Cookies for Santa – one recipe, three ways

Cookies for Santa

Growing up in an Chinese family, we’ve never prepared for Santa’s big arrival every year. Not until moving to Canada that I learned about Santa, cookies, milk, gifts, and chimneys. Well, there’s a first time for everything, right? Baking can sometimes be therapeutic, just need to enjoy the process and its delicious outcome. When I feel the need to step away and bake, I usually turn to good cookie recipe because it is easy to make, and I know they will turn out. So this year I have Cookies for Santa – one recipe, three ways! These variations are based on one basic cookie dough and just by adding some flair, they become deliciously different. You can create your very own versions depending on your preference – a clever way to save time during this busy season.Cookies for Santa

My cookies for Santa menu: (I think he’s going to love them!)

Matcha Snowball Cookies
my twist on Japanese genmaicha (tea), crispy toasted rice inside,
coated with a light Matcha icing sugar that melts in your mouth

Coffee Walnut Shortbread
delicious flavour combination of coffee’s caramel, nuttiness and walnuts

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies
gooey with jam and divine with caramelized white chocolate

Cookies for Santa


    Basic Cookie Dough
  • 1/2 cup / 113 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup / 55 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1 cup / 150 g all-purpose flour
  • Matcha Snowball Variation (makes 24 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup / 20 g Japanese toasted brown rice (dough inclusion)
  • 1/2 cup / 70 g icing sugar (finishing)
  • 1 tbsp / 7 g matcha powder (finishing)
  • Coffee Walnut Variation (makes 12 wedges in a 7 inch fluted tart pan)
  • 1/3 cup / 40 g toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (dough inclusion)
  • 1 tbsp / 4.5 g finely ground coffee (dough inclusion)
  • 2 tbsp coarse sugar or granulated sugar (finishing)
  • Coconut Thumbprint Variation
  • 1/4 cup / 20 g toasted unsweetened fine shredded coconut (dough inclusion)
  • 15 g / 2 tbsp unsweetened fine shredded coconut (finishing)
  • good quality jam and/or good quality white chocolate (finishing)


    Basic Cookie Dough
  1. In a stand mixer bowl, with a paddle attachment (or use an electric mixer) beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, add vanilla extract to incorporate.
  2. Add flour and salt, mix on low speed only until a dough starts to form, stop mixer, scrape bowl.
  3. At this stage mix in the respective dough inclusions and incorporate briefly until they are evenly distributed. Do not over-mix! (For example, if you are making the coffee walnut variation, you would add the toasted walnuts and ground coffee.)
  4. Matcha Snowball Variation
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F / 205 C. Line a cookie sheet with parchment
  6. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half into a 12 inch rope, divide into 1 inch pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball with your palms. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  7. Place cookies evenly spaced in cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway, until the edges turn slightly golden brown.
  8. While baking, prepare the dusting mixture - sift icing sugar and matcha powder into a medium mixing bowl.
  9. After the cookies have come out of the oven, cool them for 5 minutes, and coat them in the dusting mixture, working 3-4 pieces at a time. Cool on cooling rack. When they have completely cooled, dust them again in the mixture to ensure a nice and even coating.
  10. Coffee Walnut Variation
  11. Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
  12. Turn dough into the tart pan or cake pan with a removable bottom, pat down dough so it is leveled to the edges. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Sprinkle sugar evenly onto the surface.
  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown, rotating halfway through. Cool completely. Carefully cut into 12 wedges with a serrated knife.
  14. Coconut Thumbprint Variation
  15. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C.
  16. Divide dough evenly into quarters, divide each quarter into 4 balls, roll in shredded coconut.
  17. Place onto cookie sheet, make an indentation onto each cookie. If you are making ones with white chocolate, gently press a piece of white chocolate into the center, and bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating pan halfway, until lightly brown.
  18. If making jam thumbprints, bake cookies for 10 minutes, take out, gently reshape the center cavity with a spoon, fill with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Return to oven to bake for 10-12 more minutes until lightly brown.

Cookies for Santa

These cookies make terrific gifts, and with a little packaging, your friends and family will adore you. I try to give my close friends and family edible gifts every holiday because it creates less waste, and it saves me time from gift shopping, and the energy to think about what to give everyone. Instead, I just bake a whole bunch of things and give them away. These little gems can sometimes make people happier than purchased gifts!

Happy baking! Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

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