Tag Archives: Christmas

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!

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Coming from a Christmas morning breakfast casserole family, I’ve never really understood why so many people make cinnamon rolls on that day of all days.

I mean, have you made cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are not a quick recipe, clocking in at a minimum of three hours start-to-finish (slightly less if you do the rise overnight). My family is all adults so we start our Christmas morning at a leisurely 9am, eat around 10, then get to the gifts around noon. If we wanted cinnamon rolls for breakfast, that would require the baker (me!) to be up and functioning at 7am. Big no thank you. And if you have kids or people who get up for gifts at 6am or earlier…3am? Earlier? Forget it!

But what if I told you that you could have warm, fluffy, homemade cinnamon rolls on your table on Christmas morning in under an hour? Yes, it’s possible, thanks to a little technique called par-baking.

You’ve definitely heard the term “par-baking” on here before in association with pie crust. It means to partially bake, which is exactly what we’re going to do to these rolls: partially bake them ahead of time, then finish the baking on Christmas. This method will work with any yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe you love. I wouldn’t recommend this method for any rolls with fruit in the filling (i.e. not these) as it might degrade during thawing, but I think nuts would be okay.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Now, this isn’t a magic trick. You do have to plan ahead to do about 2.5 hours of mixing/kneading/rolling/rising at some point to make this work. But (but!) the bulk of the work can be done anytime between now and Christmas (or whenever you want cinnamon rolls).

The process is simple. Make your cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step, then bake for about half the baking time (15 minutes). At this point, your rolls should be risen, puffed and pale. Where you would normally continue baking them until brown, resist that urge and remove them from the oven.

Let your rolls cool to room temperature and then triple wrap in plastic, cover in foil and freeze until the night before you need them. If you don’t want to have your 9×13” pan out of commission for any length of time, you can bake in a disposable aluminum baking pan, then tuck it into your freezer for up to six weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the par-baked rolls from your freezer to your fridge to thaw out. In the morning, simply uncover and bake your rolls for the remaining 15 minutes, until golden. Finish with cream cheese frosting and voila! Fresh homemade cinnamon rolls on your table in under an hour, and you didn’t have to sacrifice sleep to make it happen.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Call it Christmas magic. Call it whatever you want. Just call me for breakfast.

Par-baked Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Dana Velden

cinnamon roll recipe of choice
9x13-inch baking pan (disposable aluminum, if desired)

Follow your yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake cinnamon rolls for 10-15 minutes, until risen, puffed and pale.

Remove cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool completely in their pan on a rack. Triple wrap the pan in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the pan of frozen rolls to the refrigerator. Let thaw 8-12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Unwrap rolls; discard foil and plastic wrap.

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Top with cream cheese frosting (or whatever your recipe says) and serve warm.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

Aaaaand we’re back! And by “we” I mean “me”…and these Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies​

Are these a traditional Christmas treat? Probably not. But after learning that some people consider white chocolate macadamia nut cookies a Christmas staple, I perfected my recipe last year. I turned up the flavor by browning the butter, toasting the macadamia nuts (and leaving them in big pieces), and using pure white chocolate instead of white chocolate chips. They’re incredible, if I do say so myself. Which I do. Obviously.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies​

I didn’t try to top that recipe this year, but I’ve simplified it by making it into blondies, and that’s basically the same thing. There’s no tedious chilling, rolling, and batch-baking—just mix the batter, spread it into a pan, bake, cool, and slice into thick, chewy squares. Easy peasy.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies​

Serve them on your best thrifted Christmas Spode plates and definitely eat one too many.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies​

The most wonderful time of the year, indeed.

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies​
Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 16 blondies

3/4 cup macadamia nuts (I used raw)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
flaky salt, for garnish (optional)

If using roasted salted macadamia nuts, skip the first step. Chop them before beginning the recipe at “Brown the butter.” Also reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

Preheat oven to 350F. Scatter macadamia nuts on a dry rimmed baking sheet and roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Let cool completely and give them a rough chop.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan and line with parchment, leaving overhang for bar-removal. Set aside while you make the blondie batter.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk light brown sugar and granulated sugar into the brown butter. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, followed by flour and salt. Fold in chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Batter will be thick.

Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (no raw batter). Sprinkle blondies with coarse salt, if desired. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Slice with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

I never know what to post the week of Thanksgiving, but I think going with something easy that you can make anytime between now and the New Year is a good place to start.

This Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup certainly fits that bill, clocking in with almost no active work, but plenty of vibrant color and sweet-tart flavor. It starts the way all simple syrups do: with sugar and water. While the classic proportion is 1:1, I upped the water here to accommodate the cranberries’ natural thickening agent (pectin)—we’re after syrup here, not jelly!

The berries, water and sugar are simmered together for just ten minutes, until the fruit begins to burst. Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat and use a fork or potato masher to mash all the berries into the liquid. Resist the urge to strain your syrup right away, instead letting the mashed berries hang out in it while it’s cooling. This imbues the syrup with plenty of tart cranberry flavor and vivid color. Once the half hour is up, strain and cool your syrup, then use it however you like. I bet a little over ice cream would be a treat, but I am focusing on mocktails today.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

Let’s talk about these Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails. With their ruby color and booze-free fizz, these are a perfect beverage for any end-of-year occasion. They’re not terribly sugary, and taste intentional and not like an afterthought or just a virgin version of some classic cocktail. They taste like they have some intention behind them, if you will—they’re complete on their own.

The list of ingredients for Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails is blessedly short, and besides the homemade Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, everything is readily available at the grocery store.

The recipe is simple: 1 part Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, 2 parts ginger beer, 2 parts seltzer, 1/2 part fresh lime juice. I’ve written the recipe in “parts” rather than specific volumes so that you can make enough for two or for a crowd without doing too much math. Simply stir the ingredients together and serve over ice with cranberries and lime wedges for garnish. So cute, right? Wait til you try one—so good.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

My absolute favorite thing about these mocktails? They’re not too sweet. There is some sweetness, of course, from the syrup and zippy ginger beer, but it’s balanced by the lime juice and diluted with seltzer in the best possible way. They taste like they were made for grown-ups because they were. How refreshing.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

I’m taking the rest of this week off to spend time with my family. I’ll be back next week with new Christmas recipes. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 10-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through

Add all ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst. Skim off and discard any foam that accumulates. Remove pot from heat, then mash burst berries with a potato masher or fork. Let berries sit in syrup for 30 minutes.

Place a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press the syrup through the sieve. Discard the the leftover fruit solids or use for another purpose.

Transfer syrup to a container with a lid. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

1 part cranberry syrup
2 parts ginger beer
2 parts seltzer
1/2 part lime juice
ice
fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

I measured in tablespoons for each glass, but feel free to use a larger units of measure to make a pitcher of mocktails.

In a liquid measuring cup or other vessel, stir together cranberry syrup, ginger beer, seltzer and lime juice.

Add ice to glasses. Pour mocktail mixture over the top and garnish with cranberries and lime, if desired. Serve immediately.