Almost a decade ago I posted about an annual cookie baking tradition in my family that is still going strong in our 23rd year!! In that post, I briefly went through the recipes we make each year for cookies to give to friends and family. It’s fun to look back and see the recipes that have stayed year after year. There’s one recipe that stands out this year and I wanted to revisit it with you… sugarplums.
This recipe for sugarplums was added to the cookie list in 2009. It was a recipe that Sharon’s sister, Eileen, was making at the time and shared it with us. The feedback we got from adding these to the cookie tins was unanimous…keep making them. They are sweet and chewy on the inside, sweet and crunchy on the outside. Did I mention they’re sweet?! I like that they are a gluten-free addition to the tin as well.
Black and White Cookies are pure delicious nostalgia for me. I discovered them living in New York, where they would stare at me, boldly, from behind bakery windows. I took their “come hither” look seriously, and spend a decent portion of my seven years in the city searching out the perfect Black and White. Some were dry and terrible, others sickly sweet and fell apart within the first few bites. And rare few were simply delightful (and made all of that research worth the effort!)
At it’s core, the Black and White is just a little cake with two glazes. To me, it’s deliciousness lies in a tender, under-sweetened cookie, paired with a sweet chocolate and vanilla glaze. I like that you get to make choices as you eat the cookie – my preference is to alternate back-and-forth between eating the black and white sides. Plenty of other folks are exact opposites – eat one side entirely before moving on to the other. There’s probably conclusions to be drawn about personalities types based off of how we eat our Black and Whites, but we’ll save that analysis for another blog.
These cookies are showing up here at S&S this month for a few reasons – in this wonderful season of baked goods, these cookies are slightly uncommon (well, at least here on the west coast) but generally well-loved. This makes them great to bring to cookie exchanges and holiday parties, or to give as gifts. The cake part is super easy to make, and you can be fussy (and pipe your frosting) or not (and use a knife or spatula to spread).
I’ve tried out a number of recipes over the years, and this one is by far the best. It’s got all that I’m looking for in a Black and White and plus, with crisp, buttery edges and a tender cake-like cookie holding up the rich chocolate and sweet vanilla glaze. I’ll be wrapping a few up in bags, sealing with a stickers similar to this one (because bakery-like packaging inevitably makes people think you purchased the treat), and sharing with a few folks I love.
Her – “I need to make 8 dozen cookies for a thing at work next week! Any advice?” Me – “Ooh, I’ll help you make cookies!” Her – “No, no, I didn’t mean for you to help. You must have other plans! I’m just not a baker and don’t know where to begin.”
If you’re a non-baker you don’t know why anyone would volunteer to spend the day in your kitchen baking cookies.
If you’re a baker, you can’t think of a more fun way to hang out with friends than baking all day!
It’s not about the baking…
It’s impossible for me to think of any dessert that screams “fall” more that this quadfecta of autumnal flavors: bourbon, pumpkin, cinnamon, and maple. If this Boozy Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Maple Glaze isn’t a celebration of the season in dessert form, I’m not sure what is!
I brought this cake over to my pal Kathleen’s house last week – she made this, and side note, let’s all agree to make it immediately, it was delicious – and it went over, ummm, extremely well. It was my usual combo of sweet (but not too sweet) cake, but with a topping that adds extra sweetness to make it really sing. The bourbon was fairly mild but added a little extra punch, the spices bringing some warmth to the cake, and the texture is (sorry/not sorry) perfectly moist. I also made some cinnamon ice cream that was perfect and I’m realizing I don’t have a recipe for on this blog (we’ll work on that for the future).
One other note about this lovely dinner party we went to: Kathleen served popcorn as an appetizer (along with cheeses and some fancy salami). As a popcorn-focused person, I can tell you that it was one of the more brilliant appetizers I’ve ever had, and an idea I’ll be copying very soon!
Everyone loves a fresh loaf of bread, right? Especially one that has pockets of garlic and cheese baked in! Sometimes I just don’t have the energy (or time) to make a yeast bread and wait for it to rise. This garlic cheese bread is an easy solution for fresh, warm, hearty bread ready to accompany tonight’s dinner. Ready to serve, start to finish, in 90 minutes.
So far, this month, we have offered you two sweet and delicious quick breads to eat, or share as gifts, heading into the holidays. During this time of year, we can inundate ourselves and our friends with sweets. Here’s an alternative quick bread you can gift to friends that’s savory and ready for them to add to their dinner!
We’ve had two weeks of amazing weather here in Seattle – cool, sunny and crisp. And no rain for *14* days! (apparently, this is a Thing). This was all very wonderful, and I’m pleased to say that I made good use of the weather – I marveled at the color of the trees, went running outside, and wore short-sleeved shirts (underneath my jacket and scarf, of course – it’s was nice out, but we’re not in the tropics or anything).
But, as all such things come to an end, we’re now we’re back to foggy, chilly, and damp. This obviously makes me want to hunker down at home and bake (which, let’s be real, I’m fairly interested in doing even on sunny and warm days).
All of this nesting also gives me the opportunity to fill my freezer with baked gifts that I can ferret away until they are needed. Most commonly, it’s either for a hostess gift, or more realistically, a social bribe for a meeting a work. Either way, a treat that is quick, simple and homemade is the way to go!
I’ve made exactly 5 loves of this Cranberry Walnut Bread in the past two weeks. There were many reasons – it’s quick to bake, so super tasty, and also because I bought about 47 lbs. of cranberries at Costco last week and wanted to use them up (there are worse problems though!). The bread is packed with tart cranberries and crunchy walnuts, it’s fairly low in sugar but very high in deliciousness. It’s more of a delightful breakfast bread than “I’m pretending it’s healthy but I’m really eating cake for breakfast” sort of carb.
Say this bread’s name five times…go! Yeah, it’s a lot of “B” but let’s add a few more like bursting with buttery flavor inside and a slightly crunchy brown sugar bottom! This banana bread is not like any banana bread you’ve ever eaten. It’s super moist and makes the house smell delightful! This recipe comes from Food52 with a few modifications of course.
Strudel and I are bringing you bread this month! Not just any kind of bread though. The bread that you want to share with friends as holiday gifts or the bread you display when inviting friends over for coffee. We’re showcasing the kind of breads this month that will put you in the entertaining holiday mood fast.
I try to incorporate as many Sunday vibes in to my Saturdays as possible. I want the cozy, lazy, laid-back feeling of a Sunday, but want to capture it as early as possible in the weekend so that I have as much time as possible to enjoy it.
Of course, I live in the real world, so weekends aren’t just for being cozy; they’re also for paying bills, going to the grocery store, and pretending like I’m going to clean my house. But I try my hardest to be as hygge AF in the moments I can work it in, and baking fall treats – when I can be in a routine of chopping, mixing, sipping coffee from my local coffee shop and listening to NPR – totally fits the bill. Plus, it makes the house smell absolutely amazing.
Enter these Apple Almond Scones. Yesterday I quickly put them together, and while they baked, I made some speedy scrambled eggs to go on the side (obviously – eggs were on the side of scones, not the other way around. You know how we feel about gluten around here!). The scones were fragrant and tender, a mildly sweet and a little nutty. A lovely way to start off a fake Sunday (e.g. a Saturday).
Full of pumpkin flavor. Super tender and buttery. Topped with a sweet crunchy streusel.
This recipe truly was an experiment that on the first try completely worked! I looked around for recipes and none really suited me so I just started throwing the ingredients together.
People have asked me how I bake without a recipe. I guess it just comes down to years of using recipes and studying how each ingredient contributes to a recipe. You can do it too.
You know every muffin has some kind of butter or oil, right? Every muffin has some kind of sweetener. Leavener. Flour. You get the idea. Whether it’s a muffin, cake or cookie, it starts with the fat. Then comes the sugar. Then comes a mix of flour, salt and leavener such as baking powder. Don’t forget the added moisture and leavening that comes from an egg or two. Throw in some flavor with vanilla. Voila!
Aaaah…October! The nights are getting cold, the leaves are changing, and this week here in Denver, we had our first snow fall. Boooo (and not the spooky ghost kind). I love fall but I don’t like that it signifies cold weather is around the corner (or already here, apparently). I don’t care for snow or cold. Let’s not worry about that right now and just relish in a month of fall recipes. How about some pumpkin mixed into cheesecake?
These cheesecake bars are a perfect combination of a layer of graham cracker crust, a layer of cheesecake, a layer of pumpkin cheesecake and the best layer on top… streusel!