(TNS) — Here are some new cookie recipes to add to your baking repertoire that are sure to please both Santa and his elves. They are the result of the Star Tribune’s 12th annual Holiday Cookie Contest, an event that starts in late October and ends in December amid a flurry of flour, butter and sugar. This year’s contest attracted 283 entries.

Italian almond cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Note: From winner William Teresa of Minneapolis. “These are not quite traditional Ricciarelli [pronounced REACH-a-RELL-ee], and nothing can replace the context of a loving Italian family,” Teresa wrote in his entry. “But I think these are some of the tastiest cookies I’ve ever had. Almost every person who’s tried them — and there have been many — has asked for the recipe, so I thought you might like it too.” Almond flour (or blanched almond meal) is available in the specialty flours section of most supermarkets.

1 egg white

2 1/4 cups almond flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 large lemon

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for coating

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed (or using a whisk and beating by hand), beat egg white until soft peaks form.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, granulated sugar and lemon zest. Stir in beaten egg white, honey, almond extract and vanilla extract, and knead into a ball of dough (dough will be slightly sticky). Roll dough into a 1-inch thick log. Using a sharp knife, cut log at 1/2-inch intervals and form dough into egg-shaped cookies.

Fill a shallow bowl with powdered sugar. Roll cookies in powdered sugar, coating all sides and gently tapping off excess powdered sugar.

Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets (cookies spread only slightly) and bake until only slightly browned with a cracked exterior, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tart and sassy cranberry lemon drops

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From finalist Janet Heirigs of Minneapolis. To toast pecans, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Remove from oven and cool.

For dough:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Zest from 2 large lemons

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted pecans (see Note)

1 3/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

12 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For icing:

1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest from 1 lemon

1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Dried cranberries

15 lemon drop candies, crushed

Directions

To prepare dough: In food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine granulated sugar, zest from 2 lemons and 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and process until thoroughly incorporated, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add pecans and process an additional 15 seconds.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and combine with 10 (1-second) pulses. Scatter cold butter pieces on top of sugar-flour mixture and pulse for 15 (1-second) pulses.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. With food processor running, add egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, until dough begins to form into a ball, about 10 to 15 seconds.

Remove dough from food processor and divide in half. Place both balls of dough between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll dough into 1 1/2-inch-thick logs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice dough into rounds about 3/8-inch thick. Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets and bake until centers of cookies begin to color and edges are a light golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare icing: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese, 1 tablespoon butter, powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, zest from 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon lemon juice (adding more, if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time) and mix until smooth. Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a small tip. Squeeze about 1/2 teaspoon of icing onto the center of the cookie, top with 2 to 3 dried cranberries and sprinkle tops of cookies with crushed lemon drops.

Chocolate peppermint cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Note: From finalist Karen Evans of Minneapolis.

For cookies:

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping:

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 to 3 tablespoons milk (or heavy cream)

1/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candies (such as candy canes)

Directions

To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 1/2 cup butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, flattening dough slightly. Bake until cookies are set and dry-looking, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare topping: In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, combine 3 tablespoons butter and powdered sugar, and beat until creamy. Add peppermint extract and enough milk (or cream),

1 tablespoon at a time, and mix until smooth.

Spread icing across the top of each cookie, then press iced cookies into crushed peppermint candies.

Macadamia nut tarts

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From finalist Trish Cowle of Mendota Heights, who encountered this recipe in “The Spirit of Christmas.” To prepare dried lemon zest, spread the zest of 1 large lemon on wax paper and allow to air-dry overnight (dried lemon zest is also available in the spice aisle at some supermarkets). Other nuts can be used as a substitute for macadamia nuts.

For crust:

3 cups flour, plus extra for rolling dough

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for tart pans

2/3 cup granulated sugar

Dried lemon zest from 1 large lemon (see Note)

For topping:

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

3 cups macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease tart or mini-muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, 2/3 cup granulated sugar and lemon peel until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix just until dough is crumbly.

On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thickness. Using a 2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter (depending upon the size of mini-muffin pan or mini-tart pan), cut out dough and transfer to prepared pans, pressing into pan and leaving a well in the center (or form dough into a ball, press dough into pans and form desired shape). Prick dough with fork and bake until light brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool cookies in pans for 10 minutes, then turn cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare topping: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 10 tablespoons butter, brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. When mixture comes to a boil, cook for 1 additional minute, until mixture thickens and large bubbles begin to form. Remove from heat and stir in cream and nuts. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons (depending upon pan size) into each tart crust and cool completely.

Espresso-hazelnut truffle cookies

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. From finalist Cheryl Francke of Arden Hills. Francke prefers to include 1 1/2 teaspoon brewed coffee to the dough when the chocolate mixture is added.

For cookies:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips, divided

2 tsp. instant espresso powder

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

For glaze:

1/3 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/4 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions

To prepare cookies: In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a bowl in a microwave oven), melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips, instant espresso powder and butter, and stir to combine. Cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, and reserve.

In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stir in hazelnuts and remaining 1/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, flattening dough slightly. Bake until lightly puffed and just set, about 9 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare glaze: In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a bowl in a microwave oven), melt 1/3 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips and vegetable oil, and stir to combine. Drizzle chocolate over cooled cookies; sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over chocolate glaze. Allow glaze to set.