Holiday Guide: Cookies are delicious and versatile

  • Cut sugar cookie dough Sarah Pearson—Concord Monitor

  • For stained glass cookies, cut out the center of your shape and fill the dough with crushed hard candy.

  • For thumbprint cookies, fold in cocoa powder to the dough. Roll in crushed nuts. Then, use your thumb to form an indentation and fill with jam.

  • Three styles of cookies that start from a basic sugar cookie recipe. Iced sugar cookies (left) and stained glass and thumbprint cookies (right). Sarah Pearson / Concord Monitor

Concord Monitor
Published: 11/20/2021 4:00:40 PM
Modified: 11/20/2021 4:00:25 PM

Cookies and the holidays seem to go hand-in-hand. Need a gift? Give cookies? Unexpected company? Serve cookies. Want a party theme? Cookie swap. 

There are so many different types, but you can cheat your way to variety by making a big batch of your favorite cutable sugar or shortbread cookie recipe and adding different elements. 

The following are based on cookies I made using the basic cookie dough recipe from Good Housekeeping, which was published in “Holiday Cheer” (Hearst, 2014).


Basic Cookie Dough

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

It should be noted that cookies can be fickle and it is not recommended to use a butter substitute for this recipe.  


In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add in egg and vanilla. Gradually fold in flour, baking soda and salt. 

Divide dough into two sections, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge at least two hours. 


For iced sugar cookies: Working with one portion at a time, roll your dough about ¼-inch thick and use cookie cutters to make shapes.

Space out your cookies about two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 

If it takes you a long time to cut out the cookies, you may want to chill in the fridge for another 15 minutes before baking. If the dough is too warm before baking, the shapes will melt and distort. 

Bake at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the cookies brown and the center is just about set. 

Let cool. 

Make your preferred icing (usually confectionary sugar and milk) or buy in a package to decorate. Maybe add some sprinkles. 

For stained glass window cookies:  These cookies are made using crushed hard candies (like Jolly Ranchers). You can smash in a bag with a rolling pin or hammer, or pulverized in a food processor. The pieces don’t have to be superfine, about the size of grains of rice is ideal.

Similar to the iced cookies, you’ll use cookie cutters to make your shapes. You’ll also want to cut out the center (leave about ¼-inch of dough perimeter). To cut out the center, you can use the end of a piping tip, a cleaned bottle lid or a knife and a steady hand. 

Space the dough cutouts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Add the crushed candies to the center. 

Again, if your dough warms up too much during the cutting process, you may want to chill. 

Bake at 375 for about 6-7 minutes or until the cookie is lightly browned and the candy had melted. 

Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the pan so the candy had time to set. 

For the thumbprints: These cookies have more changes to the basic dough. Instead of vanilla extract, swap in almond extract. Then add 2 oz. melted unsweetened baking chocolate and ¼ unsweetened cocoa powder to your dough. 

Roll the dough into one-inch balls. Then coat with crushed almonds.

After your dough balls are lined up on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, it's time to put those thumbs to work. Use your thumbs to make a small indentation on the top of each cookie.

Fill the indentations with raspberry jam. 

(Feel free to forgo the chocolate in the dough and mix up the flavors of nut and jam, after all, we’re all about variation here.) 

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until jam is bubbly and cookies are baked through. 


These cookies can be stored for several days at room temperatures or up to three months in the freeze. 

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