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.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter with one-half cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and nuts. Beat the flour mixture slowly into the butter over low speed if using a stand mixer, or gently stir the flour into the butter mixture by hand until evenly combined to form a dough.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls (about 1 rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie); if the dough is too soft to roll, chill it in the refrigerator until it is easy to handle. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
While the cookies are still hot, gently roll them once in the remaining powdered sugar, then place the cookies on a rack to cool. After the cookies have cooled, roll them again in the remaining powdered sugar.
Store the cookies in tightly sealed plastic bags; they also freeze well.
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