Tag Archives: Christmas

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.

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