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updated: 12/4/2013 1:02 PM

Holiday cookies draw on fruity inspiration

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  • The dough for Stawberry Pistachio Icebox Cookies is easily prepped ahead of time.

    The dough for Stawberry Pistachio Icebox Cookies is easily prepped ahead of time.
    Associated Press

Associated Press

For our annual holiday cookie package, the Associated Press recipe developers looked to fruit for inspiration. Here's what they came up with:

Apple Orange Spice Drops: These drop cookies may be fast and easy to make, but they deliver big, bold flavor just right for the holidays.

We take a basic brown sugar and butter-based drop cookie dough, then add tons of deliciousness with a blend of cloves, allspice, nutmeg and orange zest. We also tinker with the texture, adding the delightful chew of tender dried apples. Top it all off with an orange glaze and you have a cookie that begs for an eggnog accompaniment.

Apricot Tassies: Though technically a tart, tassies are small enough to serve as a cookie. And the rich cream cheese-based pastry used for the crust may remind you of Jewish rugelach.

No-Bake Cranberry Coconut Bites: Feel free to decorate these cookies however you like. We prefer to roll them in yet more shredded coconut (toasted is a nice touch), but you also could roll them in chopped pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts, even pine nuts would be delicious. Or for a sweeter version, get colored decorating sugar from the baking supply shop and roll them in that.

Kitchen Sink Cookies: This is the cookie to make when you're looking to clean out the cupboards. We've packed them with all manner of treats -- and oddities -- from rolled oats, peanuts and chocolate chips to chopped prunes, crushed potato chips and even coffee grounds (trust us on that last one). The more unusual the combination, the better the results.

But don't feel you have to stop there. Got any other crackers, chips, nuts or dried fruit handy? Toss them in and let these cookies truly earn their kitchen sink name.

Mango Marshmallow Bars: This bar cookie has all the makings of a classic summer s'mores -- graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow -- but with a decidedly more festive sensibility.

We started with a deliciously buttery graham cracker crust, then topped it with a cream and chocolate ganache studded with bits of cooked mango. Then we pulled out all the stops and made fresh marshmallow -- it's much easier than you imagine -- also flecked with mango to spread over the top. And to add a holiday kick, we decorated the top with decorating sugar.

The only special equipment you'll need is a stand mixer and a candy thermometer. The mixer does the bulk of the work of making the marshmallow.

Strawberry Pistachio Icebox Cookies: The dough for these cookies is easily prepped ahead of time. Follow the recipe up through forming the dough into logs. The logs can be refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen up to three months. If frozen, allow them to thaw at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and baking.

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