Bake a little more love up for Christmas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 18, 2018

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Cookies for Christmas, to share with neighbors or to nibble on while staring deeply into the Christmas tree, to pack for a snack on the next shopping trip are always welcome.

Most families have a “favorite” holiday cookie, the one it just wouldn’t be Christmas without, but it’s always fun to try something new.

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in junior high, we made cookies with a box of cake mix and a container of Cool Whip. It actually worked, and you could use any flavor cake mix. These were, of course, cake-y cookies, without a snap, but that’s what some folks want.

Now, in 2018, there are cake mix cookies that use what you’d put in a cake mix anyway, just oil and eggs. The difference is in the combination of flavors.

The best thing about this recipe, found on the blog Dinner at the Zoo, is kids can make and decorate them with just a little supervision and help. The blogger has three young children, so she has the props to say this works.

Here is he basic recipe, followed by variations in flavor and add-ins:

Cake Mix Cookies

18 1/4 ounce box white cake mix

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup sprinkles, divided use

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth.

Stir in 1/4 cup sprinkles. Roll the dough into tablespoon-size balls.

Pour remaining sprinkles in a plate and roll the balls of dough around to coat.

Place balls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. You will need to work in batches. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned.

Remove from oven, cool, then remove from the baking sheet to a wire rack.


• Chocolate cake mix with chocolate chips, then roll in sprinkles or sugar.

• Red velvet cake mix with white chocolate chips.

• Yellow cake mix and toffee bits.

• German chocolate cake mix and pecans and coconut.

• Strawberry cake mix with milk chocolate chips.

• Lemon cake mix with white chocolate chips or coconut.

You could also just dip the tops of the cookies in red or green sugar.

Try all different shapes and sizes of sprinkles for the outside.


This recipe has gotten great reviews on

Frosted Peppermint Brownie Cookies

1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, divided into 4 pieces

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, roughly chopped

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Crushed peppermint candy

Add chocolate chips, unsweetened baking chocolate and butter to a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power in 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smoothed. Set aside to cool, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together flour, baking bower and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium high, whip together the eggs, egg yolk, brown sugar and granulated sugar until pale fluffy and creamy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and peppermint extract. Mix in cooled chocolate mixture.

Using a wooden spoon, stir dry mixture into egg/chocolate mixture just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill about 45 minutes, until firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during last 10 minutes of chilling.

Scoop dough about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons at a time and shape into balls. Place on silicon baking mat or parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake 8-11 minutes. Cookies should look slightly under-baked. Cool on sheet 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Once cool, frost with Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting, then sprinkle with crushed peppermint.

For the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip together cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Add peppermint extract and powdered sugar and continue mixing until pale and fluffy.

This sugar cookie has a light molasses flavor from the brown sugar and it not quite a sweet as a traditional sugar cookie recipe. If you don’t like almond flavor, leave out the almond extract.

Brown Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet or two with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl either with a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on medium speed until completely combined, scraping down the sides partway through. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined. Do not over-beat.

Form the dough into a ball, and place it on a large, lightly floured hard surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll evenly to 1/4-inch thickness. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. Put cookies on a parchment-covered baking sheet. If decorating with colored sugar and similar items, use a wash of 1 egg white and 1 Tbsp. water. Spread on cookies, then sprinkle with sugar.

Place sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill dough, then transfer to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove from oven, let cookies rest on tray 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.


1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tsp. milk

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients until well combined. If the icing is too thin, add a little more sugar. If it’s too thick, add more milk.


These cookies, which appeared in the December 2013 issue of Southern Living, have a little bit of everything Christmas cookie in them, then are topped off by a sweet boozy Southern glaze.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies, but they will likely be a huge hit. It’s a long list of ingredients, but most bakers will have them on hand. But get out the largest mixing bowl you have.

Bourbon-Pecan Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. kosher alt

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 cups finely ground toasted pecans

2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup bourbon

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 Tbsp. molasses

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

1 Tbsp. orange zest

2 cups toasted pecan halves

Bourbon glaze:

6 Tbsp. bourbon

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

3 tsp. water

Stir together the first eight ingredients — the dry ingredients. Then, in a second bowl stir together ground pecans and next 7 ingredients — the wet ingredients. Stir bourbon mixture into flour mixture until well combined. Cover and chill 12 hours.

If you do not chill the dough, it will not form cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop level portions of dough 2 inches apart on two parchment lined baking sheets, using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (about 2 Tbsp.) Place three pecans on each cookie.

Bake 15-18 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes.

Make glaze: Stir together bourbon and powdered sugar in a bowl. Stir in water 1 tsp. at a time until desired consistency. Drizzle cookies with Bourbon Glaze and move to wire racks to cool.