Ask A Boston Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

Ask A Boston Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

The holiday season isn’t complete without a variety of cookies. From cookie swaps to dessert-filled buffet tables, ’tis the season to leave the diet behind and indulge on cookies galore. The following recipes include frosted butter cookies, peppermint pinwheels and cranberry, white chocolate and oatmeal cookies.

Chef Dustin Todd Rennells
Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE)
122 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 267-4430
www.bcae.org

Chef Dustin Todd Rennells is one of the best instructors at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), where he has taught classes for over six years. From Design Your Own Invitations to Bon Appetit: Following in Julia’s Footsteps, he can do it all from marketing and design, to cooking, decorating and baking. Founded in 1933, the BCAE is the first nonprofit adult education center in New England. It literally has a class for anything that interests Boston locals and visitors, especially around the holidays. Holiday-themed December classes include Holiday Wreath Making at Niche, Sugar & Spice: Holiday Cookie Workshop and there are even courses for making ornaments and holiday wines or beer. BCAE is definitely worth a visit to see Chef Dustin and take one of the many classes, but to enjoy his expertise, you can bake up a few batches of cookies using his recipes at home, listed below!

Mrs. Santa Claus’s Very Own Buttery Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 t vanilla
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Cream together butter, sugar and egg. Add in vanilla and lemon zest. Add in salt and baking powder. Gradually add in flour, half a cup at a time. The dough will be very stiff.
  2. Chill for two hours or more.
  3. Roll out on flat surface, be careful of adding too much flour when rolling so the dough stays lightly sweet and not dull and floury.
  4. Roll the dough quite thick at least 3/8 of an inch. The cookies do not rise up while cooking, and you want a nice, thick and rich buttery cookie.
  5. Using cookie cutters, cut desired shapes. Add shapes to cookie sheet. Only add the same shape or similar sized shapes to the same cookie sheet so that they bake evenly. Do not put a tiny star next to a large snowman on the same sheet, the star would burn. Bake 8 minutes at 400 degrees F exactly (if your oven runs hot or cold, adjust accordingly). Edges should have no color, but the bottom will be just barely brown.  Cookie will remain mostly off white. Verge on undercooked because they harden as they dry.
  6. Transfer to a cooling rack or to a parchment-lined countertop to cool for 1 hour.
  7. Stack in a sealed container until ready to frost.
  8. For frosting, simply beat the items (below) in a mixer in the order listed. You want the frosting very thick so that it holds up if the cookies are stacked. You must let the frosting cool for 1-2 hours before stacking. Do not refrigerate the frosted cookies. They should remain at room temperature in an air-tight container.

Dustin’s Decorating Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 c Crisco
  • 1 small bag powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 6-12 T milk

Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/3 cups butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t peppermint extract
  • 1 drop red food coloring, or as needed

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a bowl.
  2. Resift again into another bowl.
  3. Beat the butter with the brown and white sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs until smooth.
  5. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until evenly blended.
  6. Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two equal parts. Place one half in a second bowl.
  7. Add red food coloring and peppermint extract to the dough in one bowl, and the vanilla extract to the dough in the other bowl.
  8. Use a fork or wooden spoon to blend the food coloring and extract into the dough until evenly blended.
  9. Add additional drops of food coloring to make the desired shade.
  10. Roll out the red dough to 1/4-inch (5mm) thickness. Roll out the green dough to 1/4-inch (5mm) thickness, and place on top of the red dough.
  11. Beginning on one edge, roll the doughs to make a log so the two colors spiral inside each other.
  12. Wrap the log in waxed paper, then in a cotton towel, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  13. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  14. Unwrap the dough log, and place on a clean, lightly floured surface.
  15. Slice the log into rounds 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick, and place on prepared baking sheets.
  16. Bake in preheated oven until set, 5 to 6 minutes.
  17. Watch carefully to prevent edges from browning.
  18. Remove and cool!

Related: Things To Do In Boston On Christmas Day

Cranberry/White Chocolate and Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • 3 cup flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 12 oz Craisins, dried cranberries
  • 1 1/3 cup white chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar and eggs. Add in salt and baking soda. Add in oatmeal. Add in flour.
  3. Use a spatula to add in Craisins and white chocolate chunks.
  4. Drop cookies onto cookie sheet
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes

Related: Boston Area’s Best Christmas Tree Cutting Experiences

Michelle Levine is a creative energetic, young professional that is passionate about everything Boston has to offer. She loves to attend local events, dine out, and cook and wants to share her findings with you. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.