For many of us, it's food that makes the holidays feel festive and familiar. And this year, when time with family and friends is limited, we're looking forward to bringing out the traditional recipes—and some new ones. We're sharing our favorite sweet treats here and would love to hear from you. Please share your favorite holiday cookie, cake or candy with us in the comments!
Looking for more inspiration? Christmas Cookie Swap! has over a hundred recipes, from the can't-beat-'em classics to new favorite flavors. Check out our Holiday Baking booklist for more recommendations.
Gloriane: This year I'm most excited to make gooey oatmeal carmelitas. This chocolate-studded cookie bar beloved by my in-laws will bring me happy memories of the annual gathering we're missing this year. As my toddler helps with these, I can tell him about his great-gramma, who would have loved snuggling with him by the Christmas tree.
Corina: Tamales reign supreme in every Mexican household, especially at Christmas, when relatives gather in assembly lines to make dozens of these labor-intensive bundles of joy. Dessert often plays second fiddle, but our family and friends look forward to my sister's polvorones, also known as Mexican wedding cookies, every year. No matter who tries to hide these tasty treats, the traces of powdered sugar are a clear giveaway. If you're in the mood for tamales, Mi Comida Latina has beautifully illustrated recipes for tamales, empanadas and another favorite cookie, alfajarones from Argentina. ¡Provecho—enjoy!
Cristina: As Corina mentioned, tamales are the star of the winter holiday celebrations in a Mexican household, but the sweets we enjoy are strong contenders. As soon as our Chicago weather gets cold, I look forward to my mom’s warm arroz con leche, rice pudding, and chocolate caliente, hot chocolate. The memories of watching her stir the chocolate caliente, and eagerly waiting for a sip, always bring me joy and comfort. If you’re looking for more Mexican sweets, My Sweet Mexico includes yummy recipes like chocoflan, flan WITH chocolate cake.
Kelly: As a child who was not a fan of chocolate and rejected anything too sweet, the cookie on my mother's Christmas cookie plate that I always gobbled up was the almond crescent. They are light, buttery and just a touch sweet, and they remain one of my favorites to this day. If you leave cookies out for Santa, be sure to include some, as I've been told they are a favorite!
Ashley: I'm not sure when this tradition started, but every year a few weeks before Christmas, my mom and I bake cookies together. This is one of the only times that I voluntarily bake things. There's usually gentle teasing about who's doing the most work and who's doing the most cleaning, and we might have to go and get a few ingredients in the middle of baking, but it's always a fun time. We usually keep it simple, with recipes from chocolate chip bags and oatmeal box tops, but we also throw in a few unexpected treats. One of our favorites is lemon thyme cookies, a recipe from the Chicago Defender. Even though a "healthy cookie" might sound like an oxymoron, these are really light and delicious.
Justin: I usually prefer savory over sweet, which is why I love these lemon, rosemary and olive oil sugar cookies. The hint of lemon adds brightness to the flavor, and the rosemary enhances the cookies’ warmth. Instead of using lemon-infused olive oil like the recipe suggests, I use regular olive oil and squeeze in fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon). With this addition, I only use one teaspoon of lemon zest. These cookies are especially delicious right out of the oven!
What holiday treats are you baking this year? Let us know in the comments!