From Peppermint Spritz Cookies to Eggnog Caramels, the sweet flavors of the season are the stars of these cookie and candy recipes.
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Biting into one of these homemade confections is like stepping into a snow globe -- in an instant, you’re immersed in the sights, scents, and flavors of a storybook holiday setting. Whip up a batch (or several, for lucky friends at the cookie swap) to make some sweet magic of your own.
Click through for our irresistible recipes.
For these sandwich cookies with apricot jam peeking out, you'll need cutters in two different sizes -- one to shape the cookies, and a smaller one to cut a window out of the top. The filling has a warm glow, but these beacons also shine bright when filled with raspberry or blackberry preserves.
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The go-to present of Christmases past gets a makeover. Unlike versions of yore, these fruitcakes don't need to be made weeks ahead and "fed" with alcohol. The bite-size cubes are filled with glacé cherries, candied citron, and dried papaya, and flavored with chewy almond paste and kirsch. Last, each little cake is covered in chocolate fondant flecked with edible gold leaf -- the fanciest of wrappings.
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Tree decorating and cookie making get rolled into one when you bake an ovenful of ornaments. We spiked our tried-and-true sugar-cookie dough with orange juice and zest (lemon is lovely, too) and punched the shapes out with a cookie cutter, then iced them with a citrus glaze. To hang on a tree, poke a hole near the tops with a straw before baking, and thread a ribbon through once they've cooled.
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It's not Christmas in England unless there's a cracker on each plate; revelers pull apart the foil-wrapped ends and goodies tumble out. These minis mimic the real thing but are filled with a single tantalizing surprise: a homemade caramel spiked with brandy, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. That's right, it's the eggnog flavor of everyone’s favorite holiday tipple -- and they're jolly good.
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For these fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth truffles, pulse dried shredded coconut and cashew nuts in a food processor with white chocolate and hot cream, then chill. Scoop the mixture into balls, chill some more, and roll them in a dollop of melted white chocolate and coconut flakes (no mittens required!). Bonus: These cool sweets can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to two weeks; bring them to room temperature just before serving.
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Welcome guests with the wreath on your door, then warm their hearts with bite-size wreath cookies. We shaped peppermint-laced dough with a spritz press. If you don't have one, you can roll dough into ropes and curve it into loops. To bring home the winter-fresh vibe add a drop of red food coloring to the glaze, and swirl the cookies in it for a marbled finish.
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They look like a pro made them, but creating the tasty delicacies is as straightforward as making jelly -- all you need is a good thermometer. We cooked frozen plum purée with sugar, citric acid, corn syrup, and liquid pectin. Then we poured the mixture into domed molds, let it cool, and tossed it in fine sanding sugar. The pâtes de fruits are finished with slivered-pistachio leaves.
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There are lots of ways to get creative with tuiles, but we think these miniature birch logs torch the competition. To make their bark-like markings, tint a half-cup of the batter with cocoa, then use it to pipe dashes and dots onto a silicone baking mat. Spread thin rounds of plain batter on top and bake. While the cookies are still warm, roll them into cylinders and let cool, seam-sides down. Serve them stacked in "woodpiles."