7 Top S.F. Chefs Share Their All-Time Fave Holiday Cookie Recipes!

It’s officially December, which means celebrating the holidays with sweet treats is happening pretty much on the daily. And that, dear readers, is something we’re taking full advantage of. With a bevy of seasonal soirées on the horizon, there’s no way we’re going to be the girl arriving to the party with a Safeway bag in tow. Nope, we’re all about going homemade this year, with our trusty oven mitts firmly in place. 

To inspire a baking spree, we tapped S.F.’s top chefs for a lineup of delectable holiday cookie recipes. From the legendary Michael Mina’s perfect warm chocolate-chip cookies to a crispy creation from Bar Agricole’s Brandon Jew, try these six utterly amazing desserts straight from locals who know a thing or two about making things extra yummy. Get to clickin’ … calories be damned!


Mrs. Jew’s Crispy Cookies
by Brandon Jew, Chef, Bar Agricole

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
1 cup raisins
6 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels (optional) 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well. 
3. Blend in the flour mixture.
4. Stir in the Rice Krispies, chocolate chips, and raisins. 
5. Drop level tablespoons full of mixture onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Recipe will yield 3 1/2 dozen cookies. 

Portrait: Courtesy of Brandon Jew; Cookies: Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile


Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
by Nicole Hayes, Pastry Chef, Foreign Cinema

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup mint chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Cream until light in color, about 3 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. 
3. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract.
4. Gradually add flour mixture in three additions, fully combining alter each addition. Add in milk chocolate and mint chocolate chips and mix until just combined.
5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, drop tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart from each other.
6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are firm but still soft in the center. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Cookies: Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile; Portrait: Photographed by Molly Decoudreaux


Maple Snowflake Cookies
by Pam Mazzola and Jennifer Knight, Chef and Pastry Chef, Prospect 

10 1/4 oz butter at room temperature
1/3 cup maple sugar
3 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup confectionary sugar, sifted
2 tbsp and 2 tsp maple syrup 

1. Cream the butter and maple sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Blend in the maple syrup. Then, add all-purpose flour and mix until combined. 
3. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. 
4. Roll out cookies into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with snowflake cookie cutter. 
5. Bake 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
6. When cookies have cooled, use maple syrup glaze to decorate. To make the glaze, whisk the sugar and maple syrup together until smooth. 

Portrait: Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile; Cookies: Courtesy of Prospect


Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Michael Mina

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Valrhôna or Scharffen Berger, finely chopped
1/2 pound toasted pecans or walnuts, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a hand-held electric beater. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate. Add the vanilla and continue to mix until combined. Turn the mixer off.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture in two additions, beating just to combine. Do not overmix or the cookie dough can become tough. 
4. Turn the mixer off and fold in the chopped chocolate and nuts with a large spoon or spatula until evenly distributed. It will appear like a tremendous amount of chocolate and nuts, just keep stirring until all the bits are incorporated into the batter.
5. Using your palms, roll the dough into 2-inch balls, about the size of a golf ball. Alternatively, you can use a small ice-cream scoop. Put the dough on nonstick baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. 
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are just set on the edges but still fairly soft in the center. 
7. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and serve warm. Also, as Michael prefers, with a root beer float to wash them down.

Portrait: Photographed by Molly Decoudreaux; Cookies: Courtesy of Michael Mina


Soft Glazed Gingerbread
by Liz Prueitt, Pastry Chef and Co-Owner,Tartine Bakery

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup blackstrap or other dark molasses
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp water

1. To make the dough, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Set aside. 
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth and soft. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. 
3. Add the egg and mix well. Add the molasses and corn syrup and beat until incorporated. Stop the mixer again and scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
4. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until a dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl and all the ingredients are well incorporated. 
5. Remove the dough from the bowl, flatten it on a large piece of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, cover the dough with the plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
7. Unwrap the dough and place on a floured work surface. If using a plaque with a design, roll out the dough 1/3 inch thick, lightly dust the top with flour, press your cookie molds over the dough, and then cut out the shapes with a small knife and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Alternatively, using the mold as a guide, cut around it with a small knife, flip the mold over so the design is facing you, and place the dough over it, pressing it into the design. Unmold the shapes onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them. 
8. If using a patterned rolling pin, lightly dust the lined baking sheet with flour and transfer the dough to the pan. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll it into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick with a plain pin. Then, using the patterned pin, roll over the dough with enough pressure to ensure a clear impression of the design. Trim the sides with a small knife. It is not necessary to cut into smaller sizes before baking.
9. Bake the cookies until lightly golden along the sides but still soft to the touch in the centers, 7 to 15 minutes. The timing will depending on the size of the individual cookies, or if you have made a single large patterned piece that will be cut after baking. 
10. While the cookies are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar and water until smooth. 
11. When the cookies are ready, remove from the oven and let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then, while the cookies are still warm, using even strokes, brush a light coat of glaze on the top of each cookie, evenly covering it. 
12. Let the cookies cool completely. When the glaze dries, it should leave a shiny, opaque finish. If you have used a patterned pin to make a single large plaque, cut into the desired sizes with a small, very sharp knife. At the bakery, we cut them into 3-by-4-inch rectangles, but 1 1/2 by 4 inches makes a nice smaller size. 

Portrait: Courtesy of Tartine Bakery; Cookies: Taken from the Tartine cookbook


Chocolate Chip & Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
by Thomas McNaughton, Chef and Partner,Flour + WaterSalumeria, and Central Kitchen

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 slightly beaten egg
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, egg, and vanilla. 
3. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients. (You can also buy all of the dry ingredients together in a jar at Salumeria.) 
4. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
5. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. 
6. Transfer from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Portrait: Courtesy of Flour + Water; Cookies: Photographed by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

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