The OPERA America staff’s favorite cookie recipes!
This holiday season the OPERA America staff fired up their ovens and got baking, sharing their favorite cookie recipes with colleagues. Now, the staff is delighted to share the recipes to some of our favorite holiday treats with you. Whether you're a first time baker or a pro, we hope that these recipes might spice up your holiday season. Enjoy!
Megan Carpenter: Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Hallie Schmidt
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 TBSP ground ginger
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Pinch of cardamom (optional)
- ¾ cup of butter
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup dark molasses
- 1/3 cup of turbinado sugar (for rolling)
- Combine Section 1 ingredients until evenly combined
- Mix Section 2 ingredients with a hand mixer until evenly combined
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and continue to mix with a hand mixer
- Form dough into walnut sized balls and roll in turbinado sugar
- Bake at 350 degrees until you see little “tracks” on cookies (about 8-10 minutes)
Peiharn Chen: Shortbread Cookies
Makes 1 shortbread mold or 2 dozen cookies.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cups butter, softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- (10-inch diameter ceramic shortbread mold)
- Preheat oven to temperature recommend by shortbread mold manufacturer. Place flour and salt in medium bowl; stir to combine.
- Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until well blended.
- Spray shortbread mold with nonstick cooking spray. Press dough firmly into mold. Bake, cool and remove from mold according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If mold is not available, preheat oven to 350 F. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet; press with fork to flatten.
- Bake 18-20 min or until edges are lightly browned. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet 2min. Remove cookies with spatula to wire rack; cool completely.
- Store cookies tightly covered at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months.
Dan Cooperman: Slice and Bake Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Author: OhMySugarHigh inspired by Taste of Home
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 3 hours chilling | Cook Time: 50 minutes
Serves 4 to 5 dozen
- 1 and ½ sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon whole or 2% milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup poppy seeds
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar for two minutes or until fluffy. Beat in egg, milk, lemon juice, zest and extract.
- In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture and mix well.
- Stir in poppy seeds.
- Shape into two logs that are 8 inches long. Wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. (Approximately three hours in the refrigerator.)
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Unwrap dough and cut into ⅓-in. slices. Place 2 in. apart on baking sheets line with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. (Ungreased will work too.)
- Bake 8-12 minutes or until edges are golden. (If you want a chewier cookie, use the lower end of that baking time and remove before edges are golden.)
- Cool a minute before removing to wire racks. Cool completely.
Vincent Covatto: Pauline’s Toffee
- Saltine Crackers (1 column approx)
- 1 Cup Butter (do NOT substitute!!)
- 1 Cup packed light brown sugar
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips OR dark chocolate chips
- Crushed/chopped walnuts (optional)
- Sea Salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Line a regular sized cookie sheet with tinfoil. Place crackers (salt side up) onto cookie sheet. Cover entire sheet.
- On stovetop, over medium heat, bring to boil butter & sugar stirring constantly.
- Once to boil, boil gently 3 minutes while continuing to stir.
- Pour over crackers & quickly spread over crackers. (A stiff plastic spatula works best for this)
- Place in oven for 7 minutes. When done the toffee should be a lightly browned and bubbly.
- Turn off oven.
- Take out, sprinkle with chips & return to oven just enough time for chips to soften/melt.
- Take out & spread chocolate over toffee (again stiff plastic spatula works best).
- Optional: Sprinkle with crushed walnuts & sea salt.
- Let chocolate set, harden overnight or in fridge.
- Break into pieces & enjoy!
Noelle Deutsch: Walnut Cookies
- 2 sticks butter
- ½ c. confectioners sugar (plus extra to roll cookies in)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2c sifted flour
- ½ c finely chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Combine all ingredients in one bowl (except for extra sugar). Mix until dough forms.
- Roll dough into balls, fairly small in size. Each batch should produce 25-30 small cookies.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the bottom begins to look lightly golden.
- Cool on a rack. Roll in confectioners sugar while still warm, but not hot (so sugar will stick, but not melt). Option to roll a second time for a thicker coating, or before serving.
Jenny Fornoff: Maraschino Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips
Makes 36 cookies.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tbsp maraschino cherry juice
- 2 ¼ cups AP flour
- ½ cup maraschino cherries, roughly chopped
- 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, beat softened butter until smooth and creamy. Add in almond extract and powdered sugar, beat until light and fluffy.
- Being careful not to overmix, alternately add flour and cherry juice until all combined and no more dry flour is visible. (Color may be uneven. This will resolve in Step 3.)
- Stir in chopped cherries and chocolate chips with a spatula until evenly incorporated (arm workout!).
- Place bowl in refrigerator to firm up dough for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until barely brown on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.
Sarah Ivins: Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chips
Original recipe by Samantha Seneviratne, New York Times;
Modifications by the Ivins family
- 1½ cups (192 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (220 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (167 grams) pumpkin purée (NOTE: if you double the recipe you can use a full can of pumpkin purée — it's a bit more than the recipe calls for, but it works out just fine!)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips (or however many your heart desires)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt.
- In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat together the unsalted butter and light/dark brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, the pumpkin purée and vanilla extract until blended.
- Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat just until combined. Be sure to scrape the sides as you mix to ensure full incorporation. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
- Scoop the batter into 2-tablespoon scoops, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared sheets. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake one sheet at time until the cookies are puffed, set and spring back when gently pressed in the center, about 12 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet.
- Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Alisha Neumaier: Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until creamy
- Add eggs, one at a time
- Beat in flour mixture gradually (don't toss it all in at once)
- Stir in chips
- Put globs on cookie sheet (covered with parchment paper) with teaspoon
- Bake 9-11 minutes
- Cool on rack
Jamelah Rimawi: Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cookies
- 1 box of vanilla cake mix
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- 1/3 C unsalted sweet cream butter, melted
- Bourbon glaze ingredients
- 1/4 C unsalted sweet cream butter
- 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp Jim Beam Kentucky bourbon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a large bowl, whisk together the cookie ingredients until combined.
- Using a small ice cream scooper, scoop out some dough onto the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes, until golden brown.
- Allow cookie to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan and placing onto a wire rack.
- Continue to bake of the remaining batter.
- Place cookies on a wire rack over another cookie sheet.
- Make glaze by using a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the glaze onto each cookie and allow to harden before enjoying.
Meghan Taylor: The Best Vegan Sugar Cookies
- 3/4 cup vegan butter (earth balance preferred), slightly softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but so good)
- 2-2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided (correctly measured)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (can omit, but it makes the icing very shiny)
- 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
- In a large bowl either using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the vegan butter for about 1 minute until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and light.
- Now add in the almond milk, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extract (if using). Beat on high until it is all fully combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add 1 cup of the flour to the wet mixture. Sprinkle the baking powder and salt on top of the flour. Mix on low speed, until just combined. Now add 1 more cup of the flour and continue to mix on low until just combined; don't over mix. The dough should feel similar to play dough when you work it in your hands, but it will look crumbly in the bowl. If it seems too wet for rolling, add another 1/4 cup of flour. You want the dough to be thick, but not dry. I always use the full 2 1/4 cups of flour. If the dough is too wet, your cookies will spread.
- Using a spatula, scoop all of the dough out of the bowl; use your hands if needed to push it all together. Divide the dough in half and roll into two balls.
- On a flat surface, add a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle a little flour on it, then add half the dough. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top. Repeat for the second ball of dough, and then stack them with parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Once the dough has been chilled, set it on the counter for 10 minutes while the oven is preheating to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Continue re-rolling the dough until it is all used.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, in the middle rack of the oven, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. They will appear underdone, but they will firm up considerably as they cool. Let them cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely before icing.
- Whisk all icing ingredients in a bowl. If it seems too thick, add a little more almond milk. It should be smooth, glossy and not runny. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. You can dip the cookies in the icing, or use brushes, spoons or a squeeze bottle. See this helpful video on how to decorate sugar cookies with icing.
*If you want really pretty cookies, first make the icing thicker, by using only 1 tablespoon of almond milk. Using a decorating tip, outline the cookies with the thicker icing. Then add a little more milk to thin it and flood the inside with icing. This way the icing doesn't spill over the cookie edges.
- Decorate with sprinkles as desired. The icing will take several hours to harden completely. The cookies will stay soft for about 5 days at room temperature.
- Try to get the earth balance sticks if you can; they are easier to bake with. Results will vary with other brands of vegan butter.
- Almond extract is optional but it adds a very good flavor to both the cookies and the icing, so use it if you can.
- To correctly measure flour, make sure to spoon and level by scooping the flour into the measuring cup with a spoon and level it off with the back of a knife. If you don't correctly measure the flour, you can end up with way too much flour and the dough will be dry!
- If you aren't comfortable using corn syrup, you may omit it. I rarely use it, but it makes cookie icing pretty and shiny and it's just 1 tablespoon.
- Baked sugar cookies freeze well, but don't freeze them once frosted.