I wanted to do a Holiday Cookie Exchange Party this year…so much for best laid plans/thoughts…that, obviously, won’t be happening. Next best thing…asking my friends to share their favorites. I’ve profiled or shared articles on everyone participating. I’m posting early enough so you will have time to bake some classics and perhaps add some new recipes to your annual celebrations. I’m posting the recipes as they have been sent to me, on cards, typed, some with photos, etc. I am getting so many great recipes I will post PART 2 next week….stay tuned!

Every year from my first childhood memories to Ruthy joining Daddy with the angels (I’m sure they are busy making all our traditional favorites….both were superb cooks and Ruthy, in particular, loved to bake and was perfection in the kitchen!). We would add to our list each year and often made 40-50 different kinds, you read that correctly, all were shared with relatives, friends and later, co-workers. I fondly remember sitting on the floor surrounded by cookie tins with Ruthy making several huge trays to take to her staff at Saks Fifth Avenue, Old Orchard and later at Marshall Field’s, State Street. (FYI she followed me into retail after Daddy died, she was a stay at home Mom doing lots of volunteer work, and lots and lots of baking and cooking!) Again, as long as I can remember, we hosted a Christmas Open House on Christmas Eve, in addition to a mega buffet there were trays of our cookies. And, of course, take home tins!

Greg Hyder and Jim Smith cookie table for tree trim party three years ago…party covered in a nenasnotes blog post.

I’m kicking off the recipes with what is my all time favorite…Russian Tea Cakes featured in the original Betty Crocker Cookbook, the go to cookbook in the Ivon cookbook collection….I haven’t counted my cookbooks but at least a hundred or so…I’ve given many away over the years. I happen to love reading cookbooks!


I add more powered sugar…FYI these keep beautifully…not too long, I devour them quite quickly!!!!

MIKE HINES….MOLASSES COOKIES….warm and cozy soft and chewy!

JACK McCORDCOUSIN ELCY’S BOURBON BALLS. “nenas note…I didn’t ask for a story behind the cookie….but love this and must share it.”

“Cousin Elcy always came for Thanksgiving and Christmas, from Decatur to Springfield. She and my father, second cousins, had been close since childhood. A bit older than Dad, she retired from Decatur to a stylish new building on North Lake Shore Drive. I think of her every time I pass it now.
Elcy was a good cook and had grown up with and loved good food. After we pushed ourselves away from the holiday dinner table, she could often be found in the kitchen picking at the delicious bits on the turkey carcass. And perhaps another piece of pie? All the while, I was prodded to play Christmas carols on the piano.
We loved it when Elcy came to visit – she was animated, up on current events, mildly opinionated and took interest in what we school kids were doing. She and Dad talked a lot.
She also brought cookies – in ribboned Fannie Mae boxes she had saved and lined in foil. There must have been eight or ten kinds, all lined up in rows. This is one of them……”

RANA LEE…SUGAR SAUCERS (from Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz, David Lesniak and Rachel Allen)

  • 4 cups (600g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil
  • 1 cup (225g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decorating

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about a minute. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the oil, and then add the two sugars, the eggs, and the vanilla. Make sure to stir well after each of the additions. Slowly add the flour mixture, about a quarter at a time. Mix just until the flour disappears. The dough will be soft. Refrigerate for at least an hour before proceeding (up to 3 days).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or up to a 5 oz scoop), divide the dough into balls. Roll each ball in rainbow sprinkles until thoroughly coated. Place them on baking sheets with enough room for them to spread (if you are making giant cookies you will probably only get 4 per sheet). Use your fingers to flatten each ball slightly.

Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size. Bake until the edges start to turn golden. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

ROBERT NEUBERT….CHOCOLATE CHUBBIES (the ultimate chocolate cookie – a dessert in itself)

Yields: 36 cookies

8 ounces semisweet chocolate3 ounces unsweetened chocolate4 ounces sweet butter3 large eggs1.1/4 cup sugar2 teaspoons vanilla extract1.1/2 ounces cocoa powder2/3 cup all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1.1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips2 cups toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 3 cookie sheets or bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Melt chocolate squares with butter in a double boiler over simmering water. Cool to room temperature. Beat eggs with sugar in a large bowl until ribbons form when beater is lifted. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir into chocolate mixture. Add pecans and chocolate chips. Do not over mix. 2 ounce scoops for large cookies – bake 12 minutes3/4 ounce scoops for small cookies – bake 8 minutes Drop cookies on to cookie sheet setting 2 inches apart. Bake until barely firm, with tops just slightly cracked. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.


I’ve written several pieces about and with Jeffrey’s input the latest was his Tartanware Collection….here his Scottie cookie jar and his shortbread. I am obsessed with shortbread…..
• 2 cups butter, softened
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Preheat oven to 325°. Cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3-3/4 cups flour; mix well.
Chill shortbread dough for at least 20-30 minutes ,
Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead for 5 minutes, adding enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Roll to 1/2-in. thickness. Cut into 3×1-in. strips. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased
baking sheets
. Prick with fork
(This is very important )
Bake until cookies are Bake until cookies are lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Cool.


First Layer

½ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

5 TBSP Cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg beaten

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

¾ cup coconut

½ cup chopped nuts

In the top of a double boiler melt ½ cup butter, add sugar, cocoa, vanilla and beaten egg to melted butter. Cook for 5 minutes remove from heat. Add cracker crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press lightly into greased 9×9 baking pan and refrigerate

Second Layer

¼ cup butter

2 TBSP milk or cream

2 TBSP dry instant vanilla pudding

2 cups powdered sugar

Cream ¼ cup butter, add dry pudding, powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Spread over crumb mixture and chill.

Third Layer

¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

2 TBSP butter

Melt chocolate with 2 TBSP butter cool and spread overcreamed mixture. Chill again. Cut into small squares before completely firm so chocolate does not crumble

MARCELLAS REYNOLDS…Yummy Sugar Cookies, Quick, Fast, and…In a Hurry

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup of sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon milk

Powdered sugar for rolling out the dough

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until the mixture pulls away from the bowl’s side. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for two hours.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove one wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If the dough has warmed during rolling, place a cold cookie sheet on top for ten minutes to chill. Cut into the desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve nude or slather with icing or FROSTING as desired.* Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*I prefer frosting over icing! But I don’t like food coloring at all.


Has shared three favorites from her recipe box. FYI Barbara shares her excellent baking skills with many potluck events and cookie exchanges.


6 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups flour

1 egg

Filling can be apricot, raspberry or strawberry preserves, or a nut mixture..Mix together cream cheese, butter and egg and flour. Form into a ball, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours or more. Roll out cold ball of dough on a board dusted with flour, until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into circles. Top each circle with teaspoon of filling. Fold over sides to middle and pinch closed. Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool, then dust with powdered sugar.


1/2 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup (two sticks)cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon almond extract

Zest of one orange

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (optional)

If desired, use additional sugar to coat cookies before baking. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or use silicone sheet.

Combine cranberries and 1/4 cup of the sugar in food processor and process until cranberries are broken down into smaller pieces, set aside. Combine remainder of the sugar and the flour in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the cold cubes of butter, for very fine crumbs. Stir in the almond extract, cranberries and sugar mixture, orange zest (and orange juice if using). Knead the dough with your hands until it comes together and forms a ball. Shape the ball into a log, about two inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or more.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut cold cookie log into 1/4 inch slices. You can coat the slices with granulated sugar if desired. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Do not overbake. Makes about 21/2 dozen cookies.


If you throw up your hands at baking Holiday Cookies, I would suggest you check out my new food obsession TATE’s Bake Shop Gingersnap Cookies…they are beyond delicious, additive and seasonal. What makes them special, bits of candied ginger! To die for. This is not a sponsored post just wanted to share with you. Local stores carry their chocolate chip cookies, which are delicious as well, check and see if you can find them. Or go to

Start baking and/or eating…do share your favorites so I can do a Part 3!


  1. Rana Lee November 22, 2020 / 1:06 am

    Oh these all look delicious! I’m going to make many of them and can’t wait until Part 2. Thanks Nena!

    • nenasnotes November 22, 2020 / 11:07 am

      Enjoy…maybe next year we can bake some together .

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