Holiday cookies can be divided into two categories. There are the picture-perfect cookies we see in the glossy magazines, the ones that make us oooh and ahhh over their dazzling designs and festive colors and look too pretty to eat.
Then there are your family’s favorite holiday cookies: They may not be Martha, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
This fall we asked readers of the L.A. Times Food section to tell us about those recipes for our first Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, and we asked the public to help us crowd-source their favorites.
More than 350 recipes were submitted online, and almost 80,000 votes were cast. We took the Top 50 vote getters to the folks at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, and students there baked them all off. L.A. Times Food editor Russ Parsons, deputy Food editor Betty Hallock and Times Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter spent one Saturday morning tasting every single one along with Lachlan Sands, dean of Cordon Bleu, Rebecca Marrs, director of career services at Cordon Bleu, and Porsche Reid, a student.
Despite six different judges with 50 cookies to choose from, there was little debate about the top 10 favorites, which were subjected to another round of testing in the L.A. Times Test Kitchen and are presented here.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, or stir in the flour mixture by hand until evenly combined to form a dough.
Divide the dough in half, and add the food coloring and peppermint extract to one of the halves.
On a large work surface, roll each portion of dough between wax paper into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Remove the wax paper and place the red rectangle over the plain one, then roll up the dough lengthwise jelly-roll style. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or until firm.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the roll and cut it into one-fourth-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake until set, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool 2 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
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