How Does the (Holiday) Cookie Crumble? Let Me Count the Ways

tasteofhome_octnov2010.jpgIf cookies are on your holiday dessert menu, then I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of ideas in everything from the season’s food and cooking magazines to magazines-turned-books, and yes, there’s even an app for that. The bad news: How will you ever be able to sift through them all?

Several magazines, such as Martha Stewart Living, Taste of Home and Taste of Home Holiday, have dedicated entire issues to festive cookies. For example, Martha’s all-cookie publication touts “101 recipes for the season.” Taste of Home Holiday adds another “78 best-ever holiday treats” to the list that’s expanding as quickly as your waistline could through trial and error.

Thankfully, other magazines whittled down those sugary sweet collections into more manageable bites. Eating Well magazine solicited reader favorites, then baked and taste-tested 60 recipes selected from the more than 300 submissions just to include the six best in its November/December issue.

Treats like Nana’s Creole Pecan Cake Bars, Sugarplum Biscotti (made with 100 percent whole grains), Citrus-Kissed Honey Buttons (just 59 calories each), Chocolate and Pecan Macaroons (gluten-free) and Pecan-Cinnamon Wafers made the cut in the magazine’s annual cookie contest.

In Taste of Home magazine‘s Holiday Cookies contest, only 12 of the batch (no word on how big) made it into print. Top prizes went to Extra-Special Cashew Crescents, Molasses Cookies With a Kick and German Chocolate Thumbprints. Many of the other inclusions were equally nutty or the typical dressed-up sugar cookie. But some different ideas made it in, like Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies, Cinnamon Chocolate Minties and Cuccidati (an Italian fig cookie).

And for readers still mourning the demise (or rather “rebranding”) of Gourmet magazine, does the once-revered epicurean authority have something for you. The recently released “The Gourmet Cookie Book” compiles the best cookie recipes from each year from 1941 to 2009. Even more intriguing (at least for buffs like me) is the history of the magazine that is revealed in the pages of this book, as well as the background of each recipe and why the editors chose each one to represent its particular year.

Its stunning artistic photography (which is very reminiscent of Bon Appétit magazine‘s visuals) makes each entry look good enough to eat, so I can’t wait to put these cookies–each billed as the “best of the year”–to the test.

It’s the 21st century, so wouldn’t you know there’d be an app for that? Who else but Martha Stewart would have her app to market just in time for the holidays? As if her all-cookie magazine issue (not to mention her own cookie book published in early 2008) weren’t enough, her handy “Martha Makes Cookies” app is designed for use in the kitchen with reference tools like utensils needed, shopping lists, technique tips for beginners and even a built-in timer.

It’s definitely a given you’ll find holiday cookie recipes, but how many depends on where you look.

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.