We are all about cookies this season, from our Cookie Central guide to the Cookie of the Day on Taste. Every Saturday until Christmas, we’ll be talking to some top cookie experts for the inside scoop, sharing their best cookie tips and go-to recipes for the holidays. Read on!
Today, we’re featuring Christina Tosi, chef, owner and founder of Momofuku Milk Bar, one of the country’s best (and most fun!) bakeries. This James Beard award-winning baker is known for her creative spin on home-style desserts — think cereal milk ice cream, compost cookies and crack pie — all using locally sourced dairy and the best quality ingredients. We like her cookies so much, we’re selling the mixes! Here, Christina answers all of our burning cookie questions and shares a favorite holiday recipe.
What are some of your favorite holiday baking traditions?
- Baking the night before a holiday or the morning of, with a cheesy holiday-themed playlist playing LOUD!
- Making platters of cookies and giving them away as gifts (I like to pack them into a sweet cookie tin)
- Hosting a Holiday Cookie Swap (we have one EVERY year at Milk Bar). Each person bakes and brings their favorite holiday cookie, then swaps cookies with one another. You leave with such an amazing sense of community, take on a holiday cookie and assortment of sweets!
What flavors are best for baking this time of year?
I’m a big fan of peppermint and ginger (separately). They’re warming and soothing flavors with a little bit of bite! I reserve them for use in my kitchen ONLY during the holiday season.
Let’s talk cookies. What are your top 3 tips for making the best batch every time?
- Unsalted European Style Butter. Good butter makes every batch of cookies the BEST batch of cookies.
- Keep it simple. If you ask me, the best holiday cookies are the simplest recipes. You don’t need a kooky, out-of-the-ordinary recipe to impress. Classic is just as classy and usually best received.
- New sheet pans! Something tells me most people out there are like my mother and desperately need an upgrade in the baking sheet department. A quality stainless baking sheet (or sheet pan) will distribute heat evenly, allow for easy release and ensure the most consistent, even bake — crucial to a great batch of cookies.
Any creative cookie decorating ideas?
In the decorating department, I’m a minimalist — less is more. But if you’re going to go for more, really go for it!
When it comes to holiday cookies, do you stick to tradition or go experimental?
I stick to tradition! My classic family recipes for holiday cookies will always reign supreme in my kitchen this time of year (sugar cookie bars, cut-out cookies and spiced nuts)!
What new or unexpected ingredients do you recommend people try baking cookies with?
I’ve been getting into different flavored glazes this season. Champagne and confectioners’ sugar makes a great cookie glaze. Ginger glaze, lemon glaze. Start with a flavored liquid, add 10x confectioners’ sugar until you reach the desired consistency, then add some zest, spice or a pinch of salt if needed.
Have you had any memorable cookie-baking disasters?
The only real disasters happen when I eat too much of the dough and don’t have enough to bake off and give away! Note: ALWAYS make a double batch– there’s no such things as TOO many cookies.
What’s in your ideal holiday cookie tin?
Cut-out cookies and gingersnaps. (I like a crisp, classic cookie this time of year!)
What fun presentation/wrapping ideas have you seen or tried for gifting cookies?
I love buying white cookie tins and writing the recipe on the tin’s lid. it’s a cute way to give a gift inside of a gift and inspire the tin to be used and given to another and so on. Cookie recipes are meant to be shared in every which way!
Cut Out Cookies
1 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dusting
- In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, cream butter and light brown sugar on medium high for 2 minutes until well incorporated. Add all purpose flour and kosher salt and mix on low speed until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Flatten dough into 2 evenly shaped pancakes. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Once chilled, remove dough from refrigerator, dust with a sprinkling of the additional all purpose flour and roll out to ¼” thickness with a rolling pin or the base of a Champagne bottle!
- Cut out desired shapes, gently transfer shapes to a lined or nonstick baking sheet. (Work quickly! The colder the dough, the easier it is to cut, transfer and bake!)
- Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Frost with Champagne Glaze (recipe follows) and decorate with sprinkles!
- Share and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge, freezer or room temperature .
- If you have rolling pin anxiety, roll the dough into 2 separate logs, whatever size diameter your preferred cookie cutter is, cover and refrigerate the logs for an hour or more, slice rounds ¼” thick and proceed from step 4 on!
- If you don’t have cookie cutters, roll the dough into 2 separate logs, approx. 2” in diameter, cover and refrigerate the logs for an hour or more, slice rounds ¼” thick, arrange on lined or nonstick baking sheet and proceed from step 5 on!
- Lightly dust an offset spatula to make cookies easy to transfer from counter to baking sheet before baked!
- Make and bake these cookies ahead! Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month before icing, decorating or giving away!
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup Champagne (Brut or Rose — I’m loving Chandon Blanc de Noir)
Food coloring, as desired
- In a medium size bowl with a whisk, slowly whisk champagne into Confectioner’s sugar.
- Color icing, as desired.
TIP: I LOVE using this glaze on sugar cookies for that extra holiday cheer! BUT it also makes a killer pound cake, muffin and layer cake glaze!