Some holiday recipes are meant to be put on consistent repeat. When the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen cooks shared these cookie recipes last year, everyone loved them—so much in fact that they’re already in cookie tin rotation this year. Belle English, Test Kitchen Director and general cookie obsessive, told us why these beautiful treats, many of which are twists on classic recipes you already know and adore, are so darn marvelous.
If you’re going to go through the (minor) trouble of frosting or glazing cookies, be sure it’s a crack recipe, ready fast, with easy application tips. What’s simpler than a (clean) paintbrush? These Vanilla Bean Watercolor Cookies are ready in less than an hour, and are perhaps the Platonic ideal of the vanilla sugar cookie. What puts them over the top? The tiniest bit of vodka in those gel food colorings helps the pretty stripes you paint on top adhere that much better, says Belle. Knowing the pattern will stick helps you have that much more fun during the decorating!
This is, of course, “an ode to the Linzer cookie,” says Belle. As much as she loves a fruit-forward linzer cookie, she says, “for some reason in the holidays I want something richer and chocolatier.” Enter: Hazelnut Linzer Cookies With Frangelico Ganache. Good grief; they’re the love child of your favorite Nutella-based sweet and a traditional jammy Linzer. You make a homemade ganache, which conjures the beloved chocolate-hazelnut spread while improving upon it. Says Belle, “It’s a very smooth mouthfeel.” Also of interest? A splash of Frangelico, a hazelnut-infused Italian liqueur Belle loves, which contributes a “sweet, nutty flavor.”
The meringue is, quite simply, “one of my favorite and, I think, underrated cookies,” says Belle. She brings the light, ephemeral treat to new life by adding the bells-are-ringing familiar flavor combo of peppermint and chocolate in these Peppermint and Cocoa Meringues. They’re as straightforward as they are stunning, requiring just 25 minutes of hands-on time, but such a unique twist on a meringue no one will think you bought a plastic clamshell at the grocery store. They are a delight.
Ready for the mic drop of the bunch? “I’ve made a trillion cookies in my life,” says Belle. “These are by far my favorite cookie I think I’ve ever made.” Yowza. “Imagine that a snickerdoodle, ginger molasses cookie and crinkle cookie came together and created Chai-Spiced Ginger Doodles,” she continues. The tender, wonderfully aromatic cookie infuses the whole house as it bakes; pair with tea nearly any time of day.
Got a licorice or fennel lover in the house? These Lemon-Anise Shortbread Wreaths keep things light, bright and unexpected thanks to a double dose of lemon juice. “It’s a play off my Italian grandmother’s Christmas cookies,” says Belle, who explains that lemon and anise are a classic flavor combo this time of year. Holiday-neutral, the wreaths are a more unusual cookie cutout. Flecks of green are easy enough to apply with a skewer or paintbrush. And they’re elegant; when was the last time a holiday cookie did that for you?