WOW. My daughter declared that these are the best cookies I have ever made!
They are composed of crispy and crunchy, thin toffee cookies sandwiched with fabulous brown-butter buttercream. The filling is the perfect complement to the toffee flavored cookies.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I modified the method and increased the amount of filling. I also used toffee with chocolate- now I’ll have to try them without as well. Amazing!
The original recipe notes that these cookies are ideal for shipping and sharing because they have a long shelf life. They didn’t last very long in my house! 😉
Yield: 34 to 36 sandwich cookies
For the Cookies:
227 g (about 1 1/2 cups) English toffee bits, preferably without chocolate (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)(I used Trader Joe’s Toffee Chips with both dark and milk chocolate, coarsely chopped)
112 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
3 T (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, white and yolk separated, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (224 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup (40 g) sliced almonds, or more, for garnish
For the Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling:
16 T (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp plus a pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt
320 g (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
To Make the Cookies:
In a food processor, process the toffee bits, sugar, baking soda and salt until the toffee is mostly ground and the mixture is sandy, about 1 minute.
Transfer the toffee mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
Add butter, egg white and vanilla. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy and fluffy, stopping once to scrape the bowl and paddle, about 2 minutes.
Add flour, and mix on medium-low until the mixture comes together into a soft dough, about 30 seconds.
Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before proceeding. (I wrapped each disk in plastic wrap.)
Dust a piece of parchment paper and dough with flour. Top with a second piece of parchment paper.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick between the two sheets of parchment (the thickness of two stacked pennies), turning the dough frequently to ensure it moves freely, dusting with more flour as needed. Each sheet of dough will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
Place the dough on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out cookies from one sheet of dough. Using an offset spatula, transfer rounds to a parchment paper lined rimmed sheet pan, placing another sheet of parchment paper between layers. (I stacked the rounds between sheets of plastic wrap but it was slightly difficult to remove them once frozen- parchment paper seems like a better plan.)
Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough.
Gather and knead together any scraps, refreeze and re-roll, repeating until all the dough has been rolled out for a total of about 68 to 72 cookies.
Wrap the rounds of dough on the sheet pan with plastic wrap; freeze on sheet trays for at least 30 minutes before baking. (Alternatively, once the cookies have firmly frozen, stack them between parchment in a freezer-safe container or zipper-lock bag for up to 3 months.)
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
Whisk together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly brush on the tops of half (34 to 36) of the chilled cookies.
Sprinkle the yolk-brushed cookies with almonds, pressing gently to adhere.
Bake the cookies until deeply browned like a pretzel, switching the sheet trays from top to bottom and rotating from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes. (I simultaneously baked 3 pans of 12 cookies each for 10 to 11 minutes on convection.)
Bake the remaining cookies (without almonds) at the same temperature for the same duration.
Let cookies cool completely on the sheet pans.
To Make the Filling:
Set a piping bag in a tall and narrow container, like a deli quart container, and fold over the top edge to secure.
Flip over the cookies without almonds. (You need to pipe the icing onto the cookies immediately after mixing, so make sure you are set up.)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy, about 3 minutes.
Continue cooking butter, stirring and scraping frequently with a stiff silicone spatula, until the sputtering has subsided and the butter solids look deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the butter and any brown bits into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl if mixing by hand).
Stir in the vanilla and salt.
Sift over the powdered sugar.
With the paddle attachment, mix on low until creamy and combined, about 1 minute, stopping once during mixing to scrape the bowl and the paddle. (You can also mix with a stiff silicone spatula until creamy and combined.)
Transfer the icing to the piping bag and cut a 1-inch wide opening at the tip. (I used a round piping tip instead.) The icing will be warm and fluid.
Pipe a scant tablespoon of filling onto a flipped cookie and immediately top with an almond-topped cookie.
Gently press to adhere so that the filling reaches the edges of the cookie.
Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
These New York crumb cake muffins have a few qualities that elevate them a step above others. They not only incorporate lemon zest and browned butter, they also have additional crunchy crumbs hidden inside each muffin. Genius.
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used the zest of an entire lemon and modified the baking time for a convection oven. They were quite large but baked perfectly in a standard muffin tin. Great.
Yield: 12 muffins
For the Topping:
1/2cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/3cups/165 grams all-purpose flour
1/2cup/110 grams dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon ground allspice or cardamom
1/4teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Batter:
3/4cup/180 milliliters sour cream
2teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4teaspoon almond extract
1/2teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1 large lemon)
1 1/2cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
2/3cup/135 grams granulated sugar
3/4teaspoon baking soda
3/4teaspoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1-inch slices and softened
Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection, and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners.
Make the Topping:
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, then let it simmer until the foam on top falls to the bottom of the pot and turns brown, 4 to 6 minutes. It will smell nutty when it’s ready. Immediately pour butter into a small bowl to keep it from getting any browner, and let cool for 5 minutes.
Whisk together flour, sugar, spices and salt in a medium bowl.
Pour in the brown butter and stir, pinching the mixture together, until crumbs form. Set aside.
Make the Batter:
Whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, almond extract and lemon zest in a mixing bowl.
In a large bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined, about 10 seconds.
Add softened butter and beat for 20 seconds to work it into the flour.
Add egg mixture and continue beating until the batter is very smooth, about 1 minute.
Sprinkle a scant tablespoon of the topping crumbs into the bottom of each muffin liner. (I used a cookie scoop.)
Spoon the batter on top of the crumbs, dividing it evenly. (I used a large cookie scoop- plus a little bit extra- per well.
Bake muffins for 5 minutes to firm up the tops so the crumbs don’t sink into the batter. Remove muffin pan from the oven and lower heat to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top of each muffin. (I used 1 tablespoon per muffin, rationed with a cookie scoop.)
Continue to bake until the muffins are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 17 on convection or up to 30 minutes longer.
Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
Use an offset spatula or butter knife to lift the muffins out of the pan. Finish cooling muffins on a rack.
These cake-type cookies are based on the classic French cake. They are buttery, nutty and minimally sweet. Lovely!
This recipe is from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I used granulated sugar, unbleached all-purpose flour, and baked them in regular brioche pans instead of mini pans. I may need to purchase mini brioche pans for my next batch! 😉
Yield: Makes 14 regular or up to 38 mini cookies
25 g (1/4 cup, 0.9 oz) blanched sliced or slivered almonds
75 g (6 T, 2.6 oz) granulated sugar or superfine sugar
1/8 tsp (0.7 g) fine sea salt
9 T (1 1/4 sticks, 4.5 to 5 oz, 128 to 142 g) unsalted butter, preferably high fat
2 large egg yolks (2 T plus 1 tsp, 35 ml, 1/3 oz, 37 g), at room temperature
1/2 T (7.5 ml) kirsch, dark rum, or water
3/4 tsp (3.7 ml) pure vanilla extract
125 g (1 cup, 4.4 oz) all-purpose flour
Twenty minutes (or longer) before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (160° C).
Toast the almonds: Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over-browning. Cool completely.
In a food processor, process the almonds with 2 T (25 g, 0.9 ounce) of the sugar and the salt until fairly fine but not powder.
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, mix the remaining sugar and the bittern low-speed for about 1 minute, or until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On low-speed, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating for about 20 seconds between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the almond mixture, water or liquor, and vanilla and mix on low-speed until the almond mixture is moistened. Beat for about 20 seconds until evenly incorporated.
Add the flour in four parts, turning off the mixer between addition, and beat no the lowest speed for about 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, or until firm.
If using regular brioche pans, use a large cookie scoop (about a tablespoon in volume) to ration the dough. (For mini brioche pans, scoop out rounded teaspoons of the dough (0.3 oz/10 g).
Roll each piece of dough between the floured palms of your hands into a ball and set it into a brioche pan. (The flour will prevent the dough from sticking to the pan.)
Press the dough balls into the pans. Use a finger to press the dough into the fluted edges.
If the dough is sticky, refrigerate the dough until firmer.
Set the dough-lined brioche pans at least 1/2-inch apart on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until golden brown. (An instant-read thermometer should read about 205°F/96°C.
Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Using a toothpick (for regular pans) or a needle (for mini pans), loosen one of the edges of the gâteaux to loosen it and invert it onto another wire rack. Cool completely.
Repeat process with remaining dough.
These cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room-temperature for up to 5 days, refrigerated for up to 10 days, or frozen up to 3 months.
The regular brioche tins are 8 cm/3 inches in diameter. The mini brioche pans are ~4.5 cm/1 3/4 inches in diameter.
I served this elegant tart on Thanksgiving Eve this year. It was very well received! The classic combination of pears and almonds was absolutely delicious.
This recipe was adapted from Dolester Miles’ recipe in Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill, via The Washington Post. The restaurant is located in Birmingham, Alabama. I used poaching liquid instead of rum in the filling and reduced the baking time. Wonderful!
Yield: 8 servings
For the Crust:
1 cup plus 3 T flour, plus more for the work surface
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the Pears:
3 cups granulated sugar
6 cups water
half a vanilla bean, split
one 3-inch cinnamon stick
5 (large) to 6 almost-ripe, firm pears, such as Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored
For the Filling:
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 T Calvados, dark rum, or poaching liquid
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 cup blanched/slivered or sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish
To Make the Crust:
Use cooking oil spray to grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Place the flour in a food processor.
Sprinkle the salt and cubes of butter into the flour. Pulse until the butter is pea-sized.
Pour the egg over the mixture; pulse just until the dough begins to come together.
Turn the dough out onto the counter, and then gather it into a disk.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 1 day.
Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap and roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. (I roll the dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.)
Transfer it to the tart pan, using your fingertips to line the pan with the dough. Trim the edges even with the rim of the pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.
To Poach the Pears:
Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
Add the pears; once the liquid begins to bubble at the edges, cook the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender and the tip of a paring knife slips into them easily. Let them cool in their liquid. Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
To Make the Filling and Finish the Tart:
When ready to assemble, make the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using for the topping.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy.
Reduce the speed to low; add the egg, ground almonds, flour, Calvados, rum, or poaching liquid and the almond extract. Beat for about 2 minutes, until smooth.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Unwrap and pour in the filling, spreading it evenly.
Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, placing them in a colander set over a bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the poaching liquid for this recipe; reserve and refrigerate the rest for poaching more fruit later.
Place the pears cut sides down on the tart filling, side by side with the narrow ends facing in, until the entire surface of the tart is covered with pears. Cover the edge of the tart to prevent over-browning and bake (middle rack) for about 28 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, cook the reserved cup of poaching liquid in a small saucepan over high heat until it has reduced to a glaze – about 2 to 3 tablespoons total. Remove from the heat.
Once the tart comes out of the oven, brush it with the glaze, then scatter the toasted almonds evenly over the top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.
Note: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. The pears can be stored in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The poaching liquid can be reused.
My entire family cannot stop eating pears this season. We are absolutely in love with them. Especially Bartletts. So, I really branched out by making these pear tarts instead of an apple pie for Thanksgiving this year in celebration of our love of pears. (As an aside, I have always had a love of tarts as well!)
This lovely tart recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Elisabeth Prueitt. I substituted 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract for the 2 tablespoons of brandy. I also made one 9-inch tart and one 10-inch tart because those are the size tart pans I own. 😉 The original recipe was for two 9-inch tarts. Because the tart sizes were different, each had a different pear pattern on top. Beautiful and delicious.
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: Makes 2 9-inch Tarts
For the Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1/4 cup ice water
For the Filling:
1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
3 large eggs
pinch of coarse salt
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sliced almonds, plus more for garnish, if desired
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons brandy or 1 T vanilla extract
6 ripe medium Bartlett pears, peeled, quartered and cored
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Pulse in the butter until it is the size of small peas.
Sprinkle the egg mixture on top and pulse just until a dough forms.
Scrape the pastry onto 2 sheets of plastic wrap and form into 2 disks. Wrap and refrigerate until chilled. (I let it chill overnight.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll out each pastry disk to a 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick. Fit the pastry into two 9-inch fluted tart pans with removable bottoms. Fold the overhang onto itself. Using a sharp knife or a rolling pin, trim off any excess pastry. Chill to set while you prepare the filling.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch.
Whisk in 1 egg and the salt.
Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then return it to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until thickened and just beginning to bubble around the edges, about 4 minutes.
Strain the custard into a bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter.
Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter with the sliced almonds at medium-low speed until the almonds are slightly crushed.
Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 eggs, then beat in the custard and brandy/vanilla.
Spoon the filling into the tarts. Place 1 pear quarter in the center of each tart; arrange the remaining quarters in a circle around it. (I made different patterns with the different size tarts, and was only able to place a pear quarter in the center of the 10-inch tart.)
Bake the tarts in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, rotating halfway between the cooking time, or until the pears are very tender and the custard and pastry are deep golden.
Let the tarts cool for 30 minutes, then unmold. Garnish with additional sliced almonds, if desired.
Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.
Note: The tarts can be stored overnight in airtight containers.