Holiday cookies show creativity

It’s time to show off your creative side with these holiday cookies.

Pistachio wreath cutout cookies are seen. The holidays are the time to try your hand at decorating and these cookies are the perfect place to try it

Pistachio wreath cutout cookies are seen. The holidays are the time to try your hand at decorating and these cookies are the perfect place to try it

It’s time to show off your creative side with these holiday cookies.

We created a basic icebox cookie — which is the sort of dough that is formed into a log, chilled, then sliced into rounds just before baking — that is easily flavoured with the add-ins of your choice (or use some of our suggestions).

The beauty of icebox cookies is that batches of dough can be prepared ahead, then stored in the freezer until needed.

Then it’s just a matter of heating the oven and slicing the dough to get warm-from-the-oven cookies on the table.

The cookies pack and ship beautifully or you can give away the (frozen) log of dough with instructions for baking.

Our suggestions for mix-ins:

• 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped dried cranberries and 175 ml (3/4 cup) white chocolate chips

• Zest of 2 oranges and 175 ml (3/4 cup) chopped pistachios

• 175 ml (3/4 cup) toasted sliced almonds and 125 ml (1/2 cup) toffee bits

• 175 ml (3/4 cup) chopped toasted pecans and 125 ml (1/2 cup) finely chopped dark chocolate

• 175 ml (3/4 cup) dried currants and 2 ml (1/2 tsp) each of cinnamon, ginger and allspice

• 175 ml (3/4 cup) chopped dried apricots and 2 ml (1/2 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg

LESSON: Icebox cookies are easy to prepare and customize. And once rolled into logs and wrapped in waxed paper, the dough is easily stored until needed.

Icebox Mix-In Cookies

Start to finish: 2 hours (20 minutes active)

250 ml (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar

125 ml (1/2 cup) packed brown sugar

1 egg

30 ml (2 tbsp) whole milk

5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract

2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

625 ml (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

Coloured sugars (optional)

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium to beat together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Beat in milk, vanilla and salt. Stir in flour until combined and mixture forms a smooth dough.

Stir in mix-ins of your choice.

You also can divide dough into 2 batches and do different mix-ins for each batch (each will need only half of the volume of the suggested mix-ins).

Set 2 large (about the size of a baking sheet) sheets of waxed paper on the counter. Place half of the dough on each. Using your hands and the paper, form each batch of dough into a log about 5 cm (2 inches) around and 30 cm (12 inches) long. Wrap paper tightly around logs, then twist ends to seal.

Refrigerate or freeze dough logs until ready to bake.

When ready to bake cookies, heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Remove log(s) from refrigerator or freezer and unwrap. If cookie dough was stored in the freezer, let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before unwrapping.

If desired, roll log in decorative coloured sugar. Using a sharp knife, slice log into rounds about 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick.

Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around edges and slightly firm to the touch. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before using a spatula to transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

Makes 48 cookies.

Nutrition information per cookie (not counting add-ins) (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 72 calories; 35 calories from fat (49 per cent of total calories); 4 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0 g fibre; 22 mg sodium.

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