When I asked readers on social media to name the holiday cookie they absolutely have to have every year, I received dozens of responses. As I expected, there were the classic favorites: spiced gingerbread, frosted sugar cookies, thumbprints, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles. Several recipes had the word "Grandma's" before the cookie, indicating to me that the recipe had been shaping their family palate for generations.
Others surprised me with their responses. Pfeffernusse came up multiple times, and when one person would mention the tiny German cookie, another person would chime in in agreement. Several other cookies had apparent regional significance, too, like Greek butter cookies, Chinese wedding balls and Russian tea cakes. One reader selected "cream cheese foldovers," which she said were the winner of the 1981 Anchorage Times cookie contest. I don't know that I've ever had a cream cheese foldover, but now I'm intrigued.
[Recipe: A go-to method for tender, fail-proof frosted sugar cookies]
One of the cookies that appeared on the list was crackle cookies, which I understand to be a dark chocolate cookie dough rolled in powdered sugar then baked until crackly and beautiful. I added a good dose of peppermint extract to this version, because mint is another one of the readers' favorite holiday flavors.
Peppermint chocolate crackle cookies
Makes 2 dozen small cookies
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate baking bar
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter together until smooth, about 60 seconds. Add the eggs and peppermint extract and stir well to combine.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate and mix well until a soft dough forms.
Place about a 1/2 cup additional powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Dust your palms lightly with the powdered sugar. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the dough into small balls, rolling them in your palms, then coat the balls in powdered sugar. Place the cookies onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for seven or eight minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Recipe adapted from Real Simple.
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email email@example.com and your inquiry may appear in a future column.