Care packages are a great way to show someone that you're thinking of them, and you can't send a holiday care package without throwing in some homemade cookies. The problem is that lots of cookies are only good for a couple days after baking—if they're being sent through the mail then that just won't cut it. Fortunately, we have plenty of recipes that last long enough to make it to their destination. From classics like chocolate chip and sugar cookies to no-bake oatmeal cookies and homemade Oreos, we've got 16 recipes perfect for a holiday care package.
Rolled Sugar Cookie Cutouts
It's just not Christmas without sugar cookies—I used to eat my weight in the ones my mom would make every year when I was a kid. The classic recipe uses a 1:2:3 ratio of sugar, fat, and flour, but we think that tastes a little too floury, so we up the amount of sugar. You can dust them with powdered sugar if you want, but I don't think they're right without a layer of royal icing.
You definitely can't skip the powdered sugar here, since you can't make snowball cookies without it. The cookies are made with an almond flavored dough and dipped in two layers of powdered sugar after coming out of the oven, the first of which melts into a glaze that helps the second stick.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
While sugar cookies and snowball cookies are particularly festive, chocolate chip cookies are great all year long. We perfected our recipe through 100 tests and 1,500 cookies, eventually deciding that brown butter and an overnight rest are the way to go. The brown butter gives the cookies a toffee-like flavor and the rest ensures they have perfectly crisp edges and chewy centers.
The Best Gingersnaps
Our gingersnaps get a pretty serious kick from both ground and freshly grated ginger, with earthy molasses and graham-y whole wheat flour providing just enough balance. These cookies are going to look and smell amazing as soon as they come out of the oven, but you need to wait two hours before digging in so that they have time to crisp up.
Crispy Lemon-Ginger Sandwich Cookies
These cookies also have a pleasant ginger bite, but instead of the molasses-y richness of gingersnaps they get a bright hit of flavor from lemon (zest in the dough and juice in the cream filling). We make the cookies with coconut oil rather than butter because its more neutral flavor lets the lemon shine.
If you keep a batch of our gluten-free flour blend on hand, then these snickerdoodles are incredibly simple to make—just mix all the ingredients together in a single bowl, form into balls, roll in cinnamon sugar, and bake. While our regular snickerdoodles use a mix of ground and freshly grated ginger, here we stick with ground.
Soft and Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
Our peanut butter cookies manage to be soft and crunchy at the same time because we start with a moist, cake-like batter and fortify it with both crunchy peanut butter and whole peanuts. To give the cookies a sweet and crisp exterior we roll them in sugar before baking.
Hazelnut Cookies With Milk Chocolate
These cookies are a lot like peanut butter cookies, but to make them we start by pulverizing toasted hazelnuts into homemade hazelnut butter. After that's done, you can make the dough by creaming the nut butter with regular butter and sugar, beating in an egg, and mixing in the flour. For a festive finish, drizzle the cookies with tempered chocolate after they come out of the oven.
Moist and Chewy Lebkuchen (German Spiced Christmas Cookies)
Lebkuchen are arguably more bars than cookies, but regardless of what you call them, these German gingerbread treats are a lovely addition to a care package. Don't think of these as normal gingerbread cookies, though—they're also flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, toasted nuts, and dried fruit.
If you're not familiar with meltaways, the name tells you basically all you need to know: These incredibly light cookies really do melt as soon as they touch your tongue. Our recipe differs from most because we use tapioca starch rather than cornstarch, which we find can give the cookies a chalky texture.
No-Bake Cookies With Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Chewy Oats
Want to give someone the gift of homemade cookies but don't feel like turning on the oven? These cookies are just what you need—all you have to do is combine sugar, milk, cocoa, and salt on the stove; mix in chocolate, peanut butter, and oats; and spoon onto a tray to set.
Chocolate-Covered Caramel-Filled Shortbread Cookies (a.k.a. Homemade Twix)
While I'll always have a place in my heart for store-bought cookies, most of them just taste so artificial. This recipe hits all the same chocolate, caramel, and shortbread notes of a classic Twix bar, but with high-quality ingredients. We finish the cookies with a sprinkling of sea salt to bring out the flavors of the chocolate and caramel.
E.L. Fudge-Style Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Cookies
ELF cookies are named after the Keebler elf, but I don't see why you can't pretend they're a nod to Santa instead. Making them at home is as easy as baking up crunchy vanilla wafers and using them to sandwich dark-chocolate frosting. We cut our cookies with a cutter about that's about one inch wide and three inches long—try to use one that's a similar size so that the yield is right.
Homemade Star Crunch
Our homemade version of this Little Debbie treat uses the same basic ingredients as the original—caramel, chocolate, and crisped rice—but without all the artificial stabilizers that come in the store-bought cookies. I generally prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, but here it gives the cookies an unpleasantly dry texture.
Homemade Biscoff (Belgian Speculoos Cookies)
I mostly just think of it as the thing I always eat on airplanes, but people assure me that Biscoff has a huge following on the ground, too. The sweet speculoos cookies have a straightforward ingredient list, but the trick to nailing down the flavor is using Belgian brown sugar or homemade caramel sugar instead of American brown sugar.
BraveTart: Homemade Oreos
Giving homemade Oreos their signature jet-black color means reaching for plenty of Dutch process cocoa powder. We also add just a dash of coconut extract to the dough, which somehow makes the cookies taste extra authentic. The filling is a simple mixture of butter and sugar, which firms up perfectly as soon as you pipe it onto the wafers.
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