Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn: A Book Review

Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes To Treasure For The Holiday Season
By Lisa Zwirn

William Morrow, Copyright 2008
134 pages, ISBN 9780061376962

Rating: 5/5

I discovered this cookie book two years ago at my local library. After I made one recipe I had to buy the book. Which recipe made the sale? Maple Walnut Cookies with maple icing. They became my surprise cookie hit last season.

The book includes tips and beautiful pictures that make you want to bake. Or at least dream about baking. Lisa also offers recommendations for gifting cookies and hosting a cookie exchange.

I'd love to share a recipe but they are all copyrighted. There's a way, however, I can get around it. One of the recipes is similar to a cookie my Mom made for me growing up in the 1960's. I'm including her recipe and then a summary of the updates to it from Lisa's book.

Russian Tea Cakes (Mom's Recipe from 1960)

Six Ingredients: 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Directions: Cream butter and sugar; add vanilla. Work in four sifted with salt. Mix in nuts. Form into one inch balls and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. While hot, roll in confectioner's sugar. Makes 4 dozen.

New update for the same cookie from Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn

The ingredients are the same except 2 tsp. of vanilla extract is recommended (instead of 1 tsp).

Prep is slightly different from my Mom's recipe. Cream butter first then add sugar followed by vanilla and salt. Flour is next (no sifting needed) and finally nuts. Lisa used pecans in place of walnuts but either is fine. She suggests that the nuts be finely chopped.

The dough is formed into a large ball and then refrigerated for 30 minutes before forming into one inch balls. Oven temp reduced to 375 and cooking time to 12 minutes. Use parchment paper on the cookie sheet. Cool cookies for 5 minutes before rolling in sugar (just before serving or storage recoat the cookie with sugar).

What cookies are you making this season?

In addition to the cookies I mentioned here, I'm also baking Lisa's Sugar Cookies and Iced Lemon Rounds (using fresh lemons from my tree). If I have time I'll bake her Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. I better get back to the kitchen with just a few days left before Christmas.


  1. Rob, I came across your blog entry. I'm the "Christmas Cookies" author, Lisa Zwirn, and I'm so happy you like my book and are enjoying the recipes!! How fortunate you have your very own lemon tree! No such thing here in Boston, MA...

    Continued happy baking!
    Lisa Zwirn

  2. This sounds really good. I think its something like Mexican wedding cookies as well. They look very pretty too all white and snowey!!!

  3. Lisa, I'm so glad you stopped by. Your book stays in my kitchen all of December. The lemon tree really comes in handy for baking. I can pick as needed.

    Mystica, I love your "white and snowey" description. Maybe that's why I'm attracted to the cookie since I live on a tropical island.


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