What's Old Is New

Deck the counters with flour and sugar! These inspired spins on holiday classics could make a gingerbread man cry.


Recipes By ALISON ROMAN and CLAIRE SAFFITZ
Photos by PEDEN + MUNK
Above Image | Ombré Rainbow Cookies

Black and White Sesame Seed Cookies

Makes About 24


COOKIES

  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk

Frosting and Assembly

  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sesame seeds
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
A 3″-diameter cookie cutter


Cookies

  • Whisk baking powder, salt, and 3 cups cake flour in a small bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until well combined (butter does not need to be fluffy), about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat just to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in dry ingredients. Divide dough in half and form into 3/4″-thick disks. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 325°. Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, until about 1/4″ thick. Punch out rounds with cookie cutter and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2″ apart. Pat scraps into a 3/4″-thick disk. Chill 15 minutes.
  • Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 12–15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Cut out and bake scraps, then repeat process with remaining disk of dough.

DO AHEAD:
Dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze. Cookies can be baked 2 weeks ahead; wrap tightly and freeze. Thaw before decorating.

Frosting and Assembly

  • Toss black sesame seeds and oil in a medium shallow bowl to coat seeds (this will keep them jet-black and shiny). Place white sesame seeds in another medium shallow bowl.
  • Whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, salt, and 1/3 cup water in a large bowl until smooth. Place half of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8″ tip. (Or use a large resealable plastic bag and cut a small opening in 1 corner.)
  • Working with 1 cookie at a time, pipe down center and then around the edge of half of the cookie to create a semicircle. Pipe icing inside border to fill, then use a small offset spatula to evenly spread over half of the cookie. Working quickly so icing is still wet, dip frosted part of cookie into white sesame seeds, patting gently to adhere, then letting excess fall back into bowl. Let sit 15 minutes for icing to set.
  • Repeat process on the other half of the cookie, dipping into black sesame seeds, and let sit at least 20 minutes before serving.

DO AHEAD:
Cookies can be frosted and decorated 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

BAKE THE COVER

Ombré Rainbow Cookies

Makes About 96

The batter is divided into thirds and tinted with increased amounts of coloring to get the ombré effect. To make both red and green cookies, you'll need to double this recipe.


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 oz. almond paste (about 1 cup), crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 3/4 tsp. plus 4 drops green or red food coloring, divided
  • 5 tsp. matcha (green tea powder) or 1 oz. (about 1 cup) freeze-dried raspberries, divided
  • 3/4 cup apricot jam, divided

  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly coat three 13×9″ baking dishes with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both long sides. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, sugar, almond paste, oil, and salt in a large bowl until mixture is well combined and fluffy, 5–8 minutes.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate before adding the next. Continue to beat mixture until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with motor running, gradually add flour. Continue mixing just until combined. Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls. (Scoop out about 2 1/4 cups per bowl, or weigh out 500 g/1 lb. 2 oz. batter for each.)
  • If making matcha cookies, mix 4 drops green food coloring and 1/2 tsp. matcha into batter in first bowl. Mix 3/4 tsp. green food coloring and 1 1/2 tsp. matcha to batter in second bowl. Mix 5 tsp. green food coloring and 3 tsp. matcha into batter in last bowl. (This will create three shades of green batter.)
  • If making raspberry cookies, pulse raspberries in a food processor to create a fine powder. Mix 4 drops red food coloring and 1 1/2 tsp. raspberry powder to batter in first bowl. Mix 3/4 tsp. red food coloring and 1 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. raspberry powder into batter in second bowl. Mix 5 tsp. red food coloring and 2 Tbsp. raspberry powder into last bowl of batter. (This will create three shades of red/pink batter.)
  • Scrape a bowl of batter into each prepared pan and smooth tops. Bake cakes, rotating pans halfway through, until center springs back when gently pressed, 12–15 minutes. Let cakes cool completely in pans.
  • Remove lightest-colored cake from pan, turning out onto a surface, and carefully peel away parchment paper. Spread half of jam evenly over top. Remove medium-colored cake from pan, peel away parchment paper, and place on top of light cake. Spread evenly with remaining jam. Remove darkest-colored cake from its pan, peel away parchment paper, and place on top. Press down gently to adhere layers and wrap tightly in plastic; chill at least 1 hour.
  • To make cookies, trim edges to square off; about 1/2″ on each side should do it. Then, using a serrated knife, cut cake crosswise into 1 1/2″-wide strips (you should have 8 total). Cut strips crosswise into 3/4″-thick pieces.

DO AHEAD:
Cakes can be assembled 5 days ahead; wrap tightly and keep chilled. Cut into pieces just before serving.

Chocolate-Nut Rugelach

Makes About 24

Our slice-and-bake technique is easier to manage than shaping a crescent version—a touch of sanity during holiday baking madness.


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 13-oz. jar Nutella, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pistachios, pecans, and/or walnuts, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. demerara sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. flaky sea salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend

  • Pulse cocoa, brown sugar, kosher salt, baking powder, and 2 1/2 cups flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until largest pieces are pea-size.
  • Beat egg yolks, sour cream, and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. With the motor running, stream sour cream mixture into food processor and process until dough forms a ball around the blade. Turn out dough onto a surface and knead several times until it is smooth and homogenous. Divide in half and form into 3/4″-thick disks. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Roll out dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, to a 12″ square. Using a small offset spatula, spread half of Nutella over dough in a thin layer. Sprinkle half of nuts, 1 Tbsp. demerara sugar, and 1/2 tsp. sea salt over Nutella. Roll up dough to make a log, using parchment paper to help. Repeat with remaining dough, Nutella, nuts, 1 Tbsp. demerara sugar, and 1/2 tsp. sea salt.
  • Slice logs 1″ thick and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2″ apart. Brush tops with egg and sprinkle lightly with more sea salt. Bake rugelach until centers are set and tops are firm to the touch, 25–30 minutes; let cool.

DO AHEAD:
Dough can be made 1 month ahead. Freeze.

Spiced Brown Butter Linzer Cookies

Makes About 24

Make any kind of shape you'd like. The cookies can be rounds instead of rectangles, and you can use any smaller cutter for the cutouts.


  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)
  • 1/2 cup red currant jelly

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
A 3×1 1/2″ cookie cutter or other similarly sized shape and 1″ and 1 1/2″ cookie cutters


  • Cook butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl; let cool.
  • Whisk salt, baking powder, cardamom, cloves, pepper, and 3 3/4 cups flour in a medium bowl to combine.
  • Add granulated sugar and lemon zest to butter; scrape in vanilla seeds and discard pod. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, then yolks. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 batches, incorporating after each addition.
  • Turn out dough onto a surface and knead until no dry spots remain. Divide in half and form into 3/4″-thick disks. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, until about 1/8″ thick. Cut into desired shapes with cutters; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1/2″ apart. Gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more shapes. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. (Make sure to cut out an even number.)
  • Using smaller cutter, punch out cutouts in half of the cookies as desired. Chill 15 minutes, then bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around edges, 10–12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets.
  • Dust cutout cookies with powdered sugar. Stir jelly to smooth, turn remaining cookies over, and spread each with 3/4 tsp. jelly. Top with powdered cookies. Let sit until jam is set, 15–20 minutes.

DO AHEAD:
Dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze. Cookies can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.

Danish Salted-Butter Cookies

Makes About 24

Using chilled butter and freezing the cookies before baking encourages clean, tidy edges.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled salted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 1 cup white sanding sugar

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
A 3″-diameter and a 1 1/2″-diameter fluted cookie cutter


  • Combine butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; scrape in vanilla seeds and discard pod. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in 1 egg. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in 2 cups flour. Form dough into a 3/4″-thick disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Let disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, shifting often on sheet and dusting with more flour as needed to keep from sticking, until about 3/8″ thick.
  • Punch out rounds with large cutter; punch out centers with smaller cutter. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2″ apart. Pat scraps into a 3/4″-thick disk. Chill 15 minutes.
  • Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tsp. water; brush cookies with egg wash; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Freeze 10 minutes. Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool. Repeat with scraps and remaining egg wash and sanding sugar.

DO AHEAD:
Dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze. Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead; store airtight at room temperature.