3 cookie recipes of your choice, from peppermint macaroons to savory chocolate chip classics


Here are the three winning recipes in the Kids’ Choice category of the Dallas Morning News 2021 Holiday Cookie Contest:

Richardson’s Caitlin Dunn placed first in Kids Choice with Peppermint Macarons (Tom Fox)

First place, children’s choice

Peppermint Macaroons, by Caitlin Dunn


Macarons :

1 ¾ cup of powdered sugar

1 cup finely ground almond flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3 large egg whites, room temperature

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Food coloring in red or green gel

Ganache filling:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup heavy cream


8 candy canes, crushed


Make the ganache filling: In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth, about 1 minute total. Let cool for at least 1 hour.

Make the macaroons: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, almond flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Low speed process until very finely ground. Sift the almond flour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Put aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites and remaining ½ teaspoon salt with electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar until it is completely incorporated. Keep beating until stiff peaks form (you should be able to turn the bowl over without anything falling out).

Add about â…“ of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a rubber spatula to gently fold until combined. After the last addition of almond flour, add the peppermint extract. Continue to fold slowly until the dough falls into ribbons and you can make an 8 while holding the spatula up.

Place a pastry bag or zippered bag with a round mouthpiece in a tall drinking glass. Dip a skewer or toothpick in the gel food coloring and paint 2 strips on opposite sides of the inside of the pastry bag. Transfer the macaroon batter to the bag.

Drop 4 small spoonfuls of dough into each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, then lay a piece of parchment paper on top, using the dough to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.

Arrange the macaroons on the parchment paper in 2 inch (5 cm) circles, spaced at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.

Pat the baking sheet 5 times on a flat surface to remove air bubbles. If there are tips on the top of the macaroons, let stand 5 minutes after tapping the pan, then, with a lightly moistened finger, lightly tap the peaks.

Let the macaroons sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes, until they are dry to the touch.

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Bake the macaroons for 20 minutes, until the feet are raised and the macaroons do not stick to the baking paper. Transfer the macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling them.

Transfer the cooled ganache to a piping bag or zipped pocket with a round tip.

Place a spoonful of ganache on a macaroon shell. Garnish with another macaroon shell to create a sandwich. Repeat with the rest of the macaroons and the ganache.

Roll the edges of the macaroons in the crushed candy canes.

If desired, place macaroons in an airtight container for 24 hours to “bloom” before serving, or serve immediately.


Garrett Middendorf placed second in Kids Choice with Sweet & Salty Choco Chip Cookies
Garrett Middendorf placed second in Kids Choice with Sweet & Salty Choco Chip Cookies (Tom Fox)

Second place, children’s choice

Sweet and Savory Chocolate Chip Cookies, Garrett Middendorf


1 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

¾ cup of sugar

2 eggs

2 ½ teaspoons of Mexican vanilla

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of sea salt (no table salt)

2 cups plus a small handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Coarse Kosher Salt


Beat together softened butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamy mixture and mix well. Add the chocolate chips. Cover and freeze for 12 hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 375. Thaw the dough and roll it into small balls while nibbling on a handful of chocolate chips. Place on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies for 4.5 minutes, flip cookie sheets for another 4.5 minutes, then 1.5 minutes, alternate sheets for additional 1.5 minutes. Immediately after removing the cookie sheets from the oven, sprinkle with kosher salt and remove from the baking sheet and onto the counter after 2 minutes. The metal spatula works best.

Nora Pruit placed third in the Dallas Morning News Cookie Contest.
Nora Pruit placed third in the Dallas Morning News Cookie Contest. (Tom Fox)

Third place, children’s choice

Vanilla Christmas Sugar Cookies 2.0, Nora Pruit


1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened (227 grams)

1 cup packed light brown sugar (200 grams)

1/2 cup granulated white sugar (100 grams)

2 large eggs (100 grams)

2 teaspoons of vanilla (10 grams)

3/4 teaspoon of salt (4 grams)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder (1 gram)

3 1/2 cups (or 4 cups) all-purpose flour (490-560 grams)


Heat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Cream the butter and the two sugars together. If you have lumps of brown sugar, you need to crush them or remove them. They make weird bumps in your baked cookies.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add salt and yeast and mix.

Before adding the flour, let’s talk a bit. Different altitudes require different amounts of flour. The differences in humidity will affect the amount of flour you need to add. Is there a thunderstorm coming? It changes things. Add only 3 1/2 cups to start. Then add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky and comes off the side of the mixing bowl. (This happens at about 3 1/2 cups of flour for me … except in the winter when it happens at 4 cups of flour.) This is when you need to stop if you are going to cool the dough. overnight, or just wait another day to cook it. If you plan to roll it out right away, add another half a cup of flour so it’s thick enough to move from the running surface to your baking sheet.

To cook. If you are rolling 1/4 inch thick, bake for about 7 minutes. If you are rolling 3/8 of an inch thick, bake for about 10-12 minutes.

Let cool, then decorate to your liking.


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