3 Fast, Festive Cookies

Some of the best parts of the holiday season are, well, the cookies that come along with it. Nothing shouts "holiday cheer!" louder than a batch of these buttery, sugary creations -- creations that will cloak your house in that unmistakable perfume of holiday spirit.

No need to slave away in the kitchen all day -- here are 3 fast, festive cookie recipes that will do the trick. Now gather up some helpers and get baking!

• See 10 holiday cookie recipes on Food52, like All-I-Want-For-Christmas Peanut Butter Cookies and White Chocolate Snowflakes.

• Got a holiday baking question? The Food52 Hotline is here to help!

Secret Cookies

Secret CookiesSecret Cookies

This recipe has truly been kept a "Secret" for 30 years but now is the time to release it. It was given to me by an elderly lady who had been given it by an even more elderly Swedish lady. The proviso: "After I'm 'gone', you may give out the recipe." The same proviso was given to me...so, here it is. Be sure to use salted butter! - Veronica

Makes About 80 cookies

3/4 pounds salted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
Red, green or multi-colored sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the yolks and vanilla, mixing well. Add the flour and combine thoroughly.

2. Use mounded teaspoonfuls and make balls of dough with your hands. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, then flatten the dough with the bottom of a patterned glass dipped in colored sugar (don't mix the red and green!).

3. Bake for about 10 minutes (watch carefully as they burn easily), until the cookies are lightly golden just around the edges. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for a minute or two and then gently transfer to baking racks to cool -- they're fragile.

See a slideshow and save and print this recipe on Food52.

Ginger Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies

Ginger Spiced Molasses Sugar CookiesGinger Spiced Molasses Sugar Cookies

These cookies are spicy, sweet and rich with molasses. Take care not to overbake the cookie and you will have a chewy center that will melt in your mouth. For added spice and bite, add diced candied ginger to the batter. - TasteFood

Serves 24

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/3 cup finely diced candied ginger (optional)
granulated sugar for rolling

1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt and cloves in a bowl and mix well.

2. Beat butter and sugar together in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 minutes.

3. Add egg and molasses. Mix to combine well. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in candied ginger if using. Refrigerate batter 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and gently flatten. Bake in oven until set and crinkled on top, about 12 minutes. Remove and cool.

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Flo Braker's Pains d'Amande

Flo Braker's Pains D'AmandeFlo Braker's Pains D'Amande

A crisp almond cookie for all your holiday gifting, swapping, and impressing needs, from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker (Chronicle Books, 2000). - Genius Recipes

Makes about 7 dozen cookies

2 1/3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into quarters
1 1/3 cups Hawaiian washed raw sugar (or turbinado or demerara -- see note)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup water
1 cup sliced almonds

1. Sift the flour and baking soda together; set aside.

2. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and water. Stir occasionally just until the butter melts. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds.

3. Add the dry ingredients all at once; stir thoroughly until blended.

4. Press the soft dough into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, preferably straight-sided, lined with plastic wrap. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until firm.

5. Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two large cool baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Lift out the firm dough from the pan onto a cutting board. For larger cookies, simply slice as thinly as you can (1/8-inch or thinner), crosswise. (The dough slices as though it were fudge.)

7. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the undersides are light golden; then turn cookies over and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp and honey-colored. Lift cookies from parchment when cool.

8. Stack cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 10 days.

Note: Hawaiian washed raw sugar is available in supermarkets in 2-pound plastic bags. If you cannot locate it, you can substitute turbinado or demerara.

See a slideshow and save and print this recipe on Food52.

Want more genius recipes? Try Paule Caillat's Brown Butter Tart Crust (no rolling, no waiting) or Nancy Silverton's Whipped Cream (a secret ingredient gives it staying power).

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