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Santa's Coming and He Wants Cookies (December 18, 2002)


Have you been naughty or nice? Will Santa leave a pile of fabulous goodies under the tree or lumps of coal in your stocking? Will you be leaving something for Santa to make sure he knows you've been really, really good?

Of course you will... and here are three recipes for a guaranteed full bag of splendid presents from the jolly fat man, or someone special, anyway!

Some wonderful cookie cookbooks are just out, and you'll want to put them on your list for giving and for getting; they're loaded with scrumptious cookie and dessert recipes that will tickle the munchkins in your house! And what more wonderful holiday gifts than a box of homemade treats? You'll find more than enough for your list right here!

You'd expect sensational from the Food Editor of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design, and indeed, The Good Cookie is just that! It's packed with recipes from the simple to simply sublime. While this book is appropriate for professionals, there are plenty of easy recipes to get started, and we look at The Good Cookie as a chance for a great yummy learning experience!

OK, so you though that such treats were not on your diet, but the national bestseller One Smart Cookie, written by Julie Van Rosendaal, has all your favourite cookies, squares, brownies and biscotti, and all with less fat. Van Rosendaal took off – and kept off – 165 pounds, and did so without giving up her cookies and desserts. This woman truly knows how to have your cake and eat it too! Oh, joy, oh happy holidays!

Santa? He'll have to wait for his share of this loot... for truly, no one ever outgrows cookies!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (101 KB)


Wicked Witch Candy Cottage

We loved Grimm's fairly tales growing up, especially "Hansel and Gretel," and harboured a secret fantasy about that witch's cottage in the woods all made of irresistible candy. We just don't have room here to tell you how to make this delightful confection from scratch. Follow the breadcrumbs to page 324 of Tish Boyle's The Good Cookie – it's all waiting right there for you!



They're so very beautiful, and much more than just a cookie! These snowflakes make gorgeous Christmas tree ornaments, holiday decorations, accents to a cookie tray or stunning hostess gifts. The cookies themselves are easy... the icing may be a bit of a challenge, but hey, you get to eat the dribbles. A professional recipe from The Good Cookie that once you've mastered, you'll never look back! Our suggestion: read first and make sure you can get all the ingredients; any bakery can tell you where to find such items.

    To Make Snowflakes

  • Basic Decorative Cookie Dough (recipe below)
  • Double batch of Decorator's Icing
  • White sanding sugar for sprinkling
  • Silver or pearl dragees (if cookies are for decorative use only)
  • Special equipment

  • 4½-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter
  • 5/8-inch petal-shaped aspic cutter
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • #6 round paintbrush (unused)
  • Pastry bag fitted with couple and narrow writing tip (such as Ateco #2)

    Making the cookies

  1. Make and roll out the cookie dough as directed below. Use a 4½-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Using a 5/8-inch petal-shaped aspic cutter, cut out shapes from the interior of each snowflake (or leave some without cutouts, if you want). If you plan to hang snowflakes as ornaments, use a straw to cut out a hole on one of the points of each snowflake. Bake the cookies as directed and allow to cool.
  2. Icing the cookies

  3. Make a double batch of the icing as directed below. Transfer one-third of the icing to another bowl. Cover the surface of the icing with plastic wrap and set aside (this is the icing you will use to pipe designs on the iced cookies). Add warm water and a few drops at a time to the remaining icing until it does not leave a trail when it drops from a spoon and its consistency is slightly thicker than corn syrup. Dip a #6 round paintbrush into the icing and gently drop it onto the surface of one of the snowflake's points, letting the icing gently drop onto the cookie without actually brushing it on. Continue to dab the icing onto the cookie, working with one section at a time, until the entire cookie is iced. Place the cookie on a baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining snowflakes. Let dry in a cool place for at least 2 hours.
  4. Add warm water a few drops at a time to the reserved icing until it is thin enough to pipe a straight line smoothly and does not form peaks when a spoon is dipped into it. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a #2 writing tip with the icing. Pipe small dots along the edges of a snowflake at 1/8-inch (3 mm) intervals. Do the same along the edges of the cutouts. Decorate the interior of the snowflake as you like, with dots, lines and flourishes, or a filigree pattern. If the snowflake is to be solely decorative, pipe a few larger dots of icing on it and, using tweezers, arrange a dragee in the center of each one. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle the cookie with sanding sugar, tipping off the excess. Repeat with the reminding snowflakes. Let the icing dry completely about 12 hours.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Basic Decorative Cookie Dough

This is the dough for cut-out cookies. It's easy to work with and holds its shape beautifully; best of all, the delicate orange-kissed vanilla flavour goes with any icing or filling.

  • 3¼ cups all purpose flour (800 mL)
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (150 mL)
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened (300 mL)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (15 mL)
  • 1 tsp finely grated orange zest (5 mL)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and orange zest and mix until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture one third at a time, mixing just until combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm (or up to 2 days).
  3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat he oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll one of the dough disks out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes (save the scraps for rerolling). Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them ½ inch apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 15 minutes until pale golden brown (baking time with vary depending on the size and shape of the cookies). Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Double Batch of Decorator's Icing

Also known as royal icing, this is the classic for decorating cookies!

  • 3 Tbsp meringue powder (available from bakery supply houses) (50 mL)
  • 8 Tbsp warm water (250 mL)
  • 1 pound box confectioners' sugar (500 g)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the meringue powder, water and confectioners' sugar at medium low speed until the icing forms stiff peaks, about 7 minutes. Thin the icing to the consistency you want by adding a little warm water, a few drops at a time.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, stir the icing to restore its original consistency.


Chocolate Toffee Brownie Bites

Now we'll get serious about cookies to eat. This is a rich and chewy chocolate brownie topped with a lustrous glaze and stuffed with buttery, chewy toffee bits. Resistance is futile! Give in... and give a few to special friends, who will love you forever. From The Good Cookie.

Makes about 24 miniature cakes


  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (125 mL)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (60 g)
  • ½ cup all purpose flour (125 g)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder (0.5 mL)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract (7 mL)
  • ¼ tsp almond extract (1 mL)
  • Chocolate Glaze

  • 5 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (150 g)
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream (140 g)
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • ½-cup almond brickle chips, such as Heath Bits O'Brickle (125 mL)
  • Special Equipment

  • Two 12-cup miniature muffin pans (1-ounce/30 g cups)

    Make the Brownies

  1. Position a rack near the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Grease two 12-cup miniature muffin pans well and dust them with flour.
  2. In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, combine the butter and chocolate and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and cool until tepid.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. Stir until combined.
  4. Stir the sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract into the chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. Bake the brownie bites for 14 to 16 minutes, until set, but sill soft in the center; a toothpick inserted into a brownie should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let the cookies cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cookies onto the rack and cool completely.
  6. Make the Glaze

  7. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the chocolate, cream and corn syrup and heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the brickle bits.
  8. Glaze and Garnish the Brownie Bites

  9. Place the rack with the cookies on it on a baking sheet. Arrange the brownie bites, still inverted, so that they are not more than ¼ inch (5 mm) apart. Pour the glaze over the bites, covering the tops and sides. Use a small offset metal spatula to smooth glaze over any exposed spots. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or refrigerate for up to a week.


Pecan Pie Squares

Ok, we know Pecan Pie is the richest, most sinful dessert anywhere... loaded with fat and sugar and pecans and oh sigh, may I please have just one more tiny bit? Well, Julie Van Rosendaal has worked miracles here, and her recipe for Pecan Pie Squares in One Smart Cookie has only 8 grams of fat (compared to the usual killer 74!), and most of that comes from the pecans, which means they have less than one gram of saturated fat.

Could this be true? Yes, it is, and better – these squares taste as sinful as the originals. You have indeed been good this year, so take another without guilt. Well... not too much anyway!

Makes 16 squares


  • ¼ cup stick butter or margarine, softened (50 mL)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (75 mL)
  • 1 cup flour (250 mL)
  • Pinch salt
  • Filling

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (125 mL)
  • ¾ cup corn syrup (175 mL)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (5 mL)
  • ¼ tsp salt (1 mL)
  • 1 cup pecan halves (250 mL)

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a medium bowl, beat margarine and brown sugar until creamy. Add flour and salt and stir until well combined and crumbly.

Press into the bottom of an 8" × 8" pan that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until pale golden around the edges.

In the same bowl (no need to wash it), combine egg, egg whites, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add flour and salt and stir until well blended.

Arrange the pecans evenly over the crust and pour the filling over top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
I'm not a cookie and wine guy, but if you insist, I would try an Asti Spumante with sweet cookies. The Italians use Vin Santo with biscotti, but Helen's are too sweet. So go with a Ruby Port for the chocolate cookies and a 10-year-old Tawny Port or a Cream Sherry with the Pecan pie squares.


We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs for this column:

John Wiley and Sons for The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. ©2002 by Tish Boyle. Photography by John Uher.

Whitecap Books, Ltd., for One Smart Cookie by Julie Van Rosendaal. ©2002 One Smart Cookie, Inc. (Revised edition) Photography and food styling by Julie Van Rosendaal and Meg Van Rosendaal.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (101 KB)




More Gourmet Recipes