sablés {bwd}

Once in awhile, you come upon a recipe which you can't wait to make again.  So you do.  The very next day.  This is one of them.

Baking With Dorie's assignment for the week was the Sablé.  What is that you ask?  Sablés are a buttery, crumbly, and tender shortbread cookie.  The translation from french is sandy, which refers to the texture of this refrigerator cookie.  The ingredient list is short: butter, flour, sugar, confectioners' sugar, egg yolks, and salt. The preparation: quick.  The result: fantastic.

I love that you can, as I did, dress them up and deck them out.  (Merry Christmas, by the way!)  Pick the color to suit the occasion.

I also love that Dorie includes many helpful hints in baking them.
The dough should look moist and clumpy (rather than smooth). When squeezed together, it will feel like Play-Doh.
The cookie is baked when the sides are lightly brown and the bottom of the cookie is golden brown.
Because the sugar will melt in the freezer, the decorated cookies are not suitable for freezing. 
The full recipe and helpful tips for this great cookie can be found on Laurie's blog, cookin' up north.  Please be sure to check out the other bakers' results here.


red velvet whoopie pie

These cute cookie-cakes have been on my mind ever since early November, when The Wyckoff Friend sent me a link to a Better Homes and Gardens recipe.  I was intrigued, but didn't get around to making one until this past week, when I was inspired by BAKED's recipe.

(I need to digress a bit and sing the praises of BAKED's sophomore cookbook, BAKED EXPLORATIONS. It is beautifully art directed; the whole feel of the book—photos, layout, typefaces are arresting, appealing, and gorgeous.  I loved looking through it. Try to check out the book if you're ever at the library or bookstore.)

The Red Velvet Whoopie Pie seems appropriately, festively hued for Christmas. I didn't make the BHG peppermint cream cheese (I've had bad experiences with peppermint extract), but if you'd like a bit of peppermint, I suggest rolling the edges in and sprinkling on top some crushed peppermint candy.


fabulous fruitcakes with meringue mushrooms {msc}

The mushrooms did it.  They lured me in.  Martha Stewart's cupcakes, decorated with these amazing mushrooms were too wonderful to resist.  Bûche de Noël has always intrigued me, ever since 9th grade French Class with Mr. Condit.  A cake in the shape of a log was such a novel idea, decorated with these cute mushrooms. Trés exotic (remember, this was the 80's, and I'm in NJ), French, and quite irresistible.

So I'm donning a toque to try my hand at these fantastic meringues sitting atop no log, however, but the pervasive holiday fruitcake.  Yes, fruitcake.  I know that word can be cringe-inducing.  You're remembering the overly sugary candied red and green cherries, gluing together some dense, dry mixture posing as a cake.

Fear not, this fruitcake might just banish that nightmare forever.  This is chock-full of moist fruit, with just enough a of buttery batter to hold everything together.  I substituted a few things, as I am not a huge fig and date fan, though if you are, please use them!  My fruit choices come from The Seventh Aunt's fabulous Golden Fruitcake (which will be blogged on shortly)— apricots, pineapples, golden raisins.

The Book Designer made a fantastic Sous-chef,

dicing the fruits into perfect ¼-inch pieces. 
(I have to mention this: her book, The Encylcopedia of the Exquisite, just won a book award!
She has such precision and attention to detail- in designing and cooking.)

You want to bake them until there is a bit of golden brown around the rim of the cake.


wienerstube cookie

There are times when I think, "Do I want some dark chocolate or do I want a cookie?"

That would be at 3 PM, everyday.

This Austrian cookie— translated: Viennese café— combines the two quite nicely.  There is unsweetened cocoa powder, lots of butter, and then an intriguing combination of spices, including freshly ground black pepper and pinch of cayenne. I love the spicy, crunchy, buttery and chocolately nature of this cookie.  My first batch was tasty, though not much to look at (think black, rectangular biscuit),


coffee and chocolate chip shortbread

"'Tis the season" in my book means "time to try new cookie recipes," and I've found one by Sarah Leah Chase that I think you'll enjoy.

I was first introduced to Sarah in July of 1988.  The Sister inscribed Sarah's The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook to me— "Have fun cooking, experimenting and pigging out ☺"  Happily, I'm still doing all three.  Then last Christmas, she gave me Sarah's follow-up cookbook, Cold-Weather Cooking, which has many lovely recipes.  This shortbread is one of them.  (The book was published in 1990; you'll have to ask The Sister why it took her twenty years to get it into my hands.)

After trying the Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip cookie, I was pretty sure I would enjoy it in a bar version. What's not to like with a Toll House, Starbucks and Walker's shortbread combo?


christmas granola

After making the Tropical Granola, I knew I wanted to bake a batch of granola for holiday gift-giving. Granola is so easy to make and allows for lots of freedom.  You can substitute and swap out the sweeteners (brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup) and add or subtract the nuts and dried fruits, as you wish. Improvise away!

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