5 Bakers Share Their Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes
There’s more to the holiday cookie recipes we coaxed (OK, begged) out of some of Toronto’s hottest bakeries than flour, butter and chocolate. Though there is plenty of that, too. The true magic comes from the way these bakers distil childhood memories, world travel — even literature! — into a perfect, sweet bite. It’s why thousands of their divine treats fly off the shelves over the holiday season. We spent time in the kitchen with each of these bakers, learning their secrets, and testing more cookies than was perhaps strictly necessary. But it was all to bring you these easy-to-make recipes that are sure to become traditions in your own home. You’re welcome!
Owner and Head Pastry Chef of Nadège Patisserie
The cookie: Honey Madelienes
“Madeleines have been made famous by the French author Marcel Proust,” she says. “He wrote about how an episode from his childhood came to him after tasting a madeleine dipped in tea.”
“They remind me of the afternoons I spent with my grandmother having tea, where I’d listen to amazing stories about when my grandparents were young or when they ran their pastry shop,” says Nadège.
Get the recipe for Honey Madeleines.
Owner and Head Baker of Bakerbots Baking
The cookie: Gingerbread With Rosewater Cream Cheese Glaze
“The gingerbread is slightly peppery and not too sweet, with the rosewater cream cheese glaze rounding out the flavor,” she says. “It can be topped with whatever you have in your cupboards — I love dehydrated raspberries with rosewater — but it’s totally adaptable, which makes it great for the holiday season.”
“Start with a thick glaze and then dilute with milk until you get the right consistency,” says Rosanne. “Then, practice dipping until the glaze holds and stops at the edge of the cookie.”
Get the recipe for Gingerbread With Rosewater Cream Cheese Glaze.
Stephanie Duong & Bruce Lee
Co-Owners of Roselle
The cookies: Earl Grey Shorties & Toffee Pecan Dark Chocolate Shortbread
“Shortbread is wonderful for the holidays because you can make it ahead of time,” says Bruce. “It freezes extremely well, so you’re always prepared should you have unexpected guests.”
“We took all of our favorite winter flavors (caramel, nuts and chocolate) and crammed them into a buttery shortbread,” says Bruce. “We love the crunchy decadence of the dark chocolate and the way the toffee melts and creates soft, sugary crevices,” says Bruce of the Toffee Pecan Dark Chocolate Shortbread.
Senior Pastry Chef of Forno Cultura
The cookies: Hazelnut Amaretti & Frollini Cannella
“During the winter holidays, we’ll make around 1,800 amaretti per week,” she says. “They fly off the shelves!”
“They’re the greatest secret weapon I have in my ‘make something delicious quick’ arsenal,” says Laura. “They’re great for the holidays because you can make a large batch before the calendar fills up with occasions, store them in a sealable bag or tin and freeze. Just pull out the amaretti when needed, and they’re ready to eat in minutes.”
Get the recipe for Hazelnut Amaretti.
“I spent hours baking versions of these Frollini for owner Andrea Mastrandrea,” she says. “I’d leave him test batches and I knew these would be a hit when there were only crumbs left”
Get the recipe for Frollini Cannella.
Head Pastry Chef of Blackbird Baking Co.
The cookies: Speculaas
“I’m Dutch, and the spices remind me of the holiday season,” he says. “Plus, the white pepper adds a touch of actual spiciness that makes it a little more old world.”
“The traditional speculaas is usually in a windmill shape; you can find many antique moulds online,” says Jordan. “Since the dough is very versatile, however, it can also be stamped, etched or cut into many shapes and designs. Underbake them to make the cookies chewier, or sandwich two together with buttercream or ganache.”
Get the recipe for Speculaas.