M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise CakeI posted pictures of a big M&Ms-stuffed chocolate cake on my social media last week and y’all went crazy for it!M&Ms Surprise CakeI get it—chocolate cake + buttercream + M&Ms inside + more M&Ms on top = MAGIC.M&Ms Surprise CakeThat original cake was for a friend and not intended for the blog, but given the response, I thought you might like to know how to make your own!M&Ms Surprise CakeFirst things first. You’re going to need four 9-inch round layers of chocolate cake. This one is a super easy no-mixer recipe that makes four soft, moist, perfect layers. You may recognize this recipe from my my Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream—it’s exactly the same except that I scaled it up by 50%.M&Ms Surprise CakePlace one of the layers on a serving plate or your favorite of all your cakestands. Spread a little frosting on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeTake two of the layers and punch out holes in the centers. I use a 6-inch ring for this, but you can use a wide-mouthed glass or even just a paring knife and a circle of parchment. Layer those on top of that bottom round, frosting between and on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeAt this point, you’ll have a three layer cake with a hole in it. That’s where the surprise M&Ms are going to go ❤Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the “walls.” This will help keep the moist cake from melting the color off the M&Ms too quickly. And speaking of M&Ms…M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake…pour in almost 2 cups of them ❤ ❤ ❤M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakePlace your last intact layer of cake on top, effectively hiding all that surprise candy. Frost the cake. For a sort-of photo tutorial on that, see last week’s Cinnamon Buttercream post.M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeI decorated the top with even more M&Ms and used the last of the frosting to pipe a border. The dollops are all different sizes and I love it!M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake

Gather all your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—really, anyone will do. Get them all around the table so they can see this amazing thing you’ve made in all it’s rainbow candy avalanche glory. This cake is delicious—with that much chocolate and butter, it has to be—but the magic is in the presentation.M&Ms Surprise CakeThen again, I was alone when I sliced this sucker open and it was still pretty damn magical. But I also took 200+ photos of it for you, so I suppose you were practically there.M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise Cake
makes 1 large 9-inch round cake

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream

For Assembly:
1 3/4 cups M&Ms candy, plus more for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 4 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the 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 1/2 cup heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of heavy cream, until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Coat the inside of the hole with a thin layer of frosting.

Fill the hole in the cake layers with M&Ms. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Decorate with more M&Ms, as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. M&Ms may lose their color over long periods of time.M&Ms Surprise Cake

Funfetti Petit Fours

Funfetti Petit FoursHave you ever had petit fours? They’re tiny cakes that are coated in sweet poured fondant—somehow the perfect combination of cuteness and class. They’re often seen at weddings, baby showers, and brunches. In my family, we like to eat them on Easter Even (aka Holy Saturday).
Funfetti Petit FoursGrowing up, we’d forego Easter morning Mass in favor of the Easter Vigil service the night before. While choosing this service did allow us to miss the crowd on Sunday morning, it began at 8:30pm and lasted more than two hours. Luckily, if you’re into liturgical pageantry, the Vigil starts with candles in the dark, ends in the light, and has all sorts of incense, bell ringing, beautiful music, and probably another ten things I’m forgetting. Forgive me—I’m a lapsed Episcopalian.
Funfetti Petit FoursOnce the service was over, we’d race home in my dad’s Cadillac, put on pajamas, and reach for the box of petit fours in the fridge. There are few pleasures greater than a cold late-night petit four from Blue Bonnet Bakery (the place with the gingerbread men and florentines). The dense cake was flavored with vanilla and almond, coated in a layer of poured fondant, and topped with a flourish of crusting buttercream. These once-yearly treats border on sickly-sweet, but my whole family loves them.Funfetti Petit FoursI haven’t been home for Easter in many years now, but I always try to have petit fours on Easter Even. I’ve tried them at a few places around Brooklyn, but most that I’ve found are layered with jam. They’re delicious, but not what I crave this time of year.
Funfetti Petit FoursI know my petit fours will never quite live up to the almond-scented Blue Bonnet Bakery version of my dreams, so I’ve decided not to try to recreate those, and instead to make a version that celebrates one of my favorite things: rainbow sprinkles! Funfetti Petit Fours, y’all. They’re a thing now.
Funfetti Petit FoursFunfetti Petit FoursI’m positively in love with this combination of buttery Funfetti cake, vanilla frosting, homemade poured fondant, and rainbow sprinkles. It’s like having everything I love (including nostalgia for my childhood) in one perfect 1 1/2-inch bite.
Funfetti Petit FoursFunfetti Petit FoursI should say that this recipe is very long, but not too terribly difficult. In fact, as it has no layering or filling, it’s one of the simpler petit fours recipes you’ll find. With the exception of coating the petit fours with poured fondant (easier than it sounds), it’s a lot like making a regular frosted cake. But again, there are a lot of parts, and you will need to use three pans and at least three bowls. It’s a lot for one baker—this might be the sort of recipe you make with a friend.Funfetti Petit FoursNo matter how (or with whom) you choose to address this recipe though, if you follow the directions, you will be rewarded with the sweetest, tiniest, happiest, most colorful petit fours you’ve ever seen ❤ Happy Easter, y’all!Funfetti Petit Fours

Funfetti Petit Fours
makes about 2.5-3 dozen 1 1/2-inch petit fours

Cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract, optional
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies (not nonpareils)

Vanilla Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Poured Fondant:
1/3 cup hot tap water
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 lb. confectioners sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

For Decoration:
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1 cup of the buttermilk. Continue alternating until all ingredients are used and batter is just combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in jimmies. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 30-32 minutes, rotating back to front at the halfway point. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for fifteen minutes. Remove cake to a rack to cool completely.

Cake may be made up to a day in advance.

Place cake on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to even out the top.

Line a jelly roll pan or quarter sheet pan with parchment. Place cake on prepared pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Line a rimmed half-sheet pan with parchment and place a cooling rack over the top. Set aside.

Remove cake from freezer and return to cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares.

Use an offset icing knife to crumb coat squares on top and 4 sides. Place on prepared rack/pan. Chill for 15-30 minutes.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

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.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in salt. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Remove cake squares from refrigerator. Working quickly, spoon poured fondant over the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. Top with another dot of poured fondant and more sprinkles. Re-warm poured fondant as needed.

Let poured fondant set for at least an hour. Serve.

Leftover petit fours will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

Funfetti Petit Fours

King Cake

King CakeHave you ever been to New Orleans? I have a few times, including a three week stint of post-Hurricane Katrina relief work, but I’ve never been for Mardi Gras.

King CakeAs a college student in Texas, it occurred to me that it might be a fun thing to do once (I’m very into road trips), but then I remembered that I am a tried and true introvert and that spending a weekend in a loud, crowded city might be my idea of hell…

…so I moved to New York City instead. It never gets loud and crowded here 🙂

But back to Mardi Gras…

King CakeWhile I love the idea of a whole state with its own unique way of celebrating a holiday, my party days are well behind me and I don’t envision any circumstance in which I’ll ever find myself in Louisiana in early February. But I love King Cake. I mostly associate it with Epiphany (or Three Kings Day or Twelfth Night or January 6th, or whatever you call it), but I’m okay for breaking with personal traditions if it means I get to eat this:

King CakeIf you’ve somehow never had King Cake, you’re in for a treat. It’s a fluffy yeasted coffee cake served in Louisiana (and lots of other places) in the religious season between Christmas and Lent. To describe King Cake plainly, it’s sort of like cinnamon rolls that aren’t cut up. In fact, the dough I used here is just a variation on my favorite sweet roll recipe. It’s just a little richer and even more tender than that dough, and it’s flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Mmhmm.

King CakeFrom what I can tell from all my research, if you have a flavor preference, there is a King Cake recipe out there for you. The traditional filling is a mixture of butter and cinnamon-sugar (again, like cinnamon rolls), but I have seen pecan praline, strawberry, and cherry-almond variations. I have become entranced by the idea of cream cheese filling, so I did a little mash-up of my own: cinnamon cream cheese, y’all!

King CakeThe filling is rolled up into the dough like it is in sweet rolls. The cylinder of dough is formed into a ring and set aside to rise for about an hour, until it doubles in size. Then it’s painted with an egg wash and baked until golden brown all over.

King CakeKing CakeKing CakeKing Cakes are traditionally decorated with a thick white icing and yellow, green, and purple sugars (representing power, faith, and justice, respectively). I had a hard time tracking down sugars in the appropriate colors, so I just stirred a few drops of food coloring into 1/3 cup increments of granulated sugar.King CakeKing Cake

King CakeKing CakeKing CakeA tiny plastic baby doll is also traditionally inserted into the cake after baking. The person who receives the slice with the baby doll is king/queen for the day and is responsible for procuring next year’s cake. I didn’t put a doll in this cake because I simply don’t have it together enough to remember to order things in time for scheduled blog posts. But anyway…

King CakeIf you love the look of the golden cake, the white icing, and the sparkling, colorful sugars, just wait ‘til you slice it up.

King CakeThat swirl y’all! And the soft, fluffy interior! And the cinnamon in the cake and the filling! And the cream cheese! It’s a win all around 🙂

King CakeOne last thing: this recipe makes two King Cakes. Before you click away, never to return, here is a list of reasons to have two King Cakes.

  • It takes just as long to make one as it does to make two. Trust me on this.
  • It’s party food, so it’s good to have extra.
  • Need I say again that it bears a lot of similarities to cinnamon rolls? Best weekend breakfast ever!
  • You can freeze the second one. Do it after it’s baked/before it’s iced.
  • Or be the best friend/neighbor ever and give it away.
  • Or even put the spare in the break room at work.
  • Or call me and I will come help you eat it.

King Cake

King Cake
makes 2 cakes

Dough:
5 1/2-6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

Filling:
16 ounces (2 bricks) full-fat bricks-style cream cheese, cool room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Icing & Garnish:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons milk
2 small plastic baby dolls
yellow, green, and purple sprinkles or sugars

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 5 cups all-purpose flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat buttermilk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Buttermilk may curdle—this is fine, if less than beautiful.

Places eggs and yolks in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold warm buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, followed by eggs. Add more all-purpose flour by the 1/4 cup until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 7 minutes on a floured surface before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Make the filling. Use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, use a large sharp chef’s knife to cut dough into two pieces. Place one half back in the oiled bowl and cover again with plastic wrap. Roll the other half into a 10×28-inch rectangle. Spoon half the filling over the dough and use a silicone spatula or offset knife to spread mixture over the surface, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter on all sides. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. A small amount of filling may squish out—just wipe it off and move on. Carefully lift the cylinder of dough onto one of the parchment-lined pans. Shape into a circle and tuck and seal ends together (a finger dipped in water may help with this). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm draft-free environment for 60-90 minutes, until cake has doubled in size. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Place oven racks in the second-from-top and second-from-bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F.

Once cakes have risen, make egg wash. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush glaze all over the cakes, being careful not to tear the dough. Bake cakes for 12 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 10-13 minutes or until cakes are golden brown all over and cooked through.

Let cakes cool completely on pans on racks.

Make icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in vanilla and milk. Icing should be very thick, but pourable.

Place cakes on serving dishes. Cut a small hole in the bottom of each and insert a small plastic baby doll.

Ice the cakes. Working with one cake at a time, pour half the icing onto the surface. Use an offset knife to coax icing over the top of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles or sugars as desired. Before decorating the second cake, give icing a stir—it may have thickened slightly. If necessary, add milk by the teaspoon until it returns to the desired consistency. Repeat icing and decorating process with the second cake. Icing should set after 20 minutes.

King Cakes are best the day they’re made, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or two.

King Cake

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-Up

The Super Bowl is coming up in just over a week and…

Well, to be honest, football just isn’t my thing. But Justin Timberlake and game day food are definitely my things. If it’s salty, crunchy, cheesy, made with Frank’s Red Hot, or is basically just a giant cookie, I. am. in.

The archives are loaded with big game-worthy recipes, but I’ve taken the liberty of rounding up a few of my favorites to give you a little Super Bowl party inspiration!

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpGuacamole
I have never once brought guacamole to a party and gone home with leftovers. Not once. I make damn good guacamole, y’all. I don’t have some magical secret ingredient or any crazy methods—just buy good, ripe avocados and taste, taste, taste. Follow the recipe, adjust for salt and lime, and use sturdy chips. I promise you won’t have any leftovers.

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpChorizo Cornbread {Gluten-Free}
Cornbread is pretty perfect all on its own, but I love this version. Slightly sweet and studded with salty chorizo, this cornbread makes an excellent soup side. And speaking of chorizo…

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpBeef & Chorizo Chili
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Super Bowl party that didn’t have some sort of chili on the menu. This Beef & Chorizo version was a happy accident that became a favorite 🙂

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpBuffalo Chicken Biscuits
Buffalo chicken is a game day classic! Instead of making traditional wings, shred it up and serve it on cream biscuits—everyone loves sliders! Don’t forget the bleu cheese and celery sticks 🙂

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpCaramelized Mushroom Tostadas
Who could say no to crispy tostadas loaded with sweet & earthy caramelized mushrooms, quick-pickled red onion, a swipe of guacamole, and salty cotija cheese?! This combination of textures and flavors is guaranteed to be a hit with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike 🙂 Need them to be vegan? Just skip the cheese.

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpUltimate Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
If you’re into chocolate and peanut butter, this is the dessert for you! These cocoa brownies are topped with a layer of peanut butter cream and studded with miniature peanut butter cups, Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chips, and peanuts—so freaking good.

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
As Julia Child once said “A party without cake is just a meeting.” I’m not sure that a Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is exactly what she had in mind, but it fits the bill on Super Bowl Sunday! This simple dessert is easier than making a batch of cookies and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Friday Favorites: Game Day Round-UpWill you be serving any of these dishes next Sunday? Let me know on Instagram!

Maple Spice Stars

Maple Spice StarsY’all…are these Maple Spice Stars beautiful or what?! I love all the colors, textures, and dimensions of the finished cookies, not to mention the flavors. With their sweet, spicy crunch and maple glaze, these little stars are as delicious as they are dazzling.

Maple Spice StarsThis dough is a maple spin on my classic gingerbread recipe. The biggest changes I made are that I intensified the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, cut the white granulated sugar and, of course, that I swapped the traditional molasses for 2/3 cup of pure maple syrup 🍁🍁🍁 These changes produce a cookie with a “cleaner” spice flavor; unlike molasses, the maple syrup accentuates the spices instead of competing with them.

Maple Spice StarsOnce the maple spice dough is made, divide it into quarters and give it a chill. This helps with spreading, allows the flavors to meld, and keeps the dough from being too sticky to roll. That last part is super important. We want this dough to roll and cut like a dream!

Maple Spice StarsRoll the dough out until it’s 1/4-inch thick and cut the stars. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this could be a startling number of cookies–I ended up with eleven dozen 3-inch stars (that’s 132 cookies 😮). It’s a lot, but that means this recipe is perfect for cookie trays and food gifting. I highly recommend pairing a couple dozen of these sparkly stars with a box of tea; I like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange and Yogi Egyptian Licorice.

But back to the cookie dough…

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsBake the stars for 8 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden at the edges. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsNext up, whisk together a simple maple glaze and give each cookie a quick dip. Lay them on cooling racks set over wax paper to contain any excess–you just want a thin layer.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsAs a final touch, top the glaze with a mixture of minced candies ginger and coarse sugar. This gives the finished cookies an extra hit of ginger flavor, not to mention how beautiful it makes them look. I love how these stars sparkle ✨✨✨

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice Stars are some of my favorite holiday cookies ever to appear on this blog, and I have made a lot (*A LOT*) of holiday cookies over the last couple of years. They’re simple, elegant, and they give a nod to a classic without being totally traditional.

Maple Spice StarsOh, and they’re stupidly delicious. And when it comes to cookies, that’s what really counts, isn’t it?!

Maple Spice StarsLooking for more cut-out cookies? Try my Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}, Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, and Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies.

Maple Spice Stars
makes about 11 dozen 3-inch cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber/robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
2/3 cup minced crystallized candied ginger
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (I like turbinado)

Glaze:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4-5 tablespoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown sugar, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface. Dough may crack on the initial roll, but should become more pliable. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 3-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, until they are no longer wet-looking. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining dough, making sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together minced crystallized candied ginger and coarse sugar. Set aside.

Make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the teaspoon, until the glaze is a drizzling consistency.

On a surface (or a few baking sheets), set cooling racks over sheets of wax paper. Dip each cookie in the glaze until it’s 1/3-1/2 dipped. Let any excess drip off and set cookie on a rack. Top with candied ginger garnish. Repeat with all remaining cookies. Allow to set at room temperature for at least two hours or until dry to the touch.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Maple Spice Stars