Through the decades, The Salt Lake Tribune has published dozens of holiday cookie recipes — from coconut snowballs and chocolate crackles to ginger snaps and peanut squares.
While many in the collection are worth saving, a handful have become standouts — cookies that never go out of style no matter which way the culinary trends go.
These favorites vary in shape and flavor, but have a few commonalities: They’re easy enough for beginners to make while still offering a sophistication that expert cooks appreciate. They also taste fabulous.
So look no further for your Christmas baking needs as The Tribune introduces its all-star cookies from the archives.
Peanut blossoms • Peanut butter and chocolate come together in this cookie that showed up in the 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off. For many years thereafter, the recipe was published in newspapers across the country including The Tribune. It was such a favorite of Utah readers that the longtime food editor included it in her cookbook “Three Decades of Cooking with Donna Lou Morgan.”
Bourbon balls • During his 30 years as a columnist for The Tribune, Dan Valentine wrote hundreds of “Nothing Serious” columns. His folksy approach and cranky complaints delighted, entertained and occasionally infuriated readers. In December, fans could count on seeing his recipe for no-bake bourbon balls, made with crushed vanilla wafers, raisins, nuts, a bit of cocoa and, of course, a few jiggers of bourbon.
Chocolate peppermint brownies • It’s easy to get nostalgic about the old ZCMI department store and its basement bakery. Even if you didn’t find the clothes or shoes you wanted at this Main Street institution, you could always ride the escalator to the bottom floor and find the perfect treat in the long glass case. While everyone had a favorite cookie, the chocolate peppermint brownie with a mint-green filling tops our list.
Jam thumbprints • There’s something endearing about a recipe that says it’s OK to make a dent in the dough. Even better, it says to fill that hollow with sweet raspberry jam. While there are many recipe variations for this cookie, we like the one that Mati Mayfield shared with us in 2007. The recipe belongs to her mother, Pam Carson, who makes them every Christmas with her homemade jam. They are usually eaten before they have a chance to cool.
Super soft sugar cookies • It’s not Christmas without at least one batch of sugar cookies. Utah cook and food blogger Frieda Franchina contributed this recipe in 2009. It is easy to mix and roll. It’s also perfect those who like a soft and fluffy sugar cookie. Franchina said it’s actually her mother’s recipe, clipped from a newspaper many years ago.
Super soft sugar cookies
1 cup shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup hot water
5 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
4 ½-4 ¾ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup whole, skim or evaporated milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
For the cookies, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix completely. Dissolve baking soda in hot water, add to bowl and blend well.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternating milk with dry ingredients, add to the cream-sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly each time. Cover and chill, at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and grease two baking sheets.
Roll dough out on a well-floured surface until ¼ inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake until lightly brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
For the frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add half of the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in the milk and the vanilla. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar and additional milk, if necessary, to make frosting spreading consistency.
Servings • 6 to 8 dozen (depending on cookie size)
Source: Frieda Franchina, 2009 Holladay Cookie Collection
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 ½ teaspoons cocoa
1 cup chopped raisins
2 cups crushed vanilla wafer crumbs, crushed
1 cup nuts, chopped
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 jiggers of bourbon
In a large bowl, mix 1 cup powdered sugar, cocoa, raisins, vanilla wafers and nuts. Add the light corn syrup and bourbon. Roll into small balls. Roll balls in powdered sugar.
Servings » 24
Source: Dan Valentine
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
45 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugars, soda, salt, butter, peanut butter, egg, vanilla and milk. Mix on low speed until stiff dough forms. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and place a chocolate kiss in the center of each cookie. Cool completely.
Servings • 4 dozen
Source: Three Decades of Cooking with Donna Lou Morgan
½ cup butter or shortening
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg yolk
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
Raspberry jam or red currant jelly
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla. Blend in milk. Add flour and salt and mix until combined.
Place lightly beaten egg white in one bowl and finely chopped pecans in a second bowl.
Roll dough into balls about ¾ inch in diameter. Dip each ball into egg white and then pecans. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
Remove tray from oven and quickly indent the top of each ball with your thumb. (Dip thumb in cold water if it’s too hot.)
Return cookies to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and depress cookies again if necessary. Cool.
Place a bit of jam or jelly in each hollow.
Servings • About 3 dozen
Source: Pam Carson