toffee squares

Makes 4 to 6 dozen squares.

Note: From "Betty Crocker's Cooky Book."

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan

• 1 c. brown sugar, packed

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2 c. flour

• 1/4 tsp. salt

4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped into pieces

• 1/2 c. chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour and salt, mixing until well blended.

Evenly spread dough in a rectangle (about 10 by 13 inches) on prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch all around edge of baking sheet (for a softer, cakelike bar, spread dough in a greased 9- by 13-inch pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes).

Bake until nicely browned (but crust is still soft), about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Immediately scatter chocolate on top and let stand until soft. Using a flat-edged spatula, spread chocolate evenly over entire surface. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into small squares while still slightly warm.

kris kringle's chocolate krinkles

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies."

5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter

• 2 c. flour

• 2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 4 eggs

• 2 c. granulated sugar

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

In a double boiler over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until completely smooth. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla extract until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Reduce speed to low and add one-third of flour mixture, mixing until just blended. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just blended (dough may be very thin). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift some powdered sugar (about 1 to 2 cups) into a shallow bowl.

Roll dough between your palms into 1-inch balls, then roll balls in powdered sugar. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets and flatten balls slightly so they don't roll. Bake until puffed and cracked in appearance, and surface is dry to the touch, about 12 minutes (centers will still feel somewhat soft). You should be able to gently lift the edge of the cookie up from the baking sheet with a spatula. Slide parchment onto wire racks and cool cookies completely.

A NEW WAY TO THINK ABOUT COCONUT MACAROONS

Makes 20 cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. "Instead of condensed milk, I opted for cream of coconut for sweetness, which is pretty much the condensed milk version of coconut milk," writes author Mindy Segal in "Cookie Love."

2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut

• 1 1/2 c. flaked unsweetened coconut

• 1 tsp. salt

2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature

1 c. cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez brand)

• Nonstick cooking spray, for pan

6 oz. chocolate of your choice, melted, for dipping

Directions

In a medium bowl, and using your hands, mix shredded coconut, flaked coconut and salt. Mix in egg whites, followed by cream of coconut. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, giving the coconut enough time to absorb some of the liquid, about 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a half-sheet (13- by 18-inch) pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place a 1- by 2-inch (or 2-inch square) cookie cutter on the prepared baking pan. Spoon some of macaroon batter into cutter and pack down slightly to create a rectangle, leaving the top spiky. Repeat with remaining batter, evenly spacing cookies on baking pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate baking pan and bake until tops are golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking pan.

Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Dip bottoms of cookies into melted chocolate, shake off excess and place on prepared pan. Refrigerate until chocolate sets. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Maya's Lemon Thins

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From "Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies."

• 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces

• 2 1/2 c. flour

• 1/4 tsp. baking soda

• 1 egg

• 1 egg yolk

• 1 c. sugar

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

• 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring lemon juice to a boil and cook until thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 2 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda, and reserve.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk and sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisk in butter mixture, lemon zest and salt. Add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 disc-shaped pieces. Place dough between 2 sheets of wax paper or parchment paper and, using a rolling pin, roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining dough. Slide a cookie sheet under rolled dough and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 15 minutes or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove 1 piece of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off and reserve the top sheet of paper. Invert the dough onto it and peel off the second sheet. Use a cookie cutter to cut out any desired size or shape (Medrich suggests a 2 1/2-inch round cutter). Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, gathering up scraps, re-rolling and re-cutting dough until all is used.

Bake until cookies are lightly browned at the edges, about 6 to 7 minutes, rotating baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cranberry, Orange And Sage Cookies

Makes 32 cookies.

Note: From "Simply Sensational Cookies."

• 2⁄3 c. sugar

• 2 tbsp. freshly chopped sage leaves

• Freshly grated zest from 1 orange

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1⁄4 tsp. salt

2 c. flour, divided, plus extra for kneading dough

3⁄4 c. (1 1⁄2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for pressing dough

1 egg, at room temperature and beaten with a fork

1 1⁄2 c. dried sweetened cranberries, coarsely chopped if very large

1⁄4 c. chopped pistachios for garnish, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine sugar, sage, orange zest, baking powder and salt, and process until sage is chopped into very fine flecks, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup flour, pulsing until partially incorporated. Sprinkle butter over the mixture and pulse just until only fine bits of butter are visible. Drizzle egg over the dough and pulse until incorporated, stopping and stirring several times to lift and fold in the dough on the bottom.

As soon as the dough begins to come together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup flour over dough and knead until flour is incorporated. Sprinkle cranberries over dough and knead just until the dough is thoroughly mixed. (If dough is very soft, wrap in wax paper or parchment paper and refrigerate for about 10 minutes until dough is firmer and easier to handle.)

Divide dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 8 equal balls, spacing dough about 2 1⁄2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Pat down dough with a greased palm until just flattened. If desired, sprinkle tops with pistachios; lightly pat down to embed.

Bake until cookies are lightly browned at the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.