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The L.A. Times 2020 Holiday Cookies

The 2020 holiday cookies contributed by pastry chefs and cooks in Los Angeles.
The 2020 holiday cookies contributed by pastry chefs and cooks in Los Angeles.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times; prop styling by Leah Choi)
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We all have pleasant memories tied to holiday cookies. No matter which holiday you celebrate, these small, sweet bites stick out in our minds because they mark good times at the end of the year and remind us of good times with family.

It’s with that in mind that I bring you this year’s collection of holiday cookies, each created by a different pastry chef or cook in Los Angeles. This group of chefs have made some of the most exciting sugar-based treats in the city this past year, and their inspirations come from all over the world — from the abundance of California to Tel Aviv, Lebanon, Argentina and Mexico. You have chewy, deeply spiced saucers next to simple butter-and-vanilla pillows, and rich, cakey bars next to crumbly, nutty shortbread filled with gooey dulce de leche.

But what you won’t find this time around are crazy sparkling sugars, dyed decorations or cutters that test your nerves with intricate, hard-to-free-dough-from designs. Instead, we offer a batch of simple but delicious cookies that require the barest of equipment or skill, reflecting the simplicity of passed-down family recipes. In a year mostly devoid of fellowship, these homestyle pleasures hearken back to a time of togetherness with family and the memories of holidays past.

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Getting started

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The chefs

Rose Wilde’s “pucker-doodle” cookies swap the traditional cinnamon coating for tart, bright sumac sugar.

Buttermilk adds tang to these simple Southern “tea cake” cookies from Kim Prince.

Mei Lin adds extra browned butter to enrich these espresso-tinged chocolate chip cookies.

Alfajor de Nuez, a walnut-studded cookie created by Arturo Enciso and Ana Belén Salatino.

Cardamom lightly perfumes these chocolate chip cookies, enriched with tahini and topped with sweet halva candy, by Zoë Komarin.

Brad Ray’s deeply-spiced, fresh ginger and molasses cookies.

Homemade raspberry jam adds pockets of fruity jam in these warm, toasty brown sugar blondies, scented with cardamom.

Cream cheese and plenty of sugar enrich these custardy squares from Jess Stephens.

Toasted almonds and caramel add warmth to these crunchy vegan biscotti by Justine Hernandez.

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The recipes

Pucker-Doodles

Time 50 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
Yields Makes 3 1/2 dozen

Southern Buttermilk Tea Cakes

Time 30 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
Yields Makes 3 dozen

Brown Butter Espresso Cookies

Time 1 hour, plus 6 hours chilling
Yields Makes 3 1/2 dozen

Alfajor de Nuez (Walnut Cookies With Dulce de Leche and Coconut)

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes 2 dozen

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies With Halva and Cardamom

Time 45 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
Yields Makes 32 cookies

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Giant Ginger Molasses Cookies

Time 1 hour, plus overnight chilling
Yields Makes 16 large cookies

Cardamom Raspberry Bars

Time 1 hour
Yields Makes 2 dozen

Gooey Butter Cake Squares

Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields Makes 2 dozen

Teddy Bear Biscotti

Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Yields Makes 3 dozen