Holiday Cookie Showcase: Twists on classics and tips for making the perfect batch

Living Well

Christmas is just around the corner–and that means it’s time to bring out the holiday cookies! Registered dietitian Kim Galeaz shares tips and hints for baking the perfect batch.

Kim also offers her Holiday Cookie Showcase, which features “classics with a twist.” The featured recipes are below:

Triple Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 ¼ cups Kroger Milk Chocolate Chips
  • ¾ cup Kroger Honey Roasted Peanuts, chopped
  • 1 bag (7.6 oz.) Mini Unwrapped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut in half (roughly 1 1/3 cups total pieces)
  • 1 cup Kroger unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Kroger creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kroger pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For Drizzle:

  • 2/3 to 1 bag (10 to 12 oz. bag) Private Selection 62% Dark Chocolate Chunks or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted

Heat oven to 350⁰F. In a medium bowl, stir together chocolate chips, chopped peanuts and chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups; set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large bowl electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla until thoroughly blended and creamy. Add eggs and beat just until blended. Add flour mixture gradually, blending just until combined after each addition. Stir in (by hand preferably), the peanut-chocolate-Reese’s mixture.

Using a #60 cookie scoop (2 teaspoon size leveled), drop dough balls onto ungreased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until very lightly browned on bottoms – cookies will harden as they cool. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet, then remove cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Once cookies are cooled, drizzle with the melted chocolate and let sit on cooling racks until chocolate drizzle is hardened. Store cookies in cool, dry place in tightly covered container between layers of waxed or parchment paper (for 3 to 4 days). Can also be frozen. Makes about 90 cookies.

Recipe by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Galeaz, RDN LD

Brownie Toffee Cookies

  • 1 bag (8 oz.) Heath Milk Chocolate English Toffee Bits
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans
  • 2/3 cup Kroger Mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 box (4 ounces) unsweetened chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups Kroger semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) Kroger unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Kroger Pure Vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350⁰F. Mix Heath pieces, chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips in a medium bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt together; set aside. In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the unsweetened chocolate, semisweet chips and butter, stirring constantly, until it’s all melted. Set aside to cool for just 15 minutes, just slightly. It will harden as it cools, so don’t let it sit too long.

In the bowl of electric mixture, beat granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until thick, creamy and light yellow. This will take 4 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour minute to egg minute, mixing until blended. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and mix until blended. Avoid over-mixing. By hand, stir in the Heath-pecan-chocolate chip mixture.

Using a #40 scoop (1 ½ tablespoon leveled size), drop dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake 9 to 10 minutes; avoid overcooking, as cookies will definitely harden as they cool. Look for the tops to be shiny, and just barely starting to crack. You want these cookies to end up chewy, dense, not dry and hard. Cool on baking sheet just a minute, then remove cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Once cookies are cooled, store cookies in airtight containers between layers of parchment or waxed paper. Can stay at room temp for a couple days; also can freeze. Makes about 52 cookies.

Note: the cookie batter will become a little hard to work with as the chocolate cools in the mixture while you’re scooping them up. This is normal.

Recipe by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Galeaz, RDN LD

Chocolate Dipped Cherry Shortbread

  • 2/3 to ¾ cup finely chopped maraschino cherries (from 10-12 ounce jar)*
  • ¾ cup finely chopped Private Selection White Chocolate Chips*
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Kroger salted butter, cut into diced-pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (from jar of cherries)
  • Granulated sugar (for flattening before baking)

For Dipping:

  • At least 8 to 12 ounces white chocolate chips or chopped bars, melted
  • At least 8 to 12 ounces Private Selection Semisweet Chocolate Chips, melted

Drain whole maraschino cherries, reserving all cherry juice, then pat dry. Finely chop, then measure the amount you need. Pat dry those chopped pieces a little more, too. Measure white chocolate after chopping as well.

Heat oven to 325⁰F. In a large metal or glass bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. Add diced butter and cut it in with a pastry blender until it is thoroughly incorporated and looks like fine crumbs. (Pieces should be way smaller than pea-size). With a fork, stir in chopped cherries, chopped white chocolate, almond extract and food coloring. Mixture will be very, very dry, and you’ll just mix with fork until cherries and chocolate pieces are fairly mixed around. Then, knead with your hands in bowl, gathering up all the crumbs and working dough to form a ball. It will become much more pliable, and not dry any longer.

Using a #60 scoop (2 teaspoon size leveled), place balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Dip a drinking glass bottom into sugar, and flatten each ball to 1 ½ inch discs. Bake 13 to 15 minutes, until cookies appear “set” and the bottoms are the faintest shade of brown. Cool on baking sheet just a minute, then remove to wire cooling racks. They will harden slightly as they cool. Once cooled, dip one-half of cookie in melted chocolate, white or semisweet. Place dipped cookies on wire cooling racks until the chocolate (sets) hardens thoroughly. Pack in airtight containers between layers of parchment paper or waxed paper. Makes about 50 – 52 cookies.

Recipe by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Galeaz, RDN LD

Lemon Almond Crescents

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup finely ground almonds (ground in food processor, measured after grinding)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Kroger unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup Kroger powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kroger pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Kroger lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 4-6 cups additional powdered sugar for coating cookies

Whisk together flour, almonds and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Place butter and powdered sugar in bowl of electric mixer, and beat at low to medium speed until combined, light and fluffy. Add lemon zest, lemon extract and vanilla extract and mix again until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and on low speed, gradually add in flour mixture and beat just until incorporated after each addition. Form dough into a disc/ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour (can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.)

Heat oven to 350⁰F. Using a #60 scoop (2 teaspoons leveled), turn balls of dough from scoop into logs about 2 to 2 ¼-inches long. Form log into crescent by turning in ends. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 13 to 15 minutes, until bottoms are barely browned. Cool on sheet about 1-2 minutes, then remove to wire cooling rack. Roll in powdered sugar while still hot. Roll again in powdered sugar before packing. Store in layers in tightly covered container, using parchment paper or waxed paper in between layers. Store in cool dry place. Makes about 50 cookies. Recipe by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Galeaz, RDN LD

Butterscotch Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Bars with Brown Butter Glaze

  • 1 bag (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped dried cranberries, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour (Kroger or King Arthur brand)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Kroger salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3 cups Kroger old-fashioned oats, uncooked

Browned Butter Glaze topping (below)

Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 10x15x1-inch jelly roll baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine butterscotch chips, ¾ cup dried chopped cranberries and ¾ cup chopped walnuts. Set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon; set aside. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and orange zest; beat well. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. Stir in oats and chip-nut-fruit mixture. Spread or pat batter in pan evenly. Bake 17 – 19 minutes or until light golden brown. Bars may appear slightly sticky in center with toothpick and they will appear a tad “puffed”. They’ll deflate once cooled. Be sure not to overcook, as bars harden slightly as they cool. Cool on wire rack. Once cooled, spread with browned butter glaze and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup dried cranberries and ½ cup chopped walnuts. Cut into bars and store in tightly covered container between layers of waxed or parchment paper. Makes about 28 large bars (4 x 7 cut) or 56 rectangular or diamond bars.

Browned Butter Glaze

  • ¼ cup salted butter, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Place powdered sugar in large glass bowl. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the butter pieces, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Cook and stir constantly for 2 to 4 minutes until the butter starts to brown and smells nutty. Watch and stir closely, as it’ll turn to burned butter in seconds. Pour browned butter over powdered sugar immediately. Stir while adding a couple tablespoons milk. Add more milk until glaze is desired spreading consistency. You’ll have enough for a thin iced layer over bars. Sprinkle with remaining berries and nuts.

Recipe by culinary registered dietitian nutritionist, Kim Galeaz, RDN LD

Most Popular

Latest News

More News