Make it Naked

Christmas Cookies

You might want to sit down. This is going to be a lot to process. I know I normally provide one recipe at a time, but Christmas is nearing quickly and you NEED these recipes. So here you have it, not one, not two, but three, of my favorite cookies in one simple post. Can you handle it?

First up, Pignolis. These are chewy, nutty and sweet. They are also the easiest cookie you could ever make. They are flour-less and sugar-full, a combination I enjoy thoroughly. Pulse four ingredients in a food processor and you’re practically done. The almond paste is the star of this cookie. It tastes like amaretto, but it’s legal for all ages.

Pignolis (recipe adapted from Makes about 3 dozen

12 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 egg whites, plus 1 egg white for brushing
1/2 cup pine nuts


  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. In a food processor pulse the almond paste and granulated sugar. Scrape down the sides and add the confectioners’ sugar and 2 egg whites. Process until fully combined and smooth.
  3. Refrigerate dough for about an hour. I found this made the dough much more manageable.
  4. Using greased or floured hands, roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
  5. Using a brush, or paper towel, brush the tops of each dough ball with the remaining egg white and top with a few pine nuts. Pushing down on the nuts to assure they stick.
  6. Bake about 15 minutes or until edges are slightly brown.

Next up, Cranberry Shortbread. A buttery crust covered with a tart cranberry filling and topped with more buttery crust crumbles. Did you catch that? A buttery crust topped with buttery crust crumbles. Enough said.

Cranberry Shortbread (Recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking) Makes about 16 slices

Cranberry filling:
8 ounces fresh cranberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Grease two 9 inch pie pans. The original recipe calls for a 9×9 pan – making thicker bars. I like using two pie pans to make thinner slices.
  2. In a saucepan, place the cranberries, sugar and water measured for the cranberry filling and cook on med-high heat until boiling. I suggest covering, as the cranberries pop and splatter. Be sure to stir and boil until thick, about 5 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Mix together the flour, cornstarch and kosher salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture.
  4. Split the dough in half. Take each half and reserve about 1/4 cup of each for the crumbles. Press the larger portion of each dough into its pie pan. It’s not necessary to leave much of an edge so press most of the dough flat on the bottom. Spread half of the cranberry mixture on each dough crust. Using the remaining 1/4 cup reserved dough for each, break the dough off into tiny crumbles and top the cranberry filling each pan.
  5. Bake both pans in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the crumbles and edges are lightly browned.

Last up, but certainly NOT least are Laura Bush’s Texas Cowboy Cookies. Put all politics aside for the sake of your taste buds. I have made these for the past 7 years and have not changed a thing. These cookies are packed full of flavor with oats, pecans, chocolate chips and coconut. Not a coconut fan? That’s ok, I’m almost positive you’ll still like these. Aside from “WOW” the most popular comment after tasting one of these is “I thought I didn’t like coconut, but these are fantastic.” I’ve witnessed the coconut-hater conversion more than once and count it toward my daily good deeds. Coconut deserves the love.

Cowboy Cookies (Recipe from Laura Bush) Makes about 12 dozen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add both sugars and beat until combined. Scrape down sides and add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. Slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix on low just until combined. Add the oats and coconut and beat again until combined. Your mixer will be almost full to the max at this point. Add in the chocolate chips and pecans. If your mixer can handle it go ahead and mix. Otherwise, detach the bowl and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon, but be sure ALL the ingredients are very well incorporated.
  5. Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough at a time onto a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake until edges are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remember I like my cookies small, but feel free to double or even triple the size of each cookie and bake longer according to the size.

Cookie overload? Is there such a thing? I’m not done. I still have 11 days. I’ll be back with more, but in the mean time, you get baking and I’m going to try to figure out why there is one strand of blinking lights on our tree.

Need more right now?
Try Linzers with holiday cut-outs, Chocolate Espresso Biscotti, or Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Posted on December 14, 2010

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