MOTHER’S 1987 Christmas Cookie Recipe Contest Winners

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A cookie collection including: Busia's Yuletide Cookies, Mocha Chocolate Cookies, Meltaways Cookies, Almond Butter Cookies, and Fruitcake Cookies.

The winners of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS cookie recipe contest share their recipes for memorable holiday snacking.

MOTHER’S 1987 Christmas Cookie Recipe Contest Winners

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is staffed by tough, seasoned professionals, able to work under good conditions or bad. And if journalistic enterprise and editorial integrity force us to sample fresh-baked cookies day after day, week after week–well, we’re up to it.

“Send us your best recipe,” we said in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 106, announcing our Great Christmas Cookie contest. And you did–almost 200 of you. We sifted through the entries and gave the likely-looking ones to our test bakers, who brought the finished products into the office.

“Cookie test!” Typewriters stopped; conversations ended; offices emptied. Editors and shippers, illustrators and typesetters, administrators and receptionists quick-marched through the halls toward a long table holding half-a-dozen varieties of Christmas cookies.

And now, after two months of such hardships, we’ve arrived at our 10 favorites.

How did we select the winners? We discussed each batch at length, of course: “Great texture.” “Too much salt.” “An interesting twist on an old recipe.” But there were other indications when we found a really great cookie. People lingered around the table to debate fine points of editorial policy–between bites. They left with groaning plates, explaining, “I know this looks like a lot, but some of these are for my office mates.” They returned five and six times, trying to look investigative, instead of greedy. They demanded recipes. (“It’ll probably be in the magazine.” “I want it now.”) They left only a few lonesome crumbs at the end of the day. And weeks later, while they nibbled a cookie that failed to inspire them, they waxed nostalgic: “Remember the cherry walnut bars?” Sighs all around.

Two notes about our testing. First, our bakers used exactly the ingredients specified. If butter was listed, we did not substitute margarine. If there were alternative ingredients, we used the first one. Second, remember that oven thermostats vary widely. We’d suggest that you bake a few test cookies first, to avoid scorching or under baking an entire batch. So here you have them–our 10 favorite recipes from dozens sent to us by our talented readers. We’d recommend that you try every one of them. After all, we’ve already done the hard part.

Fruitcake Cookies Recipe

Most MOTHER staffers subscribe to the theory that there’s only one fruitcake in the world, and each year it gets passed from person to person. But every last one of us loved these cookies.

6 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 pounds candied pineapple
1 pound candied cherries
1 pound dates 1 pound white raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 /4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
4 eggs
1/2 cup brandy

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop nuts and fruit. In very large mixing bowl, dissolve soda in buttermilk. Add all remaining ingredients and drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. You can vary the amount of batter dropped to produce the size cookie you prefer; 1-1/2 teaspoons rum flavoring may be substituted for the brandy. Note: This recipe yields between 5 and 6 dozen cookies. It’s easy to halve if you want to make fewer.

–Helen S. Hogg

Coconut Cornucopias Recipe

These elegant cookies use three ingredients treasured by holiday cooks: coconut, brandy and whipped cream.

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1-1/2 cups shredded and chopped coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in saucepan. Add coconut and cook until browned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add sugar, mixing well. Cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place cooled mixture in mixing bowl, add eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Drop from teaspoon onto greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove promptly from baking sheet and roll each soft cookie around the handle of a wooden spoon (or a pencil or pen), turning the bottom side in to form the cone-shaped cornucopia. If the cookies harden too quickly, return to oven until soft. Fill with whipped cream mixture and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

2 cups whipped cream
1 tablespoon peach brandy
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon shredded orange peel

Blend ingredients and use paper cone or knife to fill cornucopias. Note: Most of MOTHER’s testers preferred somewhat more brandy and a tad less orange peel.

–Fan Cross
Brooksville, Florida

Cherry Walnut Bars Recipe

Our resident sweets-hater (“How can you people eat that stuff?”) was discovered with a stack of these in her desk drawer.

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (reserve juice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar and butter and press mixture into 9 by 12 pan. Bake for 20 minutes. In large bowl, blend together eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla. Add cherries, nuts and coconut. Pour batter over baked crust and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Cool and ice with powdered sugar frosting. Frosting: 2 tablespoons butter, softened 2 cups powdered sugar frosting.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
Maraschino cherry juice

Beat together butter, sugar and enough cherry juice to produce a spreadable icing.

–Robert Hartley
Kingston, Illinois

Meltaways Cookie Recipe

This buttery little cookie has a superb, melt-in-your mouth texture.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

Sift flour and cornstarch together and set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter and gradually beat in sugar; beat well. Add salt and vanilla; beat well. Stir in sifted dry ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate 2 or 3 hours. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Shape dough into small balls, place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 15-20 minutes. While cookies are still hot, roll them in powdered sugar.

–Lillian Stockfish
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Meringue Mint Cookies Recipe

This was our favorite variation of kisses, or meringue cookies.

2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 10-ounce package mint chocolate chips
Few drops green food coloring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 minutes. Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil, then with waxed paper. In large mixing bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar and salt and beat until mixture peaks. Beat in sugar, a little at a time. Fold in chips and food coloring. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto lined cookie sheet. Since cookies will not change shape during baking, you may want to gently reshape any that look particularly unattractive when dropped. Place cookies in heated oven, turn off heat, and leave cookies in the oven for about 2 hours.

–Rosanne Funk
Ray City, Georgia

Busia’s Yuletide Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Strawberry or apricot preserves In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, vanilla and almond extract; mix well. Add flour and salt; beat well. Form dough into 1inch balls. In small bowl, beat egg white lightly. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Working one at a time, dip each ball first in egg white, rolling to coat, then in nuts, again rolling to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Using index finger or end of wooden spoon, make indentation in middle of each cookie. Bake 25 minutes and remove to wire rack. While cookies are still warm, put a dab of preserves in each indentation.

–Busia Savatski
Pewaukee, Wisconsin

Giant Oatmeal Spice Cookies Recipe

These huge, flavorful cookies would make excellent stocking stuffers.

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 /2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
1-2 teaspoons cloves (we preferred the lesser amount)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In small mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, soda and spices. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and nuts (if desired). Drop dough by 1/4 cups 5 inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly on cookie sheets, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

–Beverly Bracken
Lorena, Texas

Mocha Chocolate Cookies Recipe

Note to chocoholics: Two of our tasters said, “Good, but too chocolatey.” Everyone else simply moaned.

1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons boiling water.
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In top of double boiler, melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips over hot water. Cool to room temperature. In small bowl dissolve instant coffee in boiling water. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugars and coffee, and beat until creamy. Add egg and melted chocolate chips, and mix well. Add flour mixture, stir. in remaining chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Allow to stand 2-3 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

–Carolyn Hoover
Glen Haven, California

White Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies Recipe

“You’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven,” the entry said. We won’t argue.

1 pound butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
6 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups chopped pecans
4 cups white chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil. In very large mixing bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs until blended; beat 4 minutes more. Beat in flour, salt and baking soda until well mixed. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto foil-lined cookie sheets and use glass or hand to flatten a little. Bake 8-10 minutes. (Baking time varies with the size of your cookies. Do not overbake, or cookies will be hard when cool.) Let stand about 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool. *Note: If white chocolate chips are not available in your area, you can break blocks of white chocolate into chip-sized pieces.

–Mary Lou Crawford
Burbank, California

Almond Butter Cookies Recipe

These rich, attractive cookies are easy to make.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Unblanched sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In large mixing bowl, cream butter thoroughly. Add sugar and almond extract and beat well. Sift together flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Chill (for ease in handling). Shape into 1-inch balls, place on baking sheet, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with glass dipped in flour. Bake 10-12 minutes. When cool, frost and decorate with sliced almonds.

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 /2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons hot water Few drops-green food coloring

In small bowl, stir together sugar, butter, vanilla and hot water until smooth. Add food coloring until desired tint is achieved. Frost each cookie with about 1/2 teaspoon frosting.

–Barbara Huggins
Ely, Nevada