Nothing says ’tis the season quite like a batch of warm, freshly baked cookies on a cold winter day. Homemade treats serve so many purposes (cookie swap at work, holiday dinner, thank-you gift for the mail carrier) and are universally appreciated. Whether you’re keeping the cookies all to yourself (no judgment!) or gifting them, these recipes shared by some of our favorite local bakeries will set you up for culinary success. From decadent rounds perfect for fall to gluten-free gingerbread and “buttery” vegan cookies, this collection has something for every sweet tooth. 

We tested each recipe to ensure that these professional-caliber cookies translate to the home kitchen, so you can trust that they’ll work and possibly earn instant-classic status among your recipe clippings. Feel free to make a double or triple batch; you can thank yourself later.


Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Peppermint Mocha Crinkle Cookies

from Henry’s Sweet Retreat. Makes 36 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces butter
  • 2 1⁄3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt 
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract 
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1⁄4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips 
  • 3⁄4 cup peppermint chunks (available at Amazon and in some grocery            stores, or use crushed candy canes)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for rolling

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

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2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. 

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, peppermint extract, espresso powder and eggs.   

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5. Fold flour mixture into the batter using a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips and peppermint chunks. 

6. In a shallow bowl, mix together powdered sugar and granulated sugar. 

7. Using a 2-ounce cookie scoop, scoop dough into the sugar mixture. Coat the cookie evenly in the mixture. While coating the cookie in sugar, roll it into a ball with your hands.

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8. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets (12 cookies per sheet; bake each tray as you complete it).  

9. Bake cookies until puffy and cracks have formed, 8-10 minutes. (Cookies will be soft and look raw between the cracks.) Let cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“Put a slice of white bread into the container that you are storing your cookies in—it keeps the cookies nice and soft. The cookies absorb the moisture from the bread. It works for all cookies!” —Chandler Raffa, pastry chef 

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Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Cranberry Coin Cookies

from Spring Mill Bread Co. Makes 48-60 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter (room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dried cranberries (you can substitute any favorite dried or candied fruit)
  • Crystal sugar, optional
  • 1 egg, optional

Instructions

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1. Cream butter and sugar with salt. Add flour and mix well. Add vanilla and mix well.

2. Stir in the dried fruit.

3. Using your hands, shape the dough into 2-inch-diameter logs, each about 12 inches long, on a lightly flour-dusted surface. Chill logs in refrigerator overnight. 

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4. Slice logs into 1⁄4-inch-thick slices. 

5. Place cookies on a baking sheet. (If you want to add a festive touch, sprinkle with crystal sugar. If you’d like your cookies to shine, you can lightly beat the optional egg and brush it over the dough.)

6. Bake at 300 F for 10-12 minutes, or until you have a nice golden edge.

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Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“We took [my mother] Anne’s original recipe with pecans for our snowballs and decided to experiment with it to make a more festive and colorful cookie. She was thrilled with this new adaptation of her childhood recipe. It’s fun to play with this cookie and try whatever fruits or nuts appeal to you the most.” —Katherine Rurka, owner


Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Bernardin Cookies

from Potomac Cookies. Makes 40 cookies.

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups (16 ounces) almond paste
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces (1⁄3 cup) egg whites 
  • 2 teaspoons rice flour
  • Whole almonds 
  • Granulated sugar 

Instructions:

1. Mix almond paste, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt using a mixer with paddle attachment. 

2. At a slow speed, gradually add half the egg whites and mix until smooth. Scrape the bowl, and then mix in the remaining egg whites. Mix in the rice flour. 

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3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats. With a pastry bag and medium-size plain tip, pipe cookies into 2-inch ovals on prepared sheets. When done, cover with a damp towel. 

4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie and finish by sprinkling the entire top with granulated sugar. Let cookies rest for 30 minutes. 

5. Bake cookies for 20-25 minutes. Once cooled, cookies can be stored for up to 3 weeks in protective packaging.

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Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“This cookie is mostly found in old classic bakeries and biscuit shops around Brussels, Belgium. It consists of almond paste, dark brown sugar, egg whites, rice flour and cinnamon. When I went through my training as a patissier in Antwerp, Belgium, I was fortunate to make these types of classics—that is why I still believe in offering these types of unique cookies to my customers.” —Gerard Partoens, owner


Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Gingerbread Cookies

from The Red Bandana Bakery (Gluten-free). Makes 12 cookies.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 7 ounces sugar (a little under 1 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces (2 cups) gluten-free flour blend (The Red Bandana Bakery uses a mix of 6 ounces white rice flour, 2 1⁄4 ounces brown rice flour, 2 1⁄4 ounces potato starch, and 1 1⁄2 ounces tapioca starch—a blend it sells in-store, too)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger

Instructions:

Cream together butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.  

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl between additions.

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3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add to mixer and mix on low speed for 60 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and mix again until fully combined.

4. Press the dough into flat rounds about 12 inches in diameter and 1-inch thick, then wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes (this will make it easier to work with).

5. Remove dough from the refrigerator, place it between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll it out until 1⁄3-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Transfer shapes to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Chill cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 325 F.

7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cookies are firm and reach an internal temperature of 200 F. Cool completely. Use a royal icing recipe or buy tubes of frosting to decorate.

Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“The great thing about gluten-free cookies is you can reroll the dough as many times as you need to without worrying about it getting tough or shrinking back on you. This recipe is tender and tasty, better for a cookie than a sturdy gingerbread house.” —Jaimie Mertz, owner


Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Snowball Cookies

from Sunflower Bakery (Vegan). Makes 50 cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup vegan butter (room temperature)

1⁄3 cup vegan granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1⁄8 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup finely chopped pecans 

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 pound vegan powdered sugar 

Instructions:

1. Cream together vegan butter and granulated sugar until incorporated.

2. Add the vanilla, almond extract and pecans, and mix until combined.

3. Add the flour 1 cup at a time on the lowest speed. Mix until smooth and incorporated.

4. Scoop into half-ounce portions (Sunflower Bakery staffers use a metal #70 cookie scoop). Freeze cookie balls until ready to bake. (Frozen, or at least refrigerated, cookie balls work well for baking—they will keep the “snowball” shape. Fresh dough will flatten out a bit and not be as round.) 

5. Preheat oven to 350 F (300 F if using a convection oven). Space semi-frozen cookies 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. 

6. Bake for 12-14 minutes until very pale golden.

7. Allow to cool for 5-8 minutes on baking sheet.

8. While cookies are still warm (they should be nearly hot), gently toss them in powdered sugar; the sugar will begin to melt and form a paste around the cookies. 

9. Place cookies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, not touching each other.

10. After cookies have completely cooled, toss in powdered sugar again to form a powdery shell. 

11. Serve cookies at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“This classic holiday cookie is commonly known as a Mexican wedding cookie. They melt in your mouth, and the sweetness of the cookie comes from the powdery sugar shell. I actually made this recipe for my kitchen interview at Sunflower Bakery in 2011, and it has been on our holiday menu for over a decade.” —Liz Hutter, chef and culinary director


Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Pumpkin White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

from Kaytering by Kay. Makes 20 cookies.

Ingredients:

2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger

1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3⁄4 cup pumpkin puree

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1⁄2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)

3⁄4 cup light brown sugar

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

1 1⁄2 cups white chocolate chips

1 1⁄2 cup macadamia nuts (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 340 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Whisk together and set aside.

3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla. Beat until well incorporated. 

4. Add dry ingredients 1 cup at a time and mix until the ingredients are well combined and form a dough. Fold in the white chocolate chips and optional macadamia nuts.

5. Using a small ice cream scoop, drop heaps of dough mixture, about 2 1⁄2 tablespoons each, 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.

6. Bake until lightly browned on top, about 12-15 minutes. Let cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or fully cooled.

Credit: Photo by Deb Lindsey.

“My inspiration for this recipe came from my daughter’s love for macadamia nut cookies. I thought that with the holidays around the corner, a great twist to this cookie would be to add pumpkin. This recipe tastes great and is a very simple recipe for anyone ages 2 to 110 to make. The macadamia nut is an optional add-on; the cookie is also amazing without the addition of nuts.” —Kay Guerra, owner and chef


Freelance writer Alyssa Langer is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She lives in Chevy Chase.

This story appears in the November/December 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.