The Black & White’s Holiday Cookie Showdown


Photo courtesy Ryan Derenberger

I selected recipes for four popular types of cookies — gingerbread, Linzer, chocolate crinkle and peanut butter blossom cookies — to bake before declaring one as the winner of my own Holiday Cookie Showdown.

By Emily Weiss

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means hanging colorful Christmas lights, buying presents for our loved ones and hosting festive holiday parties. But perhaps the most important tradition is baking holiday cookies. They represent the sweetest part of the season, and the options are endless.

I selected and baked recipes for four popular types of cookies — gingerbread, Linzer, chocolate crinkle and peanut butter blossom cookies — before declaring one as the winner of The Black & White’s Holiday Cookie Showdown.

Fourth place: Gingerbread cookies (7.4/10)

Of the four recipes I baked, the gingerbread cookies ranked the lowest. The baking process required the most involvement and time, and I found their flavor too strong.

Gingerbread cookies (7.4/10)

To make these cookies, I formed a dough, rolled it into a thin sheet and punched the gingerbread shapes out. The dough was also quite sticky, which made lifting the cookies from the counter onto the baking tray an exercise in patience and precision.

Decorating these cookies proved even more difficult than cutting them; I hunched over each one, moving slowly until I had successfully added all of their features.

The finished cookies were very crunchy — but not crumbly — and they hit me with a strong punch of warm spices that proved to be a little too strong. The icing is simply for show and didn’t add anything to the cookie itself.

Though they are a holiday classic, these cookies were disappointing after all the work I put into them. Aside from their looks, these cookies are overrated and there are many less time-consuming and tastier options to choose from this holiday season.

Third place: Linzer cookies (8.1/10)

Next up in my ranking in this cookie showdown are Linzer cookies: two buttery cookies sandwiched together with jam in the middle and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Linzer cookies (8.1/10)

Baking them entailed a similar process as the gingerbread cookies: combining the ingredients to make the dough, rolling it, punching out the cookies and baking them.

I found that working with small portions of the dough at a time helped keep the cookies cool and prevented them from tearing as I transferred them onto the tray. Giving each piece special attention yielded perfectly shaped cookies, but was a tedious task.

Once they were all baked, I completed them by sandwiching them together with jam in the middle and dusting them with powdered sugar.

As one of my grandma’s favorite cookies, Linzers have greatly impacted my childhood. I was familiar with this cookie, but merely remembered it as dry, crumbly and lacking in taste.

However, the cookies that I baked changed my perspective. These were soft, light and had a slight crunch to them, while holding a sweet and rich taste. The fruity jam’s flavor and texture helped balance the butteriness of the cookie.

These cookies not only exceeded my low expectations, but raised them to an entirely new level. I no longer see Linzers as flavorless, crumby rocks among the array of holiday cookies. Instead, they’re an optimal, soft and sweet treat for the holiday.

Second place: Chocolate crinkle cookies (8.8/10)

Chocolate crinkle cookies (8.8/10)

Venturing into the realm of chocolate, I decided to try chocolate crinkle cookies. These holiday cookies are rich, fudgy and rolled in powdered sugar to create a crackling effect on top once baked.

I made the dough and rolled each ball in sugar before baking them. These cookies were quite simple to bake — unlike the Linzer and gingerbread cookies.

The outer layer of sugar became almost caramelized, giving the cookies a slight crunch that unlocked a soft, chewy interior. The chocolate flavor was strong but not overpowering, and the chocolate chips dotted throughout created a unique texture. These cookies were straightforward to bake and yielded tasty results.

First place: Peanut butter blossom cookies (9.5/10)

Peanut butter blossom cookies (9.5/10)

After hours of baking and taste-tasting, the simple, classic peanut butter blossom cookie emerged as the Holiday Cookie Showdown winner. 

After removing the cookies from the oven, I promptly placed a Hershey Kiss in the center so the chocolate could settle into the warm surface without melting completely.

Taking a bite of the peanut butter blossoms felt like biting into miniature clouds, only to feel the surprising crunch of the sugar on the outer coating. The Hershey Kiss added the perfect hint of sweetness to balance the nuttiness of the peanut butter in the dough. This cookie didn’t require extensive amounts of time, yet yielded such an addicting final product.