Category Archives: Christmas

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

I make almost every baked good I consume from scratch with the best ingredients available to me. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes down to it. Even at the height of the pandemic, I was inspecting different brands of flour to see their protein counts because I care that much.* That said, when it comes to store-bought baked goods, I have one glaring weakness: Costco croissants.

*4% or bust. King Arthur, Heckers & Trader Joe’s only.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

I will go out of my way for a Costco croissant. They are shockingly delicious, especially when eaten like a wild animal mid-shopping trip, somewhere between produce and electronics. I was introduced to them by my friend and certified Costco enthusiast, David, and I’ve been ruined ever since. The finest French pastry they are not, but I defy you not to enjoy one while it’s still warm, as they almost always are when I sling them into my cart. For $6 (and a Costco membership) you too can have 12 big, buttery Costco croissants in a giant clamshell package. Twelve seems like a lot, but if you’re anything like me, that means one for now, one for later, two for tomorrow, and eight to sit out on my counter to get stale for Easy Almond Croissants.

You see, Almond Croissants, while a bakery favorite, are frequently just another way to use up leftover bread; think of them as the even more sophisticated cousins of French toast and Bostock. Imbued with almond flavor inside and out, they’re deceptively simple to make and even easier to eat.

Stale croissants are split and soaked in simple syrup, smeared with homemade frangipane, sandwiched together, and topped with sliced almonds before baking. They emerge from the oven fragrant and flaky with the best crisp almond edges and rich, dense centers. You may leave them plain—as if there’s a way for Almond Croissants to seem plain!—or you may dust them with a little confectioner’s sugar for flair. I like flair.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants

While I am a Costco croissant purist, these may be made with any pre-baked or store-bought croissants you may have on hand. Please keep in mind that your croissants may differ in size from mine, so you may end up with a larger or smaller quantity of Almond Croissants than I have. Not that I’ve ever found such a thing to be a problem. It is the summer of frangipane, after all.

Easy Homemade Almond Croissants
Easy Homemade Almond Croissants 
makes 8-12 (I made 8)

Simple Syrup:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water

Frangipane*:
2 cup blanched almond flour or 8 ounces blanched almonds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

For Assembly & Garnish:
8-12 store-bought croissants (I used 8), preferably a little stale
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, optional

The simple syrup and frangipane may be made up to a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

Make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool until you can comfortably hold your finger in it. Transfer to a bowl or dish (I used a pie plate) that is slightly larger than your croissants.

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in eggs and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste. Set aside.

Arrange oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment.

Assemble the almond croissants. Slice each croissant in half equatorially.

Working with one sliced croissant at a time, dip each half in the simple syrup, making sure to coat all sides. Place the bottom halves cut-sides-up on the prepared pans, and set the top halves on plates or another surface while assembly continues.

Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of frangipane on the bottom half of each croissant. Top the frangipane with the top halves of the croissants, cut-sides-down. Press down lightly on each to adhere.

Spread about a tablespoon of frangipane on top of each filled croissant and sprinkle sliced almonds over the top. Bake croissants for 20-22 minutes, or until the frangipane is golden.

Let croissants cool on the pans for 15 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops, if desired. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Almond Croissants are best eaten the day they are made.

Note: You will have some leftover frangipane after making these. Refrigerate it and use it for these or this.

Mint Chip Buttercream Bars

Mint Chip​ Buttercream Bars

It seems impossible, but we’ve reached the last recipe of the year.

With three days to go until Christmas, I wanted this one to be easy enough that you could add it to your menu at the last second, but not so in-your-face Christmasy that you couldn’t make it for New Year’s Eve or any other time. These Mint Chip Buttercream Bars certainly fit that bill. With just ten minutes of actual baking, a flavor that’s universally beloved, and a high yield, they’re exactly the sort of recipe you want to have in your back pocket during the holidays.

Mint Chip​ Buttercream Bars

Oh, they look fancy with their three layer presentation, but they’re dead easy. The thick Oreo crust is the only thing that requires baking; the creamy mint chip buttercream and chocolate topping are simply whipped up and layered on.

Mint Chip​ Buttercream Bars

You can make these all in one go or do them in steps, making the crust one day and applying the other layers a day or two later. Once assembled, put them in the fridge for a couple of hours for optimal sliceability, and that’s it!

Mint Chip​ Buttercream Bars

I like to cut these really small, because they pack a wallop. With layers of crumbly Oreo crust, chocolate chip studded mint buttercream and glossy chocolate, they’ve got texture and flavor all over the place. I only need a bite or two to be satisfied—that doesn’t stop me from going back for more though!

Mint Chip​ Buttercream Bars

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! I am taking Christmas Eve off, but will be back next week with some end of year wrap up stuff.

Mint Chip Buttercream Bars
makes 2-2.5 dozen depending how small you cut them

Oreo Crust:
24 Oreos
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mint Chip Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extrac
1/4-1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2-3 drops green food coloring (I used gel)
6 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Chocolate Topping:
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan with butter. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the crust. Place Oreos in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes to set. Let cool completely. At this point, the pan and crust may be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored for a day at room temperature.

Make the mint chip buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Add 1-2 drops gel food coloring (or a few drops of liquid) and use your electric mixer to beat until combined. Adjust color as necessary. Fold in mini chocolate chips.

Spread mint chip buttercream over the crust, smoothing into an even layer. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.


Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling one spoonful at a time. Use a small offset icing knife (or a silicone spatula) to carefully spread it over a section of the filling. Continue dropping and spreading chocolate until it’s all used. Freeze until chocolate has hardened, about 15 minutes.

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully peel off and discard parchment. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice bars (mine are 1x1 1/2-inch). pieces).

Bars may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week (check the date on your heavy cream). Layer them with parchment if they are to be stacked.

Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies

Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies

You could not pay me to drink a glass of eggnog, but I will happily bake with it all Christmas season long. Being made of eggs and dairy, it’s just a thin custard—think melted ice cream—so it’s an easy swap for the liquid in many of my favorite bakes.

I’ve made eggnog sandwich cookies, cakes, scones, and puff pancakes over the last several years, plus a few more treats that I still need to perfect before I pass them your way. These Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies though? They couldn’t wait. They’re the seasonal sibling of the Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies I posted earlier this year, and they are spectacular.

Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies

I think of these as a slightly-sophisticated holiday take on the Lofthouse Cookies I loved in college. Made with ingredients like softened butter, sour cream and eggnog, and sweetened with a mix of granulated and confectioner’s sugars, these cookies are super tender and slightly cakey (but in a good way). Their flavor is rounded out with cinnamon and nutmeg; you can add 1/2 teaspoon of rum extract (not straight rum!) too, if that’s your deal.

Heads up that this recipe requires a fair amount of inactive prep time. Initially, the dough is super sticky and needs a long chill to be workable. There is no way around this—I tried the freezer, rolling it between parchment, and separating it into quarters before the chill. You need to set aside at least four hours between mixing and baking, or prepare to have sticky hands and be extremely frustrated. No, thanks! Once the dough is cold and the ingredients have had a chance to meld though, it’s smooth sailing.

Make sure to roll your cookies out so that they’re super thick. I like them to be 1/2-inch thick before baking, and though they will spread somewhat significantly, they’ll still get some good height. They won’t look particularly enticing coming out of the oven, but that’s because they aren’t done yet. Ohhh no. Each of these ultra-soft sugar cookies is topped with a blanket of buttercream and sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and eggnog for maximum holiday cheer.

Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies

I know I say this about every recipe, but these are so good, y’all—feather soft with plenty of eggnog flavor and a little tang from the sour cream. The combination of tender cookie and hearty schmear of buttercream is akin to eating the top a cupcake. If that’s not the ideal way to consume eggnog this holiday season, I don’t know what is.

Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies
Frosted Eggnog Sugar Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream (not fridge-cold)
1/4 cup eggnog (not fridge-cold)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Eggnog Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons eggnog

Special Equipment:
a 2-inch round cookie cutter
offset icing spatula

Make the cookie dough. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar until creamy. Mix in egg, followed by sour cream, eggnog and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 2 installments, beating until combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.

Divide dough into halves and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Generously flour a surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one half of the dough. Roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness, lifting and turning the dough frequently so that it doesn’t stick to your surface. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut cookies. Cut directly down. Do not twist.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 10-11 minutes, rotating top-to-bottom and back-to-front at the 5 minute mark. Cookies are done when puffed and no-longer raw-looking. They should be mostly pale, but there may be some golden coloring at the bottom edges. Let cookies cool on the pans for 8-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Let sheet pans come to room temperature before proceeding with the next batch.

Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining half of dough. Re-roll scraps as desired, refrigerating if anything gets too sticky.

Make Eggnog Buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Add eggnog and beat until combined.

After cookies have cooled completely, use an offset icing spatula to frost each one with about 1 tablespoon of Eggnog Buttercream. Garnish with pinches cinnamon and nutmeg immediately after frosting. Buttercream will crust after an hour or so. You may serve the cookies immediately after frosting, but they are softest the next day.

After they’ve crusted, leftovers may be layered with wax or parchment paper and kept in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

After nailing the perfect snappy texture in last week’s Vegan, Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies, I couldn’t resist taking that formula and making it into linzer cookies.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

Traditional linzer cookies are made from a dough that isn’t much more than a sugar cookie with a smattering of ground nuts tossed in for depth and tenderness. My vegan, gluten-free cookie formula already gets all its structure from almonds, but I still found a way to make the final product uniquely linzery. Linzerian? Linzeresque? Anyway…

The gist is that I removed the dark molasses and spices from the dough, lightening the flavor profile with maple syrup and a small, but effective amount of toasted ground hazelnuts. If you can’t get your hands on hazelnuts, pecans will work just as well (plus you won’t have to peel them).

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

This dough requires a short chill before the usual rolling, cutting and baking. Don’t forget to stamp out a little window in half your cookies for that signature linzer cookie look!

As far as filling goes, you can use any spread you like, but jam is traditional. I’m not much of a jam person, but I had a jar of homemade blueberry jam from my friend Suzette up in Maine, so I used that. Raspberry and strawberry would give festive Christmas red vibes, but I think orange marmalade might be absolute magic paired with the nutty cookies. I’ll have to try that another day though—for now, I’m extremely into these blue-black little picture windows and the signature flavor of my favorite place.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies are initially very crunchy, but soften a bit as they soak up some moisture from the jam. This is not a bad thing at all, as it makes them easier to eat without getting crumbs on your shirt. That’s very important if, like me, you plan to casually snag a cookie every time you walk by the plate from now until 2022.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies​
Vegan, Gluten-Free Linzer Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen sandwich cookies

1/2 cup whole hazelnuts (or pecans)
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For assembly:
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
~3/4 cup jam or spread of choice

Special equipment:
rolling pin
2-inch cookie cutter
smaller cookie cutter (I used the large end of a piping tip)

toast and peel the hazelnuts. Place hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until fragrant, 7-10 minutes. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly. (If you are using pecans, you do not need to peel them.)

Let hazelnuts cool completely. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until they are a fine meal. Do not over-process or you’ll have hazelnut butter (delicious, but not helpful here).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together ground hazelnuts, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add sugar and confectioner’s sugar and beat until fully combined (about 2 minutes). Beat in maple syrup and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition. Dough may look rubbly, but should hold together extremely well when pinched.

Divide dough in two. Form each half into a disk, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Use confectioner’s sugar to dust a surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. A thin offset icing spatula or bench scraper (or similar) will make moving the dough much easier, as will adding more confectioner’s sugar to the surface and rolling pin.

Use a 2-inch rom d cookie cutter to cut cookies, then use the icing spatula to move them to the prepared pans, keeping them 1.5 inches apart. Use a smaller cutter (I used the wide end of a piping tip) to cut windows in half your cookies—these are the tops of your linzers. Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 7 minute mark.

Let cookies cool 10 minutes on their pans. Use a spatula to remove them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking as needed, re-rolling scraps as needed. Let cookie sheets come to room temperature between batches.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment. Once all cookies are baked and cooled, set the cookies with the centers cut out on a prepared rack. Sift confectioners sugar over the tops.

Spread each whole cookie with jam (amount is based on your preference). Carefully sandwich cookies together. Serve.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place wax paper between layers for best storage. Cookies will soften a bit over time.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Making sugar cookies is a classic Christmastime activity, but you can do so much more with them than just roll, cut, and blanket them with royal icing! From thumbprints to pinwheels to custom panes of candy stained glass, the versatility of this dough is endless. Make yourself a few batches and get your sugar cookie on this holiday season! Here’s some inspiration from my archives.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing}

A Christmas staple! These buttery roll-out sugar cookies come with a time commitment, but they sure are fun to make (and eat!). All my sugar cookie knowledge is in that post, so click over and check it out!

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Hand-Painted Sugar Cookies {Kid-Friendly Cookie Decorating}

Not up for giving bags of sugar-based concrete to the kids in your life? Paint your sugar cookies instead! Using a simple mixture of sweetened condensed milk and food coloring, you can make your sugar cookies as festive as you want with much less fuss. Finishing them with some basic icing is totally optional, but I think it makes them really cute.

Stained Glass Cookies

Want to skip decorating altogether? Make Stained Glass Cookies! Cut out the center of the cookies before they go in the oven, then fill them with crushed hard candy. In just minutes, it’ll melt into a little candy stained glass window.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Holiday Icing Thumbprints

Here’s where things get interesting. The very same dough that makes for the best sugar cookies gets rolled into balls instead of sheets, then filled with little wells of festive icing! So cute, right?! Good luck eating just one.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Candy Cane Cookies

Candy Cane Cookies use the same sugar cookie dough base with three adjustments: less baking powder, the addition of peppermint extract, and half the dough is dyed Christmas red! Oh, and they’re rolled and baked into *the* cutest candy canes you ever did see.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Sugar Cookies​

Pinwheel Cookies

I spent years being intimidated by pinwheel cookies, but it turns out they’re kind of a snap to make! You need patience for the stacking and rolling, but after that they’re just an extra-festive slice and bake recipe.

What’s your favorite sugar cookie recipe? Let me know in the comments or on social media!