Last year, we celebrated the holidays in the most festive way we could imagine: 31 cookie recipes from some of our favorite bakers. This year, amid the nostalgia and longing for gatherings past, we wanted to recall the very important thing we’ll still have: our food traditions that’ll step in to offer us the sense of belonging we need. So we decided to have a bit of fun in 2020—because if anything, we have to grab joy where we can these days—calling in both sweet and savory treats from a group of cooks and bakers we love. (Don’t worry, though; you’ll find a few cookies in the mix as well.)
Here’s the best part: Every recipe, from brownie cookies to curry puffs and savory granola, is giftable, ready to be packed up and dropped off to doorsteps. Most (if not all!) will even last a trip in the mail to loved ones farther afield. So while we can’t gather the way we usually do, we can still partake in exchanging holiday treats.
We can’t wait for you to pick your favorites from this year’s list of 11 recipes to give and share, because sharing is what the holidays are really all about.
Have a bottle of high-quality olive oil you’ve been saving for a special occasion (but need to use ASAP)? Allow us to introduce you to Sohla El-Waylly’s salted caramel and olive oil blondies, which are a particularly excellent option for shipping to faraway friends. To neatly cut these fudgy bars, freeze the whole tray first.
Sweet-Savory Granola from Rich Shih of OurCookQuest
If you’re not on the savory granola train yet, it’s high time. Staring salty-tart umeboshi and nutty roasted buckwheat, this recipe from recipe developer Rich Shih, also known as OurCookQuest, is just as welcome in yogurt as it is as topping for roasted vegetables.
Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies from Tia Mowry
Nothing says “holidays” quite like peppermint and chocolate, and this year we’ve got our eye on superstar cookbook author Tia Mowry’s hot chocolate cookies, topped with mini-marshmallows and crushed candy canes. Mowry recommends baking these cookies in your pajamas, and we’re inclined to agree.
These Malaysian karipaps, courtesy of food writer and blogger, Yi Jun Loh, will change up your expectations of festive food gifts—and your recipient will be the happier for it. A close cousin of the Indian curry puff, this flaky, deep-fried pastry shell filled with curried meat and potatoes is bursting with flavor. Consider snack time changed forever.
Note: While these are great treats to pack and tote to nearby friends (in fact, your pals will love you for it!), you might want to look into express shipping or an insulated cooler if you're hoping to ship them farther away.
Tart sumac often appears in savory dishes, but you’re missing out if you don’t try it in desserts. Recipe developer Jake Cohen stirs sumac into his crinkly brownie cookies, which are extra-chewy thanks to the addition of olive oil in the batter.
Snowball Cookies from Duff Goldman
Whether you call them polvorones, wedding cookies, or snowballs, these tender, nutty cookies are a dreamy addition to any holiday cookie plate. The recipe makes one hundred (seriously!) cookies, but chef Duff Goldman recommends making the whole batch, if not extra—he finds he always ends up eating a few dozen before he can pack them up.
These nutty sandwich cookies from Great British Bake Off semi-finalist and cookbook author Chetna Makan were inspired by the Italian classic, baci di dama—but remixed and streamlined, calling for ground almonds in the batter and a dreamy Nutella filling.
A less fussy cousin to nougat, this punched-up torrone, via pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz, is likely the “easiest candy you’ll ever make” (seeya, tricky temps). Oh, make that easy and fun: Just wait till you start throwing in the mix-ins (hint: so many variations!)
We have food editor, baker extraordinaire, and author of the newly-released Dessert Person, Claire Saffitz, to thank for this cinnamon-sugary, crunchy (well-toasted almonds are key!) biscotti-like Jewish treat. Or should we say, her Aunt Rose. Either way, you’ll want to make some to keep some. Or many.
Everyone loves a good stuffin’, and these very-good ones have been a holiday staple in Hilary Duff’s family for as long as she can remember. Extra-moist and just a little sweet—with seasonal apple, diced celery, and onion studding the batter—but gobble-able as it is, Duff says half the fun is in making it with family, and making a mess. That’s your cue to roll up your sleeves and dig in with your hands.
The best chai masala is greater than the sum of its parts, even if (certainly in this case) the parts are pretty great themselves. This sticky chai masala recipe—the stickiness comes from honey, or date syrup—from Sana Javeri Kadri, masala aficionado and founder of spice company Diaspora Co., is exactly that. Jar it, mail it, but not before keeping some for yourself.
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