Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies Oh y’all, I have winter citrus on my mind. Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls, Orange Cardamom Cake, Key Lime Linzers, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins—if you can throw zest or juice into it, I. am. interested.

That goes double for these Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies, which contain plenty of fresh grapefruit zest and juice, and even have some extra zip from a lemon! They’re a little on the soft side with huge citrus flavor—perfect for a party, late night dessert, or pairing with a cup of tea. If you are looking for a recipe to drag you out of the winter doldrums, this is it.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesGrapefruit Sandwich Cookies are exactly what they sound like. The cookies themselves are a variation on my favorite sugar cookie dough. I nixed the cream cheese in favor of more butter, reduced the baking powder and threw in some grapefruit zest for obvious reasons. They’re baked until they’re just barely done, about 6 minutes.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesThe filling is the completely stellar Grapefruit Curd that I made for kolaches a couple of years ago. It takes some zesting, juicing and whisking, but it’s actually incredibly simple to make. Just make sure to make it ahead so it’s fully chilled by the time you want to assemble.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesPipe it almost to the edges. You want the curd to peek out the sides.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesYou may certainly eat these cookies right after assembly, but I highly recommend refrigerating them for about 6 hours before doing so. This allows the curd to set and the cookies to soften slightly so that everything stays in place when you bite in. You know, instead of falling apart in your hands. Not that that’s a bad thing.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesYou’ll notice that the batch makes 8(-ish) dozen cookies. Don’t let this scare you off! The cookies are teeny, made with a 1 1/2-inch cutter, and will keep for approximately eternity (…or a week) in the fridge. If you want to make fewer larger cookies, feel free to use a 2 1/2-inch cutter and maybe give them an extra minute in the oven. I’m pretty fond of these little gems though. Anything that allows me to eat five cookies in one sitting is okay by me.Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
makes 8-ish dozen very small cookies

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ruby red grapefruit zest (from about 1 1/2 grapefruits)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Filling:
1 recipe Grapefruit Curd, made ahead & chilled (recipe below)

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
cookie cutters

Read through this recipe before beginning. The grapefruit curd will need to be made ahead of time and the assembled cookies are best after a 4-6 hour chill.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use your fingertips to rub grapefruit zest into sugar. Add butter and use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters.

Working with one quarter at a time, sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll until 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to the freezer (on a baking sheet, if desired) for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. It is okay to stack the sheets of dough in the freezer.

While the dough is freezing, preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Peel on of the pieces of parchment off. Use a lightly floured 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies. Place them at least 1 inch apart on prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough. Scraps can be re-rolled, frozen, and cut.

Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until no longer raw looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

To assemble sandwich cookies, place half the baked cookies on a surface bottom-side-up. Load grapefruit curd into a piping bag and snip a small corner. Pipe filling almost to the edge (1/8-1/4-inch blank border on all sides) on each cookie before gently topping with another cookie, bottom-side-down. Repeat until all cookies have been filled.

Place filled cookies on a rimmed baking sheet (or other large-ish pan) and chill for 4-6 hours or overnight before serving. This will slightly soften the cookies and keep the curd from squishing out when you take a bite.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Grapefruit Curd
makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, from about 2 large grapefruits
2 tablespoons grapefruit zest, from about 2 large grapefruits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, from about 1/2 medium lemon
1 large egg + 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 24 small cubes

Pour grapefruit juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 12-15 minutes). Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together grapefruit zest, sugar, warm grapefruit reduction, lemon juice, and eggs. Set bowl over the pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens slightly (it should coat the back of a spoon). Add butter 1-2 cubes at a time, whisking until melted. Continue until all butter is used. This should take 11-15 minutes total.

Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium mixing bowl. Push curd through sieve to remove zest. Transfer curd to a jar (or other container) and press a piece of plastic wrap to the top. Chill well.Grapefruit Sandwich CookiesGrapefruit Sandwich CookiesGrapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I would have been content to make and eat only one Boterkoek for the rest of my life, but then my friend, David, had to go and one-up himself on New Year’s Eve by adding a bunch of almond paste.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I don’t make traditional New Year’s resolutions, but that night I absolutely resolved to make Almond Boterkoek happen on this blog. It took exactly eight weeks.

Me: 1
2020: 0Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Anyway…David’s go-to Boterkoek (“bow-ter-kook”) already has a hint of almond to complement all the glorious butter, but this one…whoa. It’s super soft in the middle with crispy & buttery edges on the top and bottom, so it’s almost like biting into a piece of marzipan that is coated in a thin layer of butter cake.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Does that make it sound gross? I promise it’s anything but.

Am I making sense? I don’t even know. What I do know is that adding almond paste to Boterkoek is the closest one can get to having a spiritual experience* with a baked good.

*maybe exaggerating…but also, maybe not.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As with David’s O.G. Boterkoek, this one is no big deal to whip up. You will need to break out your mixer, but I promise that’s the fussiest part of the whole process. Well, except for the part where you have to remove a teaspoon of egg from a beaten egg, but that’s not too annoying. I even found time (30 whole seconds!) to make a crackly almond topping, which I used it to decorate the cake in a way that is much more flattering when it’s all sliced up.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Texture-wise, this dessert is fairly dense–more like a blondie than an American-style cake. This is because it contains no leaveners, therefore depending on the egg and the air that’s whipped into the butter for its minimal lift. If you want a cakier almond cake, try this one.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I, however, am more than content with a wedge of this buttery-edged, soft-centered almond cake (or whatever) anytime, anywhere, especially right-this-minute as I simultaneously write a blog post and watch Netflix. Yep.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}
makes 1 8-inch cake, about 12 servings

1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon water (not hot)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste, pinched into small pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract, according to your preference
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Topping:
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter. Set aside.

Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to remove 1 teaspoon of the egg to a separate bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon water with the 1 teaspoon of egg to make an egg wash. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) to beat sugar and almond paste together until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the larger amount of egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until a thick dough forms.

Press dough into prepared pan. Brush egg wash over the top. Use the tines of a fork or edge of a knife to create a crosshatch pattern on top.

Make topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg white and sugar. Stir in almonds. Arrange topping on top of cake as desired.

Bake cake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and glossy on top. Cake will slice cleanly when completely cooled, but may be slices and served warm from the pan after 45 minutes.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4. Individual slices may be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeI try very hard to keep things simple around here. Recipes, techniques, flavors, everything. That doesn’t mean super easy or uncomplicated—just not over-complicated. No more steps or ingredients than absolutely necessary, you know?Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeThat said, sometimes a simple recipe like this Vanilla Bean Bundt requires several tries, each with a different technique or ingredient, all resulting in…excellent cakes. Really.

You know what’s not simple? Deciding which of those cakes to post.Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeEach one began with the same basic recipe that I’ve used for my Orange Cardamom Cake, Meyer Lemon Drizzle Cakes, and Marble Bundt, but with vanilla bean, of course. My options were:

  1. a cake with one vanilla bean in the batter, one vanilla bean in the icing, and a vanilla syrup made from the empty pods painted on.
  2. a cake with two vanilla beans in the batter and one in the icing. No syrup.
  3. a cake and icing made with vanilla bean paste instead of the real deal. No syrup.

I cannot overstate how delicious all of them were—buttery and bursting with vanilla bean flavor! And those signature specks, of course.

If I felt like I could get away with posting three Vanilla Bean Bundt recipes, I would. Faced with making a decision however, I took into account the flavor, aesthetics, ease and cost of each one, and the winner just barely emerged.Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeVanilla Bean Bundt CakeVanilla Bean Bundt CakeVanilla Bean Bundt CakeThe cake I love the most is #1, so it’s the one I’ve posted below. The seeds of one vanilla bean are whirled into the batter, and the leftover pod is used to make a syrup that is brushed onto the baked cake before icing is poured over the top. The syrup is the element that makes all the difference here—it keeps the cake from being even the slightest bit crumbly, gives it a subtle glossiness, and makes it so that you can smell its dreamy vanilla aroma within a 6 foot radius. Yes, really!Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeI also like that the pods in the recipe don’t go to waste. I’ve seen other bakers suggest using empty vanilla pods to make vanilla sugar, but how much vanilla sugar does anyone actually use? You could use them to make extract, I suppose, but that takes weeks or months. This way at least one of the pods is used directly in the cake. As for the second, let me know what you do with leftover vanilla pods. I’m interested!Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeFor those of you wondering about the cost of this whole operation, I won’t lie to you: vanilla bean anything is pricey. I buy my vanilla beans at Costco and Sahadi’s, and they run about $6 apiece. You could use two tablespoons of vanilla bean paste (1 per pod) instead, but the paste is about $35 upfront. A single jar contains enough to make this cake four times though, so it’s worth the investment. Oh, and this is a warning that the dark color of the vanilla bean paste will affect the aesthetic outcome of the cake, but only slightly. It will still be absurdly delicious, as all vanilla bean things are.Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeKeep it simple, y’all.Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
makes one 10-cup capacity bundt

Cake:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature

Simple Syrup:
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 scraped/empty vanilla pod

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Set the cooled cake, still on the rack, over a rimmed baking sheet. Make the simple syrup. Combine water, sugar, and scraped vanilla pod in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.

Use a pastry brush to paint syrup all over the cake. Continue brushing until you’ve used all the glaze. Some will run off onto the rimmed baking sheet—that is okay. Let cake sit for 30 minutes to absorb the syrup.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla seeds and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the teaspoon up to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments. Pour over cake. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Vanilla Bean Bundt CakeVanilla Bean Bundt CakeVanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsIt’s been gloomy out lately, but I’m keeping it sunny in my kitchen with these classic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThey’ve got loads of bright lemon flavor from fresh zest and juice, a little crunchy texture from poppy seeds, and they stay moist for days thanks to ingredients like eggs, oil and whole milk.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThese muffins come together quickly and easily and don’t require a mixer. In fact, a mixer would be a detriment here. The secret to tender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (and most muffins and quick breads) is to mix them as little as possible. You can stir the wet and dry ingredients separately as much as you like, but once they’re in the same bowl, you want to stir just 15 or 20 times.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThe batter is divided into 12 muffin cups before being baked at 400F for five minutes, and then 350F for fifteen more. That initial blast of heat helps them to dome, while the remaining bake time ensures they cook evenly.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsOnce baked, let your muffins cool a few minutes before drizzling on a quick lemon glaze. You could skip it in the name of breakfast or health, but…why?

Life is short. Muffins are breakfast-appropriate cupcakes. This glaze is “secretly” an icing.

Don’t. skip. the. glaze.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsServe your Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins up with coffee or tea or whatever makes you happy. Good luck resisting a second. I’ve been known to eat three or four of these throughout the day, which seems like a lot, but can you blame me?Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 medium lemons)
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2-1 medium lemon)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use your fingertips to rub lemon zest into sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, lemon juice, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined—no more than 15-20 strokes.

Divide batter among muffin cups—they will be full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for an additional 14-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to prepared rack.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle over muffins. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving. Glaze will set completely after several hours.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days. Unglazed muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsLemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresHappy Valentine’s Day ❤ If you are looking for holiday-appropriate treats, click here and here.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresIf, however, you are over the heart-shaped baked goods—or, more likely, are looking for something to bake after Valentine’s Day is over—look no further than these very good, anything but boring, extremely square Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresWe’re talking about a thick, soft layer of cookie studded with miniature chocolate chips, topped with a blanket of chocolate buttercream, and scattered with more miniature chocolate chips. Always more chocolate chips, am I right?!Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresThese sweet squares are perfect for a multitude of occasions. They’re one of those recipes to keep in your back pocket for a game or movie night, class party, office break room pick-me-up, friend who needs a treat, picnic, casual birthday #stickacandleinit, or just…Saturday.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresAnd while they are not red, strawberry-flavored, rolled into truffles or cut into hearts, I know I’d be hard-pressed to pass one up on this fine, frigid Friday Valentine’s Day.Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares
makes one 9-inch pan, about 16 squares

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Chocolate Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
miniature chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cookie layer. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in light brown sugar, followed by egg and yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating just until combined. Add miniature chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.

Press dough into prepared pan with a silicone spatula. Bake 20 minutes, or until no longer wet-looking. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with only a few moist crumbs. Let cookie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack. Do not remove bars from pan.

Make chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Use an offset icing knife to frost bars. I like to do this in the pan so that the edges are clean.

Use overhang to carefully lift bars onto a cutting board. Gently peel back edges of the parchment. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into 16 squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Serve squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. They will keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresChocolate Chip Cookie SquaresChocolate Chip Cookie Squares