Magazine

Holiday Style

Easy slice-and-bake cookie recipes for busy holidays

In 10 to 15 minutes, you can make the dough and shape it into logs. Then refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to three months. When you have more time — or unexpected guests at the door — slice, bake, and go.

Dan Watkins

This article is featured in the Nov. 23 issue of the Magazine.

RUM RAISIN PECAN SQUARES

Makes about 48 cookies

These thin squares can be left as is or drizzled with rum icing.

> Cookies

½ cup dark raisins, chopped

Advertisement

3 tablespoons black or gold rum

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more for the work surface

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Advertisement

¾ cup sugar

1 egg yolk

2/3 cup pecans, chopped into small bits

 In a small bowl, combine the raisins and rum. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.  

In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the egg yolk, then the raisins and rum. With the mixer on low speed, incorporate the flour mixture just until fully combined and the dough starts to come together. Mix in the pecans. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it in half.

Working with one half of the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll it back and forth into a log about 6 inches long. Press down on the top to flatten slightly, give the log a quarter turn, flatten the top, and keep turning and flattening to form a square-shaped log 8 to 9 inches long and with 1½-inch sides. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and secure with an outer layer of foil. Refrigerate or freeze until very firm. (Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Let the log(s) sit at room temperature to soften slightly, until still cold and firm but not rock hard. Working with 1 log at a time, cut the dough into slices about 1/3 inch thick, arranging them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden, a little browner around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

> Rum Icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 to 2½ tablespoons black or gold rum

 In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and 2 tablespoons of rum until smooth. Add a little more rum, as needed, to get a spreadable but not too thin consistency. Pour the icing into a plastic squeeze bottle or plastic sandwich bag. If using the bag, make a tiny cut in one bottom corner.

Place the cookies close together, but not touching, on racks set over wax paper. Working quickly, drizzle the icing in a zigzag pattern over the cookies. Let sit until the icing is set. Store in an airtight container, between layers of wax paper, after the cookies have cooled completely.

Dan Watkins

Rum raisin pecan squares (recipe above).

GINGER ROUNDS

Makes about 48 cookies

2¼ cups flour, plus more for the work surface

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus about 1 cup, for rolling the cookies in

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¾ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture until the dough starts to come together. Mix in the crystallized ginger. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it in half.

Working with one half of the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll it back and forth to form a smooth cylinder 12 to 13 inches long and 1 to 1¼ inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and secure with an outer layer of foil. Refrigerate or freeze until very firm. (Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Let the log(s) sit at room temperature to soften slightly, until still cold and firm but not rock hard. Working with 1 log at a time, cut the dough into ½-inch-thick slices, arranging them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until lightly golden, a little browner on the bottom. Carefully transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

Place 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl. Gently turn the cookies in the sugar to coat. Store in an airtight container, between layers of wax paper, after the cookies have cooled completely.

Dan Watkins

Ginger rounds (recipe above).

CHOCOLATE CHERRY ALMOND WAFERS

Makes about 70 cookies

1½ cups flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup slivered almonds, chopped

½ cup dried cherries (or cranberries), chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the flour mixture just until the dough starts to come together. Mix in the almonds and cherries. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide it in half.

Working with one half of the dough at a time, shape it into a log about 5 inches long. (Flour your hands if the dough gets sticky.) Press down on the top to form a wider surface, turn it on its side to press the dough together, turn again and press down to flatten slightly. Keep turning and flattening to form a rectangular brick about 9 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 1 to 1¼ inches thick. Wrap each brick in plastic wrap and secure with an outer layer of foil. Refrigerate or freeze until very firm. (Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Let the brick(s) sit at room temperature to soften slightly, until still cold and firm but not rock hard. Working with 1 brick at a time, cut the dough into ¼-inch-thick slices, arranging them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until the cookies feel almost firm to the touch. (Don’t overcook or the chocolate will smell and taste burnt.) Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. They will crisp up as they cool. Store in an airtight container after the cookies have cooled completely.

Dan Watkins

Chocolate cherry almond wafers (recipe above).

VANILLA CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

Makes about 42 cookies

Chopping the chocolate into ¼-inch or smaller chunks will make it easier to slice the dough logs. And, yes, toss all the chocolate shavings on your cutting board into the dough as well.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

½ cup chocolate (or multicolored) sprinkles, for coating the logs

Egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for coating the logs

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the granulated and confectioners’ sugars and beat until thoroughly blended. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and salt and mix until the dough starts to come together. Mix in the bittersweet chocolate. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide in half.

Working with one half of the dough at a time, shape it into a smooth cylinder about 8½ inches long and 1½ to 1¾ inches in diameter by rolling it back and forth. Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate for about 1 hour until firm but not rock hard.

On a sheet of wax paper, place half of the sprinkles in a narrow row. Brush the outside of 1 log with egg wash. Roll the log in the sprinkles, pressing more sprinkles on with your fingers to evenly coat. Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and second log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and secure with an outer layer of foil. Refrigerate or freeze until very firm. (Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Let the log(s) sit at room temperature to soften slightly, until still cold and firm but not rock hard. Working with 1 log at a time, cut the dough into slices about 1/3 inch thick, arranging them about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until light golden, a little browner on the bottom. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container after the cookies have cooled completely.

Dan Watkins

Vanilla chocolate chunk cookies (recipe above).

BAKING TIPS

> Parchment paper minimizes cleanup and speeds the process: When cookies come out of the oven, slide the parchment and cookies onto a rack. Place the next batch on another piece of parchment, slide it onto the cookie sheet, and pop it into the oven. When the baked cookies are no longer hot or fragile, remove them from the parchment and place directly on racks to cool completely. Reuse the parchment for the next batch.

> To achieve room-temperature butter in an instant, place the stick, still in its paper wrapper, in the microwave for 11 seconds at full power.

> Don’t forget to label and date all your foil-wrapped dough logs. It’s difficult to remember what’s what after they’ve been in the freezer for a few months.

Dan Watkins

Related coverage:

- Perfect apple pie from Sheryl Julian

- Recipe for maple-bacon cornbread muffins

- Recipe for mashed pumpkin rounds

- More holiday cooking recipes

- More from the Magazine

Lisa Zwirn is the Natick-based author of “Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season.” Send comments to magazine@globe.com.
Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.