I like to keep the blog varied. Never two bread posts in a row. Never two savory recipes in a row. But never say never, as I am about to break my own rules. My latest post involved cookies, and here you have another one. But, but, but…. I got so excited about this, I cannot wait to share. A cookie swap that is not quite what you think: you swap portions of a stamped cookie dough, forming a totally new pattern. I keep thinking about all the possibilities of mixing and matching. Shapes, designs, colors, cookie formulas (think chocolate and vanilla for a shocking color contrast).

(inspired by several sources)

113g unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
30g egg (whisk one egg and measure the amount)
1/4 cup honey (about 60 mL)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon extract
50g granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
320g all-purpose flour

to decorate (optional):
vodka or everclear or lemon extract
dust luster powder in gold, pearl white, or any desired color

Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly, but do not let it get solid.

Beat the 30g egg in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl until the yolk and white are fully mixed.  Add the honey, and lemon flavoring. You can do this step by hand using a whisk.

In another bowl, mix the sugar with the lemon zest and rub the zest with your fingers to release all the oils. Add the salt, then incorporate the mixture into the egg using the flat beater of the Kitchen Aid in medium-speed. Beat well, then slowly add the melted butter, constantly mixing.

Add flour (reserve about 1/2 cup) in very low-speed and mix in until you have a dough that is solid enough to knead. Remove the dough from the Kitchen Aid and add the rest of the flour by hand, you may not need the full amount. Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll it out to a thickness compatible with your cookie press, then press two or three patterns using any type of design you like. Using a small round cookie cutter remove the centers and swap them, as shown in this picture:

Freeze the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 15 minutes while you heat the oven to 350F. To avoid distortion of the cookies during baking, transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature sheet, using the parchment paper to move them.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges start to get golden, but do not over bake. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, than remove to a rack to cool completely.

If desired, use luster dust powder mixed with vodka or lemon extract to paint the surface.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am over the moon with these! You don’t have to go through the additional step of painting them, the pattern looks nice even if the cookies are kept plain, but I love working with luster dust. There is no need for precision, each cookie turns out a little different.

You can use any recipe that keeps the shape during baking, and always freeze the cut cookies before sticking in the oven. Another thing to keep in mind is to transfer the frozen cookies to a room temperature baking sheet, because sometimes baking them over a frozen cookie sheet might cause warping. By transferring to a room temperature surface, you avoid that problem.

I cannot take full credit for this idea. I am a member of a great cookie group on Facebook (Molded Cookies of the World) and the moderator (Dawn Williams) has been playing with different cookie molds, joining them together. I decided to try it with the cookie stamps from Nordicware. They are sturdy, wonderful to use, and every single swap I did worked perfectly.

I am already planning my next batch… and the one after that…

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My love for macarons should be quite obvious, but there’s something about Springerle Cookies that speaks straight to my soul. These cookies, not unlike macarons, have been around for centuries. In terms of flavor, they are a lot more strict, as there is no filling to play with. But they are so elegant, so magical, and the anise oil makes them unique. Oddly enough I don’t like licorice but find the anise flavor of Springerle quite enticing. I share with you one authentic recipe for these cookies that is a bit of a labor of love, and also time-consuming, as the cookies have to dry for a couple of days before baking.  But, if you want to just use those beautiful molds in a simpler recipe, I’ll share my favorite also. A special thank you to my friend Margie, who sent me two beautiful molds, and perhaps not intentionally, turned me into a Springerle-mold-addict.

(traditional recipe, based on The House on the Hill)

for the cookies:
1/4 teaspoon baker’s ammonia (Hartshorn)
1 tablespoons milk
3 large eggs, room temperature
360g powdered sugar
57g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon of anise oil
454g sifted cake flour (I used Softasilk)
grated rind of orange

for the glaze (optional):
240g powdered sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon flavoring of your choice (I used vanilla)
pearl dust colors and lemon extract

Make the cookies: Dissolve baker’s ammonia in milk and set aside (avoid the temptation to take a sniff, you will regret it). Beat eggs until very thick, this will take from 10 to 15 minutes.  Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter. Add the the mixture of baker’s ammonia and milk,  salt, anise oil and orange zest.

Gradually beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in the remainder of the flour to make a stiff dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a good print without sticking. Refrigerate for one hour, but keep in mind the dough can be refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days.

On a floured surface, roll dough depending on the depth of the carving in the cookie press you are using. Shallow carvings will need to be thinner while deeper carvings will need to be thicker. Flour your cookie mold for each and every pressing. Press the mold firmly and straight down into the dough, then lift, cut with the cookie cutter of your choice, and place the formed cookie onto a flat surface to dry.

Do not cover the cookies while they dry. The goal of drying is to set the design. Let the cookies dry at least for 24 hours. It is better to leave them alone for a couple of days, so the design will be better retained during baking.

On baking day, heat the oven to 255F to 325F (depending on the size of your cookie and how white you like to have them), for 10 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool and glaze or paint, if you so desire.

Make the optional glaze: Combine all ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth.
Add more water if necessary. Brush glaze on each cookie after baking. Paint with pearl dust alone or with the powder dissolved in a little lemon extract.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The molds on the top left corner of the composite picture were a gift from Margie. Aren’t they gorgeous?  I love them!

 If you visit The House on the Hill  you can watch a very detailed video in which Connie, the author of the recipe, goes over all the minor details. Her recipe is for a really big batch, and I decided to make just half. I actually baked these back in December and took them to a departmental holiday party, but a full batch would be way too much. Keep in mind these cookies last forever, and although they can get a bit tough after a couple of weeks, the flavor keeps getting better (that’s what I heard).

Now, if you prefer to make a quicker version, and take it in different directions as far as flavor is concerned, I highly recommend King Arthur’s recipe.

(slightly modified from King Arthur Flour)

227g butter, room temperature
106g brown sugar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 tsp anise oil
360g all-purpose flour

Beat together the butter, sugars, and salt until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, and fold in the flour. Divide the dough in half, shape both halves as disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350F. Line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Working with one disk at a time, flour your work surface and roll the dough 1/4″ thick. To shape cookies using a springerle mold: Brush a very light coating of flour onto the dough and your springerle mold. Press the mold firmly into the dough, then remove and cut around the design with a cookie cutter.

Transfer the cut cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Freeze for 10 minutes. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool before painting, if so desired.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: It takes a little bit of patience to get these cookies right, and each mold is a slightly different universe. You need to get the thickness of the dough and the pressure you use with the mold just right, so that the full pattern is transferred.  The main thing to keep in mind is that you need a cookie recipe with a very small amount of leavening agent, or even without any at all. Be careful with baking powder, and make sure you use a recipe that someone had success with before. You can use the basic recipe from King Arthur and change the flavors, as they suggest in the site. I really like using Fiori di Sicilia, and added it to the heart-shaped batch.

I hope you’ll consider baking a batch of these cookies during the upcoming holiday season. I am sharing the recipes early enough, so you can browse the many wonderful sites that sell Springerle molds (like this one) and keep me company in my latest addiction.

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These are the perfect cookies for grown-ups. Not too sweet, with a nice tahini flavor. They look stylish in their black and white nature, with the added bling of black sparkling sugar around the edges. I saw this recipe on the New York Times and made it the following day. But, guess what? I was not very happy with the outcome, because the cookies ended up too big. In their recipe, the full block is sliced to form the cookies. I changed things around a bit, and cut the block in half first. They turned out quite a bit more delicate. This version I am happy with, so I share it with you…

(adapted from The New York Times)

385 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Cooking spray
225 grams unsalted butter, softened
125 grams confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature, plus 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup plain tahini
3 tablespoons black tahini
coarse black sanding sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, salt and baking powder; set aside. Coat a loaf pan (9 x 5) with cooking spray, then line with plastic wrap, leaving plenty of overhang. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and the vanilla; beat on medium-high until combined, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until combined; then increase speed to medium and beat until dough starts to clump together.

Remove dough from bowl, knead lightly and form into a fat log. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut into two pieces, one about 1/3 of the dough, and the other 2/3 of the dough. Return the larger piece to the bowl, add the plain tahini, and beat on medium speed until fully combined. Remove from bowl and set aside. Add the smaller piece and the black tahini to the bowl and beat on medium speed until fully combined.

On a floured surface, using a bench scraper or a knife, cut the white dough in half. Pat half the white dough into a 5-inch square. Cut the black dough in half, then pat half the black dough on top of the flattened white dough to match dimensions. Repeat with remaining white dough, then black dough, so you have four alternating layers of white dough and black dough. Cut in half crosswise, and gently knead and roll one piece to marble the two colors together. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Stack both pieces of dough together and briefly knead the pieces together to form one dough. The idea is to marble the colors, so do as much or as little as you like.

Press dough into prepared pan, and fold the plastic wrap over the top to seal. Gently press down to even out the surface as much as possible. Chill until firm,  at least a few hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the egg white with 1 teaspoon water to thin it out. Spread the sanding sugar out on a small baking sheet. Remove the block of dough from the loaf pan and unwrap it. Trim the slanted sides and the top if you want them really square. Cut it in half lengthwise, so that you’ll have two equal blocks of  cookie dough. Very lightly brush the outside of each block with the egg white mixture. Press  firmly to coat all sides (except the ends) with the sugar, sprinkling and pressing it on to cover any bare spots.

Cut each block into thin slices (less than 1/4 inch) and lay them out 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Bake until cookies are golden underneath, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These are quite likely my favorite cookie of this crazy year.  Well, you know I am partial to macarons, but macarons are pretty sweet. Truth is, I like to dream about designs and flavors, bake them, but once I eat one, I’m satisfied. These cookies are quite a bit more dangerous… They have that savory-sweet quality that I find hard to resist. The black sparkling sugar is a nice touch, but you can skip that step with no major harm done. Halloween is approaching. I see no parties, no get-togethers, but I definitely see a batch of these babies, in orange and black. What do you think?

On the picture above you can see the first batch, slicing the full block of cookie dough to make the cookies. Maybe you would prefer them that way, but I definitely like the smaller better.

Each one, so unique!


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TWO YEARS AGO: Strawberry-Mango Entremet Cake

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FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Almond Vinaigrette

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Free Portuguese lesson today on the blog: biscoitinhos de canela means little cinnamon cookies. The word “biscoito” means cookie (or biscuit if you are in the UK) and the addition of “inho” to the word immediately implies they are small.  And in this case, I believe also very cute. The recipe comes from Miuda’s bilingual blog (Russian and Portuguese), Verdade de Sabor. She is a professional baker with magical hands and a unique sense of style and elegance. I never miss her posts.
(say it like a native,

(from Verdade de Sabor)

170 g butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
40g eggs
a pinch of salt
80g powdered sugar
170g of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
gold dust and lemon extract for decoration (optional)

Beat the butter with the powdered sugar until it is white and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat. Sift the flour separately with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt and gradually add to the butter mixture. The dough will be thick, but still soft and flexible.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and fill small silicone molds. Hit the form on the table a few times to fill all the empty spaces. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours (or longer if desired).

Heat the oven to 350F.  Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Remove the frozen pieces from the molds and distribute on the baking sheet. Immediately place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack.

Mix golden dust with lemon extract, and using a brush, paint the cookies to accentuate the design.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Do you really need a mold to make those? Well, the cookie batter is soft, so if you want to do a more traditional roll out and cut, you would have to adjust and add more flour, which will change slightly their texture. Just keep that in mind. Miuda finished them with a coating of caramelized gold chocolate, covering just half of each “biscoitinho” but I did not want to risk the chocolate melting when I wrapped them, so I opted for a simple brushing with gold dust.  They are really delicious. As to the molds, I see myself using variations of this recipe, adding some cocoa next time, because I love the look the molds gave. The rectangular shape is nice but in the end I was pretty smitten by the slightly smaller, round one. The ones I used can be found here and they were sold in a set with those two together.

The cookies would be a nice addition to an afternoon tea party, if you are into that sort of thing. And don’t forget, you can have a party for you alone. Pamper yourself. You deserve it!

Miuda, thank you for another great recipe, I always look forward to your beautiful productions!

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Shrimp Moqueca


One color, two colors, three colors, that is…  

Starting from the simplest, the idea is to try to match the shell with the sprinkle, and then choose a contrasting tone for the drizzle. Easy-peasy. What I loved the most about these macarons? The filling. Black Sesame Ganache. It cuts the excessive sweetness of the white chocolate, and echoes the nut component of the shell. I will be making that again for sure. For all macarons, use the basic recipe below.


(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g  Icing/powdered sugar
115 g Ground Almonds/Almond Meal
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract

for the black sesame ganache:  
300 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
100 g heavy cream
1 tablespoon black sesame powder
1 tsp black sesame seeds

 to decorate:
Candy melts + food gel dye + sprinkles

Make the shells:
Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar, and ground almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl.   Put the mixture in a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (for rosette macarons, use a Wilton 1M type).  If you don’t have a macaron mat, draw circles on baking/parchment paper about 2inches/5cm in diameter & turn the paper over before placing on the baking sheets.  Pipe shells, I like to count numbers in my head and use the same count for each shell so they end up similar in size.

I pipe inside the circles to about 1 ¾ inches/4.5cm but you can go to 1 ½ inches (3.8cm) & the macarons will spread & fill the circle while drying.

Slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter/worktop. Do not slam the sheets if you are making rosette macarons, just let them dry. Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes. Rosette macarons benefit from longer drying time.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (150 C/130C Fan oven/Gas Mark 2). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched.   Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  The macarons should release without sticking.

For the black sesame ganache: 
Place the heavy cream in a small saucepan, add the black sesame powder (you can grind enough sesame seeds in a spice grinder until you get the right amount, or use store-bought powder).  Bring to a gentle boil, shut down the heat, cover the pan and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Bring it gently back to a simmer again, drizzle on top of the chocolate. After a couple of minutes, gently mix with a spatula until the chocolate melts. Add the sesame seeds. Bring to room temperature or place in the fridge for a couple of hours. Use a handheld mixer to whip the ganache lightly before using to fill the shells.

Assemble the macarons: match two shells similar in size and add ganache to the bottom of one of them. Place another shell on top and gently squeeze to take the filling all the way to the edge.

To decorate the macarons,  melt Candy Melts in the microwave, add black food dye and use to drizzle the top. Add sprinkles before the candy melt hardens.

Store the macs in the fridge for 24 hours for perfect texture.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The ganache made a little more than I needed for all the shells, I used it later to make some shortbread sandwich cookies, and it worked quite well also. The only thing to be concerned about when you do a white chocolate ganache is to make sure to increase the proportion of chocolate, or you will end up with a filling that is too soft, even if you whip it.  I hope you try this filling.


(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

basic macaron recipe above
Divide the batter in two portions, keep one white
Add a drop of pink food gel to the second portion

Place small amounts of batter in alternating colors over a layer of plastic wrap. Enclose the batter by wrapping the plastic around it, then place it inside a piping bag fitted with your choice of piping tip (see composite picture below).

Add sprinkles right after piping, before a skin forms.

for the filling:
8 ounces white chocolate
1/2 cup black cherry jam
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp Sakura essence

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water on low heat. Stir chocolate until melted. Remove from heat, and whisk in jam, heavy cream and Sakura essence. Cover and chill 2 hours, or until cold. Whip it with a hand-held electric mixer until it reaches a good consistency for piping. Transfer ganache to a piping bag and use to fill shells.

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The way you place the different colors inside the piping bag will affect the final look of the shells. In this case, adding them in a random pattern, you’ll get quite unique swirls as you pipe along, it’s really a lot of fun. Yes, I know, I am too easily amused.  You could omit the sprinkles and go just for the swirl look, but I liked the added layer of decoration they provided. Plus, I need to justify my compulsion to buy sprinkles so if there is ANY chance of incorporating them into a cookie… there they shall be.


(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

same basic recipe as above

Divide the batter in 3 portions. 3/4 will be dyed very light green (I used Sugar Art Master Elite Kiwi); the remaining will be divided in two small portions, and dyed darker green (I used Artisan Accents Forest Green), and coral (I used Sugar Art Master Elite Flame). Place the light green batter in a regular piping bag fitted with your favorite tip. Place the other colors in small piping bags, no tips needed. Cut a small opening right before using.

Pipe a slightly smaller shell than you need using the light green batter. Make about 6 shells and stop. Immediately use the other two colors to make your chosen designs.  Continue piping until you use all the batter. If you have leftovers of any color, just pipe small macs or donut macs to use them up. Bang the tray very gently to release bubbles and bake.

for the pistachio ganache:
150 g white chocolate, cut in small pieces
40 g heavy cream
2 tablespoons pistachio paste
tiny amount of green food color (optional)

Bring the heavy cream to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Add to the chocolate together with the pistachio paste, and whisk until melted. You might need to use the microwave very briefly. Add green food dye if you like. Leave it at room temperature or in the fridge for a couple of hours, then whip lightly with a handheld mixer.  Use to fill the shells.

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These are SO MUCH FUN!  A little departure on my first attempt at a similar decoration technique. Ok, I admit that if you are a beginner at macaron adventures, it might be better to practice a bit with a regular macaron, then move to the two-color version before attempting these. The only problem is that you need to work fast. But the possibilities for designs are endless, really.  I also think that for this particular type, you are better off with the French meringue method. It is a bit too convoluted to do the Italian meringue and divide it in three portions, considering you have to divide the egg whites and the colors in meringue and  almond-sugar portions, so the whole thing  becomes a bit too complex for my taste. Two-colors would be doable, but three or more? I prefer to stick with the French meringue. But if you find a way to do it and the Italian meringue is your favorite method, let me know your secrets…

My first post in the 12th year of blogging had to be my favorite thing to bake. No matter how many mirror glazes, mousse cakes, sourdough breads, or cookies I make, macarons will always have a special place in my heart.

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