Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I think there are some recipe classics that just shouldn’t be messed with, sometimes I get an idea in my head for a new addition or flair to give a classic, and I just can’t get it out of my head until I at least give it a shot.

Today’s recipe was one of those times.

I’ve long been of the opinion that the chocolate chip recipe that I use is as close to perfect as can be. I’ve been using it for years and there’s only been one other time I made a modification to it.

However, while I was brainstorming for recipes to include on this year’s 12 Days of Christmas, this idea popped into my head and my curiosity kept eating away at me until I decided to finally give it a try.

What I’ve learned is that so long as you don’t change the basic chemistry of a baking recipe, you can feel free to add some variation to it and see what happens. That’s basically what I did here; taking my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, and adding some winter spices to the dry ingredients.

I really really liked what the spice mixture did for this recipe. I was concerned that the cloves and pepper in particular would be a little bit too strong, but they’re really not. The first taste that you get is of the chocolate, but then as it lingers, the flavor of the spices begin to settle in on the tongue. It’s very pleasant, and what I think turned out to be a successful holiday adaptation of a classic.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land o’ Lakes

Ingredients

  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, plus more if desired

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in bowl; set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in another bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Using a 1/4 cup measuyre, scoop out portions of dough and roll into balls. Place the balls in a resealable plastic container and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 375°F.

Place the dough balls 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Press additional chocolate chips into the tops of cookies, if desired. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Icebox cookies are some of my favorites to make, but especially at the holidays.

The dough is typically very no-fuss with simple, classic flavors. With icebox cookies, you can make a rather large quantity at one time rather than having to space them out on a baking sheet. The texture is also usually crisp and short, so they also keep/ship very well.

For those that have never made them before, icebox cookie dough is shaped into a log, then that log is kept refrigerated (thus, the icebox part) and cookies get sliced off from the log and baked as needed/wanted. As a simple cookie, they typically also look pretty simple, but there are variations that get a little (and sometimes, a lot) creative with the presentation; this is one of my favorite preferences/approaches to take.

The simplicity and structure of ice box cookie dough allows for it to be ‘played with’ in the sense that although the texture of the cookie will remain the same, the look can be adjusted to numerous possibilities. I’ve experimented with some of them in past recipes on the blog, like here with Checkerboard Cookies, and even before at the holidays with Vanilla-Red Pinwheels.

Going into this year, I knew I wanted to take another stab at an icebox ‘shaped’ cookie, and these seemed like the perfect new variation to try. Whereas the shaped icebox cookies I made before have either been a vanilla-chocolate or a vanilla-red velvet combination, this time the flavor combo is a vanilla cookie with a pecan flavored one.

Shaped icebox cookies tend to look a lot more elaborate and difficult to make then they actually are, and that applies here too. As I said in the past, the only real ‘trick’ to pulling them off successfully is knowing the right temperature/feel of the cookie doughs when the time comes to assemble/ roll the two together into the desired shape. If it’s too cold, it will crack. Too warm, and it will be extremely difficult to handle and keep it’s shape. Once you find the happy medium dough temperature, they’re a cinch.

And I can also personally confirm that the results, both visual and taste-wise are SO worth the labor involved.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

Ingredients

  • 1⅔ cups, plus 1½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, divided
  • ½ cup pecan pieces, toasted*
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, divided
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1½ cups flour, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon baking powder. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a food processor, place pecan pieces and 2 tablespoons flour mixture; pulse until pecans are finely ground. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can do what
I did and place the pecan pieces in a resealable plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin until they are finely ground). Add pecan mixture to remaining flour mixture, whisking to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat ½ cup (113 grams) butter and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour-pecan mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Clean bowl of stand mixer and paddle attachment. Using the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and remaining ½ cup (113 grams) butter at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add 1 egg and remaining 1½ teaspoons vanilla, beating until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1⅔ cups flour, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon baking powder. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Let doughs stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. On a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll vanilla dough into a 14×10-inch rectangle (⅛ inch thick). Transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Repeat procedure with pecan dough.

Transfer vanilla dough on parchment to a flat surface. Carefully invert pecan dough on top of vanilla dough. Between sheets of parchment, gently roll over doughs a few times to press together. Peel away top sheet of parchment. Starting at one long side, roll dough into a log, using bottom sheet of parchment to help lift and roll. (If dough cracks, stop rolling, and let stand for a few minutes until pliable.) Be sure to roll doughs together as tightly as possible to avoid gaps. Trim any pecan dough if uneven after rolling. Tightly wrap in parchment paper, twisting ends of parchment to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet, seam side down. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or freeze until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 egg (50 grams). In another small bowl, stir together chopped pecans and turbinado sugar. Pour onto a piece of parchment paper. Brush log with egg wash, and roll in pecan sugar. Roll back and forth a few times so sugar sticks to log. Using a sharp knife, cut log into ½-inch-thick slices. Place about 1 inch apart on prepared pans.

Bake until edges are just beginning to turn golden, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cool completely on pans. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.

Notes: *To toast pecans in the oven, preheat oven to 350°F and spread pecans in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. When the oven is ready, bake the nuts until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Remember that nuts continue to cook even after they have been removed from the oven, so don’t hesitate to pull them from the oven once they begin to change color. Once the nuts are warm but not too hot to handle, chop as desired. Nuts are still slightly soft when they’re still warm, so this will make cleaner cuts than if you wait to chop them when the nuts are cool and brittle.

No one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.

Gingerbread Biscotti

It’s no doubt the caffeine lover in me, but I’m a sucker for baked goods I can enjoy with my coffee.

There’s just something about the bitter taste of the coffee that makes the sweetness of the baked good that much more delicious.

With the frequency with which I bake for this blog, I’m always looking for variety and new things to try out. As such, I have noticed that there are certain recipes that have what I’ve come to view as a ‘repeat factor’; meaning, they have a certain likelihood of whether or not I’m going to be baking them again.

Some recipes ‘score’ higher than others, but I will say that recipes I enjoy eating alongside coffee or tea have definitely secured higher scores in their Repeat Factor. For that reason alone, biscotti has a leg up in the rankings.

Beside that, it’s easy to make, it stores/ships with no fuss, and because it’s biscotti there’s not the same worry about the cookies ‘staying fresh.’

I’ve been meaning to make gingerbread flavored biscotti for years, but for whatever reason, I didn’t get along to it until now. Boy, was that a mistake.

But regardless, I can now report back that it’s delicious, and that I’ve been enjoying these immensely alongside my morning (and afternoon) coffee. Biscotti also makes for a perfect selection for cookie boxes/gifts for all the aforementioned reasons. Plus, doesn’t it just look so festive?

We’re halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas; check out the already posted recipes below in case you haven’t already!

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Day 6: Gingerbread Biscotti

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Gingerbread Biscotti

Recipe Adapted from Land o’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Biscotti:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mild molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse sugar, for sprinkling

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk or water
  • Holiday nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, ginger, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Add molasses; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.

Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 12-inch log on lightly floured surface. Place logs 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Flatten logs slightly. Spray tops of logs with cooking spray, then sprinkle coarse sugar on top.

Bake 22-25 minutes or until lightly browned and tops are slightly cracked. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Carefully place logs onto cutting surface. Cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices with serrated knife (a bread knife works perfectly for this). Place, cut-side down, onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.

Return to oven. Bake 9 minutes; turn slices. Continue baking 5-7 minutes or until cookies are dry and crisp. Cool completely.

Combine icing ingredients together with a fork until it is at desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti, then sprinkle the nonpareils on top. Allow to sit until icing it set, about 30 minutes. Store biscotti in a sealed container or plastic bag.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Sometimes I wish I was more ‘scientifically’ minded, so that I could be more into the ‘technical’ aspect of baking. At its core, baking of any kind is just a science experiment. Certain ingredients put together in a certain way have a certain reaction, and that reaction is the ‘product.’

I’ve been doing this long enough to where I know or have a rough idea what kinds of reactions certain ingredients and certain methods have, but I’m not at the point where I I understand the full science behind it.

For instance, a lot of practice and trial/error has given me a very good grasp on what ingredients and methods work for baking (American-style) biscuits. I know what they do, but the scientific ‘how’ of the ingredients/methods? Eh.

Cookies are another recipe that I really wish I understood the science behind more. I know how to make them, but there are times when I think if I understood the ‘whys’ of making them, I could be better at it. Today’s recipe was one of those times.

They weren’t quite what I expected when I set out to make them, but I still really like how they turned out. I thought they would be more along the lines of a smallish, puffy cookie and in reality, they were indeed chewy, but they spread quite a bit and were flatter than I imagined. Now either that happened because I was doing something wrong, or because I needed to have a firmer grasp on how my ingredients were going to react

Or, y’know… both.

But regardless, I still liked these enough to leave them on the list for the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s the flavor for me; the brown sugar and molasses gives them great, rich flavor up the wazoo. If you like the large, bakery style cookies that have crisp edges and a chewy center, these are definitely for you. They also keep and ship very well.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to google/hunt down a ‘science behind cookies’ article.

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Day 4: Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Day 5: Brown Sugar Cookies

Brown Sugar Cookies

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and the molasses and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Place the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Form the cookies into 1 1/2-ounce balls (2 tablespoons). Roll each ball in the sugar and place cookie dough balls in a resealable plastic container lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line three sheet pans with parchment paper. (If you don’t have 3 baking sheets, you can reuse the parchment and baking sheets, just let the sheets cool off between each round.)

Place 8 cookies on each sheet pan. Bake one pan at a time, rotating halfway through baking. Bake until the sides are set and the bottoms are light golden brown, 10 to 11 minutes.

Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the pan, then remove them and let them cool completely on the wire rack.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

If I were facing down a platter of cookies and I had a choice between a snickerdoodle and a peanut butter cookie, I honestly can’t tell you which one I would pick.

For me, the choice comes down to what flavor(s) and what textures I’m in the mood for at the moment.

A snickerdoodle is more of a chewy/cakey cookie with a warm, sugar-spice-everything nice flavor profile. The peanut butter cookie may be crisp, or chewy, but the flavor profile is pretty much…peanut butter. Which, needs no help from anything else. It’s delicious enough all by itself.

The thing is, they’re both delicious cookies…but what if you put them together?

I’m always curious about trying out ‘mishmash’ recipes that combine two classics into a hybrid one, and seeing how well it does or doesn’t work. Today’s recipe combines the snickerdoodle and the peanut butter cookie together and I have to say, I think it works.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, structurally and texturally, these do lean more on the peanut butter cookie side. The snickerdoodle element comes in towards the end, where the balls of cookie dough are rolled in cinnamon sugar to create that crackly sugar crust of goodness that are reminiscent of snickerdoodles.

These are really easy to make so far as cookies go, and they pack/ship very well. If you’re like me and you couldn’t choose between peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies on a platter either, make it easy on yourself and just try these out.

And! Be sure to stay updated with the other recipes shared thus far on this year’s 12 Days of Christmas (see below…)

Day 1: Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Day 3: Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South Magazine

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter-flavored shortening
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter (use whichever you prefer; I used crunchy)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a large bowl, beat shortening, ½ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla with a mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add peanut butter, beating until smooth. Add egg, beating to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture to shortening mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add cream, beating to combine.
In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls; roll in sugar mixture to coat.

Place dough balls in a plastic container lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Cover lightly and refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place cookie dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Using a fork, flatten each ball to about ½-inch thickness, making a crosshatch design.

Bake until edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #410.

Pecan Toffee Snickerdoodles

Hey y’all. It’s been two weeks since my last post rather than the typical one. It wasn’t intentional, I’m just super preoccupied with the goings-on of RL and apart of RL for me right now is getting ready to finish out one stage of my life and transition into a completely different one. I’m a bit on the frazzled side most of the time, but in a good way. Just send me lots and lots of good vibes over the next few weeks.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to my preferences for cookies. It’s a texture thing for me. I do prefer to make them for myself at home just because my texture preferences for cookies are very particular, and I know that I have a better chance at getting the texture that I want in the cookie if I do it myself.

Snickerdoodles are one of those cookies where the texture is key and for that reason, if I want one, I’m more than likely just going to bake it rather than buy. I’d had my eye on this recipe to try out for a while and it really only needed sone modifications in the technique to get it to where it needed to be.

Most snickerdoodles are just flavored with cinnamon, but these have added flavor and texture with the addition of both toasted pecans and chopped Heath chocolate bars. I do recommend giving them the overnight chill in the fridge. There are very few cookie recipes where I don’t do this, as I find that chilled dough just results in a better textured cookie that won’t spread like a pancake when you bake it.

This is truly a next level snickerdoodle. The combination of cinnamon, chocolate and pecans just really works and I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be go back to making them the plain way every again.

Wear a mask. Social distance. If you haven’t already, get the vaccine when you can. Be kind.

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Pecan-Toffee Snickerdoodles

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extraxt
  • Five 1.4-ounce chocolate toffee bars, chopped 
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until just combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat on low until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate toffee bars and pecans and stir to combine.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup or a cookie scoop to scoop leveled mounds of cookie dough. Roll each mound into a ball. Transfer cookie dough balls to a plastic container (place a layer of wax paper, foil or parchment paper in between the top and bottom layer of dough balls so they don’t stick together). Cover the plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the cookie dough balls evenly spaced out on the baking sheets. Use the heel of your hands to gently press them down about 1 1/2-2 inches.

Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are rippled and golden brown and the center is soft. Lift the baking sheet up a few inches, then let it tap down once against the flat surface of a countertop.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with the remaining baking sheets.

Also linking this up to Fiesta Friday #379.

Raspberry Hamantaschen

This post is late. In more ways than one.

I typically try to have my weekly blog post up by Saturday, but I was up against a deadline for work and had to push the blog post back a day. Then, this particular post is one I intended to have up several months ago, when it would have made more sense and aligned more with its cultural significance.

But in any case, here we are.

I’m not Jewish, but I was raised in a Christian church where we read from the Book of Esther at least once a year. Long story short, Esther was an ancient Hebrew queen who married a Persian King called Xerxes. The villain in the Book of Esther is one of the King’s advisors, a man named Haman who conspires to kill all of the Hebrew people in Persia without realizing that the Queen herself is Jewish.

In the end, Esther and her cousin Mordecai manage to outsmart Haman and save the Jewish people of Persia from extermination, which from what I understand, is what the Jewish celebration of Purim commemorates. At Purim, Hamantaschen cookies get made. For what ever reason, the cookies are named after Haman, with their triangular shape signifying the shape of his hat.

(At least, that’s my understanding of it, but anyone can feel free to correct any part of the above that’s not accurate if you celebrate Purim.)

Anyway, Purim 2021 was several months ago, but I’ve been intending to try to make Hamantaschen for several years now. I had some raspberry preserves on hand and the process seemed relatively easy, so I decided to give it a try.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps. The directions are thorough but that’s just to make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible, and if you’d like visuals, just check out the link to the blog I adapted the recipe from.

These were delicious. As you can see, they bake up very pretty and although there was a little bit of seepage of the raspberry preserves, it wasn’t anything that ruined the look or the taste.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine if you can. Be kind.

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Raspberry Hamantaschen

Recipe Adapted from Tori Avey

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-5 tsp water (if needed)
  • 1 10 oz jar of raspberry preserves (I liked mine with the seeds, but you can go with seedless if you prefer)

Directions

Sift flour together in a small bowl with the salt. Stir with a fork and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, orange zest and the vanilla, beating together just until combined.

Add the flour in two batches, mixing just until combined. Begin to knead dough with hands till a smooth dough ball forms. Try not to overwork the dough, only knead till the dough is the right consistency. If the dough is still too dry to hold together, add a few teaspoons of the water at a time, just until it comes together.

Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour a smooth, clean surface. Have the raspberry preserves and 1 teaspoon scoop ready.

Unwrap the dough disk and place it on the floured surface. The dough will be very firm after chilling.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll one quarter at a time out to 1/4 inch thick. At the beginning, it will be tough to roll out– you may need to pound it a bit. A heavy rolling pin works best. As you roll, cracks may form on the edges of the dough. Repair any large cracks with your fingers and continue rolling.

When the dough reaches 1/4 inch thickness, scrape the dough up with a pastry scraper, lightly reflour the surface, and flip the dough over. Continue rolling the dough out very thin (less than 1/8 of an inch thick). The thinner you roll the dough, the more delicate and crisp the cookies will turn out– just make sure that the dough is still thick enough to hold the filling and its shape! If you prefer a thicker, more doughy texture to your cookies (less delicate), keep the dough closer to 1/4 inch thick. Lightly flour the rolling pin occasionally to prevent sticking.

Use a 3-inch cookie cutter (not smaller) or the 3-inch rim of a glass to cut circles out of the dough, cutting as many as you can from the dough.Gather the scraps and roll them out again. Cut circles. Repeat process again if needed until you’ve cut as many circles as you can from the dough. 

Place a teaspoon of the preserves into the center of each circle. Do not use more than a teaspoon of preserves, or you run the risk of your hamantaschen opening and the preserves spilling out during baking. Cover unused circles with a lightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are filling.

Assemble the hamantaschen in three steps. First, grasp the left side of the circle and fold it towards the center to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.Grasp the right side of the circle and fold it towards the center, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center.

Grasp the bottom part of the circle and fold it upward to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, be sure to tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle. This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under– it creates a “pinwheel” effect.

Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape. If any cracks have formed at the places where the dough is creased, use the warmth of your fingers to smooth them out.Repeat this process for the remaining circles.

When all of your hamantaschen have been filled, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spaced.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-25 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and lightly golden. Start checking them at 10 minutes; because the dough thickness tends to vary on these cookies they can cook quite fast if rolled thin. In most ovens it will take around 15-20 minutes, but best to keep a close watch over them as they cook to avoid overcooking or burning.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Store them in a tightly sealed plastic bag or Tupperware.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #377, cohosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Cappuccino M&M Cookie Bars

When it comes to candy, I really only still rock with chocolate. Snicker bars are the perfect candy bar. Peanut M&Ms also remain a favorite of mine.

About two years ago, I discovered a flavor of Peanut M&Ms called Coffee Nut. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that coffee and I are bound at the hip. I love to drink with it, and I’ve also loved finding ways to incorporate it into my cooking and baking.

But y’all, let me tell you: Coffee Nut M&Ms are unparalleled when it comes to coffee flavored anything, let alone coffee flavored candy. They are SOOOOO good.

And apparently I’m not the only one that feels that way, because whether I’m on the West or East coast, Coffee Nut M&Ms are always a hot commodity in grocery stores. It’s a toss up whether or not they have any in stock, and if they do, I always buy 2-3 bags just to stock up in case there aren’t any later. While they’re perfectly delicious on they’re own, the baker in me is always thinking about a way to repurpose my favorite ingredients into a recipe, and this was no exception.

Cookie bars are an easy and pretty foolproof way of baking cookies when you don’t have the time or energy to let the dough chill or roll out individual portions. They taste the same, they just have a tendency to be a bit more chewy and fudgy in texture–which I prefer with my cookies anyway.

When it came to these, I adapted a chocolate chip cookie bar recipe and made some modifications; first, I obviously swapped out the chocolate chips for the Coffee Peanut M&Ms, and then I added some instant espresso powder to the dough. After they were finished, I topped them off with a cappuccino flavored glaze.

If you’re a coffee lover, these are a must try.

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Cappuccino M&M Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

For Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Cup Coffee Nut Peanut M&Ms

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot cappuccino
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.

Beat the 2 sticks softened butter, 1 cup each granulated and light brown sugar and espresso powder with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add the 3 eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add 3 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Stir in the M&Ms.

 Spread the cookie dough in the prepared pan or press in using damp or oiled fingers. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until it has reached desired consistency. Use a fork to drizzle over the cooled bars.  Allow glaze to set, then cut into squares.

Fiesta Friday #373, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies really should be a separate ‘genre’ of baking all on their own.

I know that they’re a classic and with classics people tend to search for that One and Only Holy Grail of a recipe, but in my experience I’ve found that there are so many ways to make a perfect one.

My mom always used to tell me that in both cooking and baking, getting ‘good’ was a matter of getting comfortable with a base recipe and/or technique, then once I grew comfortable with it, experimenting with other flavors and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It’s advice that’s never steered me wrong in the kitchen.

The older I get, the more that I notice that my taste buds tend to prefer a counterbalance to the sweetness with either salt or bitter flavors. Salt and sweet is a combination that I’m growing increasingly interested in using in baking, and today’s recipe was eye-opening in showing me just how well it could work.

A chocolate chip cookie with pecans is already a winner so far as I’m concerned, but this recipe takes things a step further. First, butterscotch, butternut or butter-rum flavor is added to the dough, which I would best describe as a rich browned butter extract that pairs VERY well with chocolate. If you can’t find it in stores, it’s definitely available on Amazon. And if you can’t find it at all, that’s fine too. The cookies will still come out amazing because of the second element.

After the dough is made, chilled and portioned out into balls, it then gets rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt. As it bakes, that sugar and salt creates a sort of crackly, salty-sweet crust on the outside of the cookie.

And y’all: that crust is where the magic happens.

In the first place, it creates amazing texture to contrast with the fudgy, chewy interior of the cookie itself. And second, the flavor of the salt in that sugar crust is INSANE. Taken together with the sweetness of the sugar, the nuttiness of the pecans, and the slight bitterness of the chocolate, it literally hit every note.

I tried these on a whim and I can honestly say they’re my new favorite way to make chocolate chip cookies, and are definitely in my top three of cookies I’ve ever made. They’re well worth trying out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping* (The amount of salt depends upon how much of a salty-sweet combination you prefer. I went for the full 1 teaspoon, and it was perfect, to ME.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast until they’ve darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, and extracts, beating until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg, again beating until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.

If you’re going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.

Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2″ balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between them on all sides; they’ll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4″ balls of dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes — 10 minutes for smaller cookies made from unrefrigerated dough, 12 for larger cookies whose dough has been refrigerated (and something in between for other iterations of size and refrigeration). Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan until they’ve set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #370.

Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

I love when something happens that’s unexpected but really awesome.

The weekend I made today’s recipe, I had several surprises happen that were really unexpected, but still great. I was in a great mood, I had more time to experiment in the kitchen than I normally do, and so I decided on a random whim to try out something new.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I am a staunch browned butter advocate. Regardless of the food, it will improve literally anything that you’re cooking, whether it’s sweet or savory.

Slice and bake cookies are another of those baking recipes that I put in my “You Can’t Mess this Up” category. The dough is very quick and forgiving in putting it together, and after you’ve let it rest in the fridge, all that’s left to do is literally slice, throw the cookies on a sheet and bake them up.

Best of all, it’s also a recipe where you don’t have to bake the batch all at once if you prefer not to. You can leave the log in the fridge or freezer, slice off as many cookies as you want (or don’t want), and save the rest for later.

Having said that, I will throw out a disclaimer in that, you’re going to want to make the whole batch of these because they’re just that good and if you have other people living with you in your house, they’re going to gobble them up and you won’t have enough ready-made for yourself to enjoy.

I can predict this, because it’s pretty much what happened to me.

If I had to describe what they taste like, I’d say they are the best pecan sandie you’ve ever had and didn’t know that you needed in your life. The cookie is delicious enough by itself; it’s crisp and full of nutty, pecan flavor. The filling is what sends them over the top: it’s rich, and full of that delicious, golden flavor that can only come from browned butter.

These disappeared in our house quick. Try ’em out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (yolks only)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Half & Half, cream, or milk

Directions

For Cookies:

Combine 1 cup butter and brown sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour, pecans and salt; beat at low speed until dough forms a ball.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into 10-inch-long log (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Wrap each log tightly in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut each log into 1/8-inch slices with sharp knife; place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

For Filling: Melt 1/4 cup butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until butter just starts to brown. (Butter will bubble and foam. Watch closely.) Immediately remove from heat. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar,1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough half & half for desired spreading consistency.Spread 1 level teaspoon filling on bottom-side of 1 cookie; top with second cookie, bottom-side down. Squeeze together gently. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #369.