Do you ever give a box of cookies as a holiday gift? They’re inexpensive, and everyone loves them. We’re giving cookies to a few of our friends and neighbors, so I set out to find the two best recipes…

The first is the chocolate chip cookie recipe that the New York Times named “perfection.” Three secrets of the all-time best cookies? Let the dough rest for 36 hours (!) before baking. Use chocolate chunks or disks instead of measly chips. And sprinkle sea salt onto the cookies just before baking.

Here’s the recipe:
Makes 18 5-inch cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or chunks
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

The other cookie we chose is Rice Krispie Treats, because a friend told me recently that they’re the top seller at bake sales. “Everyone loves comfort foods,” she says, “and these remind people of their childhoods.” For a more adult version, we chose the New York Times recipe for Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats, which are richer and more complex.

Here’s the recipe:
Makes 30 to 50 treats

8 ounces butter, salted or unsalted, plus extra for pan
1 10.5-ounce bag marshmallows
1 12-ounce box Rice Krispies cereal

1. Line rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or wax paper, or butter it well.

2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Watch closely and stir often.

3. When butter is evenly browned, stir in marshmallows. (If using unsalted butter, stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt.) Melt and cook, stirring often, until mixture turns pale brown, then stir constantly until lightly browned but not dark, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Turn off heat, add cereal, and mix well, preferably with a silicone spoon or a spatula. Scrape into prepared pan and press down lightly. If necessary, butter hands to press mixture flat. Let cool, and cut into squares or bars.

How delicious do these look? Thanks, NYTimes!

P.S. More best recipes, and the full 2012 Cup of Jo Gift Guide.

(Photos by Rebecca Baust for Cup of Jo)

Thank you GLAD for bringing us this post. Learn more about Glad’s Mom Made Cookie Exchange program here.