cookies. You can bake and serve them in less than an hour. Perfect for last minute guests or cookie needs.

Almond Butter Cookies
(From Pensey's Spices catalog. Recipe by Rikki Skopp.)

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 - 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( I used 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used pink salt)
2 cups flour

For Rolling
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup vanilla sugar)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (I used 1 teaspoon of pink salt)

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt and mix well. Add all the flour at one time. Mix on slow speed until it's just blended. Do not overmix!

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. 

Roll into 1-inch balls and then roll each one in the sugar/salt mixture. Place them on the baking sheet and use the bottom of a glass to flatten them slightly. (You'll learn after one or two how much to press down. If the cookies crack, that's too much. Cracked cookies will taste fine, but they're prettier uncracked.)

Bake 12 - 16 minutes or until very lightly brown around the bottom edge.

Don't overbeat after you add the flour.
Press with the bottom of a glass.

If you're a regular reader, you know that tomorrow is a big day around here! Three of us have books coming out!




To celebrate, I've been giving away dog bandanas and catnip toys. Leave a comment here today to enter to win one for your dog or cat! Please specify whether it's for a dog or cat so I can spread the love around!

In bookstores tomorrow!!!

In bookstores now!!!


  1. The almond butter cookies look amazing. Thank you for the recipe.

    My little dog would love a (pink - if possible) bandana!


    Thank you. :)

  2. Skittle would be happy to wear a bandana over his working vest (any color except pink) as he's all boy!

  3. Love these cookies; and I would love to win the bandana for my dog, Chooey! She's my favorite little rescue pup :)

  4. Our cats, Cosmo and Sammy would like a catnip toy....color not important.

  5. Your post made me giggle. My mom was here two weeks ago and left the Penzeys catalog opened to the Christmas Toffee Cookies. She is returning tomorrow and I plan to make some for her and give her a copy of the recipe!!! Our Boston Terrier, Jade, will be happy to share any dropped crumbs with her.

    1. Sharon, that's too funny! Our mothers are obviously cut from the same cloth! LOL!

  6. Hooray for all the new releases! And I'm a sucker for anything with almond extract, not to mention new cookie recipes. Can't have enough!

    No need to enter me in the giveaway--my cats would not enjoy a bandana, and there are already catnip toys scattered all over the house (they are most partial to the catnip bananas).

    1. Luck kitties!

      You'd like these cookies, Sheila. The almond flavoring is very strong.

  7. Me too on the almond extract--these look wonderful! We can eat them while we read the new books tomorrow! xox

    1. I have already put them in the freezer. They're too good. Shh, don't tell, but I (cough, cough) experimented this morning – turns out they're perfect after thawing at room temperature for about 45 minutes/1 hour. hey, I had to do it for you guys, right?

  8. Yum! Bring on the cookies! SO looking forward to the new books! My kitties would like a catnip toy.

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  9. Yes! Yummy cookies and brand new books.
    My cats love cat nips toys.

  10. Those cookies looks really really good. My doggies say I can put the kitties name in the hat this time and hope that they win a catnip toy.

  11. I'm making these cookies this afternoon! I love the titles of all of the new books coming out tomorrow, especially The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer! I would like to be considered for the contest. We have a 9 year old cat named Keeko. He is my daughter's therapy animal and he is defiantly a member of our family!

  12. My dogs would love a bandanna. Small dogs, a Maltese and a little mix. Love this yummy treats. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. The books sound wonderful. The contest is a delight. A cat gift is perfect. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  14. Those cookies sounds delicious. And the easier to make the quicker I will do it! I didn't realize THE DIVA WRAPS IT UP was half cookbook ;-), it has gone to the top of my to buy list.

    Pep would probably love a doggie bandana. I know I would love to see him in it. Thanks

  15. My Sunshine says she'd like a catnip mouse, any color is fine.

  16. My husband is going to have a field day with this cookie recipe. Thanks for sharing! A dog bandana would make my blue heeler Loki look ever so smart, and he has no preference on the color. :-)
    lokihokie09 (at)

  17. Sherry in Carrollton, TXDecember 1, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Mom & her cat, Sabrina, are at my house till after Christmas. Sabrina would love a cat toy of any color. My cat, Dusti, is trying to be friendly, but a cat toy for her might help!

  18. My favorite cookies (anytime of the year) are my Mom's. My favorite are her Thumbprint with her homemade Concord Grape jelly. She is more of a baking wiz than I am. She has her Pizzelles, Wands, Cresents, Lemon Knots and Strufolli. Luckily she bakes often so we don't have to wait for holidays for cookies.
    She always makes an extra batch of her Thumbprints to keep in my freezer for whenever I needed a fix.

    1. Wow! That's quite an array of cookies! What a great mom to keep your favorites in the freezer for you!

  19. I have cats. I'd like to win a cat toy. I don't think that I've heard of pink salt before! The cookies look good. I was just watching the Food Network a little while ago and they had the Barefoot Contessa on and she made Blondies and chocolate chip cookies. It was the same recipe for both items. That made me hungry for something sweet so I had to eat some mini Oreos. Then Guy Fieri was on and he was eating a roast beef sandwich. It reminded me of the subs I get at Subway. Yeah, I'm hungry and haven't eaten yet.

  20. Hi Krista! I'm so looking forward to reading The Diva Wraps It Up! I just love the many hours of pleasure I get from reading this series of yours. I asked all of my children and grandchildren what cookie I bake is their favorite. Now, I'm baking everyone's favorites for our Christmas eve get together. Such fun! Our dog Trouble would never wear a bandana, so, if I am lucky enough to win, I will choose a cat bandana for my daughter's kitty Peechew. sxygrndma48(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Thank you so much. You're very kind. And what a wonderful person to bake all their favorites!

  21. I am so proud to be a part of this book-and the fact that others may enjoy my grandmother's recipe. Mariusz wanted me to tell you that he'd love a catnip toy. He may even share with Licorice, Aleister, and Calumet.

    cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

  22. Hello, The cookies look great, but I am wondering if there is any type of leavening other than the salt. I don't have pets so I couldn't use one of the prizes.

    1. No, there isn't. You could try making them without the salt. I think they'll lose something in taste but I imagine they'll still hold together.

  23. I love new cookie recipes! This sound great! Congratulations on your new book release! I make toys for my animals every year for Christmas and whenever they need them! But thanks for the offer!

  24. Cookie recipe sounds simple enough. Zander would eat cookies but I think a bandana would be better.