Swedish Gingerbread

While my memory serves me, and before winter expires, I’m chronicling some of the more memorable holiday baking I did. Hopefully this will make next year easier, unless I decide to reinvent the wheel, like usual.

We did a couple of things this Christmas to celebrate my family’s Swedish ancestry, including a family gathering that spotlighted Swedish Christmas food. I had clipped this recipe from a Saveur magazine years ago, but hadn’t yet made it, so it was finally time. There were a lot of desserts at the gathering (that’s how we celebrate!) so I was surprised to see that so many of these delightful cookies had been eaten. I worried that the amount of cloves would deter the kids, but quite the opposite: it made them distinctive and delightful. I can’t wait to make them again. A new Christmas favorite! Saveur reports getting this recipe from an 80-year-old bakery in Stockholm called Vete-Katten. Worth a visit!

swedish gingerbread saveur

Swedish Gingerbread Cookies

34 c. flour
3 t. ground cloves
12 t. ground cinnamon
12 t. ground ginger
14 t. baking soda
11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
12 c. golden syrup or dark corn syrup
12 c. heavy cream
2 c. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1 egg white, lightly beaten

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and baking soda; set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup using a handheld mixer set to medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add the reserved spice mixture and the heavy cream in 3 alternating batches, beginning and ending with the spice mixture, until the dough just combines. Transfer dough to a work surface, divide in half, and shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour. (Can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, and in fact, we still rolled some out 5 days later, and they were great.)
  2. Heat oven to 350°. Unwrap 1 disk of dough and place on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 1⁄8″ thickness. Cut out cookies using the cookie cutters of your choice and place cookies 2″ apart on parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, rerolling scraps. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until browned and set, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  3. To make an icing, if you like, whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and egg white in a medium bowl until smooth. Transfer icing to a resealable plastic bag (or a pastry bag). Snip off a bottom corner of the bag and pipe icing onto cookies in a decorative pattern.

Coconut & Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pistachio Chocolate ChipI picked up a cookbook recently called Sugar & Spice (by Sarah Seneviratne), thinking it would have ideas right up my alley, and though I haven’t found myself in it very often, I was so happy to try this amazing recipe. The author calls this her “go-to” chocolate chip, rather than selling it as a riff on the classic. When I tried it, I thought, “yeah, this could be a new ‘go-to’ but it also is so unique!” So, I’ve renamed them to reveal a little more of what they bring to the table. Even so, my name also doesn’t give them full disclosure, because it doesn’t incorporate how much the vanilla shines through and carries the flavors together. This might be my favorite part! 

In terms of the kid factors, everyone but my littlest (who is only vanilla, all the time) loved them. That is high marks, especially because pistachios aren’t really everyday around here. So, if you’re in the process of expanding your chocolate chip recipe repertoire, here’s yet another for your basket, and it really is a keeper. 

Coconut & Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 c. (4 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. melted virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), chopped (about 1 c.)
  • 2 1/2 oz. (1/2 c.) shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. (3 oz.) shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional but I chose without)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until creamy. Stir in the vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture to the coconut oil mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate, pistachios, and coconut.
  3. Scoop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops and place on the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sea salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the sheets on racks for about 5 minutes.

 

Nibby Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nibby Chocolate Chips

Have I mentioned that I like to try new recipes? Even if I have four chocolate chip cookies that are my favorite? (If you’re interested in the lineup, this includes an old  ATKs, and Josey Baker’s, which is so amazing, and the 100% whole wheat from Good to the Grain, and King Arthur’s one with a little bit of oatmeal, making it awesomely chewy.) Well, since I got a new little baking book, Bake Good Things, I had to try it’s chocolate chip cookie, because it’s new. And, I like new, because it either reaffirms that I do indeed already have the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, or it adds something that the other recipes don’t quite have. This recipe, for example, is extremely loaded with chocolate, and it is much crisper than the other recipes I love. But I switched things a bit by   replacing some of the chips with cocoa nibs, to see if it changed the chocolate flavor in an interesting way, as well as give it a little crunch. Yes on both.  So, if you also want to try something new with your chocolate chip cookie, here’s a good one! 

Nibby Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz./200 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (15 oz./470 g) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup cocoa nibs (can substitute for chocolate chips, or buy them quite easily on Amazon!)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the chocolate chips and nibs.

Using a small ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the dough mounds 2 inches (5 cm) apart. (For crisper cookies, drop by teaspoonful.)

Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned and the tops feel firm when lightly touched, 10-13 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 30 cookies.

NIbby Chocolate Chips 2

Chocolate Sorbet & Pizzelles

Chocolate Sorbet 1

A couple of summers ago, my husband had business that took him to Lisbon, Portugal for about a month. I joined him for the last week of his travel, which put me there with the heat of summer. There weren’t many places with air conditioning, including the apartment we were staying in, and after walking up and down the hills of the city all day, we frequently stopped to get ice cream or cold drinks. Luckily, someone had recommended that we stop into a chocolate shop called Claudio Corallo (though I think the name has since changed). The first day we went in, we just ordered some of their handcrafted chocolate when the woman working there asked if we had had their chocolate sorbet. It wasn’t listed on the menu, so we of course didn’t know anything about it, but she brought us out two scoops.

It was made from their own cocoa (not available in the U.S. but sometimes a friend will bring us a bar–such kindness!) and had the most incredibly smooth texture, even though she told us it was just chocolate–no cream or dairy. Well, the other day I came across this recipe, and it seemed possible that it could be similar to the chocolate sorbet at Corallo’s. I’m sad to say it probably wouldn’t win a competition with Corallo, but I’m happy to say that with a little Caillebaut chocolate and dutch cocoa, I came pretty close. This recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook.  I served it in a pizzelle, which I added orange zest to, as a compliment to the chocolate, and then I shaped it into a cup in a large muffin tin, rather than a cone. Aah, summer. Wish I was heading back to Lisbon soon!

Chocolate Sorbet 2

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

1 cup (200 grams) sugar
3 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 ounces (114 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60-70 % cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Put the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup (120 grams) of the water and gently swirl the pan to moisten the sugar. Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the contents come to a rolling boil. Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize. This will take 3-4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously, then as it thickens it will boil more languidly, and then you will see some of the syrup start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

When you see color in the pan, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly, and then keep swirling gently until the caramel is a medium golden brown. Turn down the heat to low and slowly and carefully add the remaining 3 cups (720 grams) water. Be careful, because it will sputter and spatter when it hits the caramel. The caramel will harden at the bottom of the pan; turn up the heat to high, bring the mixture back to a boil, and whisk for a few minutes until the caramel fully dissolves. Then whisk in the cocoa powder until fully dissolved.

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot caramelized liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a container, and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until cold.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Sorbet can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Sorbet 3

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

 

Carrot Cake Sandwich 2

Milk & Cookies because it seemed like such a great kid treat, and by leaving the raisins out, my kids just loved them. Although they didn’t turn out to be the most graceful cookies (I blame high altitude! I’m playing with this recipe a little more to get the measurements better for our height), I’m happy to add them to the luncheon we’re having tomorrow for both Easter and for my son’s baptism. Seems like a great addition to the table, along with the Hot Cross Buns I loved last year at Easter. I think I’ll make them a little smaller, and I’m sure they’ll be gorgeous and well loved. 

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups Cream Cheese Filling (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with nonstick silicone bakings mats or parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a mixing bowl. Also, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for three minutes on medium speed, or until light and creamy. With the motor running, gradually add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, beating until ver light and creamy. 

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and when blended, gradually add the dry ingredients along with the oats, beating until completely incorporated. While the dough is still streaky, remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the paddle clean. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the carrots and raisins until evenly distributed. 

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Add to the creamed mixture all at once and mix on low just until combined.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets using a tablespoon scoop about 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate and switch the baking sheets as necessary for even baking.

Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheets then transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Use an offset spatula to spread a few tablespoons of frosting on half of the cooled cookies, then sandwich the cookies together.

Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight container.

Carrot Cake Sandwiches

Cream Cheese Filling

2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground allspice
3/4 t. vanilla

Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Begin beating on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes or until light and creamy.

With the motor running, add the sugar, ginger, and allspice, beating until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

Store, airtight, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Italian Cherry Cookies

Italian Cherry Cookies
This cookie calls out to be a perfect Valentines Day treat. I found it after going through my friend’s blog, Judy’s Culinaria, this Christmas. I was so motivated to try some of her incredible looking cookie recipes, and I was delighted with every single one! With her permission, I’m posting some of them (in case she accidentally deletes them or some other horrible disaster, and also just to share them with more people!). This cookie was an instant favorite, and honestly, the maraschino cookie recipe I’ve been looking for, and I’ve spent a long time looking! I know these cherries are quite divisive among tastes, but in my opinion, when maraschino cherries are in the mix, it’s always an automatic, “yes. please.” So, for the holidays, for Valentines. And maybe just for Fridays, here’s a fantastic cookie.

Italian Cherry Cookies
1/2 c. unsalted dairy-free margarine or butter
1/2 c. shortening
2 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 T. almond emulsion or extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. almond milk or regular milk
1/2 c. maraschino cherry juice
1 c. maraschino cherries, chopped
7 c. flour (can use 1/2 c. more if too sticky)
5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt

Cherry Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 T. maraschino cherry juice
1-1/2 t. almond emulsion or extract

In a mixing bowl combine margarine and shortening. Beat to mix together, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts. Mix well. Add milk and cherry juice. Mix, then add cherries and beat until mixed, about 1 minute. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt and gradually add to the wet ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. The next day line four baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough and onto hands. Roll dough into balls just a bit larger than a marble. Place on baking sheet and bake 8-9 minutes until cookies are light golden on bottom. Cool on rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. Dip cookies into glaze. Let excess glaze drip off. Place on rack to dry. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between cookie layers. Allow cookies to age for several days before eating. Makes 175 cookies. (For me, it was more like 100.)

Judy suggests that these cookies are best when they have aged a few days, but we weren’t able to test that theory at our house. All gone. Very soon.

Chocolate Thumbprint with Salty Caramel

Chocolate Thumbprint with Caramel
Here’s one of a few new favorites from Christmas this year. Actually, I should correct that to say that this was the absolute favorite of my daughter Lucy and two or three others who sampled the whole array. I loved that it kept it’s shape perfectly, and showcased both the pretty sparkling sugar and the caramel. This little cookie is perfect for entertaining or traveling, since it’s stiff enough to hold its shape. It’s also unique and pretty and very tempting! This recipe comes from the December edition of Sunset magazine. Note: this isn’t the easiest caramel recipe to work with, so if you’ve never made caramel before, you might want to use pre-made caramels instead.

Chocolate Thumbprint with Salty Caramel

COOKIES
1 c. flour
Generous 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 T. heavy whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sparkling sugar or powdered sugar for rolling, or just leave plain
CARAMEL*
1 c. granulated sugar
6 T. unsalted butter, cut into tbsp.-size chunks
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. fine sea salt, plus about 1/2 tsp. for sprinkling
1. Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

2. Scoop dough into rounded 1-tsp. portions and roll into balls, then roll balls in sparkling or powdered sugar to coat. Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. With end of a thick-handled wooden spoon, gently press an indentation into center of each cookie. Bake until cookies are just set, about 10 minutes. (The depressions tend to fill in a bit as they bake, so as soon as they’re out of the oven, give them another press with the spoon if necessary.) Slide parchment with cookies onto cooling racks and let cool. If you’ve used powdered sugar, sift a little more onto the cookies.

3. Make caramel: Put granulated sugar in a large nonstick frying pan; spread evenly. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps but eventually will melt and turn into a dark, amber-colored liquid, about 6 minutes. As soon as it’s liquefied, reduce heat to medium-low. Add butter and stir until incorporated. Stirring constantly, drizzle in cream. Boil 1 minute, stirring, then remove from heat and stir in 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Scrape into a bowl and let cool completely.

4. Assemble cookies: Spoon about 1/4 tsp. caramel into each cookie, then sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt.

*You’ll have more caramel than you need, but that’s never a bad thing–it’s great on ice cream. Don’t be tempted to cook a half-batch of caramel, as it won’t cook right and will seize up.

Make ahead: Caramel, up to 5 days, chilled (let soften at room temperature before spooning into cookies). Baked cookies, up to 1 week, chilled airtight.

Christmas Cookies & Candies

Sometimes I feel like I’m hosting cookie tryouts all year long to discover the perfect holiday cookies. But, inevitably, the bulk of trial and error happens in December, as I try and get the right colors and flavors in little boxes that we give to family and friends. Over the last ten or so years, the following cookies and candies have become my favorite, both for variety of taste and appearance, although I try plenty of new ones every year and I already have some I’m excited to post as soon as I get them photographed. Here are some great crowd pleasers! Merry Christmas!
IMG_7911

Cookies
White Christmas Dream Drops
Mint Chocolate-Covered Cookies
Brown Sugar Rugelach
Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies
Pink & White Pinwheels
White Chocolate + Citrus Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Ginger Spice Cookies

IMG_8313
Candies
Peanut Brittle
Favorite Caramels
Egg Nog Fudge
Candied Orange and Hazelnut Bark

Christmas box

Let the festivities begin!

 

 

Pink and White Pinwheels

Pink and White Pinwheels
These pretty and simple little cookies were the perfect addition of color and shape for our Christmas cookie collection last year. Planning to make them again this year! This recipe is a slight adaptation from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, where this cookie was originally a chocolate and vanilla pinwheel (you can make it chocolate by adding 2 oz. melted bitter chocolate to one-half of the dough, instead of red food dye.) Happy baking!

Pink and White Pinwheels 

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
red food dye

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

In a mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter well; then add the sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy. Add the egg and then the vanilla.

On the low setting, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Divide the dough in half and return half the dough to the mixer. Add a couple drops of red dye and mix to combine. Wrap dough in wax paper and chill both halves of dough 1 hour, or until firm enough to roll.

Roll red dough between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Repeat for vanilla dough. Remove top sheets of wax paper and invert vanilla dough onto red dough. Remove remaining wax paper. Roll both doughs together, jelly-roll style. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate at least 3 hours (or freeze 1 hour) until firm.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with foil, shiny side up. Coat the foil with vegetable spray or use a silicone liner.

Butter a sheet pan. Unwrap the roll and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place them 1 1/2 inches apart on the sheet pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Coll on a rack. Store between sheets of wax paper in a covered tin.

Cranberry Coconut Macaroons

Cranberry Coconut MacaroonI was very excited to make this recipe, because I may or may not have purchased quite a few bags of cranberries in all my excitement about Thanksgiving. This recipe is lovely. Not the most loved by all of my children, but I loved it, and I am so excited to include it in a Christmas cookie collection. There is a sad story to this recipe, though. I think the original recipe for these cookies (which was on the backside of a cranberry package) must have ended up in the garbage. I’m still looking (and hoping) that it’s somehow just misplaced, and sadly, I can’t seem to locate anything quite like it on the internet. So, I’m posting this from memory, though I’m sure there might be a tweak or two after I make it again. So, consider this a draft, hopefully not too rough.

Cranberry Coconut Macaroons

12 oz. bag sweetened, flaked coconut
3 T. flour (this is the contested ingredient! I believe it’s supposed to be in the cookie, but now that I’m perusing the internet, I’m doubting myself! I’ll just have to make them again to make sure!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, finely chopped (or pulsed in a food processor)
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine cranberries, flour, and coconut, then stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Once it’s well combined, add the chocolate chips.

Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the cookies onto the prepared sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the sheets to promote even browning. Cool on a rack before serving.