What are the fanciest cookies, besides macarons?
December 6, 2022 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Some years ago I asked for the best cookie recipes and have baked many of them. Now I am looking for the fanciest cookie recipes.

I do not want to make macarons - leave me alone, I don't want to talk about it. What are some other very fancy cookies I could make? These will be for presents, so should not literally require refrigeration, but otherwise they can be pretty elaborate.

To clarify - for instance, I frequently make the brown butter sugar cookies in the linked post, I love making ricotta cookies, molasses cookies and snickerdoodles, but they are not that fancy - they are not especially decorative, they are not technique intensive, people don't say "you made these????" when you serve them. I always make sugar cookies and mexican wedding cookies for the holidays, but what else can I make to dazzle and show off?
posted by Frowner to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
Anything with a chocolate coating is fancy because it requires tempering and a whole bunch of faff. You can even place them on cocoa butter transfer sheets to put a pattern on them, which makes them look even fancier. I made some from scratch thin mints many years ago that were unbelievably good, and I promised myself while weeping that I would never ever make them again because of the aforementioned faff.
posted by phunniemee at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

If they don't have to be specifically, you know, Winter Holiday style, these have a lot of panache and look harder than they are: Sweetheart Sables

These don't look like much from the outside but I promise you everyone will be asking how tf you did that: Peanut butter cup cookies. And when you tell them they will say you are MAD, I tell you, MAD.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I find Lithuanian mushroom cookies a royal pain to make, but they can be really beautiful. (They don't have mushrooms in them - they look like mushrooms.) My recipe is in an old cookbook, but the one I linked to looks similar - except we frosted the underside of the cap with a different color. If you do a Google image search, you'll find lots of pretty variations.
posted by FencingGal at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

I get a lot of mileage out of simple shortbread cookie dough (the kind you make for a cookie press). I make extra batches, leaving some cookie-colored and use cocoa to make some dark brown and food coloring for other colors as well. Then I roll out different colors into flat sheets and combine them in different ways to make spirals, stripes, checkerboards, plaid... so many options. Pride flag cookies are always popular, too. It's really just a matter of stacking colors in the right order, cutting out strips or rolling into a log, sometimes cutting and recombining again. Even the ones that don't come out exact look pretty impressive, and the ones that DO come out exact knock people's socks off.
posted by rikschell at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2022 [5 favorites]

If you like artistic interpretations using multiple shortbread colors, try these cookies that look pretty convincingly like bacon. Bacon Shortbread Cookies

I made them a few years ago and they were a hit! Don’t forget the layer of smoked salt.
posted by oxisos at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

These Pistachio Cranberry cookies look fancy but aren’t hard to do. They are really tasty. The red and green on each sliced cookie is very festive, don’t skip the sparkly sugar.
posted by chuke at 2:03 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

I used to know someone who made a cookie similar to the Sweetheart Sables mentioned by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese, but the design inside was citrus themed. So, each cookie looked like a tiny orange or lime with the segments and peel. It always astonished me.

A cookie that is solidly in the impressive technique in my area is Krumkake. Thin, lacy, and slightly sweet.
posted by past unusual at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2022

Linzer Cookies look fancy, to me.
posted by sarajane at 2:06 PM on December 6, 2022 [6 favorites]

Oh, and to add, an Italian Pizzelle has a similar flair but in a flat style instead of a cone.
posted by past unusual at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

posted by happy_cat at 2:10 PM on December 6, 2022 [5 favorites]

Tuiles also come to mind.
posted by sarajane at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

Linzer cookies, tuiles, and florentines spring to mind.
posted by janell at 2:14 PM on December 6, 2022 [7 favorites]

Oh boy, if you are looking for labor-intensive cookies that are totally worth the effort, you want Sicilian cucidati. I have always used Nick Malgieri's recipe. Google "cucidati" for photos, but the photo-less recipe linked is really reliable and delicious so I would follow it to the letter, at least the first time. If I make these, I eat them. All of them. They are so, so good.
posted by HotToddy at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Panettone cookies
"Dessert" cookies (meaning, with alcohol)? Decorative flourishes vary. Chocolate and Irish Cream Thumbprint Cookies; rum or bourbon balls; caramel whiskey cookies; "boozy cookies" roundup at allrecipes.com.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Florentines, with the prettiest dried fruits.
posted by praemunire at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

I don't know if it counts as a cookie per se, but I make baklava every Christmas and always get rave reviews for it.
posted by mezzanayne at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Fancy cookies I have not made but want to:

Peppermint Stripe Cookies

Peppermint Patty Shortbreads

Zebra Shortbreads

Thandai Shortbreads

Chocolate tahini linzer cookies

Abstract art cookies with pistachios and pomegranate seeds
posted by Jeanne at 2:53 PM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

Last Christmas, I got a lot of mileage out of making sandwich cookies and preparing a variety of fillings: chocolate icing (made with milk, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa); blackberry jam (warmed and slightly diluted for use); homemade fig and vanilla coulis from backyard figs frozen in the summer; and a fourth one I forget. These were all from stuff in the freezer or the cabinet already.

The cookies were cutouts with a little round window (made with an apple corer) on the top one, which was dusted with sugar before being placed atop the fillings. It was an awful mess -- spread newspaper first! -- but it made for great gifts. I cannot remember the cookie recipe, but I think it was a Linzer cookie from Rose Berenbaum's Christmas Cookie Book. Even so, it wouldn't matter if you used any cookie recipe you like that could be chilled and cut for sandwich cookie use. It's the effort and the selection.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:05 PM on December 6, 2022

I'm going to cosign the two other people who said Florentines (I did a find for it before commenting). Not that they are sooo hard to make, but others will be impressed. Especially w a chocolate coating. Also, delicious.
ALSO! I 100% get your not wanting to make macarons. I don't think the taste is worth the effort. I love baking and am good at it and I buy macarons when needed. Faff! (This is also my opinion on puff pastry, though, so that's where I'm coming from).
posted by atomicstone at 3:37 PM on December 6, 2022

Vintage cream wafer cookies - my grandmother made these for Easter with pastel blue, yellow, pink, and green for the filling. They are delicate, airy, butter morsels. You must use a small enough cookie cutter for them to be properly delicate. I would even suggest rolling them a touch thinner than this recipe indicates; those pictured look a bit thicker than I remember.

Chrusciki - if you don't mind tackling deep frying. In my family they said vodka made the lightest chrusciki, but I haven't made them myself.
posted by carrioncomfort at 3:40 PM on December 6, 2022

Italian peach cookies are beautiful and fancy.
posted by corey flood at 3:58 PM on December 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

Checkerboard cookies or Millionaire's Shortbread.

For 'I can't believe you made this', I'd go for homemade Oreos or something else from BA.
posted by hydra77 at 4:00 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don’t know if these Neapolitan cookies count as fancy enough for what you’re going for, but they’re pretty, they’re almost impossible to mess up, and they always impress people when I make them because they’re really three flavors.
posted by Mchelly at 4:15 PM on December 6, 2022

Aunt Sis's Strawberry Tart Cookies are beautiful and delicious.
posted by cleverevans at 4:20 PM on December 6, 2022

For one of the MetaFilter cookie swaps, I made these lace cookies, then used them to sandwich an almondy filling, and dipped the filling and/or the cookies in tempered chocolate. I think they're delicious and show-offy. Some more details:

- I increased the salt in those lace cookies. I made them half the size.

- For the filling, I kneaded almond paste with orange zest and chopped almonds. I rolled that into a log a touch smaller than the cookies, then chilled and sliced the log, and then dipped the slices in tempered chocolate and sandwiched them between two lace cookies to set.

- Once set, I redipped half the assembled cookie in tempered chocolate. For variety, I made some in other configurations, too -- drizzling tempered chocolate instead of dipping, single cookies topped with the dipped filling, etc.

For another year's swap, I made almond mice, but I don't remember which particular recipe I used for those. And another year, I went with Deb Perelman's Pretzel Linzers with Salted Caramel. I don't think you'd go wrong with those options, either. (Also, now I miss MetaFilter cookie swap!)
posted by daisyace at 5:07 PM on December 6, 2022 [4 favorites]


Not vouching for this recipe, but I think they're fancy.
posted by kathrynm at 5:08 PM on December 6, 2022

Linzer cookies, brandy snaps, palmiers if you make the puff yourself, pinwheels or checkerboard cookies where you have to slice and arrange differently dyed doughs, aaaand rugelach. Homemade jams or preserves to up the fanciness.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:12 PM on December 6, 2022

Divinity, or meringue-based cookies. My very Southern neighbor put minced pecans in the cookies/candy, but apparently that’s unusual.
posted by momus_window at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2022

Ancho Mole cookies from Bon Appetit are fancy and interesting.
posted by lalochezia at 5:40 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Ethical (organic, direct trade, etc.), local, in-season ingredients (etc.) also make things fancier. I know because I don't care about fancy, but the more of the above sorts of adjectives my cookies have, the more likely they are to qualify as fancy. Throw a sprig of something that grows hyperlocal (eg in your yard if you have one) on top or on the side.

If you make cookies with powdered sugar on top, you can stencil a design into the sugar.

Whatever it is, make it quite small. If it is useless as food, that makes it fancier.
posted by aniola at 6:25 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

Smitten kitchen 7 layer cookies (yellow green and pink). Makes a ton, looks so impressive, tastes AMAZING (if you like marzipan).
posted by bookworm4125 at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2022


I've used spritz cookie dies to imprint the dough because I don't have a fancy rolling pin or mold, and then painted them with watered down food coloring.

Nthing Florentines or brandy snaps, they're finicky but gorgeous.
posted by OhHaieThere at 6:42 PM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm a fan of these Olive Oil Lemon Pistachio cookies. As is, they have a great flavor - they are different and sophisticated but not too challenging flavorwise. They aren't difficult to prepare, but to make them extra special, I recommend a couple of upgrades:
-Use a fluted cutter.
-Use Meyer lemon if you can find them.
-Splurge on some vibrant green Sicilian pistachios at least for the garnish - chop them, then sift the bits to remove the smallest shards (put these tiny pieces into the cookie batter). This immediately upgrades the look of the cookies.
-I also add a second garnish with some color - dried small edible rose petals, or some pomegranate arils if they are going to be eating quickly. Pieces of (freeze) dried berries would also be good.
-Finish with a bit of gold leaf for a super special touch.
posted by jenquat at 9:34 PM on December 6, 2022

Chef John's Gingerbread Biscotti
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:42 PM on December 6, 2022

Merengue Fruit Cake cookies are beautiful and delicious. You can put whatever dried fruits and nuts you like. I made them per this recipe and added a bit of Penzy’s crystallized ginger.
posted by waving at 5:57 AM on December 7, 2022

Oreshki, which means "nuts" in Russian but these cookies don't contain nuts. They use a walnut-shaped mold and have a dulce de leche filling and are the tastiest. You can make the dulce de leche from condensed milk or even from scratch if you want to be extra fancy.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 6:44 AM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I haven't made them, but I would love to get these Mint Meringue Kisses.
posted by taz at 12:50 PM on December 7, 2022

I made these hedgehog cookies one year (made some with reindeer antlers and some without) and they were a hit and people were surprised I made them at home.
posted by whitetigereyes at 3:30 PM on December 7, 2022 [3 favorites]

Forgive me if you already know this, but spring for the very best butter. (I was skeptical of this advice until I made 2 batches of shortbread to compare Land-O-Lakes and Kerry Gold - the difference was amazing.)
posted by she's not there at 7:59 PM on December 7, 2022

I’ve never made these but seeing them made me go “oooo” (could be pine cones or hedgehogs :) )
posted by raccoon409 at 8:11 PM on December 7, 2022

From my side of the world:

- kuih bahulu, which is like a smaller, airier, crispier madeleines (will require similar moulds). Similar technical challenge and aesthetic payoff.

- pineapple tarts, a classic. Different from the Taiwanese version in that our filling doesn't have grated winter melon and maltose. Technical challenge begins from preparing the pineapple jam and then assembling it, but the shortbread pastry is standard.

- kuih lapis legit (Indonesian spiced layer cake), this is the local version of Dutch cakes. The Sarawakian version has more colours and uses jam as the mortar between the layers. Recommended if you want to practice technical skills as it requires you to bake thin layers one at a time on top of each other. Time-intensive.

- kuih onde-onde, which is basically... Imagine steamed pandan-flavoured mochi stuffed in palm sugar and dusted with salted grated coconut. You'll need to prep three different components (the rice flour pastry, the palm sugar chunks, and grated coconut) - the mark of a technically proficient onde-onde would be the pastry is fully cooked and the palm sugar chunks is fully melted so it should burst when you pop one in your mouth. (Even that link's example photos are slightly not perfect, but at least it's all cooked!)
posted by cendawanita at 10:14 AM on December 8, 2022 [5 favorites]

Kourabietes - Greek almond butter cookies - are fanciest.
posted by rudster at 8:08 PM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]

posted by mirileh at 1:15 AM on December 15, 2022

« Older Help me understand currency exchange forecast...   |   I need an ad-free pot luck dinner planning form Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments