These recipes are part of a partnership between Christopher Kimball and the cooks at Milk Street and the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column.

Though nearly every culture has a tradition of small, sweet treats, cookies (as most Americans know them) are of European origin. The word comes from the Dutch koekie, which means “little cake.” So for the holidays, we scanned the Christmas markets and traditions of Europe for the best examples and tweaked them to make them our own. Ground cloves, cinnamon, and plum jam update Austrian Linzer cookies, which use hazelnuts instead of the traditional almonds. Orange zest and citrusy coriander balance the buttery sweetness and light crumb of Scottish shortbread. And from Italy, a spin on the classic combination found in Nutella inspires our Triple Chocolate-Almond Cookies — made with natural almond butter instead of hazelnuts.


Spiced Citrus-Plum Linzer Cookies

Makes 24 sandwich cookies

If you can buy hazelnut meal, use 1½ cups (140 grams) instead of grinding whole nuts as we do, but make sure to toast the hazelnut meal as directed. Plum jam with a smooth texture works best for the filling; if it is very thick and chunky, press it through a fine-mesh strainer before measuring and simmering. If you do not have a ½-inch-round cutter for making windows in the cookies, the wide end of a standard piping tip also can be used. And if you have Linzer cookie cutters, use them in place of our dough-cutting method.

Don’t let your dough get warm. Keep it chilled while working and before baking, because this helps to control the cookies’ spread. If it seems sticky or soft while you’re rolling and cutting, pop it into the refrigerator or freezer.

Assembled cookies will hold for up to 24 hours, but for the best texture, wait to finish them until ready to serve. This prevents the jam from softening the cookies as they sit.


1 cup (140 grams) whole hazelnuts

3 sticks salted butter, room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 large egg yolks

2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup (12 ounces) plum jam (see note)

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Powdered sugar, to dust

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts until fine, about 30 seconds. Spread the ground hazelnuts in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until light golden and fragrant, about 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and white sugar on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and orange zest; mix well, 30 to 60 seconds. Beat in the egg yolks, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the flour and ground hazelnuts, then mix on low until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.

Divide the dough in half and sandwich each between 2 sheets of parchment, pressing the dough into disks. Use a rolling pin to roll each disk ¼ inch thick. Leaving the parchment in place, stack the dough on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and well chilled, about 30 minutes.


Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Transfer 1 dough disk to a work surface, leaving the parchment in place. Roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment. Use a 2-inch-round cutter to cut 24 circles, then arrange them on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly, and refrigerate. Repeat with the second batch of dough, arranging the rounds on the second baking sheet. Use a ½-inch-round cutter to cut out a circle in the center of the rounds on the second baking sheet.

Transfer the first baking sheet to the oven; refrigerate the second. Bake until golden brown at the edges, about 6 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. Meanwhile, bake the second sheet of cookies, then let cool completely.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the jam to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. (To check the consistency of the jam, put 1 teaspoon on a small plate and refrigerate for 5 minutes; the jam should be quite firm.) Cool to room temperature, then stir in the lemon zest and cardamom.

Spread each whole cookie with 1 teaspoon of the jam mixture, evenly covering the surface. Spoon some powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer and dust the windowed cookies until lightly coated. Place a sugar-dusted cookie on each jam-topped cookie and press lightly to seal.

Spiced Orange Shortbread


Makes 20 cookies

Spiced orange shortbread.
Spiced orange shortbread.Connie Miller of CB Creatives

This fresh take on classic shortbread is made with ground coriander and freshly grated orange zest, flavors that pair beautifully with butter and sugar and give these cookies an alluring fragrance. The recipe is simple to prepare, but you will need a ruler and a metal bench scraper for shaping the dough into a rectangle before baking. Don’t wait until the shortbread is cool before slicing all the way through the score marks; it should be cut while warm and slightly soft.

Baking on a double layer of parchment paper ensures the cookies will not over-brown on the bottom. They should be stored in an airtight container, and will keep for up to a week.

2¼ cups (292 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks salted butter, room temperature

½ cup (61 grams) powdered sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 tablespoon white sugar

Heat the oven to 300 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 tablespoon of the coriander, and the salt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the orange zest and beat until incorporated, about 10 seconds. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated and the dough begins to form a ball, about 1 minute.


Lightly dust the counter with flour. Scrape the dough onto the counter and knead by hand for 1 minute. Set the dough on a sheet of parchment and form it into a 10-by-6-inch rectangle about a scant ½ inch thick, using a rolling pin to even out the thickness and a bench scraper to square the edges. Slide the parchment with the dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet (double-lining the pan) and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the white sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons coriander. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough. With the tines of a fork, poke the dough in rows spaced about ½ inch apart. Using a paring knife, score the rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise into tenths, dividing the rectangle into 20 3-by-1-inch cookies.

Bake until the shortbread is lightly browned, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then cut completely through the score marks to separate into 20 cookies. Let cool completely.

Triple Chocolate-Almond Cookies

Makes 30 cookies

Triple chocolate-almond cookies.
Triple chocolate-almond cookies.Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Almond butter keeps these chocolate cookies moist, fudgy, and almost brownie like. We like them with sliced almonds pressed onto the tops, but they can be left off. If the dough is very sticky when you try to shape the cookies, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. As the milk chocolate solidifies, the dough becomes easier to work with.

Don’t forget to stir the almond butter before measuring. And don’t use inexpensive milk chocolate candy bars, which will make these cookies too sweet and not chocolaty enough. Opt for good-quality bar or chip milk chocolate; we like Guittard. Don’t forget to stir the chocolate as it melts, and take care not to overheat it, which causes chocolate to seize.

8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

¾ cup packed (160 grams) brown sugar

3 tablespoons (16 grams) cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

2/3 cup roasted almond butter, stirred well

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

¾ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon sea salt flakes)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Put the milk chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely smooth and melted. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Stir in the melted chocolate, almond butter, vanilla, and chopped semisweet chocolate.

Spread the almonds on a large plate. Divide the dough into 1-tablespoon balls, then lightly press into the almonds, coating one side and slightly flattening them. Arrange 15 of the balls, almond side up, on each of the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops lightly with the egg white and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake the cookies until the center is set and the edges are no longer glossy, 10 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets and switching racks halfway through. Let cool completely on the sheets. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.