Is there such a thing as too much fun? The winter holidays are a joyous season, but it also makes for a tightly packed calendar from now through early January. There are so many events, performances, parties, family gatherings, and other fun traditions that only happen in December. We hate to miss out on a single thing!
But a full and vibrant holiday schedule has a big drawback: it leaves us with very few big “chunks” of free time for one of our making all our favorite homemade holiday cookies and treats.
If part of your holiday traditions revolve around sharing your renowned homemade baked goods, finding time to make them all can be a challenge. As food writer Allison Roman says, “The line between ‘planning ahead’ and ‘frantically running around’ is perilously thin.”
Carpe diem, or, perhaps, carpe crustula.* So, dear readers, here is our solution to the holiday baking dilemma, if there are no free days remaining in December for a baking marathon: seize the day. Take advantage of those little chunks of time in between holiday activities to do a short burst of cookie-baking, choosing make-ahead cookie recipes that you can freeze until needed.
Here are five of our favorite go-to, make-ahead, freezeable holiday cookies:
1. Three times the fun. The signature cookie of AllSpice founder Alex, Triple Ginger Cookies have also become our shop’s signature treat at the annual Holiday Promenade, as one of our favorite make-ahead cookies. Grated fresh ginger, crystallized ginger, and ground ginger combine for a triple-ginger twist on the traditional molasses cookie. Stored in an airtight container, these cookies freeze well for up to a month. Going home for the holidays? Pick up a Triple Ginger Cookie Kit to take with you, and mix up a batch when you visit your loved ones!
2. Pinwheels. Orange-Date Pinwheels, to be precise. A layer of buttery pastry and a layer of spiced orange-date filling, rolled up and sliced into pretty pinwheels. This cookie can be made in separate steps, if needed: make and freeze the pastry dough, cook and add the fruity filling and freeze until you’re ready to slice and bake. The finished, baked pinwheel cookies also freeze well.
3. Shortbreads. Butter + sugar + flour = the most deliciously “basic” cookie ever. Shortbread is quick to make, and can be frozen and thawed without losing its crumbly, dense texture and buttery flavor. AllSpice alumna (and Scotswoman) Denise recommends Scotch Shortbread; for a savory twist, there’s Parmesan Shortbread with Fennel and Sea Salt; or the cinnamon-and-allspice Spiced Shortbread; or Maple-Chocolate Chip Shortbread featuring Runamok Syrup and Maple Sugar Powder.
4. Thumbprint cookies. Small butter cookies, dipped in egg and rolled in chopped nuts, with a little “well” in the center. To make ahead of time, bake and freeze the cookies, and thaw before filling the “well” with chocolate and caramel, or with your favorite jam or lemon curd.
5. Sugar cookies. Sugar cookies are delicious on their own, but are also really fun to cut into festive shapes – and are even more fun if you decorate those festive shapes with frosting and sprinkles. We have a great basic sugar cookie recipe here, and you can flip through a number of spiced and flavored cookie variations here. Make-ahead: sugar cookie dough can be made up to 1 month ahead; wrap dough and freeze instead of chilling. Cookies can be baked (if left undecorated) up to 2 weeks ahead; wrap tightly and freeze. Allow several hours for frozen dough to thaw before using.
Taking advantage of those little lulls between holiday festivities by whipping up some baked goods will help you build up a delicious stash of homemade treats. Break out the cookies when folks come by; bring along your signature holiday sweets to your next party; tuck a bundle of buttery goodies into care packages before you send them.
What are your favorite make-ahead holiday treats?
*seize the cookies 🙂