Spread some holiday cheer this year with a delicious Christmas treat box! Read for the best Christmas cookie recipe recommendations, and all tips for baking them!
What is a Christmas Treat Box?
Hi, friends!! WE ARE IN THE SAME WEEK AS CHRISTMAS! Woo hoo!! Can you feel the magic in the air? The anticipation of a wonderfully joyful day? There is a chance we'll even get snow on Christmas Day this year here in the Portland area! Okay, let me reign in the holiday excitement for a moment to tell you about this Christmas treat box.
My mom has been making packages of treats for friends and family for as long as I can remember. Her go-to's are homemade peanut brittle, chocolate peanut clusters (also known as "turtles" but I have not clue why) and chocolate toffee bark. I'd stand in the kitchen with her, stirring that peanut brittle until my arms hurt! Then we would wrap up all the treats and deliver them across town. And the best part was getting everyone else's treats that they shared from their homes too!
This year, I decided to embark on the journey of creating my own Christmas treat box. And let me tell you - it wasn't easy. I made all the recipes in a day and a half. Five recipes in total. FIVE! I barely slept that weekend! So while I believe that all the time and effort was totally worth the smiles of delight from everyone that received these cookie boxes, I do have some tips to make it easier. But first, let's dive into the recipes I followed for this festive and fun holiday treat box!
P.S. These cookies are perfect for leaving out for Santa on Christmas Eve night.
Recipes for a Christmas Treat Box
I made five different types of cookies for this Christmas treat box. However, you may notice that there are only four types of cookies in the photos. That's because my attempt at Linzer cookies didn't quite go according to plan... They had spread three times their size in the oven, combining into one giant, flat, crumbly butter cookie. So I decided to leave those out, for obvious reasons.
Lemon Snowflake Shortbread Cookies
For the snowflake cookies, I followed Eva's recipe for Lemon and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies on Adventure's in Cooking. It wasn't until I had frosted the very last snowflake cookie that I saw the unopened bag of pistachios on my kitchen counter. They still tasted absolutely delicious, with the zesty citrus of the lemon balanced by the buttery sugary goodness of the cookies and icing. So if you have a nut allergy, you can omit the pistachios and they'll still turn out great!
Candy Cane Cookies
Back in 2017, Jemma posted a lovely Christmas candy cane cookie video over on the Cupcake Jemma YouTube channel. These cookies do take a lot of time to make the dough, dye it and chill it. Then roll it and twist it into candy canes, chill it again, and then bake. But these are so fun to eat, and joyfully festive! I left out the peppermint extract since some folks in my family aren't fans of peppermint flavor (I know, weird, right?) Even without the peppermint, these cookies are buttery and delicious!
Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
These holiday cookies may have been my favorite recipe from the Christmas treat box this year! Sam shared this scrumptious recipe on her blog, Frosting and Fettucine, three years ago. And these double chocolate peppermint cookies are all you'll ever need to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth! Mine spread out a bit more than I had wanted, but they were still gooey, chewy and oh-so-good!
Hot Chocolate Macarons
Finally, I made hot chocolate macarons that Sarah shared just a few weeks ago on her blog, Broma Bakery. I decorated them with drizzles of leftover royal icing from the lemon shortbread cookies. If you do make these, I would suggest to let them dry fully before baking them. The recipe says you don't have to let them dry, but I tried that once with one of Sarah's other macarons recipes, and they came out of the oven completely cracked.
Tips for Creating a Christmas Treat Box
Now, I can honestly say that this wasn't nearly as nerve-racking as making my own wedding cake this past August. But with that said, there are definitely some ways to keep your holiday baking stress-free.
- Freeze cookie dough ahead of time
If you don't want to end the day with your feet sore as all heck from standing in the kitchen making all your treats at once, take advantage of your freezer. The double chocolate peppermint cookies bake from frozen anyways, to help maintain their chunky shape. Therefore, you could whip up cookie dough a week or more in advance, roll it into balls, and chuck it into the freezer until you're ready to bake!
- Keep your recipes simple
I'll admit, I was a bit ambitious with my choice of cookies this year. I mean, seriously: French macarons, AND shortbread cookies with royal icing piped by hand, AND candy cane cookies that require dyeing, shaping and twisting dough? It looks amazing, but it was so much effort! ðŸ˜†
The holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not alone with your stand mixer. I'd suggest to pick a few recipes that you love because they are delicious & simple. Maybe steer clear of cookies decorated with royal icing, since those take forever. Plus, everyone loves a good ol' chocolate chip cookie or a gingerbread cookie.
- Bake treats that stay fresh
After nearly a week, the lemon shortbread cookies were still as soft and tasty as ever! The double chocolate peppermint cookies didn't quite make it past the second day for a real freshness test... However, the macarons and the candy cane cookies started to get a bit crumbly and stale after about four days.
Great options to extend the life of your treat box would be biscotti, any kind of nut brittle, and crispy gingerbread cookies. This will allow you to spread out your baking. It'll also give you a few extra days to be able to deliver your Christmas treat boxes, with the recipients still getting deliciously fresh-tasting treats!
- Consider texture, flavor, color, shape and size contrasts
I chose these Christmas cookie recipes because they had a wide array of texture and flavor. No two cookies taste the same. And each cookie has a different size, adding beautiful variety to the cookie box. Using different cookie cutters also helps add variety to your holiday treat box as well.
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