Baking Christmas cookies has been one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season for as long as I can remember! (Probably since some time in elementary school when my mom started letting me use the oven, haha). I feel like every year, I try to challenge myself in some way to do better than the previous year. Usually, I am working on baking / decorating them up until the last possible minute before leaving the house for Christmas dinner.. but this year I finished FOUR whole days early! It's a Christmas miracle, LOL.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST COOKIE CUTTERS IN NYC / NJ
This year, I wanted to add some new cutters to my collection. I didn't leave myself enough time to order them online.. so I went on a bit of a cookie cutter hunt in NY. If you're in a bit of a Christmas crunch, but want to add to your collection - I hope this little list helps!
Sur La Table - they hands down have the BEST selection for the price. ($1.50 each) I got an awesome penguin from here. They have locations in both NJ and NYC.
New York Cake - COOKIE CUTTER JACKPOT. They have every cookie cutter you could ever possibly imagine. I bought 5-6 from here, I think! (reindeer, 2 snowmen, 2 ornaments). I think my only complaint is they were expensive at $2.99 each (although the online list price says $1.50 - in store, they were twice that).
Michaels or Joann's - they have your basics (gingerbread man, reindeer head, mitten, etc) at the best price point ($1). I bought a snowflake from Michaels. Michaels has locations in both NJ and NYC - Joann's is only in NJ (I think), but they more or less carry the same ones.
COOKIES ON THE MENU THIS YEAR
Classic Gingerbread Cookies w/ Royal Icing - I love my gingerbread chewy and usually take them out of the oven at 7-8 minutes and let them continue baking on the pan for 1-2 minutes. If you want them to be crispier, 9-10 would probably be better. Make sure the cutouts and baking sheet are cold before baking (the colder the better - and the cookies will hold their shapes better!) Our freezer is not very big (and is also jam packed) so sometimes I will pop them outside on the front porch, lol! Of course, this only works if you live somewhere colder. ;) As far as icing goes - I always mix my own! I am too cheap to buy premade in a million colors, haha. We didn't have milk - so I subbed in butter and water instead. Seemed to work just fine. If you're looking for a vegan version - maybe coconut oil could work? I used Ziploc bags for all my colors, and a cheap squeeze bottle for white. (You don't need anything fancy to make beautiful cookies!)
Chewy Sugar Cookies - If you are looking to cutout sugar cookies, this is not the recipe. They will spread too much (I tried) - but they make for excellent chewy sugar cookies (my personal preference!) I rolled mine in a variety of sprinkles to add some color to my Christmas cookie plate.
Olive Oil Peppermint Bark Brownie Cookies - This recipe does not actually include the peppermint bark part. I subbed in 3/4 cup peppermint bark chips and 3/4 cup mint chocolate chips in place for the 1 1/2 cups regular chocolate chips the recipe calls for. I also didn't sprinkle sea salt on top (I felt that might be a strange mix with the minty flavors) - but if I had stuck to the recipe, I totally would have kept the sea salt finish!
Chewy Chocolate Chip w/ Flake Sea Salt - My GO-TO chocolate chip recipe. Over the years, I have tried SO many.. but this one has never failed me. Be sure to chill the dough and roll into balls, then rip the balls in half as the recipe instructs - I think that's what creates the wonderful crinkle top and chewy texture! Instead of standard chips, I love to use Trader Joe's semi sweet chocolate chunks. After they come out of the oven, I immediately sprinkle a little bit of Maldon flake sea salt on top while they continue baking for 1-2 minutes on the pan. It's the most yummy and perfect combo of salty-sweet.
I'd love to hear.. what are you baking this year? Tell me in the comments below. :)
Until next year -- wishing you all the brightest, merriest Christmas / holiday season!