Caramelized White Chocolate and Walnut Cookies

caramelized white chocolate and walnut cookies

Hello! Just dropping in here with a new cookie recipe for you all: caramelized white chocolate and walnut! These are a quick-and-easy, must-have-cookies-ASAP recipe — it uses melted butter and cold eggs, so you can whip them up on a whim.

These cookies are a variation on the triple chocolate peppermint cookies I posted in December, but here we’re highlighting caramelized white chocolate (or blonde chocolate) — some melted straight into the dough, and more folded in at the end for maximum impact. Caramelized white chocolate has been a trending flavor in the dessert world for about a decade now — while plain white chocolate tends to taste overly sweet and one-note, roasting it produces more complex and toasty flavors. You can make your own caramelized white chocolate by simply chopping up high quality white chocolate and baking it (stirring often) at a 250F until golden and toasty (see this tutorial from David Lebovitz). Or you can buy something like Valrhona Dulcey.

To complement the caramelly sweetness of the chocolate, I added toasted walnuts and a generous pinch of flaky salt. If you don’t have walnuts, I think either toasted hazelnuts or pecans would work nicely here — or even macadamia nuts if you’re a fan of the white chocolate macadamia nut pairing! And while flaky salt is normally an optional garnish, I highly HIGHLY recommend it here. It really helps balance out the cookie and veer it ever so slightly into the salty-sweet category.

After mixing the dough, just a short chill (30 minutes in the fridge, or even 10 minutes in the freezer) helps control spread and produces cookies with a thick, blondie-ish centers. If you bake them straight after mixing, the cookies will spread more and not be quite as soft overall. In the photo below, the top cookie was baked from dough that was chilled for half an hour; the bottom cookie was baked straight after mixing.

These cookies don’t brown much, so just keep an eye on them and bake just until the edges are set but the centers still look soft. They’ll continue to cook and set up on the pan. Enjoy slightly warm with a cup of black coffee (or milk)!

Baker’s notes:

  • For perfectly round cookies, use a round cookie cutter slightly larger than your cookie or even a spoon or offset spatula to nudge the cookies into shape right after baking. You must do this right when the cookies come out of the oven when they are still a bit malleable.
  • Don’t want to bake all the cookies off at once? You can keep unbaked dough balls in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage. For cookies chilled longer than half an hour, I find they spread best if you bring them to room temperature before baking (just pull them out while the oven is preheating).

Caramelized White Chocolate and Walnut Cookies

Makes about 15 cookies | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

  • 113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)
  • 150g chopped caramelized white or blonde chocolate (such as Valrhona Dulcey), divided
  • 175g (1 1/3 c plus 1 Tbsp) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 30g light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, cold
  • 1 large egg yolk, cold
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Flaky salt, for garnish

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. You’re not trying to brown it or drive off any moisture, so don’t let it boil — pull it off when there are still a couple unmelted bits left and let the residual heat finish the job.
  2. While the butter is melting, place the espresso powder and 50g of the chopped caramelized white chocolate in a large bowl. Once the butter has melted, pour it over the espresso-chocolate mixture. Whisk until the chocolate has melted. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk the sugars into the butter until smooth and combined, followed by the egg and egg yolk. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. When just a few streaks of flour remain, add the remaining 100g caramelized white chocolate and walnuts. Mix just until evenly distributed. Cover and chill for half an hour, or until firm but not solid.
  5. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Portion the dough into 15 ping-pong sized balls, about 50 grams each. (At this point, the dough balls can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. For best results, bring dough to room temperature before baking — see notes above.) Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches apart and sprinkle the tops generously with flaky salt.
  6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are set but the centers are still soft and barely set, 10-11 minutes (the cookies will not brown much). Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Bye 2020

top 9 instagram rushyama

No one is trying to hang on to 2020 any longer than is absolutely necessary. But even at the end of this strange, strange year I wanted to take a moment to remember a few bright spots. More than ever this year, I got messages, comments, and emails about how recipes on this site helped you to pass time, to find comfort, to learn a new skill. As a food blogger I can’t ask for anything more, so thank you for making this little hobby of mine even more rewarding through your kind words and recipe remakes. See you in 2021!


I wrote a cookbook!

baked to order

I didn’t publish any recipes on the blog until April because I was fully immersed in finishing my cookbook, Baked to Order: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes with Variations for Every Craving. Writing a cookbook was an opportunity I never imagined would come my way, but I’m forever grateful it did. It connected me with a wonderful photographer, Diana Muresan; and many of you helped test the recipes to ensure they would work in kitchens other than my own.

While it was a notoriously challenging year to release a book (ingredient shortages, printing and mailing delays, no in-person events or book signings), I smile every time I see Baked to Order in another kitchen somewhere in the world. Thank you for supporting me by supporting Baked to Order — I am truly humbled by your kindness, and I look forward to seeing more of your bakes from it in the new year.


Sourdough Recipes

Remember when flour and yeast was scarce and everyone made a sourdough starter? Yeah, me neither. But while the intense sourdough craze of spring 2020 has cooled, your love for sourdough hasn’t. My sourdough discard post was the most popular page on the blog in 2020, and I published a few new sourdough recipes this year:


So! Many! Cookies!

Cookies were my ideal 2020 baked good: perfect for socially-distanced drop-offs and easy to freeze for later. I published more cookie recipes this year than ever before, because I made more cookies this year than ever before!


Small Batch Recipes

This year, we all looked for ways to celebrate in scaled-down fashion. I absolutely cannot wait for the day I can make and share a big old layer cake with my friends, but will enjoy these small-batch treats for years to come.

Raspberry Lemonade Snickerdoodles

raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles

The idea for these raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles has been brewing in the back of my brain for awhile. I love a good snickerdoodle riff, starting with these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles a couple years back. After working on a classic snickerdoodle recipe + variations for my upcoming book, I’m now revisiting a few ideas that I didn’t have room to include (like these graham cracker snickerdoodles from earlier this summer). The beautiful multi-colored sugar cookies from Amy and Sarah inspired the look for this zesty and cheerful raspberry lemonade version!

Making these cookies is fairly straightforward, but for the full raspberry lemonade experience you’ll need a few special ingredients:

  • Cream of tartar: Cream of tartar is an acid (in powder form; find it in the baking/spices aisle of your grocery store). Combined with baking soda, cream of tartar leavens these snickerdoodle cookies and produces the classic snickerdoodle tang. While there are a lot of suggested substitutions for cream of tartar on the internet, I have not tried them in this particular recipe.
  • Freeze-dried raspberries: To get a concentrated amount of raspberry flavor in these cookies, I use ground freeze-dried raspberries. Freeze-dried fruit is an amazing way to amp up your baked goods as it brings intense flavor without extra moisture. I ground up whole freeze-dried raspberries into a powder and added it directly to the cookie dough. Freeze-dried fruit is available online and in many grocery stores.
  • Citric Acid: To give these cookies an extra tangy zing, I use a small amount of citric acid in the sugar sprinkle. Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits (like lemons!) and is also artificially made and used as a flavoring agent and preservative. Citric acid is commonly found in the baking/spices aisle of the supermarket or in bulk food stores. Can you omit it? Sure, but your cookies will not be nearly as punchy. (You could try sprinkling a little lemon zest onto the cookies right after baking, but the flavor will be less potent.) Citric acid keeps well and can be used in many other recipes that might benefit from a little pucker!

Anyways, enjoy these summery snickerdoodles! They really put a smile on my face!

raspberry lemonade snickerdoodles unbaked
raspberry lemonade snickerdoodle stack

Raspberry Lemonade Snickerdoodles

Makes 12 cookies

Ingredients:

For the raspberry lemonade snickerdoodle base:

  • Zest of one medium lemon
  • 120g (scant 2/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 30g (2 1/2 Tbsp) light brown sugar
  • 113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use 1/2 tsp if using another brand of kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 175g (1 1/3 c plus 2 tsp) all purpose flour
  • 6g finely ground freeze dried raspberries (1 Tbsp ground, from about 1/4 c whole freeze dried raspberries), plus extra for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1-2 drops pink/fuschia food coloring (optional, for more intense color)

For the lemonade sugar sprinkle:

  • 25g (1/8 c) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine lemon zest and sugars. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugars until fragrant — this releases the essential oils from the zest and intensifies the lemon flavor of the cookies.
  2. Add the butter, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt to the zest-sugar mixture. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the flour. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour.
  5. Remove half the dough and wrap in plastic. Add the ground freeze-dried raspberries and food coloring (if using) to the remaining half of the dough and mix until combined. Wrap in plastic. Chill both pieces of dough until firm but still pliable, about 30-45 minutes.
  6. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and citric acid for the lemonade sugar sprinkle.
  8. Divide each half of dough into twelve acorn-sized balls. You should end up with a total of 24 balls, 12 of each color (about 20g each). Gently press one ball of each color together to form 12 cookies total — don’t roll them too tightly so the colors remain distinct. Toss each in the lemonade sugar sprinkle, coating completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the cookies have puffed and edges are set but the centers are still soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle a little more ground freeze-dried raspberries on the berry half of the cookie, if desired. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Graham Cracker Snickerdoodles

graham cracker snickerdoodle

People often ask how I come up with ideas of what to make. I have many sources of inspiration — cookbooks, Instagram, the supermarket (moreso when it was normal to go there and just browse…one day, one day) — but perhaps the most common one is that I need to use something up. In this case, it was a small bag of graham cracker crumbs that wasn’t enough for making a pie crust or anything else semi-useful. I happened to be in a cookie-making mood (pretty common these days), so I figured I’d just chuck them in my snickerdoodle dough and see what happened.

Well, the cookies were good but not quite right; but now of course the idea of graham cracker snickerdoodles was stuck in my head. So yes, I had to go get more graham crackers to continue testing and tweaking the proportions of this recipe. And yes, now I have another small bag of graham cracker crumbs just waiting to be the muse for another recipe. Vicious cycle, tough job, someone’s gotta do it!

Anyways, about these graham cracker snickerdoodles. These cookies combine the soft chew and slight tang of a classic snickerdoodle with the pleasant wheatiness and honey-cinnamon vibes of a graham cracker. They’re the perfect mid-afternoon snack, though one of these days I’m going to test the theory that they’d make pretty fine ice cream sandwiches as well.

A few notes:

  • In the spirit of graham crackers, I use a whole wheat flour for the cookie dough. Traditionally graham flour is coarse and unsifted wheat flour, but here I’ve gone with my favorite sifted red fife flour from Flourist. It has a lovely flavor and texture, and works very well as a 1:1 swap for all-purpose flour in baked goods. I think any soft white wheat flour would work nicely here, or simply use all-purpose.
  • There are also actual graham crackers inside and out — some mixed into the cookie dough, and some in the sugar sprinkle used to roll the cookie dough balls in before baking. Don’t go overboard and add too many graham cracker crumbs to the actual dough — the dough will be too overloaded and won’t spread properly (I speak from experience). A digital scale is (and always is) your friend here.
  • If you don’t want to bake all the cookies off at once, you can refrigerate the dough up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage (in both cases, wait until right before baking to toss in the sugar sprinkle). It’s difficult to get the sugar sprinkle to stick to dough that is too cold, so I suggest taking the dough out of the freezer/fridge while preheating the oven. Roll the dough balls in your hands to slightly warm up the dough before rolling in the sugar sprinkle and baking.
graham cracker snickerdoodle stack

Graham Cracker Snickerdoodles

Makes about 12 cookies

Ingredients:

For the snickerdoodle dough:
  • 113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 66g (1/3 c) granulated sugar
  • 66g (1/3 c) light brown sugar
  • 20g (1 Tbsp) honey 
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 170g (1 1/3 c) white whole wheat flour or sifted wheat flour (I like Flourist sifted red fife)
  • 50g (1/2 c) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
For the sugar sprinkle:
  • 15g (1 Tbsp) finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 15g (heaping 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, honey, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour and graham cracker crumbs. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. Cover and chill until firm but still scoopable, about 45 minutes.
  4. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and cinnamon for the sugar sprinkle.
  5. Portion the dough into twelve ping-pong sized balls, about 45 grams (3 tbsp) each. Toss each in the sugar sprinkle, coating completely. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches (6 cm) apart.
  6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are golden but the centers are still soft and pale, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Immediately after baking, sprinkle on a bit more sugar sprinkle if desired. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Linzer cookies

Linzer cookies are one of those classic Christmas cookies I’d never gotten around to making until recently. I love sandwich cookies, but to be honest they can be time-consuming with all the chilling / rolling / stamping / filling. I recommend making them on an afternoon when you don’t have a ton of other baking to do; just throw on your favorite tunes and enjoy the process.

A couple notes:
  • This dough contains a high proportion of nuts, which makes it very delicious but also extremely delicate. I found it easiest to roll between pieces of plastic and chill overnight before cutting and baking. I also recommend using simple cookie cutter shapes (i.e. circles and squares) for best results (I used this set).
  • Linzers are traditionally made with almonds and raspberry jam; I used walnuts because I had a lot on hand and filled them with the ends of jam jars I always have lurking around in the fridge.
  • You can bake these cookies several days in advance (store them at room temperature in an airtight container), but I recommend filling them on the day you plan to serve them as the cookies will gradually soften once they’re filled.
  • If you don’t want to bother rerolling the scraps, you can shape leftover dough into thumbprint cookies instead. Just roll into balls, indent with your thumb or the back of a wooden spoon, and bake until golden. Fill indents with jam once cooled.

Linzer Cookies

Makes about thirty 2-1/2″ sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

  • 105g (scant 1 c) toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 281g all purpose flour
  • 225g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, cold
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c jam or preserves
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the walnuts, sugars, and salt. Pulse together until the nuts are finely ground and the mixture is the texture of damp sand.
  2. Add the flour and pulse to combine.
  3. Scatter the butter cubes over the top and pulse until the butter is well incorporated, with no large pieces remaining. Scrape down the sides of the food processor a couple times during this process.
  4. Whisk together the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse just until a dough starts to form.
  5. Transfer about half of the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Pat into a square about an inch thick. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top and roll the dough to about 3/16″. Lift and replace the top piece of plastic occasionally to avoid creases in the dough. Repeat with other half of dough. Slide one sheet of dough onto a baking sheet (still sandwiched between pieces of plastic) and slide the second sheet of dough on top. Refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours or up to 24.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one sheet of dough from the fridge. Peel off the top piece of plastic, invert the dough onto one of the parchment-lined baking sheets, and peel off the other piece of plastic. Use a 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter to punch out as many rounds as possible. Remove the excess dough and set aside. Repeat with the second sheet of dough. Use a small round or other decorative cutter to punch out the centers of half the circles. Reroll and repeat process with dough scraps until you’ve used up all the dough (follow rolling process in step 5, chilling as necessary). If the dough is still firm, proceed straight to baking; otherwise, chill first until firm, about 15 minutes.
  7. Bake sheets one at a time for about 15 minutes, or until cookies are just barely golden on the edges. Cool cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Sift icing sugar over the cookies with the center cutouts. Using a small spoon or offset spatula, spread about a teaspoon of jam on the flat sides of the bottom cookies. Top each with a sugared cookie. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container between layers of parchment or wax paper until serving. I recommend filling cookies the day you plan to serve them (see notes above).

Oatmeal Raisin Pretzel Cookies

oatmeal raisin pretzel cookies

One of the questions I get most often is, “How do you find time to bake?” I’ll admit, it can be a bit of a juggling act. Since starting this blog, we’ve gone from zero to three children, ages 4 and under. Baking projects that I used to finish in an evening are now slo-o-o-o-wly pieced together over the course of several days. I could write a book about it, but thankfully, I don’t have to — Michelle Lopez’s new cookbook, Weeknight Baking will teach you everything you need to know about baking to fit your schedule.

weeknight baking and cookies

I received Michelle’s book as a literal birth day present — it arrived the same day our third child, Isabelle, did! Weeknight Baking was actually the perfect cookbook to help ease me into the new reality of baking with another tiny human around, because each recipe is either quick to make OR broken down into 15-to-30 minute tasks that you can piece together over a few days. And, as my family will attest, the recipes are delicious! So far, we’ve easily polished off a pan of her cheesecake bars and a batch of these oatmeal cookies.

I have always been partial to a good old fashioned oatmeal cookie, and I’m delighted to add this recipe to our rotation. These babies take about half an hour from start to finish — no chilling required! I made a couple small changes — first, I used sifted spelt flour instead of all purpose; and second, I popped a mini pretzel on each cookie (before baking) because I’m all about that salty-sweet combo. Feel free to go traditional with just raisins, or play around with the mix-ins — Michelle gives several fantastic sounding options. Whatever you do, make these cookies! And congrats, Michelle, on your new book!

Oatmeal Raisin Pretzel Cookies

Makes 20 cookies | Adapted from Weeknight Baking

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Oatmeal Cookie Mix-In of your choice (I used raisins and mini pretzels)
  • 1 1/4 c (5.65 oz) all-purpose flour (I used sifted spelt)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2/3 c (5 oz) tightly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
  • 1/3 c (2.35 oz) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 c (6.15 oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
Oatmeal cookie mix-ins
  • Classic oatmeal raisin: 1 c (5.5 oz) raisins
  • Oatmeal chocolate chip: 8 oz dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), from whole feves or a high-quality chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2-to-1-inch pieces
  • Oatmeal, Cranberry, and White Chocolate: 1 c (6 oz) dried cranberries and 3 oz white chocolate, from whole feves or a high-quality chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2-to-1-inch pieces
  • Oatmeal, cherry, and pistachio: 1 c (5 oz) dried cherries and 1/2 c (2.5 oz) shelled pistachios
  • Oatmeal and crystallized ginger: 1/2 c (3.5 oz) crystallized ginger, chopped into 1/4-to-1/2-inch pieces

Method:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Place the mix-in of your choice in a shallow bowl and toss to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars and butter. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2-3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Scrape down bottom and sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Add the oats all at once and beat on low until combined, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed to fully incorporate oats. Add the mix-in all at once and beat on medium-low until the mix-in is evenly distributed throughout, about 1 minute.
  5. Use a 3-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the cookie dough into 20 balls (about 45 g each, but may vary depending on mix-ins), placing them at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time for 15 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough (or freeze it to bake later). Serve warm or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Mushroom Meringues

mushroom meringues
These mushroom meringues may well be the most magical things I’ve made all year. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling after making a batch of these because they just looked so….mushroomy! These fungi confections are a traditional decoration for Buche de Noel (I used them to decorate a “Yule Log” cake), but they would also make a quirky addition to a cookie box or a sweet little stocking stuffer. They aren’t difficult to make, but they do take a bit of time. However, you can easily break up the work over a few days — just bake the meringues one day, and decorate while watching your favorite cheesy holiday movie!

A few notes:

  • This recipe is easily scalable. The basic proportion I used is 1 part egg whites to 1.5 parts sugar. (You can use 1:2 if you want them sweeter, but honestly they were plenty sweet for me.)
  • If you want your mushrooms to stand on their own, keep the caps on the smaller side (maybe 1-2 inches across) and the stems on the shorter, squatter side.
  • If you’re using these mushrooms to decorate a buche de noel or something of that sort, it’s perfectly fine (and even desirable) to have caps and stems of different sizes and lengths — it adds to the whimsy and realism! You can always use a dab of frosting to stick them down so you don’t have to worry if they don’t stand on their own.
  • If you make a mistake piping, just use a spatula to scoop up the meringue and put it back into the piping bag.

mushroom meringues 2
mushroom meringues in egg carton

Mushroom Meringues

Makes 20-24 medium mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 70g egg whites (about 2 large)
  • 105g caster sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Seeds of half a vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g white chocolate or white candy melts
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 225F. Line one large (or two medium) sheet pans with parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I used a 1/2″ one).
  2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low until frothy, then add the salt and cream of tartar.
  3. Turn the speed up to medium and continue beating until the meringue holds soft peaks. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, waiting about 10-15 seconds between additions.
  4. When all the sugar has been added, turn up the speed to medium high and continue beating until the meringue is glossy and holds very stiff peaks. Add the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and whip until combined.
  5. Transfer half the meringue to the prepared pastry bag. Use a dab of meringue in each corner of the sheet pan to “glue” the parchment paper down. To pipe the caps, hold the pastry bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet and squeeze (without moving the bag) to form a round. When the cap is your desired size, stop squeezing and flick your wrist to complete the cap. Continue piping rounds until you’ve used up all the meringue in the bag. They won’t spread or puff much so you can pipe them quite close. If you have any peaks of meringue, use a damp finger to flatten and smooth out the caps.
  6. Fill the bag with the remaining meringue and pipe stems. Again, hold the bag vertically about 1/2 an inch above the baking sheet. Squeeze and slowly lift the bag, then stop squeezing but continue lifting to form “kisses”. Continue piping until you’ve used up all the meringue. (You’ll want to pipe a few more stems than caps as they’re more likely to topple or break.)
  7. Bake the meringues until they’re completely dry and release easily from the parchment, about 80-90 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool down completely (a few hours or overnight).
  8. When the meringues are completely cool, use a microplane to shave down the tops of the stems so they’re flat. Dust some cocoa powder over the mushroom caps if desired. Smudge the cocoa with your finger to get your desired “dirty” look. Smudge a little on the stems as well if you like. (I used different cocoa powders — natural, Dutch processed, and black — to get a variety of looks, but use whatever you have or like.)
  9. Melt the white chocolate or candy melts. Use a small paring knife or flower nail to make a small hole in the bottom of a cap. (Work gently so you don’t pierce all the way through!).* Use a chopstick to widen the hole so the end of the stem will fit inside. Dip the end of the stem in melted chocolate, then stand the stem up. Carefully but firmly push the stem through the hole. Using a small brush, dab a little extra white chocolate around the join to seal. Set the mushroom in the well of an egg carton to allow the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
  • *Note: you can also just “glue” the stems to the caps without making a hole. I tried both ways and found the hole method to be a little more secure and realistic-looking, though more time consuming…
  • Gingerbread Latte Snickerdoodles

    gingerbread latte snickerdoodle stack
    I’m a relative latecomer to gingerbread. Neither of my parents are fans of spice cakes and the like, so gingerbread men and houses weren’t a part of my childhood. It wasn’t until college, when one of my best friends suggested a gingerbread making party, that I had my first memorable gingerbread experience; and ever since then I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. I enjoy sneaking in gingerbread spices wherever possible — bread, morning pastries, coffee, cakes, and now — the classic snickerdoodle. And since one of my all time favorite flavor combos is espresso and gingerbread, I also added a bit of espresso powder to make these gingerbread latte snickerdoodles!

    These festive snickerdoodles are delightfully simple to make. I’ve added brown butter and brown sugar to add a bit more chew. I also prefer a mix of flours — bread, all purpose, and some type of whole grain flour — for texture and flavor, but all purpose will do just fine as well. A drizzle of white chocolate and a few Crispearls add a little festive flair. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I do!

    Gingerbread Latte Snickerdoodles

    Makes 12 cookies

    Ingredients

    For the gingerbread spice mix:

    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 tsp cloves
    • Few cracks of black pepper

    For the cookie dough:

    • 113g unsalted butter
    • 60g light brown sugar
    • 60g granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg (straight from the fridge is fine)
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp cream of tartar
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
    • 80g bread flour
    • 60g AP flour
    • 30g einkorn flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp gingerbread spice mix

    For the sugar coating and decoration:

    • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar (or cane sugar)
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp light brown sugar
    • Remaining gingerbread spice mix
    • 30g white chocolate, melted
    • Sprinkles or Crispearls

    Method:

    1. Combine all the gingerbread spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
    2. In a small saucepan, brown the butter. First, melt the butter over low heat; then turn up to medium high and cook, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula, until the butter foams, crackles, then browns. Transfer the butter, along with all the browned bits, to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, and 1 1/2 tsp of the gingerbread spice mix.
    4. Whisk the brown and granulated sugars into the brown butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about 30-60 minutes to allow the dough to hydrate and solidify slightly. (Cookie dough can be chilled overnight; if chilled for more than a couple hours, allow to soften for 20-30 minutes at room temperature for easier portioning.)
    5. About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
    6. Prepare the sugar coating by combining the granulated and brown sugar with the remaining gingerbread spice mix.
    7. Portion the cookie dough into 12 golf-sized balls, about 35-40 grams each. Roll between hands into a smooth ball, then toss in sugar coating. Space cookies a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
    8. Bake sheets one at a time for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cookies should be puffed and the tops starting to crack, but the centers should still look a little soft. After removing the pan, bang it a couple of times on the counter to help deflate the cookies and get that crinkled top. Cool cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    9. When cookies are cooled, melt the white chocolate. Decorate cookies as desired, topping with sprinkles or Crispearls before the chocolate sets. Cookies keep well in an airtight container for about 3 days.

    Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

    chewy ginger molasses cookies on marble
    When it comes to cookies, I am very much a creature of habit. When we need a batch of something sweet, I’ll usually whip up our house chocolate chunk cookies or maybe some snickerdoodles. And every fall, I have to make at least a couple of batches of chewy ginger molasses cookies.

    ginger molasses cookies closeup

    For the past several years, this Bon Appetit recipe has been my go to. Soft and chewy centers, sugared exteriors, a vibrant amount of spice, and dead easy to make — can’t ask for much more!

    This year, though, I’ve been tinkering with this recipe and made a couple of tweaks to pack even more of a punch into each bite. Swapping in some rye and bread flour adds even more chew and richness of flavor. A little fresh ginger and black pepper add a spicy kick. I like to roll my cookies in a mixture of turbinado and sanding sugar for a nice balance of shine and crunch and top each cookie with a small piece of candied ginger. These are hands down my favorite fall/winter cookies — I hope you’ll love them too!

    Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

    Makes about 15 cookies | Adapted from Bon Appetit

    Ingredients:

    • 125g AP flour
    • 75g bread flour
    • 50g rye flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 3/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 113g unsalted butter, melted
    • 65g granulated sugar
    • 113g fancy molasses
    • 50g dark brown sugar

    To finish:

    • 40g turbinado sugar
    • 40g sanding sugar
    • Candied ginger

    Method:

    1. Preheat the oven to 375F with a rack in the center, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, spices (except for the fresh ginger), and salt together.
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar. Add the grated ginger and rub it into the sugar with your fingers to distribute.
    4. Whisk in the melted butter, molasses, and egg to combine.
    5. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm the batter up slightly to make it easier roll. (If refrigerated longer than an hour, let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften slightly.) Meanwhile combine the turbinado and sanding sugar in a small bowl.
    6. Using a cookie scoop or your hands, form golf-ball sized rounds (about 40-45g each). Roll in sugar and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Press a piece of crystallized ginger on top of each cookie.
    7. Bake sheets one at a time for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cookies are puffed and starting to crack and the edges are set. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

    chewy ginger molasses cookies

    House Biscotti

    biscotti

    This is a recipe near and dear to my heart. I first made biscotti soon after getting married, in our tiny basement kitchen oven. It’s a very simple recipe that can be easily adapted to your preferences. David often brings a batch of them to work for quick breakfasts / snacks (they keep really, really well), and now some of his co-workers come looking for them as well. 😉

    I recently made a batch with Marcus for the first time. He loved using a whisk and dumping all the mix-ins in…and, of course, eating the crumbs off the tray.

    stir biscotti

    biscotti logs unbaked

    biscotti log sliced

    A few notes:

    • The dough should be fairly stiff and you shouldn’t need any additional flour to shape it into logs. If it’s sticky, just pop it in the fridge for a few minutes before shaping.
    • The trickiest part of making biscotti is cutting them. I find it’s all about the timing — you want the biscotti logs to be cool enough to handle, but not completely cold or they’ll be more likely to crumble. Twenty minutes after the first bake is usually the sweet spot for me.
    • This recipe is very adaptable. My personal favorite flavor combination is below, but as long as you keep the add-ins to ~1 1/2 to 2 cups you should be able to swap in your choice of nuts/fruits/chocolate/seeds and even jazz up the spices if you want.

    House Biscotti

    Makes 3-4 dozen biscotti

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 c grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
    • 3 large eggs, straight from the fridge
    • 200g (1 c) granulated sugar
    • 1/2 Tbsp almond extract
    • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 400g (3 1/4 c) AP flour (I have swapped out 50% of the flour for sifted whole wheat flour with good results)
    • 1 Tbsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 85g (1/2 c) dark chocolate chips
    • 75g (1/2 c) raisins
    • 140g (1 c) toasted and chopped almonds
    • Handful of flax seeds

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat (if your baking sheets are small, use two).
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, and extracts until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    3. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently combine.
    4. When the dry ingredients are almost fully incorporated, mix in the chocolate chips, raisins, and almonds. Stir just until everything is combined and there are no streaks of flour remaining. If the mixture is sticky, cover the bowl with plastic and chill for ~15 minutes before proceeding.
    5. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Working with one part at a time, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and pat into logs about 1/2 an inch thick. Leave at least 3 inches between the two logs as they will spread a little.
    6. Bake until the tops are lightly golden, firm, and beginning to crack – about 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool for about 20-30 minutes, or until the logs are cool enough to handle but still slightly warm.
    7. Use a large offset spatula to transfer one log at a time to a cutting board. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice each log crosswise into ~1/2″ logs. (I find it easiest to just press down firmly with the knife rather than saw.) Place the cookies back on the baking sheet(s) cut side up and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. (You can flip the cookies over halfway through baking, but I usually don’t bother.)
    8. Cool completely on a wire rack (cookies will crisp us as they cool). Serve biscotti with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Leftovers store well for weeks in an airtight container.