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How to Make the Best Christmas Cookies

How to Make the Best Christmas Cookies
Photographs by Fred + Elliot

Charlottesville baker extraordinaire Arley Arrington walks us through making her favorite holiday treats



  • SILICONE BAKING MATS help ensure your cookies don’t burn on the bottom and stay nice and soft in the middle.
  • If you’re baking more than one tray of cookies at a time, rotate them from front to back, and top to bottom to make sure all of your cookies are baking evenly.
  • CHILL YOUR DOUGH OVERNIGHT if you can, and for rolled cookies especially. It deepens the flavor, and makes sure the cookies don’t spread too much.
  • Arrington uses the #40 SCOOP BY BROWNE to shape most of her cookies. A heavy-duty stainless steel scoop is worth the twenty-dollar investment. The #40 makes 2-inch cookies.
  • SHIP anything other than chocolatedipped cookies, which are likely to melt during the journey. Do like Arrington’s Aunt Bonnie and stick a small piece of bread in your tins to keep the cookies fresh longer.
  • STOP BAKING COOKIES as soon as they are consistently browned around the edges, and just not wet in the middle (but maybe a teensy bit gooey). They’ll continue to cook on the baking sheet for a few minutes outside of the oven, and then will firm up even more as they cool.
  • Arrington likes to put A SCOOP OF ICE CREAM between two cookies to make a dessert that is simple, but impressive. Killer combos: ginger molasses + vanilla ice cream and Mexican hot chocolate + coffee ice cream.



Chocolate and Peppermint Shortbread People

Shortbread people are Arrington’s answer to the Christmas classic. “They’re super cute and festive, and an easier alternative to gingerbread men.”


Brown Butter Russian Tea Cakes

Arrington’s Aunt Barn makes hundreds of Christmas cookies for her extended family every year, including russian tea cakes. “They’re teeny tiny, not too sweet, and just sort of melt in your mouth,” she says. “I added the brown butter to deepen the nutty flavor.”


Super Ginger Molasses Cookies

These cookies were inspired by Arrington’s Jamaican grandmother who made a ginger beer that was “so intensely gingery that the ice-cold drink would burn your throat a little bit on its way down,” she says. “The molasses cookies won’t burn your throat (as long as you let them cool before devouring them), but ginger-lovers like me appreciate the bold flavors.”

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