10 best cookies to bake this christmas

December is here, let the over-the-top holiday treat baking begin!

I’m a sucker for all things holiday-treat related. I’m seriously the biggest fan of this season and the excuse to eat all the sweet treats. I mean how can anyone pass up on all the festive cakes and peppermint candies, gingerbread men and fudge squares, and all those cookies!! Last year we had a little cookie exchange at the office and it was so much fun to try everyone’s favorites and of course take home a little goodie box filled to the brim with extra cookies to take home. I made Molly Yeh’s linzer cookies and they were a smash hit (recipe link below!). This year I’m working on a cookie recipe for a little virtual cookie exchange, and I can’t wait to share the recipe with y’all. I drove my mom crazy during the recipe testing on that cookie, so here’s hoping that y’all love it enough to make all the mess I made in her kitchen worth it.

Below are 10 cookie recipes that I’m loving and are full of festive vibes – I’m currently planning on making a batch of the Almond Blossoms and Oatmeal Cookies as my Christmas movie watching snack! Let me know what your favorite seasonal treat is, hope y’all have a beautiful week!

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies from Half Baked Harvest

Linzer Cookies from My Name is Yeh

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookies from Heartbeet Kitchen

Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies from A Cozy Kitchen

Gingerbread Cookies with Salted Caramel from Donna Kay

Almond Butter Blossoms from Fit Freedom Lifestyle

Chocolate Truffle Cookies from Flourishing Foodie

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies from Canadian Living

Iced Brown Butter Oatmeal Cookies from Ambitious Kitchen

Lavender Cashew Shortbread Cookies from Will Frolic for Food




a holiday gift guide + giveaway with cameron’s coffee

a coffee giveaway with Cameron's Coffee | This Brown Kitchen

Happy OFFICIAL holiday season!!! I like to wait until after Thanksgiving to publicly declare that the holidays have arrived (even though I’ve secretly been listening to the Michael Bublé Christmas Album as soon as Halloween was over!). This is just my favorite time of year because I’m one of those people who LIVES to give gifts – like, I’ve been thinking about certain people’s gifts since March and stocking up on all the cutest gift wrapping supplies just for this time of year. Which is why I’m super excited to share my love of gift giving with y’all with this amazing GIVEAWAY thanks to Cameron’s Coffee!! (Keep reading for the details on how to enter and win A MONTH’s worth of coffee!)

a coffee giveaway with Cameron's Coffee | This Brown Kitchen

Before we get to the giveaway details, let’s chat a little about the holiday season and this gift guide I put together. If you follow my daily adventures on Instagram, you know that I went all out with Thanksgiving (yes, I did in fact make five different pies for a family of four) and went full on holiday crazy and stocked up on all the best holiday finds at Target – can we talk about the Hearth and Hand line and how amazing Chip and Jo did in creating these sweet holiday items?? I picked up so many of the little knick knacks from the line to add to little gift baskets and have been on the hunt for other sweet items for the few people I have left on my list. Still looking for some gift ideas? Here’s what I have on my list – obviously its built for the foodie/wellness lover in your life, but hopefully it gives you some fun options ::

This Brown Kitchen Holiday Gift Guide 2017 1. Textured Stoneware Pieces // 2. DIY Soup Set // 3. Cameron’s CoffeeCoffee PodsPortion PacksCoffee Beans // 4. Copper Water Bottle // 5. Lip Balm // 6. Cookbooks // 7. Salt Sampler // 8. Chocolates // 9. Dutch Oven // 10. Aplat Tote Bags // 11. Almond and Peanut Butter Collection // 12. Petal Multi-Use Oil // 13. Copper Tea Kettle // 14. Turmeric Face Mask Set // 15. Ice Cream Delivery

Now on to my gift to you – THIS GIVEAWAY! Hopefully y’all have been following along with all of my coffee posts with Cameron’s Coffee, like this bulletproof coffee recipe or my favorite cold brew method, so of course I’m thrilled that I can partner with the team to share my love of their coffee with you as my little gift for being a part of the This Brown Kitchen family! Here is what’s up for grabs ::


6 Bags of Coffee Grounds or Coffee Beans 


6 12 Count Boxes of Coffee Pods

Okay it’s like a little more than a month’s worth, but the wording there just sounds so much better! 

**To enter, you can comment on this Instagram post, and/or participate in the below RaffleCopter, and/or leave a comment on this post with your favorite person to share coffee with.** Enter as many times as you like, the winner will be announced this Friday! (December 1st!) GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a coffee giveaway with Cameron's Coffee | This Brown Kitchen  a coffee giveaway with Cameron's Coffee | This Brown Kitchen

a coffee giveaway with Cameron's Coffee | This Brown Kitchen

Thanks to Cameron’s Coffee for sponsoring this post and giveaway!


an almost vegan cardamom coconut cream pie

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all! While Christmas is my favorite holiday when it comes to all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it, Thanksgiving reigns supreme in the food department. All the menu planning and table setting gets me so excited that the holidays have arrived and really just brings me so much joy. What are y’all eating this year? I’m keeping it simple this go around, sticking to the classics (i.e. mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce) while leaving room to experiment with some more fun recipes come Christmas dinner. Honestly I’m just here for the mashed potatoes. I could dive into a cloud of potatoes and be the happiest person around – I mean, what’s not to love about buttery and fluffy potatoes? Since I’m in charge of all the cooking, that also means I’m tasting and nibbling at things all day long. My brother has caught me multiple times over the years eating spoonfuls of the mash during the day before dinner. I just love them so much!!! 

A couple people have asked me how I handle the holidays and times of indulgence since I stick to a pretty healthy regimen the rest of the year. Honestly, I am such a huge #treatyoself proponent and that’s the mindset I use when it comes to holiday treats. I mean obviously don’t eat a thousand Christmas cookies and then wonder why you feel like garbage, but eat a cookie here and there, add those marshmallows to your holiday party cocoa, serve yourself a little bigger piece of pie if you want it. I really do think life is all about the balance, and one day of indulgent eating for the holiday isn’t going to ruin your life, especially if you don’t eat those things on a regular basis. Just get back on track after and understand what your body needs to feel its best. I hate feeling like I can’t have something, so when someone offers me a little holiday treat I take it, being mindful of when my body actually wants and needs something and when I need to cool it and serve up a kale salad. 

A healthier coconut cream pie made with cardamom, coconut, and cashews. | This Brown Kitchen

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

So speaking of balance, this is where this pie comes in. It’s a Coconut Cardamom Cream Pie with a Pecan and Coconut Crust. OMG. I’m not usually one for lightening up foods for the holidays, those recipes never turn out quite as good, but I figured I give it a shot when it comes to dessert. I feel like dessert is easier to lighten up and retain the taste and flavor than the main course. Agree or disagree???

Since I have the biggest sweet tooth in all the land, I wanted to see if it was possible to create a holiday pie that was slightly healthier so I could indulge more. LOL. And this guy was a winner on all fronts. There are a few places where you might notice the healthy swap outs, namely the crust, but it’s still a delicious and not too sweet dessert that satisfies that itch for sweetness. I love all things coconut, and there’s basically coconut in all layers going on here. The base is actually rendered with cashews, similar to a cashew cheesecake, but it’s creamier and lighter thanks to the coconunt milk that keeps it from getting too solid like some of those vegan cheesecake recipes I’ve tried. And that cardamom?? Don’t even get me started. It’s one of my favorite spices that has one of those subtle sweet and floral flavor to it and it’s just so perfect for this time of year. You could use cardamom powder here, but I think having the little broken pieces of fresh cardamom seeds make this pie so much more delicious. As for the crust, I kept it simple with shredded coconut and pecans pulsed in a food processor with a little coconut oil. You could try your hand at a graham cracker crust or a date-based crust if you are a fan of those little fruits (I am NOT – so I didn’t use dates here). This is also an ALMOST vegan pie if you left off the whipped cream, so at least your vegan friends could have a yummy pie at the holiday too. If you either left out the whipped cream (which would be sad) or subbed in coconut whipped cream – which I heard Trader Joe’s carries now?? – then you’ve got yourself a vegan coconut cream pie. You can tell it’s healthier than the original, but in a good way.

Now what are you doing? Go gather the ingredients and get to baking (I mean refrigerating? Because this is a no-bake pie!). Happy Thanksgiving!!

This lightened up cardamom and coconut cream pie is what holiday dreams are made of. | This Brown Kitchen

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

A cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown KitchenA cardamom coconut cream pie made with cashews - a healthier version of your holiday favorite. | This Brown Kitchen

A healthier version of your favorite coconut cream pie - made with cashews, coconut, and cardamom. | This Brown Kitchen  A healthier coconut cream pie made with cardamom, coconut, and cashews. | This Brown Kitchen

coconut cardamom cream pie

time – overnight + 30 minutes prep       yield – 1 pie

ingredients ::

for the crust –
2 cups of pecan halves
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons of coconut oil

for the filling –
2 cups of cashews, soaked overnight/at least 8 hours
1 18oz can of coconut water (I used this brand)
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
separated cream from two cans of coconut milk**
seeds from about 4 – 5 cardamom pods (about a teaspoon or so)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

directions ::

  1. measure 2 cups of cashews into a large bowl and cover with water. set aside and let sit overnight, at least 8 hours.
  2. add the coconut water and sugar into a stovetop pot and bring up to a simmer over medium-high heat. reduce the coconut water to about half the amount until it’s slightly syrupy, about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (it won’t be as syrupy as a simple syrup)
  3. while the syrup is cooking, prep the crust. In a food processor, add the pecans and coconut flakes. Pulse until they start to come together. Add the coconut oil and continue to pulse until the mix is crumble-y in texture. The mix should come together and hold slightly when pressed in your hands. Add additional coconut oil if necessary. 
  4. in a 10″ pie dish, press the crust mix into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides. Place in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes while preparing the filling.
  5. rinse the cashews and add to a high power blender with the coconut water syrup, coconut milk cream**, cardamom seeds, vanilla, and salt. blend on high until smooth, tasting and adjusting cardamom and vanilla flavor as desired.
  6. grab the pie crust from the fridge and pour the filling in. Spread the top out evenly and place in the fridge to set overnight until it holds its shape.
  7. to serve, top with whipped cream (homemade or store bought) and toasted coconut flakes. Enjoy!

**Ashlae from Oh Lady Cakes has a whole post on how to get this coconut cream from a can. Check out the post on how to get that perfect separation so you can use delicious coconut cream in your recipes.