Brown Sugar Toaster Oven Christmas Cookies

It’s Christmas Eve and I am sick again. This time I have a cold and managed to set a world record for most consecutive sneezes in a single morning. We attempted to remedy this at lunch by going out for a Christmas themed Hunanese meal, with everything red and green, garlicky and heavy with all shades of fiery vitamin-C rich chillies. I’m still sick but at least my immune system has something to work with.

In spite of my fevered, sneezy, dopey countenance, I inexplicably felt determined to bake Christmas cookies this morning. Β This recipe for sugar cookies came to me from the lovely Beijing Dou (Mr Bean?) who got it from Big Oven. Another recipe, this one for toaster-oven friendly meringues, made its way through and may turn up here later in the week. I love crowd sourcing cookie ideas.

As I’m feeling stupidly ill (still), I’m going to copy and paste the instructions from the website and let my photos do most of the talking. Any photos involving close ups of my hands doing stuff are courtesy of my talented father.

These are marvellous cookies. We baked half this morning and will bake the other half of the batch later today. Very festive.

Dashing through the smog



  • 14 tablespoon unsalted butter [Note: 1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons, just so ya know]
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cup Brown sugar; packed [I used ginger infused brown sugar for 1.5 cups and chocolate sugar for the rest]
  • 2 cup unbleached flour; plus 2 tablespoons [I used black wheat as usual]
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract [vanilla gin!]




1. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)

5. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone; see photo below), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.

6. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Let's start with a ton of butter
Melt that ton of butter on a low flame so it doesn't turn black and catch on fire
This is the butter after I let it burble til it was browned a bit
Like coals to Newcastle, add even more butter to the browned butter and let it melt together off the heat
My two favourite discoveries: ginger sugar and chocolate sugar, both found at Jiadeli supermarket
I have forgotten what it's like to have unlumpy sugar
The tedious process of squishing all the lumps in the sugar
This is the brown and white sugar mix for rolling the cookies in at the end
Breakfast of champions: warm melted browned butter and a ton of sugar, together at last
Islands in the stream, the cookie version, not sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
Still trying to crush the lumps out of the sugar, this time with butter soaking in

At this point, mix the butter and 1 3/4 cups of brown sugar together until smooth and as unlumpy as possible. Beat in the egg and egg yolk. I have no photo for that bit as eggs look pretty gross in photos, to be honest. You’re better off just using your imagination.

Add a tablespoon of your favourite vanilla alternative. I used vanilla gin.
I should have used a bigger bowl for this. Fold the flour mixture in, bit by bit. Be gentle.
Folding the flour in, a bit at a time. Definitely use a bigger bowl than I did.
I ended up just mixing the last bit back in the flour bowl (aka rice cooker insert)
Roll the balls in the sugar. You know you've always wanted to.
Hey look, sugar balls!
Trying for a pretty food photo this time rather than my usual grim, blurry mess.

I baked them about 12 minutes. As you can see, I didn’t get all the lumps out of the sugar. However, I can now personally vouch for the awesomeness of cookies with dozens of little pockets of melted brown sugar. Bonus!

Gerald T. Bear and Kevin the Panda wish you all a Joyous Festivus.
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  1. Sally says:

    I just picked up some ginger brown sugar at the store last night because of you. I may have to try it out with this recipe… But I think I’m going to have to go buy lots more butter!
    Hope you feel better. Cookies solve lots of illnesses. I’m convinced.
    Sally recently posted..Stuff I Really Kind of Like About My Life in China: My New BathrobeMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      It’s a lot of butter, isn’t it? All the better! I think it all worked out to be .87 of a cup at 4 tablespoons per quarter cup.

      Cookies make the world a better place. They aren’t curing my common cold (yet) but I definitely feel less awful.

  2. Tina says:

    Ugh, I’m right there with you on the sick thing, though I got it on the plane home. Wish I had the strength to bake some cookies. You’re a wonder!

    1. MaryAnne says:

      I’m not really sure I had the strength to bake the cookies but I somehow had the determination. My priorities are obviously whack…

      Get well soon- is it a cold too? Colds suck.

  3. Martin Klein says:

    Nice brown morsels you made there πŸ™‚ Besides, did I really manage NOT to suggest the most obvious possibility for the ‘Toaster Oven Christmas Cookie Section’ that morning? Must’ve been the 3am and red wine remainders from dinner… OK, anyway: … Of course, I can’t say if you actually like coconut anymore, whith all that Shanghai, China and Asia food thing around you… πŸ™‚

    Happy remaining Xmas!

    PS: Will also try those haselnut/chocolate meringues ‘recipe’ the next days. Plan is to make (softer) nut flour cookies as small thumb prints, fill them with jam and put a (harder) choc baisier in a second oven run on the top. Just have to calcuate the right amounts of sugar vs. egg white and nut meal… πŸ™‚
    Martin Klein recently posted..Ha! Super-fresh bread rolls right out of the oven & it’s just 3:20 am. Rye, whea…My Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Oh, your cookie selection was wonderful and inspiring– but I had no ground nuts/nut flour, no coconut left, and my sugar is so heavy and clumpy: I was certain I’d ruin a macaroon! Next time!

      Happy Christmas to you too!

  4. TracyAnn0312 says:

    Oh! I love cookies! Thanks for the step by step procedure on how to bake Christmas Cookie. I would probably baked this one for myself!
    TracyAnn0312 recently posted..smsMy Profile

  5. DSW says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading a number of your posts. I live in Hefei and have gone through similar adventures in trying to make some delicious Western foods. It’s not easy, but we get there!
    DSW recently posted..My New Samsnug PhoneMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Thanks! I’ve been kind of on hiatus for a month or so (away in Thailand for 3 weeks, and really busy with work in January) but hoping to start up again this week. Any Hefei friendly requests? Hefei must be a bit tough for finding some ingredients- I get sent there for exam work every few months and it’s always a bit of an eye opener after my usual Shanghai-Nanjing-Hangzhou circuit…

      1. DSW says:

        Hefei’s not bad, strangely. We have Metro (as mentioned in another thread) and RT Mart, Wal*Mart, Tesco… So we can get Western ingredients. The big thing is not having an oven, but a little toaster cooker works ok for some stuff. Gotta be creative…

        You don’t come to Hefei for IELTS do you? Hefei is notoriously China’s easiest IELTS city. That’s why a lot of students travel here to do the exam.
        DSW recently posted..Korea Does Blackface. Again.My Profile

        1. MaryAnne says:

          I do go to Hefei for IELTS, and my own students here have told me they try to do their exams there because they claim it’s easier… which is weird (and impossible) because everything except speaking is marked in Shanghai, and the speaking gets second-marked also in Shanghai. And… a lot of the examiners in Hefei are from Shanghai, coming for the weekend. I have no idea how on earth they think this will give them an easier exam– the rubric is very standardized and doesn’t allow for things like, ‘well, he’s better than she was so he must be AWESOME’.

  6. Maggie says:

    Hi! First just want to say that I love this blog! I appreciate so much that you actually explain in detail ingredients, where you get them, and cooking methods, as well as things you can substitute when you don’t have access to certain ingredients. Thank you so much!

    Just as an interesting piece of info (I hope this isn’t a burst-your-bubble kind of comment; if so, sorry!): the chocolate sugar actually isn’t chocolate sugar…According to the Chinese name on there, it’s brown sugar with a Chinese medicine called “ejiao” added in. Ejiao is actually a gelatin, and it’s used in Chinese medicine to replenish blood/blood nutrients. At least that’s what the internet tells me… At first, when I realized this, I was kinda sad that it wasn’t actually chocolate sugar, cause…WOAH CHOCOLATE SUGAR. But then I thought, wait it’s still delicious, and now it’s HEALTHY too. Might be an amazing addition to tea when the crimson tide rolls in…? (sorry if that’s too graphic for a food blog…)

    1. MaryAnne says:

      No bubble bursting there, as I had no bubble to burst- my ability to read Chinese is still quite dreadful so any nudges in the right direction are great. In fact, the information you gave makes it even more interesting. I mean, it didn’t even smell like chocolate πŸ™‚ I must go buy more…

  7. Sarah says:

    I don’t think I’ve had ginger or chocolate sugar before. They look great though. I just love ginger cookies, especially around the holidays. I’ll have to try to hunt down the ingredients before Christmas. Thanks for the unique recipe! πŸ™‚
    Sarah recently posted..The 10 Best Baking GiftsMy Profile

    1. MaryAnne says:

      Those Chinese flavoured sugars are worth trying to find (though I don’t know if they’re available outside of the country- I haven’t seen them yet in Canada). Maybe infusing regular sugar with ginger juice or sticking a big knob of ginger in the sugar jar? Regardless, those cookies are lovely! Enjoy!

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