Building the ideal holiday cookie tin is not unlike making a recipe: it’s equal parts art and science. The key is to have balanced flavors, colors and textures, use fresh cookies, and arrange them just so, so nothing breaks while in transit. (Note: If your tin is too big or deep for the number of cookies you want to place it in, we suggest lining the bottom with crinkled sheets of tissue paper or filler.) Most importantly, though, it’s key to have a varied assortment of holiday cookie favorites. Here are a few of our unofficial cookie tin rules.
COOKIE TIN RULES
- It’s all about texture. Avoid any gooey bars or sticky frostings that could cause a mess, and choose a mix of delicate butter-based cookies, crunchy biscotti, and thick, chewy squares or bars. Bonus crunch points for items like twice-baked biscotti or light and airy meringues.
- Thou must have at least one jammy cookie. Whether it’s a linzer cookie, a thumbprint, or something else, a jam-filled baked treat is essential, since it brings a pop of color and a uniquely chewy fruitiness to a tin that otherwise focuses on sugar and spice. To add even more color, add festive flourishes like red and white twine and holiday-themed cupcake liners. Stack or bundle the cookies together, tie in knots or arrange in the liners.
- Something with nuts, please! Whether you’re all about the buttery pecan or the sweet pistachio, nuts add richness and flavor, not to mention a delicately crunchy and varied texture.
- Bring on the chocolate. Dessert wouldn’t be what it is without this single ingredient, so don’t even think about leaving it out of your holiday cookie lineup! From thick, chewy brownies to mocha sandwich cookies, your chocolate options are virtually endless.
- Powdered sugar adds pizzazz. What could be more fitting during “let it snow” season than a cookie showered with a generous sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar? Try Mexican wedding cookies, Russian teacakes or mocha sandwich cookies.
- Don’t forget the gingerbread! It wouldn’t be the holidays without some sort of gingerbread, and all of its flavors that represent the season: ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg.
Re-create our cookie tin with these recipes:
- Mexican Wedding Cookies: These crumbly, buttery cookies are filled with ground almonds and rolled in powdered sugar after baking.
- Blackberry-Pecan Thumbprints: When these pecan cookies are baked, the jam becomes firm and chewy and the nuts turn toasty — feel free to substitute your favorite flavor of jam.
- Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Biscotti: Chocolate and cherries are a great combination, and these biscotti are perfect for a tin; they taste even better a day or two after they’re baked.
- Crunchy Toffee Triangles: Chewy and moist on the inside, these indulgent bars get crunch from toffee pieces mixed into the dough and a generous sprinkling of almonds on top.
- Crisp Chocolate Bites: These extra chocolaty cookies are easy to make, and a topping of powdered sugar makes a pretty presentation.
- Gingerbread Cookies: These traditional cookies are a must for any holiday cookie tin, full of warm spices and decorated with personal touches.
- Hazelnut Biscotti: These crisp, delicious biscotti are dotted with toasted hazelnuts. Make miniature version to fit better inside your tin.