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This Holiday Season, Join the League of Cookies

Food & Wine logo Food & Wine 1/12/2021 Kelsey Youngman
When it comes to holiday cookies, think globally and you'll eat so very merrily. © Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Purcell When it comes to holiday cookies, think globally and you'll eat so very merrily.

Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Purcell © Provided by Food & Wine Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Purcell

Every holiday season, the instructors and staff from the League of Kitchens, a group of immigrant women who teach online and in-person cooking classes, make their way to their annual holiday party potluck. At founder Lisa Gross' Brooklyn apartment, they swap and sample cookies from Japan, Argentina, Lebanon, Greece, and Iran, and what's more, they share sweet bites of their stories, their history, and their homes. This season, we invite you to bake a batch or two of their recipes and share in the joy of this sweet connection.

Stuck in the Middle

"I grew up eating Alfajores, and any occasion was the right time to make them at home with my mom," says Argentina-born instructor Mirta Rinaldi. "We'd even hold heated contests to see who could eat the most cookies! Today, they're my signature gift, in part because it's a joy to make them but also ­because they hold up in the mail so well." —Mitra Rinaldi

Crescent Goals

"I got the recipe for these traditional Greek Christmas cookies from my niece about 30 years ago," Greek instructor Despina Economou explains. Since then, she says, "I've been making them whenever I visit friends or relatives and want to bring something with me; I love the buttery taste of the cookie combined with delicately toasted almonds." —Despina Economou

Winter Coats

"Dates have a storied place in Persian history," says Iranian instructor Mab Abbas. "In all of our big ceremonies and festivals, it's very common for religious people to serve dates with nuts and some sharbat. My sister is part of a new generation building off of these traditions, and she has a beautiful shop in Tehran. She created this recipe by combining date dough with nuts to make a little truffle. It's an homage to how our father liked to eat: He believed in the importance of using fresh, local, natural ingredients. It feels empowering to be able to make your own healthy confections at home." —Mab Abbas

Oh, Christmas Tea

"When I was growing up in Japan, it wasn't common for people to have ovens in their homes, which is why my mom didn't teach me much about baking," says Japanese instructor Aiko Cascio. "But after high school, a friend and I moved to Tokyo. She got a job at a bakery and was so excited to be making cookies every day; I learned different techniques from her, but I especially loved to make matcha cookies. We made a lot of these cookies to give to all of our friends at Christmastime." —Aiko Cascio

Savor the Date

"I'm passionate about sweets," says Lebanese instructor Jeanette Chawki, who created this recipe based on traditional Lebanese date cookies. "I ended up teaching it to the women in my community in New York; everyone loved it because it's so easy to make. If a friend tells you she's coming over, you can have 20 to 30 of these cookies ready on a plate in no time. Plus, the ingredients are not too expensive, and most are things you always have at home—no need to run out for groceries. I prefer them in the morning with coffee, or just as a snack." —Jeanette Chawki

Let it Snow

"This recipe for Pandan Snow White cookies was created by my mom," says Indonesian instructor Shandra Woworuntu. "I'll make these cookies for Indonesian people in my community in New York City, mostly to enjoy during the Muslim and Christian holidays. When you bite into one of these morsels, the powdered sugar on top simply melts in your mouth, and the pandan has a special flavor that's hard to describe—I'd say it's something like honey and lemongrass combined. When I serve sweets using pandan, I get to start a conversation about my culture and my food, both of which many people in the United States don't know enough about." —Shandra Woworuntu

Indian instructor Yamini Joshi's chai recipe is a favorite at parties. "Fresh ginger is the most important part—it's refreshing. The fresh mint is from Rajasthan, where my family is from. And every chai needs green cardamom!"

Get the Recipe: Lemongrass Chai with Ginger and Mint

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