Taste-tested recipes from the WV Living staff.

WV Living Christmas CookiesLast year, the crew at WV Living started a new tradition. Instead of the usual gift exchange, each of us made a few dozen of our favorite cookies. Then, after our usual Christmas lunch, we all sampled each variety (tough work!) and voted for our favorites.

Sales Director Heather Mills’ Avalanche Cookies took the top spot. But really, there weren’t any losers—we all took home boxes of leftovers.

A cookie exchange is the perfect alternative to the humdrum gift exchange at your next family, church, or workplace holiday get-together. To get you started, here are recipes we whipped up.

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinklingRaspberry White Chocolate Scones
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 ounces raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350˚.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender or your hands until mixture resembles coarse sand. Gently fold in raspberries and white chocolate chips. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, beat together egg, vanilla, and heavy cream. Pour over scone batter and lightly mix until the dough comes together. Dough will be sticky.

4. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface, form a circle, and flatten it until it is about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife dipped in flour, cut 8 equal pie wedges. Transfer to a baking sheet using a flat spatula dipped in flour and sprinkle tops of scones with granulated sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

yield:  8 scones

White Chocolate Reese’s Fudge

  • 1 bag small white chocolate Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • 1 cup sugarWhite Chocolate Reese’s Fudge
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 (7 ounce) tub marshmallow creme

1. Remove peanut butter cup wrappers and cut candies into fours.

2. Line 9×9-inch pan with parchment.

3. Place white chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff in a big bowl. Set aside.

4. In a pan, melt sugar, heavy cream, salt, and butter on medium heat until it starts to boil. Cook for 5 minutes.

5. Pour hot mixture into bowl of chocolate chips and mix with blender until smooth and soft.

6. Fold in half of the peanut butter cups. Pour into pan.

7. Sprinkle remaining peanut butter cups on the top. Put in the fridge for 3 to 5 hours to set.

yield:  12 pieces

Iced Thumbprint Cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup granulated sugarIced Thumbprint Cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles


  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1¼ cup powdered sugar
  • food coloring

1. Whisk flour and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until incorporated. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Heat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball, roll the ball in the sprinkles, and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls about 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly firm. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven. Using your thumb, press into the cookies again. Return the cookies to the oven until golden brown, 8 to 13 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before icing.

5. To make the icing, whisk milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl and add food coloring. Stir to combine and add more milk (up to 2 teaspoons more) to get a smooth and spoonable, but not runny, consistency. Fill centers with icing. Let set overnight. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 1 week.

yield: 4 dozen cookies

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies


  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanillaDark Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate cocoa
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9×9-inch cake pan or pie pan (pie pan works for thicker brownies).

2. Mix brownie ingredients in large bowl. In separate bowl, blend cream cheese, egg, and granulated sugar with mixer.

3. Pour brownie batter into pan and spread until even.

4. Using a tablespoon, place dollops of the cheesecake mixture throughout pan. Make sure to use all the cheesecake mixture.

5. Run a toothpick through the cheesecake and brownie batters to create marble design and spread the cheesecake out.

6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick or fork comes out clean.

yield: 16-20 cookies

Red Velvet Crinkles

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking powderRed Velvet Crinkles
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room    temperature, cubed
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce red food coloring (this is generally about 1 regular-sized bottle)
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. Place sugar and butter in mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy, no less than 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add in eggs one at a time, adding the next only after the first has been fully combined. Add in milk, vanilla, and food coloring and beat until combined. Add in flour and mix until just moistened. Fold in chocolate.

3. Place confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Scoop 2-tablespoon-sized mounds of dough, roll in confectioners’ sugar, and place 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 11-13 minutes, until set but not browned. Allow to cool before transferring to wire racks. Cookies will keep well in airtight container for up to 4 days.

yield: 3 dozen cookies

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking sodaChocolate Crinkle Cookies
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 4 teaspoons instant coffee powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust rack to middle and heat oven to 325˚. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Combine chocolate and butter in bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool.

2. Whisk together brown sugar, eggs, coffee powder, and vanilla together in large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Whisk cooled chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

4. Place granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll into balls. Drop dough balls directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll to coat evenly. Space evenly on prepared sheets.

5. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool completely on sheet before serving.

yield: about 2 dozen cookies

Avalanche Cookies

  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butterAvalanche Cookies
  • 1 pound white chocolate
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips, optional

1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Mix cereal and marshmallows in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Melt white chocolate and peanut butter together in separate large bowl; microwave until smooth.

4. Once the white chocolate and peanut butter mixture is melted, pour it over the cereal mixture and stir until completely coated.

5. Drop using a tablespoon onto the lined pans.

6. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips, if desired.

7. Place in refrigerator until chocolate is set.

note: Store airtight for up to 5 days in a cool place.

yield: 15-20 cookies


S’mores Truffles

  • 2 packages of graham cracker sheets (18 crackers)
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluffS'mores Truffles
  • 4 cups chocolate chips (16 ounces) (milk and semi-sweet)
  • Additional graham crackers for topping (2 additional sheets)

1. In a food processor, add graham cracker sheets and pulse until reaches fine crumb.

2. Add cream cheese, pulse until combined. Add marshmallow fluff and pulse until combined.

4. Transfer mixture to bowl. Scoop dough into 1-inch balls on parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer to freezer for 10 minutes (or fridge for 30 minutes).

5. Melt chocolate. If using a microwave, melt in 30 second intervals and stir between each interval.

6. Using a fork, dip truffle into chocolate, shake off excess, and slide off fork using a toothpick or skewer.

7. Place each chocolate-covered truffle back on the cookie sheet to harden.

8. Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs.

9. Repeat with remaining truffles.

Yield: 18-20 truffles

Iced Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 eggIced Sugar Cookies
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 balls.
  5. On floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter by 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use.
  7. Bake cookies on ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet 8 to 11 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
  8. Allow cookies to cool before decorating.

Icing for Sugar Cookies

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ½ cup butter
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • Food coloring and sanding sugar (optional)
  1. Cream shortening and butter together with electric mixer (do not melt).
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time.
  4. Blend completely after each cup of confectioners’ sugar addition, until all cups are incorporated.
  5. Icing will become quite dry and stiff.
  6. Add milk.
  7. Keep covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

Yield: 3-dozen, 3-inch cookies

Chewy M&M Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats (old-fashioned or quick oats, not instant)
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon saltChewy M&M Oatmeal Cookies
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⅓ cups brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup M&M’s
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. In a small mixing bowl, combine M&M’s, white chocolate, and sprinkles.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together melted butter and brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Add egg and yolk one at a time. Stir to combine after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined. Gently fold in M&M mixture. Cover the dough and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°.
  5. Roll dough into 2-tablespoon balls and arrange on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  6. The cookies will look slightly underdone but will continue to cook after removing them from oven. Place baking sheet on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: 2½ dozen cookies

photographed and styled by CARLA WITT FORD

Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.