Holiday Cookie Exchange

December 9, 2015 by Kari Karch


Not sure if you heard, but Santa is about to jump into your chimney in a matter of weeks. It’s that time of year again to put on those ugly Christmas sweaters and get your friends together for a holiday cookie exchange. The possibilities are endless, the calories don’t count (well, I believe that to be true during the holidays anyways), and the memories made will last forever. I’ve opened up my cookie vault of holiday favorites to share with you so you won’t have to worry about finding those last minute recipes. These are tried and true classics I’ve been stuffing my face with since I was a little girl and I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful holiday!

Mama Karch’s Greek Wedding Cookies

These are my number one favorite that mom has made since I was probably old enough to stuff cookies in my face. They are a traditional Greek cookie also known as Kourabiethes, that when presented look much like a glorious mountain of fallen snow with hidden almond cookies peeking out of the mound.


2 cup unsalted butter (I like using grass-fed), softened
2 cup powdered sugar plus more for presentation
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. Brandy or Ouzo
6 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup finely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to *350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together until pale yellow and then add in eggs. Add in the brandy and mix well. Slowly mix in flour and baking powder. Fold in pecans. Form dough into 1 inch balls and place on lightly-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown. Cool on a wire rack and roll in additional powdered sugar to coat. When serving, pile the cookies on a large platter and sprinkle lots of powdered sugar to make it look like a mountain. The sugar also helps keep the cookies fresh for a couple of days longer. Just be sure to store in a plastic or glass container.

*My mom would like everyone to know the story behind these cookies so she can show her friends that she had officially written in a blog….

“When Jack, Kari, and I lived in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Jack was in the Army then and we took a trip to Greece for Christmas. We would see these cookies in the bakery storefront windows and they would have these cookies displayed with mounds of powdered sugar on top which looked like mountains of snow!”

Lemon Glazed Madeleines

These simple and elegant lemon cookies are sure to be the hit at your holiday cookie exchange. I’ve loved madeleines since I was little and there is a sweet smell that permeates your home when they are baking. It always tends to bring me right back to childhood. I’ve actually used this recipe for many holiday cookie exchanges and everyone falls in love with their soft and delightful flavors. For a fun twist, try experimenting with the glazes and maybe try a sweet orange glaze, a peppermint glaze, or a lemon and lavender glaze. Just be sure to omit the lemon zest and swap it out for a similar zest or extract that pairs with the glaze.


3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder (optional)
Zest of one lemon
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

For the glaze:

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. water


1. Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer.

2. Whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt with a stand mixer for five minutes until frothy and thickened.

3. Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter. (Rest the bowl on a damp towel to help steady it for you).

4. Add the lemon zest to the cooled butter, then dribble the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours).

6. To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Drop enough batter in the center of each indentation with enough batter which you think will fill it by 3/4’s. Do not spread the batter.

8. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until the cakes just feel set. While the cakes are baking, make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.

9. Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with a dull knife. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up

*Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. Image Credit:

Kari Karch

Kari Karch is a 19-year veteran of the culinary industry, creator of Kiss the Cook, and the head chef and spokesperson for the Kenmore brand. She has made many notable appearances on ABC Morning News, on WGN, on the Cooking Channel and as a judge for the World Food Championships.