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Arts & Life

Recipes From The Annual Hallmark Cookie Exchange

Crown Room Chocolate Crinkles

From Marg Wagner, wife of Hallmark artist John Wagner

My husband John worked at Hallmark for 40+ years and these were one of my favorite cookies at Hallmark’s cafeteria, the Crown Room. When I asked for the recipe, it came in volumes of 20 or 25 dozen. Efforts to reduce the quantity and a few adjustments produced these cookies and we've been enjoying them ever since.

  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter (unsalted, 1 1/2 sticks)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour (not sifted)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioners)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt chocolate chips with butter (on high, microwave butter with 1 cup of chips for one minute; then add second cup of chips and microwave another minute. Stir until smooth.

Mix in sugar, let cool. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla, baking powder and salt. Add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, and mix well after each addition. Chill dough at least 4 hours or overnight.

Roll walnut (or larger) size dough balls (I use a cookie scoop) and drop in bowl of powdered sugar, coating each. Place on greased cookie sheet 12 to 15 per sheet, depending on size of your cookies.

Cookies will flatten while baking 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on sheet 2 minutes, then move to cooling rack. Shorter cooking time equals softer middles.

Makes: more than 60 cookies

German Springerles

From Kathleen Killip, Hallmark artist

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 pound confectioners' sugar, plus extra for dusting molds
  • 1 teaspoon pure anise oil
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds, gently crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs in a large bowl until very pale and frothy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and anise oil. Continue beating until mixture is smooth, light and well combined.

In a second large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Working in batches, sprinkle flour mixture into egg mixture. Stir, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes, until dough is well combined and firm, not sticky. (If still sticky, sprinkle in more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until texture improves.) Using clean, dry hands, work dough into a ball. Press dough into a flattened round, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Dust large, clean work space with flour. Divide chilled dough into two sections and, working one section at a time, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. (Lightly flour rolling pin if dough begins to stick.)

Using a pastry brush, lightly dust cookie mold with confectioners' sugar. (This helps prevent dough from sticking in crevices.) Place mold on dough and press firmly and evenly to imprint. (Don't wiggle or the image will blur). Repeat, dusting mold with additional sugar as needed, until entire section of dough is imprinted.

Using sharp knife or cookie cutter, trim around edges of printed designs. Gently transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling, printing and trimming process with remaining dough. Then set baking sheets aside, uncovered, and allow cookies to dry (or "cure") 12 hours or overnight. (If it's humid, double the drying time. The goal is for a "crust" to form, which prevents the images from distorting.)

Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake 6 to 10 minutes, checking frequently to make sure cookies do not brown. When done, cookies are slightly puffed, nearly white on top and pale golden underneath. Transfer to a rack to cool. Once cooled, brush cookies with a confectioners' sugar glaze (recipe below), if desired.

Springerle will keep, stored in an airtight container, scattered with crushed aniseed, for 6 to 8 weeks.

Makes: 3 dozen small cookies

Brer Rabbit Molasses Cookies (note: once found on the back of the molasses bottle)

From Jayne Rudish, wife of Hallmark artist Rich Rudish.

  • ¾ cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup Brer Rabbit molasses, light or dark (I use light)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top (for the holidays, I use red and green)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together margarine and 1 cup of sugar on a low speed till creamy. Add molasses and egg and beat till blended. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and ginger. Add flour mixture to molasses mixture. Mix well, cover and chill for 30 minutes or more.

Form dough into 1-inch balls (dough gets sticky so I sift some flour on my hands). Roll each in sugar (or sprinkle on top) and place on non-stick cookie sheets or use parchment paper to cover sheets. Place about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 1 minute, remove cookies to wire rack or tray to cool.

Makes: 5 dozen cookies.

Sesame Almond Bars (so easy)

From Jan Andrews, Hallmark artist ("Jan wasn’t at this year’s cookie exchange and has been in and out of hospitals for about a year now, but she is a great cook. She is a 'Cookie Exchange Regular,'" says participant Jayne Rudish.)

  • About ½ box of regular graham crackers
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ to 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place graham cracker side by side in a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides).

Melt butter and sugar in skillet on a medium to low heat. Add almonds and seeds. Pour mixture over graham crackers.

Bake 8 minutes. Cool and remove to wax paper in an air tight container – may keep in the refrigerator.

Makes: 1 pan of bar cookies

Toffee Squares

From Jayne Rudish, wife of Hallmark artist Rich Rudish

This is an old one I have used MANY times and it comes from a neighbor growing up in Chicago.

  • ½ pound butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and brown sugar; add egg yolk and vanilla; add sifted flour.

Mix well and spread on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 

To make the topping, melt 1 large sweet chocolate (Hershey’s plain) candy bar (sometimes I use semi sweet chocolate and the chocolate chips will work, too) and spread on the toffee mixture while both are still warm. Then sprinkle with chopped nuts and cut into squares while both are still warm.

Makes: 1 pan of bar cookies (about 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch squares)

Gingerbread Horses, Trees and Chickens

From Tammany Devine, Hallmark artist

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger 
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/2 cup molasses 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional) 
  • hazelnuts (suggested: fresh hazelnuts from Oregon)
  • painter’s palette knife

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest and continue to mix until well blended. Stir in dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until blended and smooth.

Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temperature before using.) 

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place one portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking.

Cut out cookies with desired cutter (such as horses, trees, and chickens.) Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart. Use a painter’s palette knife to texturize the cookie creatures. Decorate cookies with fresh hazelnuts from Oregon.

Bake one sheet at a time for 7 to 10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies-- very good!).

Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack.

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