Adult Cookies Get a Boozy Spin

Christmas cookies are practically synonymous with kids. Cookies and milk for Santa? Decorating cut-out sugar cookies with mom? Sneaking extra cookies at Grandma’s house—well, because she lets you.

But what about a cookie just for the adults during the holidays? These pretty, festive Campari Shortbread Cookies With Crunchy Orange Sugar, from the new cookbook Cookies by Jesse Szewczyk, prove that Campari isn’t just for Negronis—and cookies aren’t just for kids.

I first saw the recipe in the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade Magazine and thought, these would make a nice addition to the array of cookies I bake every holiday season. Although, I knew instinctively that the dough should be rolled out to a 1/4″ thick and not 1/2″ as indicated (change noted below). They took the entire 19 minutes to perfectly bake at 1/4″ thickness.

Also, having decades worth of experience icing cookies, I decided to scale back on the amount of frosting, it just seemed too much for slightly more than a dozen shortbread wafers. My altered amounts worked out perfectly and are indicated under ingredients.

If gifting, please make a note to the recipient that these cookies contain alcohol.

Campari Shortbread Cookies With Crunchy Orange Sugar

  • Servings: 2+ dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus a pinch
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Icing and Decoration:

  • 2 Tbsp. coarse white sugar, such as turbinado or sanding sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3+ Tbsp. Campari (or Aperol)
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. In a small bowl, combine coarse sugar and zest. Use your fingertips to massage zest into sugar until very fragrant. Scatter sugar in a single layer on a plate. Let sit at room temperature (up to overnight), uncovered, to dry while making cookies.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 tsp salt. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth and fluffy. Turn mixer off; add flour. Beat on low speed 2–3 minutes or until a dry dough forms.
  4. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour; press into a ball. Dust dough with flour and top with a second sheet of parchment paper; roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Remove top piece of parchment paper. Use a 2½-inch round cutter to cut out rounds; place 1½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press dough scraps together into a ball; repeat rolling and cutting process. Freeze cut cookies 20 minutes.
  5. Arrange 2 racks in upper-middle and lower-middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Bake both sheets 15–19 minutes, swapping positions halfway through, until tops of cookies are light golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk remaining 2¼ cups powdered sugar, Campari, vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth. (If glaze is too thick, add more Campari; if too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.) Dip tops of cookies in glaze, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Sprinkle cookies with orange sugar; let set 1 hour. (When glaze is completely dry, cookies can be stored in a single layer up to 1 week in an airtight container.)

Recipe from the new cookbook Cookies by Jesse Szewczyk

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