Category Archives: Christmas

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. Try saying that five times fast. Or, you know, skip the silliness and just make ‘em.Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

These are a homemade take on the super soft, vibrantly frosted Lofthouse Cookies I loved during my college years. While you won’t find me buying them these days, I think about them more than is probably reasonable. They are like a supermarket birthday cake and some sugar cookies had a baby and I am here for it.Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Like the cookies that inspired them, these are feather-soft thanks to the sour cream and confectioner’s sugar mixed into the dough. Those ingredients in particular make these puffy sugar cookies super tender and almost cakey. I know I’ve railed against cakey cookies in the past, but I’ll make an exception for these.Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

The dough comes together pretty quickly, but is on the sticky side and needs a chill before baking. I roll these cookies super thick (1/2 inch) and cut them with a 2-inch cutter. I tested with bigger cutters, but found that a smaller diameter helps the cookies to bake evenly, reducing the chances of dense centers and crisp edges. While those are usually good things in cookies, these are best when they’re soft all around. In fact, I prefer to eat them the day after they’re baked for maximum softness. So good.

Quick tip: in case you want to take your sugar cookie game to the next level, you could absolutely make these in the shape of a football, heart, Christmas tree or other simple shape. Keep in mind that this dough spreads and puffs a bit, so you won’t want to do anything terribly intricate. But also…go wild.Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are good unadorned, but a thick smear of vanilla buttercream and smattering of sprinkles take them over the top! I went with a pink marbled motif, dying half my frosting and then spreading both colors together, but feel free to use whatever color(s) of frosting or variety of sprinkles you like here. Get festive with it for holidays, big games, birthdays or any day!Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
makes about 3 dozen medium cookies

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

For Decorating:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
food coloring, if desired
sprinkles of choice

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

Make the cookie dough. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugars, 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, followed by egg, sour cream 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 2 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 9-10 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.

After cookies have cooled completely, use an offset icing spatula to frost each one with about 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Buttercream (I used 1/2 tablespoon each pink and plain white buttercreams). Garnish with sprinkles 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 I’m the refrigerator for up to a week.

Vanilla Buttercream

makes enough for 3 dozen cookies (with a little leftover)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
food coloring, if desired

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 three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt and vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

To dye half of the buttercream, remove half to a smaller bowl. Add a drop of gel food coloring (or a few drops of liquid) and use your electric mixer to beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Use buttercream to frost Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.

Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Pecans

Chocolate-Covered PecansChristmas in a pandemic is so strange. I mean, I’ve spent Christmas away from my immediate family before, but it’s always been with (ex-)boyfriends or friends. But this year, traveling and gathering don’t seem like great plans and I am deeply single, so Christmas alone it is.Chocolate-Covered PecansI’ve already had my pre-Christmas anticipatory-loneliness gloom and doom, and have now moved on to determining what will make this Christmas feel like…Christmas. Like, when I FaceTime my family, I’m going to wear my Christmas pajamas that match my sisters. And I’m going to take a walk. Maybe watch Love Actually for the 374th time. Perhaps make a pot roast. And I’m going to eat chocolate-covered pecans by the handful. It’s the Davenport way.Chocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered Pecans have a long history in my family. My dad has been sending them as Christmas gifts for as long as I can remember, and though nearly every box was for someone else, he always had one delivered to the house just for us to share. And by share, I mean he would hide/hoard them to himself until Christmas Day when he’d finally reveal the half-eaten tin.

Over the years, this has come back to bite him in the ass. The general “rule” is that whoever intercepts the box first hides it and clues everyone in *except* my dad, just for a little light payback. This may seem like a lot of hubbub, but we really love messing with each other,* and also Chocolate-Covered Pecans. What’s not to love about naturally-caramelly toasted pecans coated in a snappy-then-melty layer of chocolate?

*Is every family as weird as mine?Chocolate-Covered PecansSince my sisters and I all moved away, we’ve each been added to my dad’s chocolate-covered pecan Christmas list. It’s something I look forward to every year—my tin showing up a week or two before I fly home for the holiday break. Except, of course, that I’m not flying home this year. And for a brief moment, thanks to the notorious difficulties with shipping right now, I thought that my dad might have decided not to send chocolate-covered pecans in 2020.Chocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered PecansThankfully that is not the case and my tin arrived on December 16th, but in that moment where I thought this tradition might be another casualty of 2020, I took the time to create my own recipe for Chocolate-Covered Pecans. I certainly wasn’t going to go without them. No way.Chocolate-Covered PecansMy Chocolate-Covered Pecans are the tiniest spin on my Salted Marzipan Truffles recipe. Truly, the only difference is that I’m using toasted pecans instead of marzipan. I left the salt on for beauty and salty chocolate reasons, but you can skip it if you like. Whatever makes your little holiday heart flutter. Whatever makes this recipe feel like home.Chocolate-Covered PecansMerry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Whatever you do or don’t celebrate, I hope you find a way to enjoy the end of this challenging year. I’m taking Friday off for Christmas, but will be back next week with year-end round ups. Stay cozy, everyone.Chocolate-Covered Pecans

Chocolate-Covered Pecans
makes about 1 cup

1 cup raw pecan halves
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon light corn syrup or golden syrup
coarse or flaky finishing salt (optional)

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler)
parchment paper
small sheet pan or other pan (must fit in freezer)

Preheat oven to 300F. Place pecan halves on a dry rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool completely.

Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one pecan half into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat pecan in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the pecan on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of finishing salt, if desired. Continue this process until all pecans are coated and salted.

Place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes, until chocolate has solidified. Serve.

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

Chocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered Pecans

Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling ShortbreadHappy Christmas week! Happy Solstice! Happy almost the end of 2020!Sparkling ShortbreadI’m coming at you on this winter Monday to give you one last cookie recipe before Christmas. Don’t worry, it’s super easy—just a slice & bake shortbread that’s been rolled in sparkling sugar so it looks *fancy.* And it is. But it’s also stupendously easy. I don’t know about you, but when it’s four days before Christmas, I only have time for things that are stupendously easy.Sparkling ShortbreadThis dough is super rich and buttery, and comes together in 15 minutes. Once mixed, divide it in two and shape each half into a log. Don’t worry about perfect round shaping—you can fix flaws after an hour-long chill. It’s much easier to form smooth shapes when the dough isn’t so pliable.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread Next up, coat your shortbread in sparkling sugar! Working with one log at a time, give your shortbread a few rolls to even out any odd shaping. Then, roll them in a few tablespoons of festive sparkling sugar (this is the Mistletoe Blend from NY Cake Supply). I find it easiest to coat the shortbread by using my hands and a sheet of plastic wrap. Just do your best with this and don’t worry about perfection—these will all be a little different and they will all be gorgeous.

Don’t have sparkling sugar? Use sprinkles. I recommend using jimmies (the cylindrical kind) instead of non-pareils (the little balls), as those will bleed their colors.Sparkling ShortbreadAfter coating, the shortbread will need another hour chill. I know—I know!—two chills are too many, but they are easily the most annoying part of this recipe. One upside, however, is that this means you can make the Sparkling Shortbread dough days in advance and then slice & bake when you have time.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadWhen it’s time to bake, slice the dough in 1/4-inch rounds and bake for 20 minutes at 300F, so they’re fully done but not brown. Despite not containing any leaveners, these cookies will puff and spread (but not too much).Sparkling ShortbreadOnce the shortbread are baked and cooled…well, that’s it! Time to eat. Sparkling Shortbread are crisp and buttery with a little extra crunch and zazz from their sugared edges. Truly, they’re so simple and stunning that I don’t know why you’d bother to make any other cookies this close to Christmas. Keep a few for yourself, drop a few off with a friend and leave a few for Santa. Everybody needs a little sparkle right now.Sparkling ShortbreadThere’s only one more E2 Bakes recipe left this year, and it’s coming up Wednesday! Any guesses???Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling Shortbread
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For coating:
6-8 tablespoons (about 3 ounces) coarse sparkling/decorative sugar

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add dark brown and confectioners sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched.

Divide dough in two parts. Form each into a 9-inch log and wrap in plastic. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly round. Chill for 1 hour.

Line a small sheet pan or a surface with a sheet of plastic wrap and place 3-4 tablespoons of sparkling sugar on top. Unwrap one log of dough. Give it a few light rolls to form more of a round log shape. Place dough on top of sugar and use your hands and the plastic wrap to coat the log in sparkling sugar. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Repeat this process with remaining log of dough and remaining sparkling sugar.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.

Unwrap one log of dough and place on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice log into 1/4-inch rounds. Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans.

Bake cookies for 20-22 minutes, or until no longer shiny but not brown at all. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes. Use a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsWe’re getting close to the end of this year’s posts (two more recipes to go!), but I just couldn’t let 2020 end without making sure you knew about these Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints.Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsLet me say that again: Chocolate. Salted. Caramel. Thumbprints.

That’s right—chocolate sugar cookies filled with soft, chewy caramel and finished with a chocolate drizzle and crunchy salt. Does a more perfect cookie exist? I think not. Sure, there are a few steps and a chill involved, but none of it is complicated, and you will be rewarded with salty, gooey, chocolaty cookies at the end. The best!Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsWhile Christmas and New Year’s Eve (and literally everything else) are different this year, these cookies should be a part of your holiday, however it looks. Are you gathering with a tiny group to do a gift exchange? Share some cookies with people you love. Are you spending the holiday by your lonesome, like me? Have a cookie (or four) while you watch Home Alone while you’re home alone. Are you skipping it all and hoping next year is better? Well, Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints are good for that too.Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsChristmas is only a week away! To accommodate the holiday, I’m changing up next week’s posting schedule from the usual Wednesday/Friday to Monday/Wednesday. Since we’re getting down to the wire, look out for two easy as can be, festive as everything recipes. Oh, and let me know what you’re baking! I love seeing all your holiday (E2) bakes over on Instagram.

Have a wonderful weekend!Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints
makes about 3 dozen

Chocolate Cookie Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Centers:
5 ounces soft caramel candies (I use Kraft)
3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
2 ounces chopped dark chocolate
coarse or flaky finishing salt

Special Equipment:
1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon

Make chocolate cookie dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Use your hands to knead dough into a mass, then divide it in two. Cover each half with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll each int a ball. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Use the back of a very small spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon) to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just smooth them with your fingers. If dough gets too warm and sticky, freeze for 10 minutes.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes. Cookies are done when puffed and no longer wet-looking. When you remove the cookies from the oven, gently press the back of the small spoon into the centers again; they will crack a bit. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the caramel. Combine caramels, heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Spoon 1/2 teaspoon caramel into the center of each cooled cookie. Let set 10 minutes.

Finish the cookies. Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies. Finish with coarse or flaky salt. To harden chocolate quickly, place the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. For best storage, place layers of wax paper between cookies.

Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsChocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsChocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}My friend, VJ, loves gingerbread. Loves it. She speaks often about how before she had to stop eating gluten and went vegan, her grandma used to serve hers with canned peaches and whipped cream. While I am not much for canned peaches, the gingerbread part and the badass baking grandma part? Those I get.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Over the years, VJ has asked me to make gingerbread cakes for various milestones and occasions, but I have mostly failed. I even failed this past Thanksgiving! Too greasy, too dry, vaguely tarry, completely flavorless—I’ve made all the gingerbread cake failures under the sun. Let’s not discuss the occasion on which she had to serve store-bought ice cream cakes (that she couldn’t even eat!) at her own party because my attempt at this cake was so vile.

But then—but! then!—I tweaked my go-to gluten-free vegan cake recipe and made this Gingerbread Cake, and it’s exactly right: soft, tender, slightly sticky and spicy. And easy. And vegan and gluten-free. And out of this world delicious. This recipe right here? This one’s for VJ.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s not just because I like to have a gluten-free vegan item on my holiday line-up every year (which I do). It’s that VJ’s 40th birthday is next week—you know I can’t let my favorite gluten-free vegan’s milestone birthday pass without cake. No way. Not rain, nor sleet, nor masked and distanced delivery will stop me from getting this cake to her on December 23rd.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Holy crap, y’all, this is good. Super moist with nothing to distract from its deep dark flavor, it’s better than most traditional flour, egg and dairy-based gingerbreads I’ve had. It’s definitely not better than VJ’s grandma’s though, because nothing is ever better than grandma’s. Believe me, I’ve tried to out-do grandmas and it never goes well. But anyway… Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}This Gingerbread Cake tows the line somewhere between holiday dessert and wintry everyday cake. It doesn’t need a blanket of frosting (although I think a little vegan maple buttercream might be good) or any adornment beyond a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, really. It can be baked square or round. You could even double the recipe and layer it or make a sheet cake. It can be served at the end of a holiday meal, snacked on mid-afternoon, left for Santa, frozen for you to find in the middle of February, wrapped up and given as a gift, or delivered to a birthday lady in the middle of a pandemic. No matter the occasion and regardless of whether you’re vegan and gluten-free, this might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
makes one 8- or 9-inch square or round cake

1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
3 tbsp pure pumpkin purée or unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
6 tbsp cup potato starch
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée (or applesauce). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cornstarch, light brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs (no batter).

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release onto a platter (alternatively, you may keep it in the pan and serve from there). Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top before serving, if desired.

Slice and serve. Flavors will intensify the day (or several hours) after baking.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Plain cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}