From L.A. to Costa Rica to Hawaii to Huntington Beach to Napa to San Francisco to The Bahamas. I’ve been missing my own bed – and my kitchen – these past two months. Now that I’m back, I’m content to sleep under a duvet I know, putter in my familiar kitchen and lazily read a book curled up on a fur-covered couch with the kitties. This is home.
These macaroons, baked this morning, are a relatively straightforward recipe for me – not my usual over-complication. They travel well and, with special recipients in mind, I thought they would survive the journey unscathed.
Chocolate-dipped Coconut Macaroons
Chewy coconut kisses dipped in dark chocolate.
- 1 ⅓ cups sweetened flaked coconut
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons almond flour, toasted**
- 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine coconut, sugar, toasted almond flour, all-purpose flour and salt. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites with vanilla and stir into coconut mixture until combined.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment or a silicon baking sheet. Measure rounded 1-Tablespoon mounds of coconut mixture onto sheet pan and bake about 20 minutes, or until macaroons are golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet pan slightly. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
- Melt ¾ of the chocolate in a small bowl placed in the microwave in 30-second bursts, ideally heating the chocolate to 122⁰ F. Add the remaining ¼ chocolate and stir until slightly thickened, ideally cooling to 90⁰ F. (This process is called tempering and should ensure shiny chocolate that sets quickly). Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Flip upside down and let set until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.
** The almond flour is optional. If you don’t have any on hand, omit and increase flour to 2 Tablespoons. I toast my almond flour to bring out the flavor by cooking it in a small pan over a medium-low heat until fragrant.
Delicate, crumbly cookies with a wonderful snap, flavored with the unique combination of hazelnuts and orange – a perfect addition to a holiday cookie plate.
It was 1997 and the Barnes and Noble store at the nearby suburban strip mall had recently opened. I wasn’t a competent baker then; my sister was the baker. The book I chose was the Pillsbury Best Cookies Cookbook – plenty of recipes, plenty of photos. These hazelnut orange cookies were the first recipe I tried. I thought they were delicious at the time, with a delicate, crumbly texture and pretty appearance. I resurrected the recipe this year for our neighborhood Bunco cookie exchange and they are just as special as I remember them. This recipe makes a ton of cookies – about eight dozen, enough for the Bunco cookie exchange and a few dozen for the office, or just cut the recipe in half.
Hazelnut Orange Cookies
A delicate, crumbly cookie with a wonderful snap, flavored with hazelnuts and orange.
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ (generous) teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- Hazelnut halves for garnish
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, powdered sugar, softened butter, oil, orange zest, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in finely chopped hazelnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Heat oven to 375⁰ F. Shape dough into scant 1” balls (15 grams each) and roll in sugar. Place 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, top with a hazelnut half.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes or until barely golden around the edges. Cool for 1 minute; remove to racks and cool completely.
Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is just around the corner, which in my house means its cookie-baking season. Here’s a round-up of some of my personal favorite cookie recipes that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Happy Baking!
Crunchy Cranberry Almond Biscotti stuffed and baked with cranberry jam and buttery marzipan crème – ummm…yes, please!
Biscochitos are a regional cookie from New Mexico and are typically served during special celebrations, especially during Christmas with hot chocolate. In 1989, New Mexico made the biscochito its official state cookie. These cookies are a reminder of a quintessential snowy Christmas Eve I spent in Santa Fe bundled up for the beloved annual farolito walk. My most memorable Christmas Eve ever.
Chewy bar cookies from New England heavily spiced and chocked full of plump raisins and crunchy walnuts.
Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”
Not technically a cookie, these British biscuits are still a holiday favorite of mine. I usually succumb to the packaged variety, called Lu Pim’s in the States. In addition to chocolate and orange being one of my much-loved combinations, it’s a textural thing – the crack of a think dark chocolate coating giving way to a gelatin layer atop a sliver of moist genoise sponge.
Cape Breton oatcakes are a simple, buttery, not overly-sweet, utterly addictive oat cookie.
Wandering around my local cheese shop the other day, I came across something called Cape Breton oatcakes from Nova Scotia. They were advertised as a tea biscuit, cheese cracker, or a lightly sweetened cookie. Being a baker, it’s rare for me to purchase a package of store-bought cookies, but I was intrigued by something that could be called all three.
I bought a box to serve alongside an oozy hunk of triple-crème brie and fig jam…except the oatcakes never made it to the cheese plate. I broke into the package just to see what they tasted like – delicately crunchy, buttery, simple, slightly salty-sweet, and utterly addictive. I devoured the entire box in a matter of days.
In an attempt to replicate my new discovery, I found a number of Cape Breton oatcake recipes online, but none seemed to match the cookie (cracker?) I was trying to duplicate – some were thick, some were loaded with sugar (both brown and white), some made with shortening, many lumpy with whole oats. So, as I often do, I forged out on my own…
Cape Breton–Style Oatcakes
Cape Breton oatcakes are a simple, buttery, not overly-sweet, utterly addictive oat cookie.
- 1 ½ cups old-fashion rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon (rounded) kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
- 3 Tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.
- In the bowl of food processor, pulse oats until the texture of meal. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and process to combine. Add very cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add milk and process until dough just begins to come together. Turn dough out onto work surface and form into two balls. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Dust your work surface with flour and, working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out until ¼ inch thick. Cut with a 2 ½ inch round cutter or cut into squares. Transfer to baking sheets and refrigerate again for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately.
A coffee lover’s dream…dark mocha ganache sandwiched between two delicate butter cookies.
The only way I know how to say “thank you” to someone who drinks a quadruple espresso every morning…
Mocha Viennese Whirls
Dark Mocha Ganache sandwiched between two delicate butter cookies.
- 6 oz. dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
- 6 oz. heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
- 9 oz. unsalted butter, very soft (not European style)
- 1 ¾ oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt)
- 8 oz. all-purpose flour
- 1 oz. cornstarch
- Make ganache: Place the chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Add instant coffee and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
- Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a 2” round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.
- Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle. Pipe 24 swirled rounds (not rosettes), inside the circles on the baking sheets. Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes before baking (this will help cookies retain their shape).
- Bake in the center of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Assemble: Pipe a layer of ganache onto the flat side of 12 of the cookies and sandwich with the remaining cookies. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!