christmas cookie roundup 2013

candy cane macarons CROP close

Have you finalized your Christmas cookie baking list yet, or are you just getting started?  I thought it may be helpful to put together a list of some of my favorite Christmas cookies, plus some other fun holiday baking/gifting ideas.  Whether you add 1 cookie to your traditional baking list, or if you’re just starting to consider doing some holiday baking of your own, I hope the list inspires you to get in the kitchen and turn on that oven :)

P.S. – lots of these cookies were first added to the blog last year, when Solano’s Kitchen was just getting started.  So please excuse any less-than-stellar photos – we all have to start somewhere!  One of these days I’ll get around to re-taking them!

Sicilian Almond Cookies

First up are these soft and chewy Almond Paste Cookies – one of my family’s favorites! (Also naturally gluten-free, as long as you use GF extracts!)

Pecan Pie Thumbprints 2Daren’s favorite holiday cookies this year are these Pecan Pie Thumbprints – good thing I just finished making some for his office holiday party.  The tender cream cheese dough is flecked with pecan bits, and the thumbprint center is filled with a pecan pie-type filling.  Not going to win any beauty pageants, but it’s certainly one of the tastiest cookies around!

Nutmeg BitesOne of MY favorite cookies are these soft and chewy Nutmeg Bites.  Everything about them is so unassuming, but they’re surprisingly delicious.  Who knew nutmeg as a main flavor could be so delicious? (OK, the rum in the icing probably doesn’t hurt…)

candy cane macarons CROP closeIf you’re looking to impress someone, look no further – these Candy Cane Macarons are a real showstopper.  Not only are they gorgeous, they taste amazing – light and delicate, with just a light hint of peppermint from the candy cane bits.  I imagine we’ll be making these for many years to come.

cinn macarons 57_2Speaking of macarons, these little guys would make another great holiday cookie.  Lots of people eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning – why not Cinnamon Roll Macarons?

Biscotti 2These Hazelnut Cinnamon Chip Biscotti are sturdy and travel well, so they would make a great addition to a Christmas gift package (particularly ones you’re planning to ship).  Throw in some flavored coffee for dunking, and you’ve got a perfect gift!

ChocolateSpeaking of gifts, some homemade Hot Chocolate Mix is always on the top of my list.  This mix is super rich and chocolatey – easily the best hot chocolate we’ve ever had.  If you’re looking for cute gift ideas, it would pair really well with some homemade marshmallows, peppermint sticks, or perhaps a mini bottle of Baileys (because it just wouldn’t be Christmas without some Baileys).

DIY Vanilla ExtractLast but not least, some DIY Vanilla Extract seems fancy, but in reality is a super simple gift (and way less expensive than the store-bought stuff!)  Even if you didn’t plan ahead (the extract has to sit for a month or 2 before it is ready), you could always just let the recipient know to wait another month before using it.

Well, it’s back to the kitchen for me – happy baking everyone!

DIY vanilla extract

DIY Vanilla Extract 2

As I’m sure you all can imagine, I go through vanilla extract around here like a CHAMP.  A couple of years back, I would just buy the 16 ounce bottle at Costco, and I was pretty happy with it.  It is certainly cheaper than grocery store vanilla, and the quality seems to be pretty good. […]

apple cider caramels

apple cider caramels

This fall, I feel like I’ve been hearing about apple cider caramels everywhere.  I’ve made vanilla bean caramels before, and I kept thinking to myself, how much different could these really be?  I mean, I love pumpkin spice and apple cider and all those fall flavors, but would it really shine through in a caramel? […]

hot chocolate mix

Chocolate

What can be better on a cold winter’s night than a steamy mug of homemade hot chocolate?  We grew up drinking Nesquik out of a yellow plastic tub (and loved it), but let me tell you, any packaged hot chocolate mix doesn’t hold a candle to this stuff.  It’s got a rich, powerful chocolate flavor […]