The Easiest Cookies to Bring to a Holiday Cookie Exchange
Check "find cookie recipe" off your mile-long to-do list: These treats are all a breeze to make, require few ingredients and travel well.
The 5-Ingredient Throwback
French macarons may be getting a lot of love lately, but old-school macaroons are a classic in their own right. They have a slightly tropical feel (they're mainly coconut, after all), call for common ingredients (and only five of them, at that) and just so happen to be gluten-free. This recipe from Dan Cohen, founder of New York's Danny Macaroons
, deserves to be in every baker's repertoire.
Get the recipe: Original Vanilla Macaroons
Photo: Copyright © Linda Pugliese
A New Holiday Classic You Decorate in 10 Seconds
These sweet treats from Heather Bertinetti's book Bake It, Don't Fake It!
resemble mini snowballs, in that they're dusted in powdered sugar (which, incidentally, is the easiest decorating trick ever). But the taste is totally new, thanks to dulce de leche (which you can find at most supermarkets, as well as specialty stores such as Williams-Sonoma
) in the batter. The rest of the ingredients—butter, confectioners' sugar, flour, vanilla and salt—are probably already in your kitchen.
Get the recipe: Dulce de Leche Powder Puff Cookies
The Cookies with a Decoration That Requires No Actual Decorating
Snickerdoodle dough is similar to sugar-cookie dough: standard baking ingredients plus butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. What makes these cookies special is a quick roll in cinnamon sugar before baking: It crinkles on the surface of the cookies in the oven and gives them a light spice. No additional sprucing up necessary.
Get the recipe: Snickerdoodles
The 11th-Hour, Nutella-Flavored Lifeline
Bar cookies are a great last-minute dessert for a party, since they involve just one pan and can be sliced as large or small as you need. The active work time to make the filling for these squares—made of chocolate, chocolate-hazelnut spread and cereal flakes—is about three minutes.
Get the recipe: Hip-to-Be Squares
The Make-Way-Ahead Chocolate Chip Cookies
You can make the dough for these ultrasoft-and-chewy cookies in advance, and then bake them the day of your event. Portion spoonfuls onto trays, freeze, and then move each frozen ball into an airtight container. Frozen cookies can go straight into the oven; they'll just need a few extra minutes to bake.
Get the recipe: Chubby Tates
The Speedy Marzipan
The ingredient list for these sweet, nutty treats could not be shorter: almond paste, powdered sugar, corn syrup and pecans (as an alternative, you could use almonds, whole or slivered). Bonus: There's no oven necessary. Double bonus: They're extra sturdy, so don't worry about piling up the cookies in a big container.
Get the recipe: Marzipan Marbles
The Sneaky, Clean-Out-the-Pantry Cookie
No one has to know that the broken pretzel pieces poking out of these salty-sweet cookies were actually salvaged from a half-finished bag in your pantry. In this endlessly adaptable recipe, you can use whatever salted snacks you have on hand (potato chips, Fritos, etc.) to complement basic sugar-cookie dough for a delicious treat.
Get the recipe: Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Cookies
Photo: Immaculate Baking Company
The Really, Really Good Cheat
We're pretty sure anyone who's ever had to hold down a full-time job and bring something to a holiday cookie exchange has considered making treats from a boxed mix or refrigerated dough. (Not that we have any experience whatsoever doing this.) Immaculate Baking Company
has three seasonal varieties, available at Whole Foods Market: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Dough, Ginger Spice Cookie Dough and Chocolate Peppermint Cookie Dough; while Betty Crocker
has a new Snickerdoodle mix this year.
Next: Holiday pies anyone can bake