Coffee Blondies

When an amazing baker like Sarah Kieffer says that she’s been making these blondies for almost two decades, I had to try them. Right? They did not disappoint.

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. I used espresso, fine sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. We ate them with and without (caramel) ice cream. 🙂

Yield: one 9×13-inch pan of blondies (about 12 large or 24 small)

  • 213 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 297 g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T strong coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 86 g (3/4 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 128 g (3/4 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I used 72% dark chocolate chips)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on 2 sides. (I clip the overhang with binder clips to keep it in place.)
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture come to room temperature. (I transferred it to a large bowl to expedite the process at this point.)
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if you haven’t already).
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently until incorporated.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into squares.

One-Bowl Crispies

These cookies were simple and sensational. The original recipe named them “Brown-Edge Cookies” which didn’t seem fabulous enough! They were named for a similar crispy cookie sold by Nabisco prior to 1996 called Brown-Edge Wafers.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mille Shea and Liz Laskey, adapted by Margaux Laskey. Millie Shea learned this all-butter recipe from her mother in the 1930’s.

The authors described them as “buttery like the Danish cookies in blue tins, tender in the middle like snickerdoodles and snappy like Scottish shortbread.” The article also stated that they would be placed in the intersection of a Christmas sugar cookie, vanilla wafer, and French tuile. Wow. That is a combination of quite a few favorites!

I made half of the recipe below, yielding about 32 cookies. The recipe (even half of the recipe!) definitely makes enough to share.

Yield: about 5 dozen

  • 1 pound/453 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound/453 grams granulated sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  1. Arrange two racks around the middle of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add 1 cup flour and the salt and beat on low to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium for 30 seconds just until no flour streaks remain. 
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart as the cookies spread quite a bit while baking. (I used a 1 T cookie scoop, leveled, and placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  7. Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly puffed, 8 to 9 minutes on convection or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven. Be careful not to overbake.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

BraveTart’s Lofthouse-Style Cookies

My daughter and her friends are in love with grocery store Lofthouse cookies. We recently made this upgraded homemade version as our celebratory New Year’s Eve dessert. She and a friend had the honor of icing and decorating them with sprinkles. 🙂

The recipe is from the award winning baking book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks, which I received as a holiday gift. Yay! (much more to come from this book, of course) We have tried other homemade versions but agree that this is the best one yet.

The original recipe notes that these “cookies” are really pillowy, soft and tender cupcake tops coated with creamy frosting. In my opinion, calling them cookies adds to their appeal. I made half of the recipe (noted below)- perfect.

Yield: about 12 to 14 3-inch cookies (this recipe can be doubled easily)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 oz (1 3/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of Morton’s coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 T (1 1/4 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Cookies:

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces; firm but pliable (about 60 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp Morton’s coarse salt
  • 1 large egg white (about 2 T or 1 oz)
  • 1 T (1/2 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz) bleached cake flour
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decoration

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, salt, cream, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium, then beat until airy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a zip-top bag, scraping the bowl as cleanly as you can. (I used a sandwich size bag.) Set aside.
  4. Wipe any excess frosting from the bowl and beater with a paper towel.

To Make the Cookies:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the center of the oven. (I used the 3rd and 5th position.) Preheat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Combine butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the prepared bowl.
  4. Mix on low with the paddle attachment, then increase to medium and beat until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk egg white, cream, and vanilla together in a glass measuring cup.
  6. Add the egg white mixture to the butter in four or five additions and beat until smooth.
  7. Scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula, then resume on low.
  8. Sprinkle in the cake flour, mixing to form a soft dough.
  9. Fold once or twice from the bottom up to ensure it’s well mixed.
  10. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip.
  11. Pipe 6 to 7 1-ounce to 1 1/4-ounce portions onto each baking sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between them. (I piped a test portion onto a kitchen scale to eyeball the amount. The swirl was about 2 1/2-inches in diameter.)
  12. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges, about 12 minutes on convection or up to 15 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
  13. Cool until no trace of warmth remains, at least 20 minutes.

To Decorate:

  1. When the cookies are completely cool, snip off a corner of the frosting bag.
  2. Working with 2 or 3 cookies at a time, squeeze a scant tablespoon of frosting over each cookie.
  3. Spread icing into an even layer with an offset spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, as desired.
  4. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Note: Cookies are best eaten right away but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like a good time to share more cookie recipes. 😉

Before the holidays, I started receiving weekly cookie emails (I subscribed :/ ) from The New York Times- a pretty dangerous and crazy idea! This “pantry cookie” recipe caught my eye right away. A crowd-pleaser for sure.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. The recipe starts by creaming the sugar with eggs rather than butter. The end result is a cookie with a crusty exterior and chewy interior. Cracks also form on the surface which are highlighted by the essential glaze. Great.

Yield: 15 to 16 cookies

  • 1 cup/95 grams old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 packed cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 4 T/57 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup/92 grams confectioners’ sugar 
  • 5 teaspoons whole or oat milk, plus more as needed 
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat both sugars with the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda on high speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until glossy, pale and thick, a full 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the oat mixture and gently fold by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 15 golf ball-size mounds of dough onto the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I used a 1 1/2 T cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake until the edges and surface are set and lightly golden brown, but the center is still gooey, 10 to 11 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 14 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately rap the cookie sheet on the counter or stovetop a couple of times to help the cookies flatten a little more, and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk using a small whisk or fork until the icing is completely smooth and very thick but still moves if you tilt the bowl. Add more milk in small increments as needed. (I add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time to make sure the consistency is not too thin.)
  10. Dip only the very tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing, leaving the deeper cracks in the cookies uncoated and allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl.
  11. Flip the cookies over and return them to the cookie sheet to allow the icing to harden, 10 to 15 minutes. The iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

One additional note about special cookies….

My oldest just had his 17th birthday! He is DRIVING. We celebrated with several family favorites- enjoying Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano Tacos (first celebration), Thai One Pot (second!), a Maple Layer Cake, and, most importantly, with our traditional Number Cookies– two versions, Roman numerals are his preference. 🙂

Italian Butter (Spritz) Cookies

I do admire people who post Christmas cookie recipes prior to Christmas! 😉

This recipe was adapted from one of my absolute favorite books, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used almond extract, Irish butter, a cookie press, and baked the cookies on convection. Simple and classic.

They can be made in any shape to suit the season. The original recipe also suggests topping the cookies with sprinkles, sparkling colored sugars, or drizzling or sandwiching them with chocolate.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz (225 g) unsalted European-style butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)
  • 120 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond, lemon, or anise extract
  • 256 g (2 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkles or sparkling colored sugars, optional
  • melted dark or white chocolate for drizzling, optional
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F (180 C), preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. (Silicone liners make piping a little bit easier because the they don’t lift up as the cookie press or piping tip pulls away.)(I used both!)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.
  4. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and the additional extract of your choice. Blend for 1 minute more.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Scrape down the bowl well and make sure the dough is well mixed.
  7. Immediately transfer the dough to a cookie press or a heavy-duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, such as Ateco #826.
  8. Spritz the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. If using a pastry bag, pipe the cookies into desired shapes- aim for cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles or sparkling sugars, if desired.
  10. Refrigerate on the sheets for about 15 minutes, or freeze for 5 minutes. (I placed the parchment on a plastic cutting board in the freezer.)
  11. Bake until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies on parchment will brown faster; those on silicone mats will need a little more time to color.
  12. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2 or 3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. To finish non-sprinkled cookies, drizzle or sandwich with melted dark or white chocolate, if desired.

Speculoos with Spiced Sugar Topping

I cannot resist trying a new Speculoos recipe. I am mildly obsessed with these crispy spice cookies! 😉 I love the spiced sugar sprinkle on this delicious version. They may be my new favorite!

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erika Bruce. I modified the method and used a combination of molasses and light corn syrup instead of dark corn syrup. Next year I need to make a double batch!

Yield: about 60 2-inch square cookies

  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cool room temperature
  • 218 g (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 1/2 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 T molasses
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Line 4 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, coriander and allspice. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mixture into another small bowl, then whisk the white sugar into it and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, cloves and the remaining spice mixture.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and salt on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer running, gradually add the corn syrup, molasses, and 2 tablespoons water.
  6. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds.
  7. Reduce to low, add the flour mixture and mix until the ingredients just begin to form an evenly moistened dough, about 15 seconds.
  8. Dust the counter liberally with flour and scrape the dough onto it. Gently knead the dough, giving it 2 or 3 turns, until smooth; it should feel moist and supple but should not be sticky.
  9. Divide the dough in half; wrap 1 piece in plastic and set aside. With your hands, pat the second piece into a rough 8-by-6-inch rectangle.
  10. Using a well-floured rolling pin, or between layers of plastic wrap, roll the dough rectangle to an even 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap well and place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. (I place the dough on a plastic cutting board to keep it flat.)
  11. With a 2-inch rectangular or round cookie cutter (ideally with a fluted edge), cut out cookies as close together as possible. Use an offset spatula to carefully transfer the cutouts to one of the prepared pieces of parchment paper, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. (I used a square cookie cutter.)
  12. Gently pat the dough scraps together, then re-roll and cut out additional cookies; transfer the cutouts to parchment paper.
  13. If desired, use a slightly smaller cutter of the same shape to imprint a decorative border (do not cut all the way through the dough) and use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the centers. (I put 4 holes in the center of each square.)
  14. Sprinkle the cookies evenly with half of the spiced sugar, then freeze or refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes. (I place the parchment paper on a plastic cutting board to put it in the freezer.)
  15. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  16. Place the first sheet of cookies in the oven. Bake until the cookies are firm and beginning to brown, 14 minutes, on convection, or up to 18 minutes in a standard oven, rotating once halfway through.
  17. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.
  18. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Cool completely before serving.

Christmas Cookies 2021

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! These are the cookies that we shared with our family and friends this Christmas season.

Many old favorites reappeared – I needed the comfort of the tried and true. 🙂 I will post the recipes for the new additions soon. I tried new Speculoos and spritz butter cookies. We loved both!

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2022!

Cookies Clockwise from Top:

Cookies in Center:

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