13 Holiday Classics Turned Into Cookies

A baker's dozen of new-fashioned cookies, from mulled wine ka'ak to black cake cookies, for the old-fashioned holidays.

December  1, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Alya Hameedi. Food Stylist: Anna Billngskog.

If you look forward to winter holiday desserts all year long, you’re not alone. I have sudden cravings for a cold glass of coquito in April, and sometimes think about a croquembouche festooned with drips of caramel in July. Now that it’s finally December, it’s time to dig into all those great seasonal goodies. But this year, we have a bit of a twist: Cookies Meet Classics, a baker’s dozen of your favorite holiday sweets as cookies.

We called up some of our favorite bakers, creators, recipe developers, and cookbook authors to shrink a banquet table of winter treats into a mailable cookie box. In other words, we cookie-fied the classics. That means that you can have the flavors of mulled wine in a two-bite snack, and a perfectly portioned Yule Log for one. These treats are ideal for sharing and dropping off at doorsteps, or just making into a festive platter for yourself. And if you have to dig out the recipes again in June, well, I’m not about to tattle on you.

1. Sufganiyot Cookies by Rebecca Firkser

Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser takes traditional Hanukkah doughnuts and turns them into soft, jammy cookies adjacent to thumbprints. “These pillowy sugar cookies are chewier than a snappy or crumbly shortbread cookie, thanks to brown sugar and egg yolks, and a hefty glug of olive oil makes them extra-tender, as well as calls back to sufganiyot’s fried origins,” Firkser writes.

2. Coquito Cookies by Reina Gascon-Lopez

Infused with coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a hint of rum, these coquito cookies get extra flair from a heap of toasted coconut on top of the glaze. Eat them with a cup of tea or coffee, or just dunk them in a punch glass of coquito if you want to be meta about it.

3. Black Cake Cookies by Jillian Atkinson

In the West Indies, Black Cake is a holiday staple, and here, Jillian Atkinson brings the flavor of that luscious cake into cookies packed with dried fruit and burnt sugar. “This recipe turns the dense, pudding-like cake into a crispy-edged cookie with a chewy pool in the center and delightful hints of nutmeg and cinnamon,” Atkinson writes. The cookies are a bit lighter on booze than Black Cake usually is, but they’re just as full of flavor.

4. Baesuk Thumbprint Cookies by Joy Cho

If you’re not familiar with baesuk, you should know that the term refers to two delicious Korean treats. One is a pear-based punch. In the other, whole pears are steamed or poached with spices.

“To mirror the flavors of the original dish, shortbread dough is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper, and diced pears are cooked down with jarred honey jujube tea marmalade until they reduce together into a jammy compote,” developer Joy Cho explains. “The pear filling is spooned onto the grooved cookies after baking to better retain the shape of the centers, and a sprinkle of eye-catching pine nuts completes the look.”

5. Latke Cookies by Emma Laperruque

Latkes might not seem like the most promising candidates to turn into cookies, but leave it to Food Editor Emma Laperruque to work her magic and do just that. These cookies have only four ingredients, and are inspired both by latkes and coconut macaroons. The result is a sweet-and-salty potato chip cookie that allows you to channel latke flavor without heating up a pan of oil.

6. Yule Log Cookies by Hetal Vasavada

A traditional Yule Log or buche de Noel is a wonderful centerpiece—but hard to fit into a cookie box. These Yule Log cookies look like miniature versions of the classic, right down to the chocolate swirl in the center. Break out your fanciest sprinkles to give them extra pizazz.

7. Strawberry & Pistachio Knafeh Cookie by Reem Kassis

The Arabesque Table author Reem Kassis takes knafeh, a sweet cheese and shredded phyllo treat widely enjoyed across the Middle East, and transforms them into these gorgeous holiday cookies, accented with crushed pistachios and floral orange-blossom- and rose-waters.

8. Espresso Martini Cookies by Reina Gascon-Lopez

A craze in the '90s that has once again become the it drink, espresso martinis are everywhere, including in these boldly flavored cookies. Garnish them with flaky smoked salt or, if you’re feeling extra, give them a dip in white chocolate, sprinkle with chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans, and serve in a martini glass.

9. Fruitcake Cookies by Briana Riddock

Use whatever dried fruit you have on hand to make these glorious fruitcake cookies, a riff on the holiday classic that is as beloved as it is divisive. You can customize it to whatever your favorite fruit flavors are, but don’t skimp on the spices, which give the warming backbone to these sweets.

10. Rum Ball Cookies by Nik Sharma

If you love rum balls but want them to be more cookie-like—cookbook author Nik Sharma has you covered. He describes the flavor here as “boozy chocolate baklava sans the pastry,” and that’s exactly what they taste like.

11. Pannetone Cookies by Grant Melton

Think of these as the slice-and-bake version of pannetone, just perfect for keeping in the fridge or freezer to bake off when loved ones arrive. "In true holiday spirit, I like to serve them with a nip of Amaretto," Supervising Producer Grant Melton writes.

12. Roasted Chestnut Cookie by Jillian Atkinson

You might know of roasted chestnuts primarily from Christmas carols, but these thumbprint cookies, which combine the nuttiness of chestnuts with fig jam, will convince you that they’re worth keeping around for more than just the novelty.

13. Mulled Wine Ka’ak by Reem Kassis

These cookies take the Palestinian tradition of making ka’ak and mamoul cookies and infuse them with mulled wine spices, which you can either buy premade (online or at the grocery store) or make yourself.

Which cookies will you try first? Let us know in the comments!
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Margaret Eby

Written by: Margaret Eby

Editorial Lead of Food, Food52


Karen K. December 6, 2021
I made the latke cookies. They are strangely addictive- just like potato chips. Made them for a Chanukah party and used sweetened condensed coconut milk to make them dairy free. Only 3 of 8 people game them a thumbs up (me included) but the one guys who doesn’t really like sweets loved them!
Karen A. December 5, 2021
Yule log Cookies?! Genius!
Pammalamma December 5, 2021
Where can I buy the box FULL of already baked cookies?
Stephanie C. December 5, 2021
Where can I buy this perfect cookie box?
Donna D. December 5, 2021
similar but with fewer compartments on Amazon
Stephanie C. December 5, 2021
Thank you! Happy holidays 😊
Kathryn December 5, 2021
Amazon box suggested is wood. Where can cardboard sectioned box be found?
Christina December 5, 2021
I’ve seen them at Michael’s. You could also get a larger box and “section” it with cupcake liners or other baked good liners. :-)
Kidsr13303! December 3, 2021
How can I make or purchase a cookie box like this? The sections are perfect for my cookies
Christina December 5, 2021
Amazon has these: Gretel 6x6 Brown Bakery Boxes with Window and Dividers | Four Compartment Brownie Box for Small Cookies, Charcuterie, Baked Goods, and Treats | 6x6x2.4 in | 24 Pack (Kraft)

I’ve also seen them at Michael’s. You could get a larger box and “section” it with cupcake liners or other baked good liners. :-)
Monica C. December 2, 2021
Genius ❤️