Shortbread is pretty irresistible. Typically, recipes are only subtly different. I wanted to try this version because it resulted in a tender cookie, incorporated vanilla bean paste, and because it was Deb Perelman’s favorite.
The cookies were definitely more tender than any other shortbread I’ve made in the past. This is the result from using confectioners’ sugar instead of granulated sugar and from the semolina flour.
I made them for our St. Patrick’s Day dessert. Deb Perelman re-posted the recipe when the new Ted Lasso season began. 🙂 The recipe was adapted from smittenkitchen.com. I liked the cutting and shaping method. I weighed all of the dry ingredients.
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or almond extract or lemon or orange zest or extracts)
250 grams (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
45 g (1/4 cup) semolina flour
Heat your oven to 300°F. (I set my oven to convection.)
Line an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. (No need to grease.)
In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt together, scraping frequently, until butter is soft. (see note below for alternatively using a food processor)
Add flavoring of choice and flour, and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl again. This is the same order as for a hand mixer, but with a hand mixer, you’ll want the butter semi-softened first.
Add dough to the prepared baking pan in chunks. Use hands to press evenly into the pan, then an offset spatula or the base of a measuring cup to smooth the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven to cut into shapes. Leave oven on.
Shape the cookies: For the 8-inch square pan: Repeatedly lay a bamboo skewer on the top of the cookie square to make an imprint to help you cut it into 3 even columns (about 2.5 inches wide) in one direction and 8 thin bars (just shy of 1 inch) in the other. Use the back of a wooden skewer to drag across the surface, making slightly indented lines first, then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan. (For a 9-inch round pan: Use a 2 to 3-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut the center. Then, use a skewer (explained above) to gently indent lines like sun rays or the hands of a clock from the inner circle to the outer edge of the cookie so that they’re your desired size wedges. Then use a very thin, sharp paring knife to cut along these lines to the bottom of the pan.
Dock the cookies all over, about 1/3 deep, with the back of the skewer (for bigger dots) or the pointy end (for smaller holes).
Return pan to the oven for another 25 to 35 minutes, until cookies have a deep golden edge but are mostly pale across the top. Watch closely in the last 10 to 15 minutes so they don’t over bake.
Let cool in pan, or, if you’re impatient, let them cool for 10 minutes, and then remove them.
Note:In a food processor: Combine powdered sugar, salt, and flour in the work bowl, pulsing a few times. Add flavoring of choice and butter and pulse several times to chop the butter down into smaller pieces. Then, run the machine until it is fully incorporated, coming together in a smooth mass, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape down the bowl a few times for even mixing.
Do ahead: Shortbread keeps for 1 week, if not longer, at room temperature. It freezes well too, just wrap it tight.
I planned to bake this beautiful cake for Valentine’s Day as soon as I saw a photo of it in Bon Appétit. So pretty! ❤ It was crunchy on top and rich and creamy in the center. We ate it with vanilla ice cream- which was essential– and the perfect compliment to the texture of the cake. It could also be served with whipped cream.
The recipe was adapted from What’s for Dessert: Simple Recipes for Dessert People by Claire Saffitz, via Bon Appétit. It is actually featured on the cover of the book. Saffitz said that “one of her favorite moments in baking is the swirl you get when folding meringue into a chocolate batter. Not only does it look beautiful on top of the cake, it bakes into a light and crispy shell that yields to the rich crumb.”
The magazine article described it as a “sophisticated-looking and -tasting masterpiece that doesn’t take much effort to achieve.” Rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 10
vegetable oil (for pan)
10 oz (283 g) semisweet chocolate (64%–70% cacao), coarsely chopped (I used 72% Belgian chocolate)
6 T grapeseed, avocado, or other neutral oil
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, plus more
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (72 g) almond flour or almond meal
vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Brush pan with vegetable oil, making sure to coat sides all the way to the rim. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper round; brush parchment with oil.
Heat chopped chocolate, neutral oil, brewed coffee, and salt in a large heatproof (I used glass) bowl set over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat; add 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature, vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar; vigorously whisk to combine.
Add almond meal and mix well. (Don’t worry if it looks broken and separated.)
Add 1/4 cup water and whisk vigorously until mixture comes back together and looks smooth and glossy. Set chocolate mixture aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites, at room temperature, and a pinch of salt in a large non-plastic bowl until frothy, about 20 seconds.
Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until foamy and opaque, about 30 seconds.
Beating constantly, gradually add remaining 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form and meringue is dense and glossy. (Be careful not to overbeat or it will be dry and grainy and difficult to incorporate into the batter.)
Scoop out a heaping cupful of meringue and set aside.
Scrape about half of the remaining meringue into bowl with reserved chocolate mixture and fold gently with spatula until just a few streaks remain.
Scrape in the rest of the meringue; fold just until evenly mixed and batter is light and airy.
Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth surface.
Spoon dollops of reserved meringue over batter. Using a skewer or toothpick, swirl into batter—a little or a lot; it’s up to you.
Bake cake until surface is risen and cracked, meringue is light golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out shiny but clean, 60–70 minutes. (I baked the cake for 60 min but may check it around 55 min next time.)
Transfer to a wire rack and run a small knife or offset spatula between very top of cake and pan to loosen anywhere it may be stuck (this will help the cake settle evenly as it cools). Let cake cool in pan.
To serve, run knife around sides again to loosen cake, then unmold. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, as desired.
These soft gingerbread cookies were my daughter’s favorite in the assortment! I bought Nordic Ware snowflake cookie stamps after seeing them on the beautiful blog The View from Great Island.
The recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi’s dessert cookbook, Sweet, via theviewfromgreatisland.com. I modified the method using another post on the same blog that used cookie stamps.
I also used a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop instead of a 2 tablespoon scoop, resulting in less of the snowflake imprint being transferred. (I need a 2 tablespoon scoop!) I would also thin the glaze even more next time so that it would be more transparent, revealing more of the pattern of the stamp.
Alternatively, instead of the glaze, each cookie could be sprinkled with additional granulated sugar prior to baking.
Yield: 18 cookies (using 1 1/2 T scoop) (6 of each design)
For the Cookies:
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 packed cup plus 2 T (7 T) dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (5 T) molasses (do not use blackstrap, which is bitter)
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1 T Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
To Roll and Stamp:
small bowl of granulated sugar
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 T warm water, plus more for thinning
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put your cookie stamps in the freezer to chill.
Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer (or with a hand held mixer).
Beat in the egg yolk.
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating on low until the dough comes together.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until all the floury crumbles are incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk. I did not have to chill my dough before rolling, but if yours is very soft, you may want to.
Use a medium (1 1/2 or 2 tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
Roll the dough into balls and coat in granulated sugar.
Stamp the balls of dough with your cookie stamp. Gently pry it off the cookie stamp by just nudging one corner. The cookie should come right off the stamp. (at this point, you can sprinkle the top with additional sugar if not making the glaze)
Place the stamped cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes. (I placed them on a parchment paper-lined cutting board.)
Place the cold cookies onto fresh parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. You don’t want to over bake these cookies, so do a test cookie or two to figure out the best timing for your oven. The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but will firm up as they cool.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan before carefully transferring to a rack to cool completely.
When the cookies are cool, whisk the glaze ingredients together until they become a smooth thin glaze. Add more water if the glaze is too thick, it should have the consistency of maple syrup or a thin honey.
Brush the cooled cookies with the glaze. You want the glaze to be thick enough to settle into the design for a beautiful emphasis. It will become more translucent as it dries.
Let the glaze set up fully before serving or storing.
I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! These are the cookies that we shared with our family and friends this Christmas season.
My list of favorite cookies continues to grow- at some point I will have to edit myself. 😉 I tried a new glazed gingerbread cookie using snowflake cookie stamps. I also made spritz cookies with almonds and almond extract using my grandmother’s cookie press. Festive and fun.
I am almost out of time to post these festive fall cookies! It is technically still fall until December 21st…
I made these cookies along with Vanilla Halloween Cupcakes for my kids and their friends on Halloween… yes- that was quite a while ago! I doubled the recipe below and it was perfect for a crowd, making 37 cookies.
The recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I used an entire 15 ounce can of pumpkin purée for the double batch. I blotted it on (MANY MANY) paper towels prior to weighing it.
Yield: 18 cookies
For the Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons (86g) blotted/dried pumpkin purée (see below)
1 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating (you will have extra):
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Blot the pumpkin purée on paper towels, or squeeze in paper towels, changing the towels frequently, until it is quite dry. Set aside. (Squeeze as much of the moisture out of the pumpkin puree as you can before adding it to the cookie dough. This will help produce a less cakey cookie. Less moisture is a good thing here! Weigh (or measure 6 T) AFTER the pumpkin has been squeezed/blotted. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.)
Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until no brown sugar lumps remain.
Whisk in the vanilla and blotted pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and remaining spices together in a large bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft.
Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Chilling the dough is a must for this recipe. (If doubling the recipe, chill the dough for 45 minutes.)
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (I set my oven to true convection.) Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Using a cookie scoop, ration the dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and roll each into balls.
Mix the coating ingredients together, and then roll each cookie dough ball generously in the cinnamon-sugar coating.
Arrange cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a cup/measuring cup, slightly flatten the tops of the dough balls. (Without doing so, the cookies may not spread.)
Bake for 10 minutes on convection, or up to 11–12 minutes in a standard oven, or until the edges appear set. The cookies will look very soft in the center.
Remove from the oven. If you find that your cookies didn’t spread much at all, flatten them out gently with the back of a spoon when you take them out of the oven.
Cool cookies on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The longer the cookies cool, the better they taste! The flavor gets stronger and the texture becomes chewier. (The original recipe notes that she usually lets them sit, uncovered, for several hours before serving.) Chewiness and pumpkin flavor are even stronger on day 2.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
To Make Ahead (& Freeze):
You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Baked cookies freeze well up to 3 months. You can also freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 3 months before baking. It’s best to freeze them without the cinnamon-sugar coating. When you are ready to bake, remove the dough balls from the freezer, let sit for 30 minutes, preheat the oven, and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar topping.
Pie is the most important part of the Thanksgiving feast. I added this wonderful pie onto the menu in addition to our traditional apple and pumpkin pies. It may have to be a new tradition. 😉 Everyone tried a very small slice of each! Perfect.
The creamy nutmeg-maple filling was absolutely amazing. The crust was flaky and fabulous as well. We loved it!
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the pie crust. I made the par-baked crust two days in advance and baked the pie one day before Thanksgiving, refrigerating the pie overnight and bringing it to room temperature before serving.
Using extra pie crust from my apple pie, I cut out maple leaves and baked them to use as decoration on top of the finished pie. Nice.
Yield: One 9-inch pie, about 8 servings
For the Crust:
150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt.
Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms blueberry-sized pieces.
Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I rolled it out on a floured silicone pastry mat to about 1/8-inch thick.)
Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish (I used a pottery pie dish). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 to 15 minutes.
Crumple up a large sheet of parchment paper (this is a trick to allow it to fit more snugly in the pie dish). Line the pie shell with the parchment paper and then foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.
Place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until nearly set, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the foil and weights, discard the parchment, and bake until the crust is pale golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool completely. (I pre-baked the pie crust one day in advance.)
For the Pie Filling:
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (recipe above)
whipped cream, for serving, optional
decorative pre-baked pie crust shapes, optional
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. (It will boil vigorously- so use a tall pot and stir constantly.)
Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs.
Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring spout.
Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
Place pie dish on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet and pour filling into crust. Cover the edge of the pie crust with foil (or equivalent) to prevent over-browning.
Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 50 minutes on convection, or about 1 hour in a standard oven.
Let cool to room temperature before serving. Store in the refrigerator if making ahead of time; bring to room temperature before serving.
To Make (Optional) Pie Crust Topping/Decorations:
extra pie crust, rolled 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick
1 egg, lightly beaten
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Using extra 1/8-inch thick pie crust (I used some from my apple pie), cut into desired shapes. I cut mine into small maple leaves.
Chill cut shapes on a piece of parchment paper for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove from refrigerator and place the parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
Brust the top of each shape with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven, preferably on convection, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
I was planning to make banana bread but then told my husband about this cake. He did not hesitate before casting his vote. 😉 It was incredibly moist and delicious- and easy to make. I loved the crumb layer inside the cake.
This recipe was adapted from cookiesandcups.com. I weighed the ingredients, used unsalted butter, incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and cinnamon, omitted the glaze, and modified the baking time for a convection oven. We ate it for breakfast and dessert!
Yield: one 9×13-inch cake
For the Cake:
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Morton kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
8 T (1 stick, 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
400 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
For the Crumb Filling & Crumb Topping:
16 T (2 sticks, 1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
432 g (2 cups) light brown sugar
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
pinch coarse salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. (I set my oven to true convection.)
Coat a 9×13 metal baking dish with baking spray, line with parchment paper (overhang on long sides), lightly coat with baking spray; set aside.
Make the Cake Batter: In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl stir together the mashed bananas, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until mixed well.
Add in the flour mixture and milk in alternating portions and stir until combined. Set batter aside while you make your crumb mixture.
Make the Crumb Filling & Crumb Topping: In a large bowl combine the cold, cubed butter, light brown sugar, and flours using a pastry blender or fork until a coarse crumb forms.
To Assemble: Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Cover the filling with the remaining batter and then top with remaining crumb mixture.
Bake for 40 minutes on convection or up to 50-55 minutes in a conventional oven, or until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers tightly wrapped at room temperature.