Cinnamon christmas cookies

Every year when Christmas rolls around I try and make some sort of handmade gift to give out to people. One year I went mad making spiced jams and herb salts. Biscotti and other cookies always go down well. Last year I tried my hand at Sardinian nougat, one of my favourite handmade gifts to date. There’s something about a handmade, home made, edible gift. You can give them to many people, they don’t cost the earth yet they’re made with your own two hands, with effort, with love and in my eyes that’s often more meaningful than anything money can buy.

cookies for christmascookies cinnamon

It’s nice to be able to do a project where I can involve my daughter too. She’s nearly two but is a confident cook, with a love of mixing, sprinkling and pouring like nothing I have ever seen. She’s also well-versed at rolling dough after much practice with play dough. Her cookies might turn out a bit drippy, a little bit wonky and with a few too many sprinkles lumped in one corner but those are actually the best ones, if you ask me, the cookies that I’m saving to give to particularly special people!

mariu making cookiescookies ready to wrap

These cookies are simply a sweet shortcrust pastry dough that I rely on for nearly every sweet pie or tart I bake. It’s adapted from an Artusi recipe and is just so fool proof that I barely sway from it, except to make it gluten-free (rice flour and potato starch instead of regular flour) or to add different aromas to it (lemon zest, orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, depending on what’s on hand or what’s to go in it). For these cookies, my daughter so kindly dumped a copious amount of ground cinnamon into the dough, enough to colour them ever so slightly with flecks of warm brown spices, but while they bake, they will fill the entire house with the smell of Christmas.

What are your favourite homemade christmas gifts?

cookies wrapped blog

Cinnamon christmas cookies
Adapted from Pellegrino Artusi’s ‘Recipe B’ for pasta frolla

  • 250 grams flour
  • 125 grams cold butter, chopped
  • 100 grams superfine sugar (caster sugar) or confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

For decorating:

  • 150 grams confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • hot water
  • coloured sprinkles, desiccated coconut or finely chopped nuts

In a food processor (or with hands), combine flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon until it resembles breadcrumbs. Tip out into a bowl and mix egg plus the yolk until you have a smooth, compact dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge at least 30 minutes (better if overnight).

Roll the dough out to about 5-7mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. If you are finding the dough is very sticky (this could be due to the size of your eggs) you can also roll the dough in between sheets of baking paper.

Cut out shapes with cookie cutters (you could also do small, simple rounds with the rim of a shot glass dipped in flour) and transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake at 180ºC for 10-15 minutes or until dry to the touch and ever so slightly golden but not more. Let cool on baking racks.

To decorate, mix icing by combining icing sugar with butter and enough water to make a smooth, thick paste that you can drizzle off a spoon like honey (try a tablespoon at a time, it’s better to start thick and water down rather than the other way around). Drizzle cooled cookies with icing then sprinkle with chosen toppings. Let the cookies air dry until the icing is set.

Wrap in cellophane or brown paper to make pretty presents. Keep cookies stored in air-tight container for 1 week. The dough can also be stored, uncooked and wrapped well in plastic wrap, in the freezer for longer. Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using.

cookies cinnamon shortcrust


  1. Cecilia says:

    This is similar to a recipe I have from my mother for spice balls. Similar, but different, as there is no egg, and 100g of finely chopped almonds are used. The dough is shaped into small, domed balls, rather than rolled out and cut into forms. I made 5 dozen of them yesterday, and the kitchen still smells of cinammon!

    It is so lovely that you and your daughter share the making of these cookies. It made me smile, and brought back memories of “helping” my mother when she baked at Christmas; I’m not really sure how much help I was at the time!

    So I’ll be making gift packages for friends with some of the spice balls, slices of the fruit cake I made a month ago, which is patiently aging in its Calvados wrapped cheese cloth, squares of chocolate brownies, and perhaps some Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts, recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

    When substituting rice flour and potato starch so they are gluten free, is there a recommended proportion to be used?

    • Emiko says:

      Trust me, even though it seems like little ones are not so “helpful” in the kitchen, the memories made and the joy of seeing them so busy and having fun is the best feeling in the world! Plus you get cookies to eat after 🙂 Spice balls sounds delicious, as do the walnuts — I think I’ll have to try those too! For the gluten free version, you could simply use packaged “gluten free flour” which is usually a mix of these (or more starches, like tapioca or corn), I believe I used mostly brown rice flour and about 1/3 potato starch.

  2. These look lovely and they sound really tasty too. I love your helper.

  3. Germana says:

    These look yummy and easy to make for someone like me, who loves to eat and take photos rather than cook or bake. Love the photo of your gorgeous little helper!!

    • Emiko says:

      These are soooo easy! It takes no time to prepare and is a really forgiving, easy dough. Just one tip to make it even easier — chilling it helps, when it’s too warm it gets rather soft and is more difficult to pull the shapes out.

  4. Zita says:

    Mariù looks so cute! She has the same hair style like Adam! 🙂 I would love to see them in the kitchen helping us out with baking! 🙂

    Yum cookies!

  5. Lovely says:

    Beautiful and very artistic kind of cookie! Perfect as a Christmas gift for my friends:). Thank you.

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