Holiday Cookie roundup, Honemade Photography style

Our web photographer, Sarah Hone, through OMS Photo, is as talented in the kitchen as she is behind a camera. She and her husband baked holiday cookies to gift to friends, relatives and co-workers. Sarah planned a sweet impromptu photo shoot with their handiwork (and ours!) in the photo studio.

holiday cookie closeup

We’re gearing up for our own cookie exchange at our SKT holiday party, and I thought it would be fun to share Sarah’s sweet inspiration:

Soft and Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

Gingerbread Pepper Cookies (Pierniki) 

Almond or Hazelnut Crescent Cookies 

Millionaire's Shortbread

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies ( my favorite of the bunch!)

A good number of the recipes are from recipe subscription sites ( cook’s illustrated and america’s test kitchen ) but Sarah shared an America’s Test Kitchen recipe with us, below. It was a crowd favorite in the SKT studio!


Almond or Hazelnut Crescent Cookies


Yield: Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Serving: 4

For a nut crescent cookie recipe with a melt-in-your-mouth quality, we tried three kinds of sugar in the batter: granulated, confectioners', and superfine. The last resulted in just what we wanted: cookies that melted in our mouths. In determining the amount (a modest 1/3 cup), we had to remember that the baked cookies would be sweetened once more by their traditional roll in confectioners' sugar. While some nut crescent cookie recipes argue in favor of coating the cookies while they're still warm from the oven, we found that this created exactly the pasty coating we wanted to avoid. We recommend letting the cookies cool to room temperature before finishing them off with confectioners' sugar.


  • 2 cups hazelnuts toasted, or a scant 1 3/4 cups whole blanched almonds (toasted or not)

  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

  • 3⁄4 teaspoon table salt

  • 1⁄2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks) softened

  • 1⁄3 cup superfine sugar

  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract if using almonds

  • 1 1⁄2 cups confectioners' sugar for rolling cooled cookies


Choosing almonds for your cookies automatically presents you with a choice: Whether to use them raw for traditional almond crescent cookies that are light in both color and flavor, or to toast them to enhance the almond flavor and darken the crescent. Toast hazelnuts and almonds in a preheated 350 degree oven until very lightly browned, stirring twice during baking, 12 to 14 minutes. You can buy superfine sugar in most grocery stores. You can also process regular granulated sugar to superfine consistency in about 30 seconds in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix 1 cup chopped nuts, flour, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. In workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process remaining chopped nuts until the texture of coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds (do not overprocess); stir into flour mixture and set aside. (To finely grind chopped nuts by hand, roll them between two large sheets plastic wrap with rolling pin, applying moderate pressure, until broken down to coarse cornmeal-like texture).

In bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed or by hand, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 1 1/2 minutes with an electric mixer or 4 minutes by hand; beat in vanilla and almond extract if using almonds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula; add flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl again with rubber spatula; continue beating at low speed until dough is cohesive, 6 to 9 seconds longer. Do not overbeat.

Working with about one tablespoon dough at a time, roll and shape cookies into balls, crescents, rings, or cigar shapes as desired, (see illustrations below). Bake until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown, turning cookie sheets from front to back and switching from top to bottom racks halfway through baking, 17 to 19 minutes.

Cool cookies on sheets about 2 minutes; remove with metal spatula to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Working with three or four cookies at a time, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar to coat them thoroughly. Gently shake off excess. (They can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.) Before serving, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar a second time to ensure a thick coating, and tap off excess.

CRESCENTS: 1. To form crescent cookies, roll each ball into a 3 1/2-inch rope of dough.

Shape each rope into a half circle and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

RINGS: For rings, shape each ball into a 4-inch rope, then push the ends together.

COATING SHAPES: When cookies are cool, roll in confectioners' sugar. Repeat process just prior to serving.

BALLS: Roll the dough between your palms to form balls.

CIGARS: To form cigar shapes, roll each ball into a 2 1/2-inch log.