Online cookie exchange

Cookie swaps are a great way to cut down on time in your kitchen this busy time of year: You make your family’s favorite cookie and end up with many other kinds you may love just as much (or even more!).

This year, we are hosting a cookie recipe exchange at to help families across Chicagoland not only discover a new favorite treat for the holidays, but also learn about other cultures and traditions.

Here are just a few of the recipes you should definitely try as a family this month. Share your own at

Cream Cheese Rugelach

Emily Paster

Rugelach is a traditional Jewish cookie that continues to be popular today. These flaky, delicate cookies are the perfect vehicle to showcase homemade jams and fruit butters.

Makes two dozen cookies



1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Zest of ½ orange

4 oz. cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

4 oz. cold cream cheese, cut into cubes


½ cup jam or fruit butter

¼ cup dried fruit, such as raisins or dried cranberries, or mini chocolate chips

¼ cup nuts, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar


1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

1 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar


Place the flour, salt, cinnamon and orange zest in a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse several times until well broken up.

Process the dough in short intervals, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary, until large clumps of dough form.

Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and gently knead it into a ball.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces, flatten and wrap each portion in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with silicone baking mats.

On a well floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/8-inch thick, about a 12-inch circle. If the edges of your circle are ragged, trim them with a knife until smooth.

Leaving a slight plain edge, spread 1/4 cup of jam over the dough.

Evenly sprinkle 2 Tbsp. dried fruit or chocolate chips over top of the jam, followed by 2 Tbsp. of the nuts, avoiding the center of the circle.

Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of the cinnamon-sugar over the entire dough portion.

Cut the dough into 12 wedges for rolling into crescents. As if cutting a pie or pizza, cut the dough round into sixths, and then halve each portion until you have 12 pieces.

Starting at the outside edge, carefully roll up each wedge into a crescent, and place on the parchment-lined pan, with the end point on the bottom side.

Chill the formed cookies for 15-20 minutes prior to baking. Repeat the process with second disk of dough.

When ready to bake, lightly brush the tops with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

Let cool on the pan for five minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

Dutch Flaky Almond Bars

Katie Niekerk

My grandmother was born and raised in Orange City, Iowa, a small town known for its rich Dutch heritage. When my sister and I were kids, she’d make us these sweet almond bars for birthdays, holidays and everything in between.



2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cold

½ cup cold water


1 cup almond paste

½ cup and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

¾ tsp. almond extract

1 egg

½ cup of butter, melted


1 egg white, beaten

½ cup powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. milk

1/8 tsp. almond extract

Sliced almonds


Thoroughly mix flour and salt. Add chunks of butter and beat. Add water slowly while continuing to beat, just until mixture resembles dough.

Divide dough into four rounds on plastic wrap. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Mix almond paste, sugar, almond extract and egg in a large bowl until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll each round of dough on a lightly floured surface to form rectangles. Spread 1-2 Tbsp. of melted butter on top of dough.

Spread 1/4 of almond paste mixture into each rectangle of dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Close dough by folding over each end, folding up sides and pinching tops to seal.

Place dough with seams down on baking sheets. Brush beaten egg white over each; sprinkle sugar on top.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring.

Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. Drizzle over each bar and place sliced almonds on top.

White chocolate and cherry holiday cookies

Cortney Fries

My son loves these cookies we adapted from a recipe in All You magazine. My aunt, Chef Kyle Cooper Rogel, now shares them with clients.

Makes 3 ½ dozen


1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup sugar

1 small egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups

all-purpose flour

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup white chocolate morsels

1 cup candied cherries, quartered

(I use dry sour cherries)


Combine butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture, beating just until blended after each addition. Sir in white chocolate morsels and chopped cherries. Drop dough by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Place on wire cooling rack.

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