These festive cookies also can be made in the shape of candy canes, Christmas stockings or whatever your favorite cookie cutter shapes are. The yield will vary depending on the size and shape of your cookie cutter.

Red gel food coloring is more concentrated than liquid food coloring; but liquid food coloring can be used (the color will not be as bright).

Recipe notes: The wrapped disk of dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

The finished cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 1 month.

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  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1/3 cup (45 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks/226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon red gel food coloring (see recipe notes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) white chocolate, finely chopped

Step 1

Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. (You may need a third or may need to re-use one, depending on how many cookies you end up with.)

Step 2

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Sift in the cocoa powder and baking soda, then whisk the dry ingredients together to aerate and combine.

Step 3

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a handheld mixer and a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 4

Stop the mixer and use a flexible spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment. Still on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add the food coloring and vanilla extract, and mix until the red dye is evenly dispersed.

Step 5

Reduce the speed to low. Spoon in the flour mixture and mix until a dough forms and the batter is just combined. (If there are bits of flour at the bottom of the bowl, use a large, sturdy spatula to incorporate any remaining flour by hand.)

Step 6

Lightly flour your work surface. Scrape the dough onto the work surface and gather the dough into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Step 7

When ready to bake, lightly re-flour your work surface. Roll out the cookie dough to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness. Using floured cookie cutters, cut out cookies, then transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart (they will not spread much). Reroll any scraps and repeat. Freeze the cookies for 15 minutes. (If your freezer is tight on space, you can freeze and then bake one sheet at a time, on the middle rack, or you can more tightly pack them on one sheet to freeze and then divide among multiple pans for baking.)

Step 8

While the cookies are chilling, position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Step 9

Bake the chilled cookies for 10 to 11 minutes, or until they are mostly dry to the touch but appear slightly puffed with crisp-looking edges, rotating from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 10

Set a heatproof bowl over a pan with a few inches of simmering water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the white chocolate and stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Spoon the melted chocolate along the bottom and tops of the cookies to mimic the white fur of Santa’s hat (or decorate to suit whatever shape you’ve chosen). You can swirl with the spoon or a toothpick for extra texture. Return the bowl to the double-boiler if the chocolate starts to seize up, or sit the bowl in a larger bowl of tepid water to keep it fluid. Let the chocolate set on the cookies, about 5 minutes, before serving or storing.

Nutrition Information

Per cookie, based on 54

Calories: 91; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 17 mg; Sodium: 27 mg; Carbohydrates: 12 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 1 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From Vallery Lomas, author of “Life Is What You Bake It” (Clarkson Potter, 2021).

Tested by Tom Sietsema; email questions to

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