The holidays are all about the COOKIES! This is the busiest time of the year for many people, definitely for me too as I like to bake edible gifts. Praises from family and friends make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Every year I try to make something different, as the flavours, ingredients, and shapes of cookies are only limited by your imagination. Last year, I made one cookie dough with three flavour variations. While testing, I found an icebox cookie recipe that I really liked. I made some adjustments to make the it my own. This year, I am sharing two nutty icebox cookies recipes: Maple Pecan and Hazelnut Orange. These classic flavour combinations are perfect for gift giving.
- 170 g / 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 75 g / 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 185 g / 1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp bourbon, plus more for brushing (optional)
- 55 g / 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp granulated maple sugar
- 1 tsp Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), plus more for brushing (optional)
- 55 g / 1/2 cup toasted hazeluts, roughly chopped
- 30 g / 2 tbsp finely chopped candied orange peels (I used homeade)
- 2 tbsp raw sugar, coarse sugar, or granulated sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add salt, vanilla extract, bourbon or Frangelico (if using), and egg to incorporate.
- Add flour and mix on low speed to slowly incorporate into a dough. Lastly add in pecans or hazelnuts and candied orange peels. Mix for about 10 seconds, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, mix for another 10 seconds. The key to a tender cookie is to avoid over-mixing.
- Scrape cookie dough onto a piece of parchment paper, gently shape into a log with the shape of your choice. I made 1.5" / 4 cm square and 1" x 3" / 2.5 cm x 7.5 cm rectangular logs. Wrap tightly with the parchment paper, and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up before slicing. Cookie dough can be chilled overnight or frozen for up to two weeks before baking.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 F / 160 C. Unwrap cookie log, brush exterior with bourbon or Frangelico, if not using brush with some water. For maple pecan, roll in maple sugar, and for the hazelnut orange, roll with raw sugar, coarse sugar, or granulated sugar.
- With a sharp knife, cut into 1 cm thick slices, line them onto parchment lined cookie sheets with about 1 inch / 2 cm apart.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway, until edges turn golden brown. Cool on cooling racks.
Icebox cookie dough freeze very well, so you can prepare the dough ahead to save time. You can also use any type of nuts you prefer in the recipe. When you want to serve a fresh batch of cookies, simply temper the dough, slice, and bake. I often divide my cookie baking into two days: one for making dough, and the other for baking. Every holiday I would turn my kitchen into a mini production line for a couple of days. Organization is the key to make baking a breeze especially during busy times. I like to bake shortbread-type cookies for gift giving as they are more shelf-stable. More cookies suitable for gift-giving:
- Toasted Buckwheat and Chopped Chocolate Sablés
- Lemon Lavender Butter Cookies
- Browned Butter Chinese Walnut Cookies
- Sablé Breton
I love the wonderful smell of fresh cookies as they fill up the whole house. When I have friends or family over for dinner in the holidays, I almost always have cookies on the table – they make great conversation starters. These cookies can easily be some of my favourites, as I love sandy cookies with nuts in them. I also love the crunchy sweet edges, adding a nice texture to these buttery and nutty cookies. What is your favourite cookie?