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6 delicious cookie and pastry recipes

shutterstock cookies

These homemade treats from regional restaurants and historical sites will sweeten your holidays.

What would the holidays be without cookies? Whether baking for Santa or your family and friends, homemade treats always add a pinch of love as an ingredient. These historical homes, tearoom, and monastery share cookie recipes—some of which date back to previous centuries. Here are six recipes to add to your holiday baking plan.

1. Cream Puffs

Josephine’s Tearoom and Gifts, 6109 Godfrey Road, Godfrey, Illinois;

cream puffs

Photo courtesy Josephine's Tearoom and Gift Shops

Makes 4 dozen small puffs 


  • Pastry: 2 cups water
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 10 eggs
  • Filling: 1 small package Cool Whip®
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 boxes French vanilla instant pudding mix
  • Topping: chocolate syrup and chopped nuts


In a 2 1/2- quart saucepan, combine water and butter. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Remove from stovetop and place into a mixer, then whip in eggs, one at a time, until dough is thick and smooth.  

Place into a pastry bag and make small mounds of dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until puffs have browned, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling. 

While the puffs bake, make the filling by whisking together milk and pudding mix in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until set (about 10 minutes). Gently fold in whipped topping. 

To fill cream puffs, cut pastries in half, pour a little chocolate syrup in the bottom of each puff, then top with a spoonful of pudding filling. Put tops on puffs and drizzle with chocolate syrup and nuts.

2. Hildegard Cookies

Sisters of St. Benedict Monastery, 802 E. 10th St., Ferdinand, Indiana;

Hildegard cookies

Photo by Deborah Reinhardt

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • (optional) 1 cup finely chopped almonds


Using a stand mixer, place butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg. 

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. Slowly add flour mixture (and optional almonds) into the butter and eggs. Chill dough for an hour. 

Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness, cut into rectangles or rounds. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. 

3. Creole Pralines

Hermann-Grima House, 820 St. Louis St., New Orleans, Louisiana; This recipe is from an 1885 Creole cookbook.


Photo courtesy Hermann-Grima House

Makes about 20 pralines


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Mix sugar and milk in a very large pot. In a small iron skillet, caramelize one heaping kitchen spoon of sugar. While this is caramelizing, put on the fire the sugar and milk mixture. When this begins to boil, add a pinch of cooking (baking) soda. After the mixture bubbles up and then comes to a boil again, add the liquid caramelized sugar. Cook for seven minutes. When mixture makes a soft ball in cold water, add vanilla, butter, and pecans. Remove from fire and beat until you note hardening around the edges. Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.  

4. Thumbprint Cookies

Cedar Oaks, 601 Murray St., Oxford, Mississippi;

thumbprint cookies

Photo by Jim Corbett

Makes 36 cookies


  • 36 chocolate Hershey’s KISSES
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine 
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat butter (or margarine), brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. When blended, add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt, and add to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. 

Form 36 balls, about an inch in size. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each cookie ball in sugar. Place on an ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Gently press thumb into the center of each ball of dough. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Press thumb again into each indentation if needed. Cool for about 5 minutes. Press an unwrapped chocolate candy in the center of each cookie while they are still slightly warm. It will melt the bottom of the candy, which makes it stick to the cookie.

5. Cherry Mash Bars

J C Wyatt House, 1309 Felix St., St. Joseph, Missouri;

Cherry Mash Bars

Photo courtesy J C Wyatt House

Makes 24 cookies

Cherry Mash is a bite-sized confection made from maraschino cherry nougat coated in chocolate and chopped peanuts. It's manufactured in St. Joseph, Missouri.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 12 Cherry Mash bars chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped coarsely
  • 2/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped coarsely 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place Cherry Mash pieces on a tray and place in freezer to thoroughly chill. 

Stir the flour and baking soda together in a bowl and reserve. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, white and brown sugars. Add in salt and vanilla together and beat for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, letting them incorporate completely. Stir in the flour mixture gently by hand until almost fully incorporated.

Finish by folding in the dried cherries, peanuts, and frozen Cherry Mash pieces until the dough just comes together. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula until smooth and even.

Bake the cookies for 25–30 minutes. The edges should be golden and the center just a bit soft. Test for doneness with a toothpick or the tip of a knife inserted into center of dough. It should have a few moist crumbs clinging when tested near the center. Cool completely on a rack before cutting into one-inch bar cookies. Serving tip: Chill the bars for about 30 minutes for easier cutting. 

6. Coconut Drops

Campbell House Museum, 1508 Locust St., St. Louis, Missouri;

coconut drop cookies

Photo by Suzanne Corbett

Makes about 24 cookies


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) package flaked sweetened coconut


In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites until they are foamy and begin to stiffen. Beat in sugar. Fold in the coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls into ball-shaped mounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20–25 minutes or until browned.  Remove from oven and cool before removing from baking sheet. 

Suzanne Corbett is a contributor and food historian from St. Louis, Missouri. Her book, The Gilded Table, is available through Campbell House Museum’s gift shop.

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