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Take inspiration from sweet holiday traditions around the world and whip up a batch of Italian, German, Mexican or other international holiday cookies. Put on your sweatpants, turn up the holiday tunes, preheat the oven and transform your kitchen into the United Cookies headquarters. Best of all, most of these recipes make for a great baking project with the kids. They’re also lovely to give as gifts, to bring to a cookie exchange or (most likely) to polish off at home. Let’s start baking!

Alfajores (Latin American Coconut Cookies)

Natalie Levin of Israeli baking blog Lil’ Cookie

Alfajores are my favourite cookies in the world! I love how the cookies melt in your mouth and have the perfect texture, with dulce de leche inside and coconut on the sides. They are best made a day or two ahead, in order for the cookies to soften a bit from the filling. This way the cookies get the most melt-in-your-mouth texture. Also, you can fill them with any other filling you like.”

Get the recipe here.

Austrian Linzer Cookies

Kiki Johnson, professional recipe developer, food photographer and voice behind bilingual food blog Cinnamon & Coriander

“Each year I start my Christmas baking with the famous Austrian Linzer cookies. One reason is that they are rather fiddly and require patience and a steady hand – nothing you want to do once the holiday stress has started to kick in! But there’s another reason to start with these early: they need a certain time to rest and I REALLY recommend you let the Linzer cookies sit in cookie tins for at least a week before you enjoy them. They will become softer, more melt-in-your-mouth and develop their wonderful flavour after some time.

“In my recipe, I’ve enriched the buttery dough with ground hazelnuts and almonds, and flavoured it with a mix of Christmas spices. Remember to roast your nuts before you grind them! Another trick that I’ve learned over the years is to mix the jam with some booze. I like to use pear or plum schnapps, rum or raspberry liqueur. It makes the jam filling more spreadable and helps to keep the cookies moist from the inside!”

Get the recipe here.

Besitos De Coco

Stacy Rushton, author and photographer behind Food Lust People Love

Besitos de coco, or coconut kisses, are little bite-sized cookies that are popular in Venezuela and other South American countries, especially around Christmastime. Besitos are chewy and sweet, best baked ‘til just golden. Add a little rum, too, and a drizzle of chocolate because, after all, it’s the holidays!”

Get the recipe here.

Biscochitos

Allison Ruth, New Mexico-based author of cooking and book blog Some The Wiser

Biscochitos are New Mexico’s best-kept secret. Developed over the centuries since the first Spanish Colonists arrived in New Mexico, these traditional cookies have become a favourite holiday treat in the Southwest. They’re most commonly served at Christmas, but they often make appearances throughout the year at weddings and other special celebrations. They’re one of the best examples of the unique food traditions here in New Mexico, with its blend of Spanish, Native American and Mexican-American culture.

“While they are similar in texture to shortbread cookies, it’s a particular blend of spices that makes biscochitos so delicious. Flavoured with crushed anise, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus, these crispy, buttery cookies pack a huge flavour punch. Traditionally, the cookies are made with lard, which gives them their flaky texture. However, in a pinch you can use vegetable shortening.

“Serve them after a meal with a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa, and enjoy a delicious New Mexican treat!”

Get the recipe here.

Cacao Benne Cookies

Sanura Weathers, full-time graphic designer/art director and part-time writer behind healthy food blog My Life Runs On Food

The cacao benne cookie is a holiday treat whose ingredients are a celebration of the African Diaspora. The benne seed was brought to America by Africans who were enslaved, and today, benne cookies are a popular treat in the Carolinas. The cookies’ nutty, sesame flavour obviously comes from the benne seeds. In this benne cookie recipe version, a hint of cacao powder is added to the cookie batter.”

Get the recipe here.

Chocolate Pumpkin Almond Rugelach

Amy Kritzer, writer of modern Jewish recipe blog What Jew Wanna Eat and owner of ModernTribe.com

“Hanukkah is coming, and while latkes reign, I love giving out my famous rugelach as presents to family and friends (and eating a ton myself). Traditionally, the rolled Eastern European cookie is filled with cinnamon and sugar or jam, but it’s the perfect vehicle for creative fillings. This recipe with chocolate and pumpkin is one of my favourites! These cookies freeze well, ship easily, and makes a ton (48) which is perfect for sharing!”

Get the recipe here.

Festive Eggnog Cookies

Lanette Miles, owner of Contessa Catering and author of 12 Cookies of Christmas

“I’ve been using this recipe for 20 years, and it’s still amazing. These eggnog cookies with an eggnog buttercream frosting are always a crowd pleaser at any event or cookie exchange, or just make them at home. They’re really enjoyable to make, and while they’re in the oven, the fragrance of nutmeg and cinnamon will infuse your home with holiday spirit.”

Get the recipe here.

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Helen Schofield of Scrummy Lane

“If you visit Greece close to Christmas, you’ll eat far too many melomakarona, delicious Greek Christmas honey cookies. I always loved the moment these started appearing in bakeries in Athens some time during November. Imagine a cross between baklava and an ooey, gooey pecan pie, and you’ve got these. I warn you, they are seriously addictive!”

Get the recipe here.

No-Spread Gingerbread Cookies (Gingerbread Man as Gift Card Holder)

Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie

“It’s nearly impossible to make it through the holidays without baking cookies. It’s such a hectic and stressful time of year, I cringe at the thought of anyone wasting minutes with difficult recipes that don’t work. This has been my easy go-to recipe for flawless no-spread gingerbread cookies. Here, a gingerbread man gift card holder adds a bit of homemade love to standard, ho-hum gift cards.”

Get the recipe here.

Italian Wedding Cookies

Samantha Ferraro, blogger behind The Little Ferraro Kitchen and author of The Weeknight Mediterranean Kitchen

“I bake an enormous amount of cookies for the holidays, and Italian wedding cookies are always on top of the list. Like little snowballs, they’re simple and as light as air. They’re made with ground almonds which give them the delicate and crumbly bite. A healthy dusting of sweet powdered sugar adds just enough sweetness without overwhelming the neutral nutty flavour. These irresistible cookies will melt in your mouth.”

Get the recipe here.

Kerstkransjes – Dutch Christmas Wreath Cookies

Rachel Alrack, recipe developer and food photographer behind Cakies

Kerstkransjes (‘Little Christmas wreaths’) are traditional Dutch Christmas cookies. They are really easy to make and can add an extra little touch to your Christmas this year. The Christmas wreath is a symbol of happiness, life and prosperity. The circular shape of the wreath, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or life never-ending. In The Netherlands, these Christmas wreath cookies are traditionally hung on the Christmas tree!’

Get the recipe here.

Peppermint Frosted Sugar Cookies

Becca Shaw, creator, recipe developer and food photographer behind The Salted Cookie

“Whether it’s a holiday party or cookie swap with friends, this time of year is always filled with delicious cookies. Growing up I have very fond memories of baking hundreds of cookies every holiday season with my mom, grandma and relatives. The giant trays we’d bring to friends, neighbours and holiday meals were always welcomed with open arms. When baking cookies for the holidays, I always look for cookies that have a shelf life of a few days, are sturdy enough to maintain their shape on big trays with other cookies, and embody the flavours of the season.

“These Peppermint Frosted Sugar Cookies have a chewy sugar cookie base and a refreshing homemade peppermint frosting. These are perfect for the busy holiday season, as you can make the sugar cookie dough in advance and bake them when you are ready. The frosting can be made fresh in just a few minutes to top the cooled-off cookies with. And there’s nothing more festive than some red and green holiday sprinkles to brighten up your cookie trays!”

Get the recipe here.

Perfect Every-Time Cut-Out Cookie

Bridget Edwards of sweet treats blog Bake at 350

“When decorating cookies for the holidays, you want a no-fail, perfect-every-time cut-out cookie recipe. This is it! No chilling of the dough, no spreading, and absolutely delicious. Over the years, I’ve made thousands of these cookies, and they’re always a hit!

Get the recipe here.

Ricciarelli (Sienese Almond Cookies)

Giulia Scarpaleggia & Tommaso Galli of Juls’ Kitchen, a blog about the honest and seasonal food of Tuscany

“Ricciarelli are almond cookies typical of Siena, covered with icing sugar, with a soft heart that melts in your mouth, fresh and moist, characterised by the piercing smell of bitter almonds.

“The origin of ricciarelli di Siena dates back to the 15th century: the almond paste – in the form of marzipan or Marzapanetti – was once very popular in the town, and Siena was famous even outside its territory for its production. The cookies made with almond paste were reserved for the sumptuous banquet of the lords because they were made of precious ingredients, mainly almonds and sugar. They were so valuable and refined that marzipan sweets were sold in the apothecary shops along with drugs and the most exotic spices of the time.”

Get the recipe here.

Scottish Shortbread

Jessica Ellen Creed, trained chef and baker behind food blog What Jessica Baked Next

“This Scottish Shortbread is one of my go-to cookie recipes for the Christmas season. This is a family favourite, and the recipe is inspired by my grandma’s family origins in Dunblane. I love how easy and quick this shortbread is – you don’t need to roll the dough out or cut it into shapes, meaning this saves you time over what can be a busy festive period.”

Get the recipe here.

South African Soetkoekies

Lizet Hartley of Melkkos & Merlot, a blog about good food, fab wine and mad cats

“Our Christmases are warm and all about camping, going to the seaside (a big deal for inland families) or being home at the pool. So grandmas bake to fill their biscuit tins for hungry, wet grandkids and there’s no biscuit more quintessentially South African than the soetkoekie.

“The literal translation is sweet cookie. Of course, in SA we do what the British do and we call the crunchy sweet treats we enjoy with tea or coffee biscuits, not cookies. The soetkoekie is also a major Christmas gift here, and supermarkets stock them in pretty Christmas edition gift tins. Add to that the fact that it contains loads of Christmassy spice in the form of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and you see why the soetkoekie is a hit around the holidays!”

Get the (200-year-old!) recipe here.

Sufganiyot Iced Cookies

Dena Siegel of Chai & Home, a resource for creative Jewish living

“I love that sufganiyot are gaining traction in the US as a celebratory food for Hanukkah. That said, I actually dislike jelly donuts! I love donuts, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t like jelly donuts. To think of sufganiyot only as something to enjoy as a donut, though, is very limiting. To that end, I decided to explore what a sufganiyah might look like as a cookie. Of course, we all have the Hanukkah cookie cutter set with the menorah, dreidel and Star of David, but here I am introducing one more cookie to that repertoire… sufganiyot iced cookies for Hanukkah!”

Get the recipe here.

Tai Tai’s Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Rebecca Firth, author of The Cookie Book and blogger behind DisplacedHousewife

“There is something about late autumn into early winter that makes me want to bake like a maniac. I want my house to smell like spiced cider, mistletoe hanging from every doorway and all kinds of cookies nestled in jars. This is one of those cookies that I’d make. Two chocolatey, chewy cookies sandwich a hefty dollop of peppermint cream that is heavily laced with crushed peppermint candies for added crunch. If these don’t put a little holiday spirit in your step, I don’t know what will. I’ve often wondered if this peppermint cream would make a nice winter salve to soothe my December skin?”

Get the recipe here.

Vanillekipferl (German Vanilla Crescent Cookies)

Julia Foerster, Ottawa-based food photographer and the author of the food blog Plated Cravings

Vanillekipferl are traditional German Christmas cookies made with ground nuts and dusted with vanilla sugar. They are tender, nutty and melt in your mouth, but can be a bit tricky to make because they are made without any eggs. One of my fondest Christmas memories is baking cookies with my Oma (that’s German for ‘grandmother’). She always made many different Plätzchen (cookies) during Christmas time, but Vanillekipferl are my favourite!”

Get the recipe here.

Vaniljekranse (Danish Vanilla Wreaths)

Kim Nielsen of Danish cooking blog Nordic Food & Living

“These butter cookies are a traditional and very popular Danish Christmas treat. In Danish they are called Vaniljekranse, vanilla wreaths with a crisp crust and a delicious taste of vanilla. I have fond memories of making these with my mom when I was growing up, and so have many others in Denmark. Shaping the small round cookies is a really fun activity, especially for kids.”

Get the recipe here.


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