An old-time, classic Christmastime ingredient baked into a light and fluffy, soft and moist cookie. Mixed Peel Christmas Cookies are fruity, chewy, sweet, and delightfully festive!
These are most certainly a hate it or love it cookie. Just like in the world of Coke versus Pepsi, you’re either for one or the other. Mixed peel is just the same. You will either love it or you will hate it. I used to hate it, but that’s because I never really gave it a try. Now, I bake with it often, especially at Christmastime.
Before we get too into it, it might come as no surprise to my readers that I’m back with a third installment of Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas. Should you be new here, let me tell you a bit about how this works. This is my third annual Christmas cookie extravaganza. Like the previous two years, I will post a brand new Christmas cookie recipe for 24 consecutive days. Yes, that means Saturdays and Sundays too! For your reference, you can find links to the first two years further down the page.
Fresh off of my 12 Biscotti of Christmas series, I’m excited to get this new series started. Last year, I also did 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas. Now, who’s ready to get started on this journey with me? Is your cream cheese at room temperature? Are your mixed peel close at hand? Is your apron on and your oven preheated? Good! Let’s get to it!
WHAT IS MIXED PEEL?
Mixed peel is one of those ingredients mainly used in Christmas cakes and cookies. (I couldn’t help but use it in these Mixed Peel Christmas Cookies, because it just screams Christmas to me!) It is the actual peel from fruit that has been candied and dried. Most commonly, mixed peel consists of candied lemon, orange, and ginger.
Back in the 18th century, bakers knew that the most intense fruit flavour was derived from the fruit. And, since fresh fruit was scarce, the peels were cured and saved for use when fresh fruit was not readily available.
You can use any combination of those peels in these cookies. You might be wondering why my cookies look so festive with the red and green. Well, that’s because I used an Old English mix. That particular mix has orange, lemon, red and green cherries, and even pineapple. You can buy the mix by clicking on the link.
You can find the mix in stores too. Here in Canada, I know you can find it at Bulk Barn as well as Loblaws. Look in the baking section. It’s usually found on the shelf above the flour at grocery stores. You can also buy just the peel and the cherries separately. Simply dice the cherries and mix them into the peel.
CAN I MAKE SUBSTITUTIONS?
Listen, I’m a firm believer in substitutions to a point! If the base of the cookie dough isn’t changed by the substitution, then I say go for it! Want to cut back on the fat/sugar content? Use fat free cream cheese, and you can use reduced fat butter as well.
If you prefer, you can also cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup, but no less than that! The cookies taste bland without at least that much sugar. Have you ever tasted baked flour? That’s what they will taste like. No thanks!
You can change up the vanilla extract and use almond or even a citrus extract, you can. I like the Watkins brand, but vanilla works just fine in this recipe.
WHAT TYPE OF PUDDING SHOULD I USE?
Basically, there’s two types of boxed vanilla pudding – regular and instant. In most cases, you’ll be hard-pressed to find regular pudding mix anymore, because the world has gone and got itself in a hurry. Don’t worry; the instant works perfectly and that’s what I used in this recipe.
Since we will not be mixing the pudding powder with water or milk to make actual pudding, it won’t make a difference. Here in Canada, most instant vanilla pudding packages are 102 grams. That box makes 4 servings. This is the exact one that I used.
The vanilla flavour is what we are after. If you’re box of pudding is a few grams larger or smaller, it will work perfectly. In addition to the flavour, the vanilla pudding powder helps to keep these cookies soft and fluffy.
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
If you plan to freeze these cookies, you certainly can! Once they are completely cooled, pile them into a clean, food-safe container. The container must be freezer friendly! You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. (I use these quite often when freezing baked goods.) I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that cookie freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. If you plan to give the frozen cookies as a gift, I would lay them out onto a wire cooling rack to thaw. Once thawed, pile into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or stack in a cookie tin/box.
As I said, every day I will be posting a new recipe. If you miss one, don’t fret. You can find my entire collection of Christmas Recipes right here! There are over 100 Christmas recipes and counting. There’s something for everyone! Cheers!
Mixed Peel Christmas Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 package Vanilla Pudding Mix
- 1 cup mixed peel
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use a hand-held mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.
- Next, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and Vanilla Pudding Mix. Beat on low speed until just mixed into the butter mixture.
- Using a wood spoon, stir in 3/4 cup of the mixed peel.
- Using a small ice cream scoop, portion the cookie dough into 1 tablespoon size portions. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space around each cookie.
- Using the back of a fork, press a cross pattern into each cookie dough ball and flatten to 1/4 inch thick. (If dough sticks to fork, dip fork in confectioner's sugar first and tap off the excess.)
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the mixed peel onto the top of each cookie.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are slightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and allow cookies to sit on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to finish cooling.