Easy Herbal Cookie Recipes: Over-the-Top Cookie Swap

Deck your kitchen table this holiday season with these tasty herbal cookie recipes that your family and friends will love.

| December/January 2007

  • To make these Anise-Scented Sugar Cookie trees, make several sizes of the star-shaped cookies. Then stack, rotating and alternating the stars' points and using icing to adhere cookies as you stack. To finish, decorate with dragee "ornaments" adhered with icing.
    Susan Jackson
  • Rich in flavor and tradition, these classic Italian Pignoli Cookies need no ornamentation.
    Susan Jackson
  • Surprise your guests by adding the subtle taste of lavender to a simple shortbread cookie.
    Susan Jackson
  • To make elegant ornaments, cut holes in the cookies before baking, frost them and string them on satin ribbons.
    Susan Jackson
  • Send guests home with plenty of treats. If you’re feeling ambitious, create edible, gingerbread carrying boxes. Alternately, holiday tins lined with tissue paper make lovely, reusable containers.
    Susan Jackson
  • Rosemary-almond biscotti looks elegant dipped in chocolate and topped with a silver dragée or a sprig of rosemary.
    Susan Jackson
  • To make these Anise-Scented Sugar Cookie trees, make several sizes of the star-shaped cookies. Then stack, rotating and alternating the stars' points and using icing to adhere cookies as you stack. To finish, decorate with dragee "ornaments" adhered with icing.
    Susan Jackson
  • Chocolate-Peppermint Truffles become tasty “snowballs” when placed in banks of powdered sugar in our holiday scene.
    Susan Jackson
  • To make these Anise-Scented Sugar Cookie trees, make several sizes of the star-shaped cookies. Then stack, rotating and alternating the stars' points and using icing to adhere cookies as you stack. To finish, decorate with dragee "ornaments" adhered with icing.
    Susan Jackson

Herbal Cookie Recipes

• Anise-Scented Sugar Cookies
• Royal Icing
• Rolled Gingerbread Cookies with Coriander Seed
• Chocolate-Peppermint Truffles
• Pignoli Cookies
• Rosemary-Almond Biscotti
• Lavender Shortbread  

For most of us, the holidays are all about giving back — about sharing the things that we love to do or make with those who have supported us throughout the year. As a pastry chef and event designer, my favorite gifts to give are parties that put a high priority on delicious food.

Whether you are throwing an elaborate holiday get-together or simply baking up tins of cookies for friends and neighbors, I hope these recipes and images inspire you this season. For our little gathering, the centerpiece, my labor of love, was a completely edible composition of Anise-Scented Sugar Cookie trees — star-shaped cookies stacked tall on cut-glass candlesticks — surrounded by a frosty landscape of powdered sugar, rock candy and peppermint-infused truffles swathed in white chocolate. We threaded frosted gingerbread angels and stars with satin ribbon and hung them on the crystal chandelier for a hint of heaven above the forest. Pastry blenders outfitted with recipe cards and real gingerbread boxes filled with leftover cookies were the icing on this luscious treat.

If these party trappings seem too elaborate for the hostess in the usual holiday rush, here’s my advice: First, keep the guest list to a minimum. A tight-knit group always cultivates a feeling of intimacy, but it also frees the hostess to focus on personal touches that will leave each guest feeling special. Second, join forces when you can. I asked my friend Elizabeth Maxson, an interior designer and the owner of a home-furnishings boutique, to handle the decorating details at my party, thus allowing me to stay focused on what I know best. And talk about holiday cheer — there’s no better way to share the joy of the season than party planning with a good friend.



Julia M. Usher is a food writer, recipe developer and food stylist in St. Louis. Contact her by visiting the Mother Earth Living resource page.






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