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Our Top Holiday Cookie Roundup From Our Food Network Canada Hosts

stained glass cookies on a white plate

Have a big baking day planned for the holidays, but feeling snowed under by all the cookie choices you’ve been saving up all year? We asked our panel of Food Network Canada hosts – Anna Olson, Steve Hodge, Cynthia Stroud and Ron Ben-Israel – for the holiday favourites that make them melt, from shortbread to Russian tea cookies. They also chime in on some eternal conundrums, such as sugar cookies versus gingerbread, and reveal the “IT” cookie of the season. 

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Anna Olson, Bake With Anna Olson and Great Chocolate Showdown

Anna Olson smiling at the camera

Anna’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Vanilla bean shortbread

2. Florentines

3. Cherry walnut icebox cookies

4. Walnut snowball cookies

5. Chocolate crinkles

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“I feel a gingerbread cookie is the winner. I love the smell of gingerbread cookies baking. And if you’re just starting out baking cookies, the dough is a little easier to handle than a delicate sugar  cookie dough.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“I think we are really looking to the classics and traditional cookies this season, as this holiday may actually look a little more like the holidays we remember. A good chocolate crinkle cookie never goes out of style.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Best Cookie Recipes

Ron Ben-Israel, The Big Bake

Ron Ben-Israel smiling at the camera

Ron’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Ginger cookies with candied ginger

2. Ginger molasses cookies

3. Ginger crisps

4. Ginger chocolate cookies

5. Ginger lace cookies

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“Anything ginger is my favourite. Try to underbake the cookies a bit, so they’ll maintain a chewy centre.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“Make your own ‘IT’ cookie by adding spices, such as cayenne pepper, or herbs, such as thyme.”

Steve Hodge, The Great Chocolate Showdown, Project Bakeover 

Steve Hodge smiling at the camera

Steve’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Ginger cookies

2. Walnut crescent cookies

3. Vanilla almond shortbread

4. Linzer cookies Croatian kiflice (jam-filled crescent cookies)

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
Sugar cookies. They’re easier to make and use less ingredients.”

The “IT” cookie for this holiday season
“Hands down for me, my mom’s kiflice cookies. The pastry is light and flaky and the plum jam filling is amazing and sweet.”

Cynthia Stroud, Great Chocolate Showdown

Cynthia Stroud smiling at the camera

Cynthia’s Top 5 Holiday Cookies

1. Marzipan and chocolate chip cookies

2. Spiced chocolate cookies

3. Cranberry and white chocolate cookies

4. Gingerbread cookies

5. Pecan shortbread cookies

Gingerbread cookie vs. sugar cookie?
“Sugar cookies are more forgiving and require less ingredients. The dough doesn’t need to be chilled before baking and any unused dough can be frozen and then brought to room temperature and baked to yield crumbly, buttery cookies that melt in the mouth within 10 minutes.”

What do you predict will be the cookie trend for 2022?
“Stuffed cookies are making a comeback this season but with an upgrade. We used to be thrilled with the novelty of a ganache or jam filled cookie but these days, its wonderful to see bakers experimenting with cheesecake filling, caramel filling, even savoury fillings all making an appearance.”

Related: Chocolate Pairings: Unexpected New Flavours That Are A Perfect Match

Blue and white sugar cookies from Anna Olson

Bonus: Anna’s Best Cookie Baking Tips

As an extra stocking stuffer, Anna Olson has wrapped up some of her best tips to ensure that your holiday baking will bring nothing but sweet success.

Take the deep freeze
Make your cookie doughs ahead of time and freeze them, as opposed to freezing baked cookies. The doughs take up far less room in the freezer, and then you can thaw and bake easily as you need them. Remember to label and include the baking instructions.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Top Baking Tools and Kitchen Essentials

Use good ingredients
Baking cookies is when quality counts. Buying good vanilla may cost a little more, but you can actually use less in your recipes because of the quality. Good chocolate also makes a difference, and any unused chocolate keeps for ages, so freshness isn’t an issue.”

Keep allergies in mind
When baking for a larger group, you may need to adapt to allergies. To replace eggs, I use flax eggs (2 Tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 Tbsp warm water for 1 egg) for cookies and muffins, silken tofu (60 g for 1 egg) for cakes and cheesecakes. To replace dairy, I like to use oat or almond milk in place of cow’s milk, coconut cream in place of whipping cream, and coconut oil or non-dairy butter to replace butter. To replace flour, you may have to fiddle a bit, but I start with ⅔ cup of brown rice flour with ⅓ cup of tapioca starch to replace 1 cup of all-purpose flour.”

Related: Anna Olson’s Quick Guide To Baking Substitutions

Consider reusable packaging for gifts from the kitchen
“Packing cookies in vintage cookie tins looks lovely, but also considering stacking cookies in a large mug or even a pair of mittens, that can be enjoyed and used afterwards.”

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