Get the Top Chef Judges’ Most Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

12/11/2015 at 10:10 AM ET

Top Chef
Hector Sanchez; Inset: Getty

Get ready for your holiday cookie swap!

The Top Chef judges Tom Colicchio, Richard Blais, Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi, who have all returned for the 13th season of Bravo’s culinary competition show, are sharing the recipes to their favorite seasonal sweets. Whether you’re craving a Christmas-inspired cookie, chocolate-y treat or easy-to-make dessert, these celeb chefs have got you covered.

RELATED: Padma Lakshmi on Losing the Top Chef Weight: ‘I’m Working Out Every Single Day’

Padma Lakshmi’s Cashew & Cardamom Clouds
Makes: 25-30 cookies

¼ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
2 cups flour
½ lb. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-in. pieces
½ cup finely chopped raw cashews
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cardamom powder
½ tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Combine powdered sugar and flour in a medium bowl; mix in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Using a fork, mix in the chopped cashews, vanilla, cardamom powder and salt. Mixture will be very loose and crumbly. Let stand for 30 minutes, covered, at room temperature.

2. Squeeze dough together to form small balls, about 1-in. diameter, and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Lightly flour the palm of your hand and smash the balls to 1/3-in. thickness, so they resemble irregular clouds. Make sure the cookies don’t touch one another.

3. Bake for approximately 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust the tops generously with powdered sugar. Cool on wire racks, about 20 minutes. Dust cookies again liberally right before serving.

Prep time: 15 minutes, plus standing
Cook time: 25 minutes

Top Chef
Hector Sanchez; Inset: Getty

Tom Colicchio’s Walnut Mandelbrot
Makes: About 4 dozen

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Stir together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir well. Add walnuts; stir well.

2. Turn ¼ of dough out onto a lightly floured board. Dust top with flour and shape into a 2×10-in. log. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, dividing the four logs between two cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.

3. Slice each loaf into ½-in. pieces cut on a diagonal. Place pieces on their side on cookie sheets. Bake 10 more minutes. Cool on wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

RELATED: Tom Colicchio: The One Thing You Must Do to Be a Better Cook

Top Chef
Hector Sanchez; Inset: Getty

Richard Blais’ Jelly Linzer Wreaths
Makes: about 20 cookie sandwiches

2/3 cup raw almonds
½ cup packed light-brown sugar, divided
2½ cups flour, plus more for dusting
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. green sprinkles
Powdered sugar
½ cup persimmon, huckleberry or apple jelly

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

2. In a food processor, process the cooled almonds and ¼ cup brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

5. Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 to 3 hours.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Using a 2- to 2½-in. round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 in.apart. Using a ¾- to 1-in. round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary.

7. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

8. Sprinkle the cookies with the hole cut out with green sprinkles and then dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Spread about 1 tsp. of the jelly on the remaining cookies, leaving a ½-in. border, and top with the sprinkled cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus chilling
Cook time: 20 minutes

Top Chef
Hector Sanchez; Inset: Getty

Gail Simmons’ Chocolate Butterscotch Shortbread
Makes: 36 cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup dark-brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup butterscotch chips
8 oz. dark chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 300°. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

2. Add vanilla, reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour and salt until just combined. Mix in butterscotch chips and stir until evenly distributed, scraping down paddle if needed.

3. Grease a 9×9-in. baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, press dough evenly into pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Score dough into eighths in one direction and quarters in the other, to make 32 rectangular cookies. Pierce dough all over with a fork.

4. Bake until firm and slightly golden brown around the edges, 50 to 60 minutes. Immediately cut through all scoring to separate cookies. Let cool completely in pan.

5. Remove cookies and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate, gently scraping off any excess, and place back on baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus chilling
Cook time: 1 hour

–Michelle Ward Trainor

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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thenextmillenials on

Help! I made Padma’s cookies and they crumbled on the cookie sheet when I took them out of the oven. Any expert bakers out there to tell me what went wrong?

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