When I asked local chefs to submit their favorite holiday cookie recipes for this year’s Cookie Section, more than a few of them called their mothers.
For some, like Aaron Hervey, owner and chef at Crave in downtown Akron, it was to ask for the recipe for his favorite.
For others, like Catherine St. John, owner of the Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson, it was to ask for permission to give out the secret family recipe.
You’ll find Hervey’s mom’s Christmas Crescents, and St. John’s mother’s Polish Butter Cookies, in this collection, along with 22 others.
Many chefs reached into their personal recipe collections to find that one cookie that represents all the warmth of the holidays, something they have treasured since childhood.
For Tamara Mitchell, owner of Dine-In Diva personal chef services in Akron, the recipe for Chocolate Wheaties has been her favorite as long as she can remember. When Mitchell got married, her mother typed it out on a recipe card and gave it to her as a wedding gift.
It’s a pretty simple no-bake cookie: melted Hershey bars with Wheaties cereal stirred in, dropped by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. While it may not sound appealing, and it doesn’t look all that fancy (Mitchell refers to them as “the ugly brown ones”), our testers found it to be crunchy, chocolatey and oh-so-addictive.
Chef Mark Kent sent his grandmother Bess’ recipe for Mandelbrot, a traditional Jewish biscuit. A healthy dose of cinnamon and chopped walnuts made this cookie a crowd pleaser. The recipe is versatile, too, and works just as well with almonds, pecans, dried fruit or even chocolate chips.
Chef Dante Boccuzzi, owner of dba in Akron’s Northside Lofts, shared a family favorite from Italy, a biscotti that gets distinctive flavor from cardamom and a unique texture from the cornmeal in the dough.
Chef Roger Thomas of the Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls also sent two recipes he gathered from his time in Italy, a traditional biscotti and a chocolate/vanilla cookie, the name of which translates to “hugs.”
Chefs sent in recipes from Hungary, Slovakia, Lebanon and Mexico, but there are still plenty of old-fashioned American oatmeal, chocolate chip and shortbread cookies in here, too.
In all, local chefs provided us with 24 recipes, any one of which would be a fine addition to a holiday cookie tray. We present them here and hope that one or two become part of your family’s traditions for years to come.