Readers supply goodies for our Christmas cookie exchange

We asked Taste readers to contribute recipes for a Review-Journal Christmas cookie exchange, and they delivered – literally, with not just their recipes, but also with their fresh-baked cookies. And after much wrangling and a bit of compromise, our panel of judges picked a winner: Randi Tobman’s appropriately named Randi’s Butter Cookies. Marsha Ketaner’s Isabellas came in second and Cathy Bourne’s Rice Krispie Cookies finished third. They will receive cookbooks.

The cookies came with stories, as well. Tobman said she got the recipe from a cousin in Florida and has made them ever since, including baking 24 dozen for a friend’s mother’s birthday. Ketaner said her cookies are her granddaughter’s favorite; she developed them as a variation on the classic Russian tea cake/Mexican wedding cookie. And Bourne said her recipe is popular in Hawaii and came to her from her aunt Elsie, "the baker in our family."

And, thanks to the generosity of everyone who participated, our readers can try these for their own cookie exchanges.


2 sticks butter

½ cup sugar

1 egg

2½ cups flour

Chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg; blend and gradually add flour. Mix until incorporated.

Add chips and hand mix. Drop on cookie sheet; bake 20 minutes, or until bottoms start to turn golden.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

– Recipe from Randi Tobman of Las Vegas


For cookies:

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup fruit preserves

For topping:

2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

About 2 tablespoons milk

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To make cookies: In large bowl, with electric mixer, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla; blend in flour and salt; mix until thoroughly combined.

Roll tablespoonsful of dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on lightly greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Press down in center with a spoon, forming a depression. Fill each cookie with a teaspoonful of preserves.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

For topping, while cookies cool, mix together confectioners’ sugar and milk. Mix until desired consistency, adding more milk, if necessary. Using a spoon, drizzle icing over cookies, then sprinkle with additional confectioners’ sugar

Makes two to three dozen, depending on size.

– Recipe from Marsha Ketaner of Henderson


1 pound salted butter, softened

1½ cups sugar

4 cups flour

1½ teaspoons vanilla

3 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add flour and vanilla. Stir in Rice Krispies and nuts.

Drop small mounds of dough onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes 60 cookies.

– Recipe from Cathy Bourne of Pahrump



1 cup butter, softened

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

Apple-walnut filling:

4 ounces dried apples, finely chopped

½ cup walnuts, finely chopped

¼ cup brown sugar

Spice sugar:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons water

¾ cup apple jelly

Prepare dough: In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat butter and cream cheese until creamy, scraping bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low; gradually beat in flour and salt just until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Flatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

Prepare filling: In medium bowl, combine apples, walnuts and brown sugar.

Prepare spice sugar: In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Prepare glaze: Mix yolk and water.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three cookie sheets with foil.

Sprinkle work surface with flour. Place 1 disk on work surface and roll dough into a 10-inch round. Spread top with 3 tablespoons of jelly, then sprinkle entire top with spice sugar. Sprinkle with ½ cup filling. With knife, cut dough into 16 equal wedges. Starting at wide end, roll up each wedge, jelly-roll fashion. Place about 1 inch apart on cookie sheet, point side down. Spread thinly with glaze.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until dough is browned and cooked through.

Repeat with remaining dough, jelly, spice sugar, filling and glaze.

Makes 64.

­- Recipe from Annette Gudson of Henderson



¾ cup butter, softened

½ cup white sugar

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt


¼ cup butter

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon rum

1 pinch ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make cookies, in a medium bowl cream together butter and white and brown sugars until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; stir into the creamed mixture by hand to form a soft dough.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Make an indention in the center of each cookie using your finger or thumb. Bake 12 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling, in a small bowl, mix together butter, confectioners’ sugar and rum. Spoon rounded teaspoonfuls of filling onto cookies. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Let stand until set before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 48.

– Recipe from Julie McCuiston


1 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1½ cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cardamom

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and stir until well-blended. Add dried cranberries.

Drop by teaspoonsful onto parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake about 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.

– Recipe from Wendy Corcoran of Henderson


1¼ cups yellow cake mix

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup butter-flavored shortening

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

¼ cup chopped candied cherries

¼ cup golden raisins

¼ cup chopped dried apricots or pineapple (your preference)

¾ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, blend cake mix and brown sugar. Add shortening, egg and vanilla and almond extracts. Fold in fruit and nuts. Blend well.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool slightly before removing to cooling rack.

– Recipe from Angela Penny of Las Vegas


½ pound butter

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter, flour, pecans and vanilla; shape into crescents and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

While still warm, roll in powdered sugar.

– Recipe from Frank Mentlik of Henderson


1 cup sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

3½ cups all-purpose white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cups coarsely chopped almonds

1 7.8-ounce package almond brickle baking chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, blend sugar, powdered sugar, butter and oil until well mixed. Add almond extract and eggs; mix well.

Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Gradually blend in white flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar at low speed. By hand, stir in almonds and brickle chips. For easier handling, refrigerate dough about 30 minutes.

Shape large tablespoons of dough into balls; roll in sugar. Place 5 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With fork dipped in sugar, flatten in crisscross pattern. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, or until light golden brown around edges. Cool cookies 1 minute before removing from cookie sheets.

Make 3½ dozen 4-inch cookies.

– Recipe from Yolanda Gentile of Las Vegas

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