Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

I almost always mark the arrival of summer by when I can start baking with stone fruit. I’ve said multiple times before that the taste of peaches always reminds me of summer, and although I love nectarines and red plums, peaches will always be my first choice to eat or bake. A little over a week ago, my grocery store finally started stocking peaches; so you guys all know what had to happen.

I don’t think summer baking needs to be super complicated. In the first place, it’s hot, so when/if you use it, you don’t really want the oven to be on any longer than necessary. In the second place, the fruit’s delicious enough to where it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment/fancy stuff done to it. Just keep things simple.

This is definitely one of those recipes that colors safely within the Keep it Simple lines. The ingredients are minimal, there’s very little embellishment given to them, and it comes together relatively quickly as well.

It starts out with a quick vanilla cinnamon crust that gets pressed down into the tart pan and pre-baked ahead of time, which prevents the bottom from becoming soggy from all of the lovely fruit juices. While the crust bakes, you can put together the other two components: the fruit filling, and the streusel topping.

As I say in the recipe itself, one of the best things about this dessert is its flexibility; meaning, the fruit itself can be swapped out for substitutions of whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer. Peaches are my first choice, but any other stone fruit will work as well. Similarly, if you’re not a fan of blueberries or don’t have any on hand, raspberries or blackberries or strawberries will work just as well.

The star of the streusel topping for me are the almonds. They add both flavor and texture that plays really well against the flavors and texture of the fruit.

This is a perfect dessert for a summer cookout. I wasn’t at one when I made it, but in case you’re reading this and need a dessert/to make and take along with you to one, look no further: this is the one you want.

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Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart

Recipe Adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients

For Tart/Crust

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries*
  • 2 cups fresh sliced peaches*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottomm cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract just until blended and dough clumps together. (If it’s still too dry and you need to add in a tablespoon or so of water, that’s fine.)

Use your hands to press the dough into tart pan, making sure it’s evenly spread/layered to the edges.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine blueberries, peaches, honey and extracts; toss to coat.

For streusel topping: in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds.
Spoon fruit mixture into crust; Sprinkle the streusel on top.

Bake at 350° 45-50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving.

* Note: the peaches can be swapped out for any other stone fruit (nectarines, plums, even apricots) and the blueberries can be swapped out for any other berry.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #436.

Coffee Cookies

Although I’ve kicked the habit a few times in the past, I’m at a point in my life where coffee is an absolute necessity.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my morning coffee ritual is sacred to me. I legit get pissed when something gets in between me and that cup of Joe–not to mention a killer headache.

In the past, I’ve taken my coffee obsession into the kitchen and experimented with it as a baking ingredient, to really great results. After seeing that coffee could make for a really delicious cake and pan of blondies, I think it was rather inevitable that we’d eventually end up here.

A butter cookie is a great blank canvas recipe that allows for experimentation with flavors. When it’s a cookie press butter cookies it’s even better just because there’s so little labor involved in making them. After the dough is mixed, it’s literally as easy as pressing them out through the press onto a pan and baking them off within minutes. Because I was new to this, (and because I had always wanted to try this particular stencil on my cookie press), I took this route for my coffee cookies.

As you can see, this is a very simple, straightforward recipe to follow. The dough holds up very well to baking and still maintaining its shape/design. They’re not too sweet, which makes them ideal as snack alongside, what else? A cup of coffee.

One thing I will say is very important in making these, is making sure that the coffee you use to bake with is one that you would want to drink all on its own. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook/bake with it is a pretty good rule of thumb to follow in the kitchen in general, actually….but don’t ask me how I know.

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Coffee Cookies

Recipe Adapted from You Can Bake it Too

Ingredients

  • 250 grams butter, softened
  • ⅔ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite flavor of coffee*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar, until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl. Add the coffee and vanilla extract and mix just until combined.

With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Place dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are set and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely.

*Make sure the coffee you use is coffee you would want to drink. I first tried this with regular generic brand instant coffee, and the results weren’t what I wanted them to be. The cookie is going to taste like the coffee, so make sure the coffee tastes good to you.

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 #432.

Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

I’m dedicating today’s post to all the mothers in my life, in appreciation for all the work that they do. I truly believe that the mothering I’ve received (from my mom, as well as from many mother-figures) is one of the greatest blessings of my life. I am who I am because of them.

I hope all of you who do celebrate this holiday can somehow do so with the mothers and mother figures in your life.

For all who do not celebrate it, I hope you’ll at least stick around a few minutes longer for the food.

I knew leading up to it that I wanted to make something special for today, something that put me in the mind of springtime, as Mother’s Day always does. When I think of Spring, I automatically think of citrus, and since lemon is a favorite flavor of several mothers in my life, that’s the direction I decided to go in here.

This cake is going into the You Can’t Mess This Up category, seeing as it’s a one-bowl recipe that requires zero creaming or heavy machinery outside of a spoon, a bowl and your own two hands. With lemon juice, lemon zest AND lemon extract, it’s just about as lemon-y as can be, but I also really appreciate the inclusion of two other ingredients that really make it something special: cornmeal and rosemary.

You might think that cornmeal would make a cake crumb too coarse and unappetizing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for this one. It’s plenty moist, but the cornmeal gives the cake’s texture a unique ‘body’ and flavor that I think really works with the lemon. The herb is a no brainer; you can’t go wrong with lemon and rosemary.

I’ll be honest, I was just as excited to make this curd as I was to bake the cake; the cake may have been an excuse FOR me to make the curd, actually. The curd is sweet from the strawberries, and yet the lemon gives it that sharp, fresh acidity that hits that area in the back of your tongue just right; you know the one I’m talking about.

The idea of making/having a dessert that was essentially, strawberry lemonade ‘flavored’ was the impetus behind this whole thing, and I have to say I was SO pleased with the results. I think once you try it, you will be too.

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Lemon Cornmeal Cake & Strawberry Lemon Curd

Recipe Adapted from Our State and Blossom to Stem

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2½ cups whole buttermilk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped

For Curd

  • 1 1/4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 3-4 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, fully dissolved in a few tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and sliced into 6 roughly even slices

Directions

For Cake

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.

Make a well in the center of the ingredients. Pour in the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, buttermilk, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and rosemary. Stir just to moisten.

Spit the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top of the cornmeal cake starts to brown and show cracks. (Cakes are done at an inner temp of 190°. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

For Curd

Place the strawberries in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer the strawberries until they have some give when prodded with a silicone spatula. They don’t need to be very cooked berries, but you don’t want frozen centers either. It shouldn’t take any longer than about 5 minutes.


Add the strawberries to a blender. Then add the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and blend until thoroughly pureed. Then crack each egg into the blender and blend until just incorporated (just a quick pulse is all you need for these).
Place the mixture back in the saucepan, add the cornstarch water.

Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a heat safe spatula, until the mixture reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir gently. The mixture will be fairly runny, but don’t worry, it will thicken up in the refrigerator.

Pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl (ideally one with a pouring spout). Transfer to jars or other airtight containers and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #431.

Cardamom Butter Cookies

I think I’m about ready for Spring to come and stay.

I picked up a habit a few years ago of baking for the approach of a ‘season,’ meaning even if the weather isn’t necessarily matching what I want it to be at the time, I bake for it in anticipation of its arrival.

For instance, when I baked today’s recipe, the weather was nowhere near resembling Spring. But lo and behold, today as I type this post, it’s 73 degrees fahrenheit and sunny where I am. Pretty neat.

A cookie press can be a really cool gadget to keep in your baking toolkit so long as you have the right one and are using the right cookie recipe. In case you guys were curious, this is the one that I use, and after 3+ years, it’s never given me any issues (unlike some other brands. Also, they didn’t pay me to say that, I’m just spreading the word out of appreciation for the product).

So far as the right cookie recipe, you want to stick with standard, no frills or mix-in dough (sans-baking soda) that deliver a crisp butter cookie with a short crumb. Simplicity is your best friend best here.

Aren’t these pretty? The dough comes together in minutes, and the vanilla and cardamom work really well together to give the cookie a nice balance between sweet and spice. These are perfect alongside tea and coffee.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget to freeze your baking sheets before using the cookie press, it makes all the difference in achieving a neat and sharply designed cookie!

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Cardamom Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from TeaTime Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit., Place about 3 baking sheets in the freezer to chill thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon zest at low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium, and beat until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl.

Gradually add eggs, beating until well combined after each addition and scraping down sides as needed. Add vanilla paste, beating until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, and salt. With mixer at low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined. (Dough will be quite thick.)

Place chilled dough into your cookie press. Press dough out onto ungreased and unlined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are set and lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans once. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks. Let cool completely.

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 #429.

Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Like many kids her age (and no doubt many kids at heart), my niece loves sprinkles. She’ll eat them in pretty much anything. For myself, even when I was her age they never did much for me the foodie in me.

They don’t add much of anything to foods, flavor-wise. But I will admit that they do make them nicer to look at.

One thing I will say I’ve learned from doing a lot of baking for a kid with an affinity for sprinkles is that they’re not all created equal. Certain sprinkles work better for certain baked goodies than others.

The two predominant types of sprinkles are nonpareils (the microscopic little spheres) and jimmies (the narrow, oblong shapes). There’s also sanding sugar, dragees, pearl sugar and quins. As I said, these don’t all ‘work’ the same way. Some work better for baking than others. Some I wouldn’t recommend baking with at all.

For instance, nonpareils and sanding sugar are poor choices for mixing into dough or batter. They’re very tiny, and thus don’t distribute well. That tiny size also gives them a poor ‘bleeding ‘factor when they’re baked. I know from trial and error that it’s just not appealing. They are however good choices for sprinkling or pressing on top of frosting.

There’s a reason why jimmies are one of the more popular types of sprinkles. In the first place, they pop in color. Second, they don’t taste terrible in and of themselves (you’d be surprised how many sprinkles actually aren’t that tasty). Third, they ‘bleed’ well/effectively when baked. That ‘bleeding’ factor is important when it comes to picking out sprinkles, and it also matters in today’s recipe. I wouldn’t recommend using any other type of sprinkles but jimmies in this cookie dough. You’ll be mixing, then rolling and you need a sprinkle that can hold up under that kind of handling.

The cookie itself is simply flavored with vanilla and almond. It’s slightly crisp on the outside, with a tender crumb on the inside. My niece loved them. Plus, they’re pretty; just as a funfetti cookie should be.

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Funfetti Sugar Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Southern Lady Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cups rainbow colored jimmy sprinkles, divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, use a standing or handheld mixer to cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and extracts and mix just until combined.

Add the flour in two batches, just until combined. Stir in the sprinkles.

Form the dough into a wide, flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut as many cookies as possible, rerolling scraps until all dough is used.

Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar.

Bake until edges are lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on pan for 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #427.

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Happy Christmas Eve eve, everyone.

We’ve reached the end of the 12 Days of Christmas series and we’ve just about reached the end of 2021.

That is absolutely bonkers to me.

The year flew by for me, and what a year it’s been. I have mixed emotions.

On the one hand, it’s been busy, challenging, and at times very stressful.

On the other hand, it’s also been very rewarding, validating and blessed.

Life’s not perfect, these are trying times we’re living in, and I’d be lying if I said it never got to me.

But at the end of the day, I like my life. I love what I do. I feel very blessed and grateful that I get to do it, and I have people in my life whose love and support makes all of the above possible. Those are facts that I try to remind myself of whenever times do get rough.

I understand that the holidays are not a particularly enjoyable time of year for everyone, for various reasons. To whoever you are and wherever you are that’s reading this, I hope that you can find at least a little bit of comfort, peace and joy, in whatever way that looks like for you. For me, doing this Christmas baking series is a huge source of my yearly holiday cheer. If it’s brought some to any of you, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you all as the finale of the 12 Days of Christmas. It really surpassed my expectations and hopes for it when I first got the idea to try it out.

I’ve made pull apart bread twice before on the blog, with fantastic results. I knew going into this year’s series that I wanted to give it a holiday makeover, and this is what I came up with.

Pull apart bread requires a sturdy enriched dough that can stand up to the filling, and so I went with my go-to challah recipe for this. The filling itself is my go-to cranberry sauce recipe, but you can use whatever cranberry flavored jelly/preserves thing you prefer.

One thing I must insist on though is that you make sure your baking pan/tin is big enough to accommodate this loaf. I’m not kidding: this recipe makes a LOT of bread, y’all. Feel free to invite over a crowd, OR, make plans for a killer pain perdu. Both will work.

You guys, please have an amazing holiday and rest of the year. Congratulations for making it through 2021; here’s to 2022 and whatever it has in store for us. Please stay safe out there.

Jess ❤

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

Day 11: Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Day 12: Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Cranberry Pull Apart Wreath

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • the zest of 1 large orange
  • 2 cups of homemade cranberry sauce or preserves. (I use this recipe)

Directions

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Sprinkle white sugar on top of that and allow to proof about 10 minutes until yeast is frothy.

Beat in honey, oil, eggs, orange zest and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need to use all the flour, this varies according to kitchen temperature and time of year)

Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Grease and flour a 16 cup tube pan; set aside.

Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and keep one half covered in the bowl while you work with the other

Roll the half out into a 12 inch square. Use a spatula to spread HALF of the cranberry sauce/preserves over the dough. Use a pizza wheel, bench scraper or sharp knife to cut the square into 16 small squares. Make 4 stacks of 4 squares each. Place each stack on its side into the tube pan. Gently separate the dough layers so the dough fills the pan (it doesn’t have to be neat). Repeat this step with the other half of dough and the other half of the cranberry sauce/preserves.

Cover tube pan with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in warm place until dough rises by half its size, about 1 hour. Just before baking, sprinkle the top with white sugar. Bake until loaf is browned & cooked through (195-200 degrees F inner temp), tenting with foil if browning too quickly. Allow to cool in pan for about 30 minutes, then loosen with a knife around the sides. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 more minutes before slicing and serving.

Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Just two more days of the 12 Days of Christmas, and just three more days until the actual day of. I feel like it came super fast this year, and as always, I’m a little sad that it’ll be over soon.

I’ll tell you one thing I’m not sad about though: today’s recipe.

I’ve mentioned before here that the best desserts (in my opinion) are the ones that have texture to them, and blondies are one of my personal favorites on that score.

This recipe has texture written all over it. There’s two components: a rich fudgy blondie layer on the bottom, and a chewy gingersnap cookie dough that gets plopped all over on top.

When you put those components together, you get a thing of pure, delicious beauty.

What do you guys think? I promise, it tasted every bit as good as it looks.

Also, as an added tip: serve it a la mode. Trust me.

One more day left of the 12 Days of Christmas; be sure to go back and look at the past ten days of recipes if 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

Day 7: Cranberry Custard Pie

Day 8: Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

Day 9: Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Day 10: Winter Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 11: Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Gingersnap Blondie Brookies

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

Blondie Layer

  • 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Gingersnap Cookie Layer

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
  • Holiday colored sprinkles, if desired

Directions

For Blondie Layer: in a medium saucepan cook and stir brown sugar and butter over medium until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Cool 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges. Grease foil. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir egg and vanilla into brown sugar mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan.

For Cookie Layer: in a medium bowl stir together flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a large bowl beat butter with a mixer on low 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar. Beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg and molasses until combined. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture.

Crumble cookie dough over blondie batter in pan. Sprinkle coarse sugar and sprinkles over top. Bake about 45 minutes or until browned and set. (The middle needs to have risen/puffed up; if it has not, the blondies are still not cooked through)

Cool in pan on a wire rack. Using foil, lift out uncut bars. Cut into bars.

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.

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

In the Top 5 rankings of my favorite pies, The Pecan has been the undefeated champion for years now. It just ticks all the boxes for me: sweetness, butter and texture in abundance. Not only that, when it comes to labor, pecan is one of the easiest to make.

Something I’ve started to do lately is experiment with see how well my favorite pies translate into different iterations, like tarts or bars. I had great results with Day 2’s Sweet Potato Bars, and today’s recipe on Day 9 is yet another experiment I did with successful results. Not only that, it features one of my favorite ingredients to bake with: browned butter.

Browned butter is one of those ingredients that in my opinion serves to elevate already delicious foods to heights you may not have thought them even capable of. I have yet to try it in anything, sweet or savory food alike when I haven’t been completely satisfied with the addition of browned butter. I’m pleased to report that the pecan pie is no exception.

I like to think of this as pecan pie for a crowd in that it serves more people than the standard 9 inch pie, and the browned butter gives it an added flair that you usually try to whip out when/if you’re trying to show off a bit for guests. It would be a perfect dessert for Christmas dinner. Just a suggestion.

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

Browned Butter Pecan Tart

Recipe Adapted from the Daily Meal

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves, lightly toasted

Directions

For Crust: Coat a 10-inch loose-bottomed fluted tart pan with nonstick spray (round or rectangular); set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the flat paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat on medium-high speed until lightened and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Add the flour and pulse the mixer on and off until it begins to combine, and then run the mixer on medium-low speed just until the dough begins to form. Scrape out onto plastic wrap and use the wrap to help press the dough into a flat disk shape. Wrap the dough thoroughly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and fit into the pan, pressing into corners and trimming the top flush with fluted edges. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for 15 minutes while the oven preheats. (At this point, you can double-wrap the tart shell very well in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking, or freeze for up to 1 week.)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake directly on the oven rack for 8 to 12 minutes or just until it feels dry to the touch and is beginning to color around the edges. Check about halfway through baking; if the crust is puffing up, gently press back down with the back of a fork. Cool the tart pan set on a rack while you make filling.

For Filling: Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter browns, but do not let it burn.*

(To Brown Butter: Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.)

Remove browned butter from the heat and whisk in the sugar and golden syrup or corn syrup. Allow to cool slightly (you maybe transfer this to a mixing bowl if you like to hasten the cooling). Once it is barely warm, whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the bourbon, if using, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Scrape into the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes. The filling will be slightly puffed and set around the edges. The middle might still look a bit soft; that’s okay. It firms up tremendously upon cooling. Cool the pan on a rack. The tart is ready to serve or may be loosely covered with foil and stored at room temperature overnight.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #411, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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.