Set out something new for Santa with these winning cookie recipes

Wisconsin State Farmer
There's some room on the plate beside your traditional Christmas cutout cookies to add a few new cookies. Why not add a new recipe into the rotation of your yearly traditional favorites?

Here are some of the top recipes submitted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's annual Christmas Cookie Contest. Why not add a new recipe into the rotation of your yearly traditional favorites!

This coconut lover’s cookie would be a cute addition to any holiday tray. This submission came from Carrie Merten of Menomonee Falls.

Whimsically decorated Coconut Snowmen were entered in Open Class.

Coconut Snowmen


¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons coconut extract

1 egg

2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Coconut frosting:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature  

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons coconut extract

3 cups powdered sugar

For decoration:

Shredded coconut

Food coloring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter, and mix in vanilla, coconut extract and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture.

Form dough into about 1 ¼-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly; transfer from cookie sheet to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make coconut frosting: Using a mixer, beat butter and cream cheese together. Add extracts and beat until creamy. Add powdered sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.

Frost each cookie and cover with shredded coconut.

Add food coloring to remaining frosting and use a piping bag to decorate eyes and carrot nose and a smile. Makes about 3 dozen

This dainty Almond Joy-like cookie includes toasted coconut and homemade almond butter. It was created by Becky Zapf of Allenton.

Joyful Almond Butter Cookies claimed 2nd place in the Nut Butter Explosion category.

Joyful Almond Butter Cookies

1 cup sweetened coconut

1 ½ cups raw whole almonds

Cookie dough:

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temperature

¾ cup sugar

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups flour

Reserved toasted coconut

1/8 teaspoon salt

Almond icing:

Reserved almond butter

5 tablespoons powdered sugar

½ teaspoon almond extract

For assembly:

6 to 8 ounces milk chocolate chips

Coconut for garnish

Sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

Toast coconut: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Stir and then return to oven to bake 3 minutes more, until golden. (Allow steam to escape the oven before getting too close.) Cool completely on cookie sheet. Leave oven on.

Roast almonds and make almond butter: Spread almonds in single layer onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Roast in oven 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes. Place warm almonds in a food processor; process 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let almond butter cool.

Make cookie dough: In a bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well-blended. Add flour, toasted coconut and salt. Beat on medium speed until well-blended.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 1-inch-diameter log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat cookie sheet with vegetable oil spray.

Slice dough logs into ¼-inch-thick disks. Place disks on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven 9 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Immediately transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.

Make almond icing: Mix almond butter, powdered sugar and almond extract together.

Assemble cookies: Melt milk chocolate chips in a double boiler over medium heat. Top each cooled coconut cookie disk with ½ teaspoon almond butter icing (I used a piping bag). Dip each cookie, almond icing side down, into melted chocolate to coat. Garnish with coconut and a sliced almond in the center if desired. Let chocolate set. Makes 48.

This melt-in-your-mouth cookie has evolved over decades from a recipe of her mother’s, wrote Cathy Jakicic of Milwaukee. She’s experimented with various fillings (jam, caramel bits, macadamia nuts) and different types of honey, even honey infused with jalapeño (with mini chocolate chips). For the holidays, it’s a cranberry-pecan theme, with ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Holiday Honey Meltaways are an Open Class cookie with options.

Holiday Honey Meltaways

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 egg yolks

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)

6 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups cranberry blossom honey

2 tablespoons water

Finely chopped pecans, toasted, and minced dried cranberries (about 1 ½ to 2 cups total)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, cream butter thoroughly. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add yolks one at a time. Gradually mix in vegetable oil at a slow speed.

Stir baking soda and baking powder into orange juice. Add juice to mixture.

Combine flour, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Gradually add to wet ingredients. 

Form into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Make an indention in center of each ball almost all the way to the bottom. (The indent will puff up during baking,) 

Bake in preheated oven 18 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove to a cooling rack.

While cookies are baking, heat honey with the 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, just long enough to combine.

Mix nuts with minced cranberries.

Place a baking sheet under the cooling rack to catch drips. Add a bit of the nut-cranberry mix to indents in cookies. Drizzle honey mixture over nuts/cranberries until it runs over the cookie. The cookies can be filled cool or while still warm. Makes 7 to 8 dozen, depending on size

“This recipe is a family favorite with a few modern updates,” wrote Marie Weber of Franklin, who submitted this pretty cookie in Open Class.

Raspberry Delights are an Open Class cookie.

Raspberry Delights

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

¾ cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ½ cups flour

Dash of salt

½ cup raspberry jam

Icing (your favorite recipe, consistency for drizzling)

Finely chopped walnuts

In a bowl, blend cream cheese and butter together. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Gradually mix in flour and salt. Divide into two equal portions, wrap each in plastic wrap and flatten slightly. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out one portion of dough on a floured surface into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into 2 ½-inch squares. Place ½ teaspoon jam in center of each square. Moisten two opposite corners of dough with water. Fold in toward the center and press corners together.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Slightly press cookies down. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 12 until edges are brown. Remove from baking sheets. Cool completely on wire rack. Drizzle icing over each cookie and top with finely chopped walnuts. Makes 3 ½ to 4 dozen