Reviewing NYT Cookie Recipes

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies….

Every December as we approach the holidays, the NYT Cooking Magazine releases 7 cookie recipes for Cookie Week, arguably the most exciting time of the year. I love cookies and I love to make them and since I didn’t have any plans for the weekend, I decided to set out on a grand feat: to bake every recipe from cookie week. Now, as I went to retrieve these recipes, I went down a cookie recipe rabbit hole where I was faced with not only this year’s cookie week recipes, but also the year before, and the year before. Safe to say I was overwhelmed. So, instead of making just 7 recipes (which, my peers already thought was far fetched) I couldn’t help but make ten. That’s right! And there were many more before I made the final cut. NOTE: Sadly, I did run out of time and only eight were completed….My mission was becoming increasingly difficult and I realized I would need a sponsor for all my ingredients; so, I went to the biggest sugar monster I knew: my sister. My sister, the perfect target for when I need something. We struck a deal that if she sponsored me, she would have the majority of the cookies to give to her family and friends as early Christmas gifts. This was a fair deal to me, as I knew there would be a lot of cookies. The ingredients were obtained and the quest began…..

The cookies have been reviewed based on a variety of factors- ease of preparation, flavor & texture, and visual appeal. Extra points will be awarded to those that have that extra oomph of holiday pizazz, however, a cookie is a cookie, and that is festive enough for me. 

Gochujang Caramel by Eric Kim

  • Preparation: 10/10. A solid 10/10. These cookies were a breeze to make and only required 15 minutes of fridge chilling. The recipe also highly encouraged these to be mixed by hand, and since there was no need for a stand mixer, these also got approval in my book. Additionally, I had all the ingredients I needed to make them!
  • Flavor & Texture: 10/10. I was so excited to see how the gochujang turned out in these cookies because this fermented Korean pepper paste is delicious and I use it quite often. The idea of the pepper paste being mixed with brown sugar to turn into a caramel was a heavenly idea, especially if you are like me and like a savory/sweet combo. Safe to say, these were so delicious. When I made the dough, it was slightly to firm which hindered my ability to swirl the gochujang sugar mixture, and therefore it was a little more spread out in the dough than I would have liked, which made the flavor slightly less intense. However, when you did get a bite with the caramel, it was a delicious complex flavor that you wouldn’t know had pepper in it, but you definitely could tell was more than just an average caramel. The cookie was also super chewy, which I appreciated as a chewy rather than crunchy cookie supporter. Also, if you are afraid of spice, don’t be! Gochujang is already a mellow spice level and its combination with the sugar simply gives the cookie a mild savory flavor. 
  • Visual Appeal: 8/10. I think this is mostly my fault because since the dough was slightly hard and the caramel didn’t mix well as I mentioned earlier, there was a lack of those characteristic red ribbons I was hoping for. However, one of the prettiest cookies had a nice, shiny, ribbon that was very picturesque. There is also a nice ripple effect (that isn’t as good as the picture because I rolled the dough out slightly too thick)  


 Orange, Pistachio, and Chocolate Shortbread by Sue Li

  • Preparation: 8/10. Shortbread is a relatively easy cookie to make and I highly recommend if you want easy preparation with little effort. These cookies were super fun to make through the chopping of the pistachios and chocolate, to the crumbly texture of the dough. However I had a small problem. I couldn’t find the candied orange peel the recipe called for (which is strange because I feel like it is a popular item for holiday recipes; maybe it was sold out), so I had to make my own. I started the recipe and when time came to add the oranges, I totally forgot to actually make them. My recipe called for peeling the orange with a vegetable peeler and this is MUCH harder than it sounds. The strips were thicker than they should have been and they took forever to boil and dry. They were a little too crunchy, however, I did not penalize the recipe for this because this is very much MY fault. Otherwise, all went well when making the dough. However, when time came to roll the dough, I struggled. After bringing the dough out from its allotted chill period, it was VERY crumbly, which is characteristic for a shortbread. It became difficult to slice the dough, but I eventually got the hang of it and got some nice even squares.
  • Flavor & Texture: 10/10. These cookies were so good. The combination of pistachio, orange, and chocolate is a heavenly match and it was not too sweet. The shortbread was perfectly crumbly and I was worried I baked them for slightly too long, but they were all good. The orange was kind of crunchy, but again my fault (however, its freshness lent a nice flavor!). They also were not too buttery, which can be the case with shortbread. The pistachios themselves also gave a buttery appeal to the cookie. Also, I can confirm that as the recipe states, this shortbread only gets better as it ages and is at its best at a few days old.
  • Visual: 10/10. These cookies are too pretty to look at. They remind me a bit of a mosaic. Because the recipe called for a chopped chocolate bar, rather than chips, there are small chocolate speckles in the cookie that not only taste delicious, but look super beautiful. Orange and green is also a wonderful combination and the variety of colors and textures in the cookies make it look like I spent a lot of time on them, which I didn’t. A perfect afternoon tea cookie. 


Peppermint Brownie Cookies by Vaughn Vreeland

  • Preparation: 8/10: These cookies were relatively easy to make but required LOTS of beating of the sugar and butter. Because I don’t have a stand mixer (rip to my Kitchenaid dreams), this was very tiresome work to beat the butter and sugar into a light cream for over 10 minutes. I knew not to give up because the recipe explicitly stated this was important to achieve brownie crinkles. My arm was sore, but then I sort of felt like a cookie superhero. Other than that, the dough requires no chilling and can go straight into the oven. Crushing the peppermint candies was fun, but also sort of difficult with a mortar and pestle and I got some on my shirt, which was sticky. 
  • Flavor & Texture: 11/10. These cookies were AMAZING!!!!! I think we all know that the best brownies come from a box, however these were so good. The texture of these brownies was absolutely incredible. It had a chewy edge, and a fudgy interior that could compete with Ghiradelli any day. Due to the inclusion of melted semi sweet chocolate and Dutch cocoa powder, they had an incredibly rich cocoa flavor. Additionally, the peppermint was not overwhelming at all and was a subtly fresh aftertaste. Life changing is what I have to say. These were also my sister’s favorite.
  • Visual: 9/10. These cookies look so scrumptious and I would totally grab one of these at a Christmas party (I am partial to chocolate). The little crushed peppermint was a very nice touch as well. They do have the crinkles, however I wish mine were as dramatic as the photo. Nonetheless, they were very shiny. I think this may have been my fault as well because I was too lazy to put multiple batches in the oven, but they did spread out to touch each other slightly which resulted in cookies with some straight edges. 


Gingerbread Latte by Vaughn Vreeland

  • Preparation: 10/10. Very straightforward and easy. The dough was quite thick and smelled nice, which elevated the entire experience. The dough required a bit of chilling, however this was in the best interest of rolling because once time came to portion out the dough, it was really easy to roll into equal balls. While the cookies baked, I loved how the house smelled like a festive coffee shop
  • Flavor & Texture: 10/10. The combination of the coffee and warm spices was delectable. The cookies were not too sweet and the espresso powder offered an appreciated balancing out to the chewy sweet gingerbread. Before heading to the oven, the dough is rolled into a coffee-sugar which not only creates a wonderful flavor, but gives a nice crust to the cookie. The flavor starts sweet and spicy, however the coffee leaves a pleasant bitter afternote. However, if you don’t like a strong coffee flavor, this might not be the recipe for you unless you scale back on the espresso.
  • Visual: 9/10. These cookies were almost perfectly round, which was extremely satisfying. They were crinkly like the picture, but slightly smaller (not sure how that happened).




Thumbprints With Dulce de Leche, Nutella, or Jam (made with rose jam and pistachios) by Susan Spungen

  • Preparation: 9/10. These thumbprint cookies were super easy and the process was in general very satisfying. The only difficulty I came across was that the recipe called for a food processor to create a flour-pistachio mixture, but I had to use a mortar and pestle, which more difficult and time consuming. I quite enjoyed the process of thumbprinting these cookies (although they were VERY hot from the oven) and filling them with jam.
  • Flavor & Texture: 10/10. These cookies were super delicious. While the recipe called for red currant jam, I only had rose one, which ended up being a delicious combination with the pistachios. The shortbread was perfectly crumbly and the crushed pistachios baked into the cookies gave it an aromatic flavor that really brought it to the next level. These cookies were nutty and floral, which added a more delicate flavor profile than the other cookies, which was refreshing.
  • Visual: 11/10. These cookies are TOO cute! I love the pistachio green and rosy translucent pink from the jam, and it creates a cookie that looks straight from a fairy bakery. The cracks that are creating from imprinting the cookies are also very aesthetically pleasing and they give the cookie a rustic look. Their small size also adds to their visual factor.

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Window Cookies by Susan Spungen

  • Preparation: 7/10. Maybe an unpopular opinion, but I despise cutting out cookies; the dough gets sticky, the shapes break, you have to reroll out the dough, overall really not an enjoyable experience. These cookies were particularly difficult, however. The dough itself was easy to prepare, but was shortbread-esque and quite crumbly. The dough needed to be chilled throughout the cutting process and once it got too soft, it became almost impossible to cut out. To be fair, I used a star shape and that was probably not the best choice, as the dough got stuck in the points. And to top it off, I had to cut out a mini star in half of the shapes, which was extremely tedious. I didn’t take off too many points off this category because I realize the difficulty I experienced with the star cutter was probably self-inflicted. I forgot to mention as well that I could not find blood orange jam, so I asked my mom to make it as she is the queen of jam making, but it was an additional process.
  • Flavor & Texture: 9/10. The jam really made these cookies. It was like a tart orange jam, but with an additional edge of flavor. The cookies were a very nice texture and the buttery crumb melts in your mouth. My only complaint is that I wished I added more jam. These are a a classic cookie with a twist of the blood orange and scattered poppy seeds.
  • Visual 10/10: These cookies are very pretty and definitely make me feel nostalgic, as they remind me of the ones I used to make as a kid during Christmas. The star shape, although, tiresome, I did not regret because they were so fun and the fact that the cutter is slightly bent out of shape and results in lopsided star arms, it gives it personality. The powdered sugar is the cherry on top to remind me of a snowy December day.

Savory Shortbread Cookies with Olives and Rosemary by Yewande Komolafe 

  • Preparation: 10/10. These were incredibly easy. It was a classic shortbread base that required mixing of cold butter chunks into flour to create a crumby mixture that must hydrate in the fridge for an hour or two. The only preparation really required was chopping rosemary and olives, as well as zesting a fresh lemon. This was a very aromatic and enjoyable experience. I had a bit of difficulty rolling out the logs as instructed, but that’s due to my lack of measurement perception. Also, as they were baking, it smelled so good in the kitchen, like I was baking an olive loaf.
  • Flavor & Texture: 9/10. If you are like me and like a savory sweet combination, these are definitely for you. The kalamata olives are salty and sweet and when baked add a depth of flavor that is pleasantly surprising. The addition of the rosemary and lemon zest liven up the buttery shortbread, and the rosemary wasn’t too overpowering. The dough itself was sweet, slightly too sweet, which meant as you bite into it, you taste the salty olives and then are left with sweet shortbread. Sounds odd, I know, but trust me it was heavenly.
  • Visual: 9/10. These cookies were so pretty and the rough chop of the olives created a variety of shapes in the dough that made them very visually appealing. I wish I rolled the dough out better, however, so I could have had perfectly round medallions instead of oblong ovals.


Chocolate Babka Rugelach by Melissa Clark

  • 9/10. While these cookies did have a few more steps, the process was more fun than tedious. I had to make the dough (which was super simple), make the fudge, mix the crumb mixture, and chop the pistachios. After preparing all the elements and letting your dough chill, you assemble the cookies almost like a mini pizza. The dough is rolled out into a circle, spread with fudge, and topped with chocolate crumbs and pistachios. The dough is then cut into little slices, just like a pizza, which are rolled up into croissant/crescent shapes. The rolling of these was definitely the hardest part and they definitely got better the more I did them. The only strange thing I encountered was that I did not have enough filling for all of the dough, so I might have added too much to some of it.
  • Flavor & Texture: 12/10. These were so amazing. I love babka, so I knew I would love these. The fudge was super rich and creamy, which makes sense because there was both cocoa powder and semi-sweet chocolate in there, but it also wasn’t too sweet. The dough was perfectly soft and crumbly at the same time, and the crunch of the pistachios was the perfect finish. These were definitely one of my favorites and are perfect for a chocolate lover. The only thing that would make it better would be that thick bakery sugar, but I forgot to buy it, sadly.
  • Visual: 8/10. Rolling these was HARD. I did my best to keep it neat, but there was definitely chocolate oozing out. They do look like little crescents though, which is so cute and enjoyable. They would be even better with the sugar mentioned earlier, but that’s my fault. I love how small these were because they reminded me of mini croissants.

All of these cookies were amazing and although it took me over 3 days to finish them, the whole experience was a ton of fun and the best part was being able to share them with my family and friends. I highly suggest that if you want to get more in the holiday spirit and have some free time, to bake your favorite cookies.