Time to bake up some tasty treats for the season but worried about actually getting to enjoy them yourself? What about all of those extra calories? No need to fret! With some easy substitutions, you won’t have to feel guilty about eating those delicious confections. Just try some of these wholesome Christmas cookie recipes.
Sugar Cut-Out Cookies
- 36 servings
- Serving size: 2½- to 3-inch cookie
- Per serving: 97 calories; 4 g fat(1 g sat); 0 g fiber; 15 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 21 mcg folate;9 mg cholesterol; 8 g sugars; 8 g added sugars; 47 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 14 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 39 mg sodium; 16 mg potassium
- Carbohydrate Servings: 1
- Exchanges: ½ starch, 1 other carbohydrate, ½ fat
Natural Decorating Sugars
- ½ cup clear crystal sugar, white sparkling sugar or sanding sugar, divided
- “Holiday” red natural liquid dye (see Tips)
- Green natural liquid dye (see Tips)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- ⅔ cup white whole-wheat flour (see Tips)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup canola oil or corn oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
- 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract
- To prepare decorating sugars: Divide decorating sugar between two small bowls. Add a few drops of red dye to one and green dye to the other and stir until evenly blended. Adjust color with more dye as desired.
- Spread each colored sugar in a thin layer on a separate small parchment-lined baking sheet. Turn on the oven to 350°F for 2 minutes, then immediately turn it off. (The warm oven dries the sugar, but too much heat will burn it.) Let the sugars stand in the oven for 1½ hours. (The sugars may be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 1 year.)
- To prepare cookie dough: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Beat oil, butter, granulated sugar, egg and lemon zest in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Beat in honey, vanilla and almond (or lemon) extract until evenly incorporated.
- With the mixer on low speed, then medium speed, beat about half the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Place one third on a 12-inch-long sheet of parchment paper and shape into a disk. Top with a second sheet of parchment. Roll the dough out between the parchment into an 8-inch circle about ¼ inch thick. Place the dough in the paper on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Freeze on the baking sheet until cold and firm, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day. Place another baking sheet in the freezer to chill too (it will be used under the dough as the cookies are cut out).
- To shape cookies: Position a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
- Working with one portion of dough at a time, remove from the freezer and place on the chilled baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut out cookies with 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet with a wide, thin spatula, spacing about 1½ inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough. (If the dough gets too soft, freeze until firm again. As you cut out cookies, set aside the scraps. Shape all the scraps back into a disk and reroll between parchment. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before cutting out.)
- To decorate & bake cookies: Sprinkle cookies with red and green sugars and gently pat to help them adhere. Bake the cookies on the center rack, one pan at a time, until browned on the bottom, 6 to 12 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.
- Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate colored sugar airtight for up to 1 year. Cover and refrigerate the cookie dough for up to 1 day. Freeze the rolled-out dough airtight for up to 3 months. Store baked cookies airtight in a single layer for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Equipment: 2½- to 3-inch cookie cutters
- Tips: Find clear (or white) sanding sugar (aka sparkling or coarse sugar) in well-stocked baking stores, gourmet food shops or online at kingarthurflour.com.
- Find red, green and other natural liquid dyes plus a rainbow of already-dyed decorating sugars at chocolatecraftkits.com.
- White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com. Store it in the freezer.
Stuffed Pumpkin Cookie Crescents
- 24 servings
- Serving size: 1 crescent
- Per serving: 103 calories; 4 g fat(2 g sat); 0 fiber; 14 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 5 mg cholesterol; 6 g sugars; 76 mg sodium;
- Carbohydrate Servings: 1
- Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat
- ¼ cup organic butter, softened
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup canned pumpkin
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar (see Tips)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons coarse or granulated sugar (see Tips)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a large bowl combine the butter and olive oil. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add the powdered sugar, yogurt, egg, and almond extract, beating until well mixed and scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
- In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to beaten mixture; beat until well mixed. Divide dough in half, forming each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.
- Meanwhile, for pumpkin filling, in a medium bowl stir together pumpkin, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough disks, one at a time, to ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch fluted round cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Place on prepared cookie sheets.
- Place 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin filling on one half of each dough round. Fold dough over to cover filling. Press edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Brush tops with egg white; sprinkle with the coarse sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- Test Kitchen Tip: We do not recommend using a sugar substitute for either the brown sugar or the coarse sugar.
Orange Pistachio Cookies
- 45 servings
- Serving size: 1 cookie
- Per serving: 74 calories; 4 g fat(2 g sat); 1 g fiber; 10 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 9 mcg folate; 7mg cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 4 g added sugars; 85 IU vitamin A; 0 mg vitamin C; 4 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 23 mg sodium; 32 mg potassium
- Carbohydrate Servings: ½
- Exchanges: ½ starch, ½ other carb, ½ fat
- 1¼ cups white whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed or coarsely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- ¾ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, fennel seeds, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar and orange zest in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through. Add egg whites and orange extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and beat for another minute or so. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture, beating until a soft, sticky dough forms.
- Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log (it’s OK if it’s not perfectly round). Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap and freeze until just firm, about 45 minutes. Reroll the logs to make them rounder and return to the freezer until very firm, at least 1 hour more (or up to 3 months).
- To bake cookies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Remove one log of dough at a time from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Place about half the pistachios on a clean cutting board. Unwrap the dough and roll in the pistachios, pressing to adhere. Slice the dough into ½-inch-thick rounds, turning the log a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. If your cookies aren’t as round as you want them to be, shape the dough with your fingers. Place ½ inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies until light brown on the bottom, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough and pistachios.
- To make ahead: Freeze dough (Steps 1-2) for up to 1 month; store cookies airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- Equipment: Parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
We hope you enjoy these wholesome Christmas cookies and wish everyone the very best holiday season!
Recipes courtesy of eatingwell.com.
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