Check out these edible Christmas presents we love – because the way to most of our hearts is through our stomachs!
Sometimes, there’s nothing you need more than a warm, cosy cookie drizzled with piping hot chocolate. I love the festive season because not only do I get the chance to give and receive gifts but I can also get creative with my presents each year. These classic recipes give you the no-fuss foundations you can keep in your pocket and spice up as you like. Remember, half the fun is also in the packaging so we’ve included some ideas for that too!
Sassy Tip: For those who are dairy and gluten-free, feel free to substitute items like butter with vegan butter or coconut oil, all-purpose flour with almond flour, and eggs with ground flaxseed eggs.
Linzer Cookies – Personalise with your favourite filling!
Based on the classic Viennese Linzer Torte, Linzer cookies are buttery, jam-filled sandwich cookies. Their melt-in-your-mouth shortbread texture comes from the almond flour in the dough, and the filling peeks through the top layer which makes it look like a stained-glass window when filled with colourful jam.
Take it to the next level: Experiment with your friends’ favourite fillings
Servings: About 30 cookies
Total Time: 40 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes to chill the dough
1⅓ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and levelled off
½ tsp salt
14 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch slices
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
About 1 cup raspberry or apricot jam, or any filling you like (I used Nutella!)
- In a food processor, sift in the sugar, almond flour, AP flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (about twenty 1-second pulses).
Tip: If you do not have a food processor, don’t sweat! Use a cheese grater to break down cold butter into smaller pieces and mix with your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract (optional) and process until the dough forms a crumbly, clumpy mass, 20 to 25 seconds.
- Transfer the dough to a clean work surface or mixing bowl, and knead it into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half and form two disks, wrap each disk tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 days.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator and knead with your hands until just soft and malleable enough to roll. Be careful not to overwork the dough, it should still feel cool. Dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll out the dough to ⅛-inch thickness.
- Using a 2.5-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles. After creating the circles, use a smaller 1-inch cookie cutter to cut out the inner centres from half of the circles (these will be used for the top layer of the cookies). Be as creative as you want, whether you’re using a circle, heart or even tree-shaped cut-outs made with a cookie cutter or knife.
- Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 1 inch apart.
- Gather up the scraps, knead into a flat disc, roll, and repeat step 6 (if too warm, pop them back in the fridge for a bit).
- Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If using the second disc of dough immediately, remove it from the refrigerator and repeat the process.
- Lightly sift confectioners’ sugar over the cookie top layers (with centres cut out). Spread about 1 teaspoon jam, nutella, or any filling you like, on each of the bottom halves, and sandwich both halves together. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Packaging: These Christmas Bell Cookie Bags from BakingWarehouse are perfect to store your goodies. You’ll just need to secure the top with some Christmas ribbon or curling ribbon.
Lace Cookies — Crispy, caramelised delicacies
Created in honour of the 17th-century French queen Catherine de Medici, these delicately crispy cookies taste like the perfect blend of almonds and toffee. While they are traditionally made with candied orange, finely chopped almonds, and vanilla, I use only the most foundational ingredients here.
Take it to the next level: For more contrasting flavours, add some candied orange peel and drizzle melted chocolate on top!
Servings: About 48 cookies
Total time: 45 minutes
¾ cup (105g) whole blanched almonds
¼ cup (30g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter
½ cup (105g) packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (55g) heavy cream
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (170g) chocolate chips, melted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor, pulse almonds until finely chopped but not so fine they turn into flour. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in flour and salt.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, brown sugar, cream and granulated sugar, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients, then let cool for 5 minutes.
- Using a teaspoon, spoon batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 3″ apart.
- Bake until golden and batter has spread into a lacey pattern, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Separate cookies from parchment, transfer them to a wire rack, and let them cool completely (they will continue to crisp as they cool).
- If desired, spread the backs of cookies with chocolate or drizzle over the tops. Refrigerate to harden chocolate, for about 20 minutes.
- Cookies can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Packaging: We ordered some festive cookie boxes online and crinkled up some baking paper to line the inside of the boxes where the cookies sat. Remember to handle your boxes with care when you deliver them to your recipient as they’re quite delicate and can break easily.
Chocolate Truffles – Elegant and crowd-pleasing bites
Ultra-sticky before refrigeration, these truffles melt in your mouth as much as they melt your heart. A recipe for anyone looking for a gift that will impress.
Take it to the next level: Coat the chocolate truffles with crushed peppermint, candy canes, or even nuts to bring colour to the chocolate.
Servings: 10 to 12 truffles
Total time: 2 hours
One quality chocolate bar (100g), very finely chopped*
⅔ cup heavy cream*
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (optional)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
Toppings: unsweetened cocoa powder, sprinkles, crushed nuts, melted or tempered chocolate
- Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the heavy cream until it is simmering. You can heat it on the stove or in the microwave.
- Add the butter, if using, to the chocolate and pour the heavy cream evenly on top. Let the warm cream and chocolate sit for 5 minutes. Add vanilla extract then stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Tip: Pour into a flat shallow dish, such as an 8″×8″ baking pan, so the mixture evenly and quickly sets.
- For small truffles, scoop up 2 teaspoon-sized amounts from the set truffle mixture. For larger truffles, scoop up 1 tablespoon-size mound. Roll each into balls.
Tip: This gets a little sticky so after rolling, refrigerate uncovered for another 15–30 minutes to let the mounds dry out.
- Roll each into toppings, if desired. Truffles taste best at room temperature!
- Cover tightly and store truffles at room temperature for 3–4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Packaging: We use miniature foil cupcake cases like these and place them on a Christmas-themed paper plate but if you can’t get hold of any we think these chocolate boxes from Baking Maniac would also be great for gifting your truffles. Grab some festive ribbon from Sham Shui Po or Pottinger Street and you’re good to go!
Images courtesy of Joy Lee for Sassy Media Group.