Tag Archives: holiday baking

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

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesA few years ago, I put out a call for holiday cookie ideas and got a list ten miles long out of the deal. I have slowly worked my way through it for the last several Christmases and am getting close to the end now…and what’s down there? Oh! It’s white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesYou might be thinking “are white chocolate macadamia nut cookies a holiday cookie?” To that I say…sure, why not?! If someone puts them out at the holidays, I think they’re a holiday cookie. Just because a recipe doesn’t match our own personal experience and nostalgia doesn’t mean it doesn’t align with someone else’s.

To that end, most of my personal experience with white chocolate macadamia nut cookies has not been holiday-related, but instead in shopping mall food courts and some Otis Spunkmeyer set-ups that my school’s PTO had. That said, I firmly believe than any cookie can be a holiday cookie with a little belief (Christmas spirit?), some brown butter, and maybe a decorative plate, if you’re a little more organized than I am.Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesSo, here we are with my second holiday cookie of the season: Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. Yes, that name is seven words long but it is #worthit—brown butter takes this chewy, nutty classic cookie recipe from good to WOW! Like, why have we not been doing this all along?Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesBrown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesThe cookie dough is straightforward and doesn’t require a mixer or anything fancy. I’ve made these with both white chocolate chips (about a cup) and chopped white chocolate, and prefer the chopped stuff every time. It has more cocoa butter, fewer stabilizers, and it just tastes better, period. As for the macadamia nuts, you can use roasted-salted or raw. I love control and have access to raw macadamias through Sahadi’s, so those are what I used here. If you are using roasted-salted, just skip the roasting step and reduce the salt to 1/2 teaspoon (unless you like very salty cookies). As with most of my cookie doughs, this one requires a chill, but it’s pretty short. Once your dough has rested, just scoop/roll/bake/cool/eat eat eat.Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesAnd maybe, just maybe, share a few and spread a little holiday cheer.Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup macadamia nuts (I used raw)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

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 pecan halves 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.

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 large mixing bowl and let cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Retrieve the large mixing bowl full with the brown butter. Whisk in light brown and granulated sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in white chocolate, followed by chopped macadamia nuts. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 90 minutes, or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 9-10 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

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

Brown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CookiesBrown Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Molasses Crinkles

Molasses CrinklesI’ve been a bit lost trying to decide what to make for Christmas this year. In the past, I’ve really gone for it with elaborately iced/stacked/painted/glammed up cookies, but that seems a bit frivolous in a year where I will be spending the holidays alone. There is certainly something to be said for going big & going (staying) home with holiday baking as a way to emotionally survive the next 30 days or 30 weeks or whatever, but today I don’t feel like mixing up a giant vat of royal icing and coloring my world. Today I feel like getting in bed and staying there until I can see my friends again or until flying doesn’t seem insane or until every first date doesn’t involve asking someone from the internet if he is willing to take both of our lives into his hands to have an outdoor, distanced coffee.

That got dark quickly. Oy.Molasses CrinklesAnyway, this Christmas is going to be simpler around here. I’m not saying there won’t be sprinkles or a buttercream flourish—I’m still me, duh. It just may be a month of less…involved…holiday sweets.

That doesn’t mean they’re any less special or delicious, of course. I mean, look at these Molasses Crinkles! They’re a classic winter cookie that comes together in a snap and are very difficult to stop eating, especially if you have a pot of coffee and some twinkle lights nearby. I’m speaking from experience here.Molasses CrinklesAs far as the recipe goes, my path to chewy Molasses Crinkle glory is pretty straightforward. I used my Maple Sugar Cookies as a starting place, swapping the maple for molasses, adding big hits of ginger and cinnamon, quadrupling (!) the baking soda, and rolling the cookies in sugar for a textured appearance.Molasses CrinklesMolasses CrinklesMix your dough in a pot on the stove and let it relax at room temperature while your oven warms; this will give the gluten time to develop for extra-chewy results! Scoop the dough into balls and roll them in sugar (granulated or a mix of granulated and coarse) before baking for ten minutes. The big crinkles will begin to form during the last two or so minutes of baking, when the dough has spread pretty dramatically and puffs to the point that it breaks the sugar coating. Then, just when you remove the hot cookies from the oven, give the pan a good thwack on the counter and…bam. Crinkle city.Molasses CrinklesThese cookies, y’all. They’re on the thin side, but have tons of surface area and chewy texture and crinkles and a crisp coating, and that’s to say nothing of the molasses and ginger and cinnamon! And make no mistake, these are molasses cookies. Sure, the ginger and cinnamon are quality background flavors, but sticky, bittersweet molasses? She’s the star of this show.Molasses CrinklesI’ve made three batches of Molasses Crinkles since Thanksgiving, and I’m here to tell you that they keep like a dang dream. Seriously. I keep thinking I’m going to reach into a bag to discover a bunch of molasses frisbees, but nope—chewy as ever.

Brighter days ahead.Molasses Crinkles

Molasses Crinkles
makes about 20 medium-large cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For coating:
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar and molasses—mixture will not be homogenous. Let rest 10 minutes. Add the egg to the pot and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Let dough sit for 30 minutes.

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

Place sugar (for coating) in a small shallow bowl.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop). Roll into balls and then roll the balls in sugar before placing them at least 3 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake cookies about 10 minutes, or until puffed.

Remove pan from oven and give it one good thwack on a flat surface. Crinkles will fully develop as the cookies cool. Let cookies cool for 8-10 minutes on the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.Molasses CrinklesMolasses Crinkles

Eggnog Scones

Eggnog SconesI had something a bit more complicated planned for today’s post, but due to circumstances beyond my control (number of hours in a day, number of days in a week), I had to take the easy way out.Eggnog SconesLucky for all of us, the easy way out is through a warm batch of Eggnog Scones.Eggnog SconesY’all, these are goooood. We’re talking 8 springy, nubbly-edged breakfast treats made with eggnog and then topped with eggnog glaze—what’s not to love.?! I am not a fan of eggnog in its liquid state, but mix it into dough or whirl it into glaze and add warming spices, and I’m suddenly *very* interested.Eggnog SconesAs with nearly all scones, these are a breeze to make. The dough comes together in ten minutes and bakes in fifteen. The glaze is technically optional, but it’s a snap to whisk up while the scones are cooling, and it’s delicious, of course. Creamy and lightly spiced, it’s the perfect accompaniment to the not-too-sweet scones. And that’s to say nothing of how satisfying it is to drizzle over the tops!Eggnog Scones Speaking of satisfying, eating one…or one and a half…or two…of these with a big cup of coffee is, like, the best way to start a holiday morning. I’ve been so busy since I returned home from Thanksgiving that I keep forgetting that Christmas is almost here. When I’m eating an Eggnog Scone though, the holiday cheer is real. Real delicious, that is.Eggnog Scones

Eggnog Scones
makes 8 scones

3/4 cup eggnog + more for brushing, very cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
small pinch of ground cinnamon + more for garnish
small pinch of ground nutmeg + more for garnish
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons eggnog

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Use a fork to whisk together 3/4 cup eggnog and vanilla. Set the mixture in the refrigerator.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two forks or your fingertips) to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Remove the eggnog from the refrigerator and pour it into the bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Using floured fingertips, press dough into a large 1-inch thick disc. Use a floured chef’s knife to cut the circle into 8 wedges. Remove wedges to prepared pan, setting them at least two inches apart. Brush the tops of the scones with additional eggnog. Bake for 15-16 minutes, until they “bounce back” when pressed with your finger. Let cool on their pan for about 10 minutes, or until you can handle them.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Set a cooling rack over the top. Place Scones on cooling rack.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and eggnog. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. Drizzle glaze over scones. Top each with small pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired.

Serve scones immediately, or once the glaze sets (20 minutes or so). Scones are best the day they’re made, but will keep covered at room temperature for up to 48 hours.Eggnog SconesEggnog Scones

Pecan Pie Brownies

Pecan Pie BrowniesIt’s Christmastime, y’all. I’ve got visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. And by sugarplums, I mostly mean these Pecan Pie Brownies.Pecan Pie BrowniesJust imagine a pan of rich, chocolaty Super Fudgy Brownies with a layer of pecan pie filling on top. That’s literally what these are. Look at those layers 😍Pecan Pie BrowniesDuring testing, I tried three different methods of adhering the pecan filling to the top of the brownies. The best, by far, is giving the filling a quick (3-5 minute) pre-cook on the stovetop to jumpstart the thickening. It’s very easy, but does require a sieve. Please don’t let that stop you though—I loathe sieving things, but this is pretty painless, and it beats the hell out of slicing up your brownies only to find scrambled egg bits or a thin layer of pecanless goo underneath. *shudder*Pecan Pie BrowniesOnce you’ve done the 15 seconds of sieving, you get to stir in toasted pecans and spoon it over some soft-set brownies and bake until…divine. Yes—that’s the only word for these. Chewy, fudgy, nutty and sticky-sweet without being cloying; let’s just say these are difficult to resist. I brought a box on my family vacation to D.C., and we chose them over fancy restaurant dessert for all but one night. That’s really saying something—we love fancy restaurant dessert.Pecan Pie BrowniesAs if these need more endorsement, Pecan Pie Brownies also happen to be gluten-free. There are no unusual flours or gums here—this recipe simply doesn’t require gluten-containing ingredients. Inclusive holiday treats for the win!Pecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie Brownies would be wonderful as part of a cookie tin or holiday party spread, or for enjoying during a cozy Christmas movie night at home. I’m sure they’d work well left as a treat for Santa, too! I will say that, as a childless adult, they really hit the spot when eaten in PJs while watching The Crown and counting down the days until you head home for the holidays. You know, in case you were wondering.Pecan Pie Brownies

Pecan Pie Brownies
makes about 16-25 brownies

Pecan Pie Filling:
1 1/3 cup pecan halves
2/3 cup maple syrup or light corn syrup
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Brownies:
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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

Scatter pecans on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.

Make the brownie batter. Combine cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl, and use a fork to combine. Set aside.

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 butter and chocolate in heatproof bowl. When water comes to a simmer, turn heat to low and place heatproof bowl over the top. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir frequently until melted and smooth. Add sugar and whisk for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in dry ingredients.

Combine eggs and vanilla in a small mixing bowl. Use a whisk or fork to beat until a bit bubbly, about 1 minute. Whisk into chocolate mixture until smooth.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap full pan five times on the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake 15 minutes, until top has begun to set.

Make pecan pie filling. In a medium saucepan, whisk together maple syrup (or corn syrup), brown sugar, eggs, vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until bubbles are beginning to form at the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Mixture will barely thicken.

Set a mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Pour filling mixture through to remove any bits of cooked egg. Fold pecans into filling.

Spoon pecan pie filling over partially-baked brownies. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes, or until the center barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Chill for 1-2 hours for clean slicing.

Use parchment overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board. Slice into 16-25 pieces and serve.

Leftovers will keep an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. These may also be layered with wax paper or parchment and frozen.Pecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie BrowniesPecan Pie Brownies