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

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored of puff pancakes. When I rediscovered my childhood favorite breakfast a few years ago, I was shocked to learn how easy they are to make, and so I have made many. (Many many many.)

I already have the classic recipe and a Caramel Apple version in the archives. Two variations over two years may not sound like much, but just know that this could easily be an all-puff-pancake-all-the-time blog 😉

Today, I’m giving you a version of my favorite weekend breakfast worthy of any Christmas morning spread. Feast your eyes on this rumpled beauty: the Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Like all puff pancakes, this holiday version is ridiculously easy and far more than the sum of its parts. It comes together quickly and bakes in the oven (no pancake flipping!), culminating in a soft-centered, shareable pancake flavored with everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Making an Eggnog Puff Pancake is as easy as putting eggnog, a few eggs, a touch of sugar, a bit of spice, and some flour in a food processor and blitzing it into a thin batter. The hardest part is waiting five minutes for some air bubbles to dissipate.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pour the batter into a searing hot pan and bake it for fifteen minutes, until puffed and golden. Within 90 seconds of its removal from the oven, your Eggnog Puff Pancake will collapse on itself, leaving behind a rustic, fragrant holiday breakfast masterpiece.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Let your pancake cool for a minute or two before slicing it up.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}As far as toppings go, I recommend maple syrup…

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}…and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar that you’ve spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg…

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}…and a dollop of whipped cream.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It may seem like overkill, but the combination of toppings and the custard-like, nutmeg-scented center of the pancake will have everyone at the table asking you to make this again before the New Year. And you will because it’s just that easy, and just that delicious.Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Looking for more eggnog treats? Try these sandwich cookies and this cake!

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings

1 cup eggnog
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For serving:
maple syrup
confectioners sugar (with pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg)
whipped cream

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F.

In the bowl of a food processor* or high-powered blender, combine eggnog, eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Process 15-30 seconds, or until no lumps remain. Let batter rest five minutes.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 60-90 seconds, until butter has melted. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter. Bake 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Do NOT open the oven door during baking.

Let pancake cool 2-5 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately with maple syrup, confectioners sugar, and whipped cream, if desired.

Note:

If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you may mix the batter and then push it through a fine mesh sieve to remove lumps and bubbles.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time for holiday cookies and candy and extravagant breakfasts that are actually dessert. The time for family and friends and hot chocolate and caroling. But also, time for taking extra care of those for whom this holiday season might not be so wonderful.

The Sweetest Season GraphicThis year I am participating in The Sweetest Season, benefitting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As you may know, cancer is the #1 cause of death-by-disease for children in the U.S. In spite of this startling statistic and the 40,000 children currently battling cancer nationwide, less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.6 billion federal budget goes to pediatric cancer research.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that encourages people to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in the most delicious of ways: by making cookies and sharing them with friends and family. The goal is to raise funds to find a cure, one cookie at a time. Many supporters (called “Good Cookies”) choose to have bake sales or cookie swaps, but this year I’m teaming up with many fellow bloggers to post new cookie recipes and donate directly. If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.

I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, so now it’s time to talk about cookies–Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies, to be exact 😍😍😍

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Y’all, I’m just crazy about these ginger cookies. They’ve got all the flavor, chewy texture, and sparkly sugared edges you love, but without the gluten, eggs and dairy, so your gluten-free vegan friends can eat them without consequence. I love an inclusive recipe!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The base of these cookies is a jar of cashew butter. It gives the simple dough plenty of structure and a buttery, nutty undertone. Dark brown sugar and a couple of tablespoons of molasses keep the finished cookies soft and chewy, while ground ginger and cinnamon amp up that classic holiday cookie flavor!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As far as egg replacement goes, I am all about aquafaba these days. If you haven’t heard of this miracle of modern vegan baking, well, you’re in for a surprise and a treat.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Aquafaba (literally translated “bean water”) is the liquid from cooking and/or canning chickpeas. As the beans cook, they release lots of proteins into the water, creating a nearly-flavorless, almost-gel-like liquid. This is the aquafaba.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As aquafaba can be whipped to stiff peaks, many bakers like to use it to make vegan meringue cookies, mousses, and macarons. I haven’t used aquafaba for any of those things (yet!), but I have used it in my Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus and Cornmeal Pancakes. <–try those!

If aquafaba isn’t your thing, you could use the “flax egg” mixture I use in my Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles, but know that there will be a difference in flavor from the flaxseed. If you’re not vegan, feel free to swap in one large egg. No matter which option you choose, your cookies will be delicious.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But enough about egg replacers! The dough for these Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies comes together quickly. After a short chill and a roll in granulated sugar, they’re ready to go in the oven. The cookies bake up in less than ten minutes, just until they’re soft in the centers and crisp and sparkly at the edges.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These little cookies are going to steal the show at your parties and cookie swaps, y’all. They look and taste just like the soft ginger cookies we all know and love–I bet that if I hadn’t just told you that these cookies are made from cashew butter and aquafaba, you wouldn’t even notice. And even if you do, the richness of the cashew butter, hits of molasses and spice, and chewy centers are nearly guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free} 
makes about 3 dozen small cookies

1 16 ounce jar cashew butter
3 tablespoons aquafaba* (chickpea canning liquid)
2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Coating:
1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine cashew butter, aquafaba, molasses, dark brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Use an electric mixer (or a silicone spatula and some elbow grease) to beat ingredients together until smooth. Add cornstarch and mix again. Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Pour granulated sugar into a small bowl.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough in one tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Coat in granulated sugar and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Leftover cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you are not vegan, you may use one large egg (at room temperature) in place of the aquafaba. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Friday Favorites: Holiday Breakfasts

How was your Thanksgiving? My family spent ours at my godparents’ ranch. The food and company were great and there were five dogs, so it was basically the best day ever.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsBefore I start with the Christmas cookies, let’s talk about breakfast. It may be the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.

Today, I’m bringing you seven show-stopping recipes guaranteed to make your family and friends feel at home for the holidays.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsMonkey Bread

Monkey Bread is basically cinnamon rolls, deconstructed. The sweet dough is cut into small pieces, dipped in butter, rolled in cinnamon-sugar, and baked in a tube pan. I like to finish it off with warm homemade caramel sauce.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsScratch Biscuit Monkey Bread

Canned biscuits are a popular alternative to making Monkey Bread from scratch. If you’d like to cut down on time and skip the yeast without sacrificing flavor, this is the recipe for you. It’s made with a simple cream biscuit dough and can be ready in 90 minutes or less.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsMarzipan Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a popular Christmas morning breakfast for a reason. Swirls of buttery cinnamon-sugar goodness, fluffy rolls, and sweet glaze are hard to beat! But if you add in a can of marzipan, some almond extract, and some toasted slivered almonds, you might come close.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsPuff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes were a common weekend breakfast in my house and remain a favorite to this day. The batter comes together in the food processor and is super easy to scale up and down to feed any number of guests! Everyone will love seeing you pull a big, puffy pancake out of the oven, and the crispy edges and custard-like center will have them coming back for seconds.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsCaramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes are a classic for a reason, but this time of year, I go for this Caramel Apple version. Sliced apples and pie spices are tossed together and baked into the pancake batter. When it comes out of the oven, it gets a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce–totally impossible to resist.

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsApple Cider Coffee Cake

Speaking of apples, I cannot say enough good things about this Apple Cider Coffee Cake. It’s super moist from an apple cider reduction, sour cream and tart apples, and it has two layers of that crunchy coffee cake crumb we all love!

Friday Favorites: Holiday BreakfastsOvernight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts

If there were ever a time to pull out all the stops and make homemade doughnuts, the holidays are it. This recipe is formulated so that you can make the dough one day and cut and fry doughnuts the next. Give them a dip in a simple chocolate glaze and shower them with sprinkles (or crushed candy canes!) before serving. These are the best doughnuts I have ever had, and I know you’ll love them too.Friday Favorites: Holiday Breakfasts

Did you make any of my recipes for Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments or on social media using #e2bakes 💗

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieWith Thanksgiving just six days away, I hope you’re all narrowing down your menus. Don’t worry, there’s still time. If you’ve forgotten to order a turkey, don’t fret–my family hasn’t eaten a traditional Thanksgiving meal in years and we’ve all turned out alright 😉

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieTraditional or not though, you should add this Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie to your menu. It’s so simple and so good that I was honestly a little sad to give the last two slices to my friends David and Francis on Wednesday night. I have had more than my fair share of pie while recipe testing the last few weeks, but I really loved this one, even though I didn’t know if I would.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieI remember the first time I heard about Sweet Potato Pie–I recoiled in horror just like I did when my mother first offered me Zucchini Bread. I have always liked sweet potatoes, but as far as I was concerned they were not suitable for dessert. Never mind that every holiday sweet potato dish I’d had up to that point was made with eggs, butter, and more brown sugar than any side dish really should have 🙄 

Thank goodness I grew up. I’d hate to miss out on this smooth, spiced sweet potato masterpiece.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieSweet Potato Pie is super easy to make. Start by making some sweet potato purée. Scrub a couple of whole sweet potatoes and put them in a pot with some cold water.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieBoil them until they’re nice and soft. Run them under cold water until you can handle them and then remove their skins and slice them into manageable pieces.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PiePush them through a sieve to remove any fibrous bits. This will take a few minutes.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieWhisk the purée together with some melted butter and 3/4 cup light brown sugar. Oh, and some cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. The spices really make the sweet potatoes sing.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieAdd in three eggs and some vanilla.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieAnd throw some sour cream in for good measure.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieThen push it all through the sieve again. This pie is called “silky smooth” for a reason.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PiePour the filling into a prepared crust, brush the exposed pie dough with egg wash, and loosely wrap the entire pan in foil (or use a pie protector). This will keep the crust from burning while it bakes.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieSilky Smooth Sweet Potato PieBake the pie for thirty minutes with the foil, then for fifteen without. After that, turn off the oven and leave the pie in the oven for another 15 minutes. You might remember this method from last week’s Chocolate Buttermilk Pie.Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieLet the pie cool a bit. You don’t have to wait until it’s room temperature if you don’t want to–Sweet Potato Pie is good warm, room temp, or cold.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieSlice it up. Try not to send a picture of your pie to everyone in your phone contacts.

(I failed pretty hard on that last part.)

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieYou can serve this pie plain, but it’s Thanksgiving, so whipped cream is kind of a must.

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieSilky Smooth Sweet Potato PieTake a bite. Practically weep over how delicious and velvety smooth this pie is. Briefly wonder why you ever judged Sweet Potato Pie in the past…but only briefly. You don’t have time for that–you have pie to eat.Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie

Looking for more pie? Try my Pumpkin Pie, Cranberry Apple Pie, or Black Bottom Pear & Almond Pie!

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato PieSilky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough, or other good pie crust
16 ounces raw sweet potatoes, whole and unpeeled 
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Scrub whole sweet potatoes. Place them in a 4-6 quart pot and cover with cold tap water. Bring to a boil over high heat and let cook 45-50 minutes or until a paring knife slices them easily. Place hot sweet potatoes in a colander and run under cold tap water until you can handle them.

On a floured surface, roll out pie dough to a 12″ diameter. Fit into a 9″ pie plate and trim the overhang to 1/2-inch. Crimp the edges and chill the crust while you prepare the filling.

Place an oven rack in the lowest position and ensure that there is at least 6 inches of space above it. Preheat oven to 375F.

Transfer sweet potatoes on a cutting board. Peel off and discard skins. Cut potatoes into a few large pieces.

Place a sieve (or wire mesh colander) over a mixing bowl. Put the sweet potato pieces in the sieve and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to push them through and into the bowl. Set sieve aside.

Add melted butter, light brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt to the sweet potato purée and whisk together. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, followed by sour cream.

Place sieve back over a large mixing bowl. Pour in filling and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon push it through.

Remove prepared crust from the refrigerator and place on a sheet pan. Pour filling into crust. Whisk together egg wash ingredients and brush mixture onto exposed crust. Loosely wrap a 4-5 foot piece of aluminum foil around the pie, securing the ends by crumpling them together. Bake pie on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes, until puffed at the edges (it may look underdone in the center–this is normal). Turn off oven and open door slightly. Let pie remain in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Remove pie from oven and let cool completely on a rack. Pie may be served slightly warm, room temperature, or cold. Slice and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Leftover pie will keep at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five.