Category Archives: Cookies

Maple Pecan Hamentashen

Hamentashen are the traditional treat baked for the Jewish holiday of Purim, which, this year,  falls on Thursday March 1. The Festival of Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in ancient (4th century BCE) Persia were saved from extermination.

The celebration of Purim will be bitter-sweet for me this year. Sweet because, well…. Hamentashen! Bitter because this will be my first Purim without my Aunt Carol. She passed away, suddenly, a few weeks ago. She is actually my husband’s aunt, but from the very first time I met her, over 36 years ago, she always made me feel like a part of the family. I miss her very much.

It was from Aunt Carol that I learned that all hamentashen didn’t come from a bakery. (I also learned that it is rude to stack dishes at the table when clearing.) Until I met her, I’d never had a homemade hamentashen. My reaction was not that dissimilar to when I found out, from my big sister Faith, that babies don’t come from the stork.

Every year, Aunt Carol and her sister-in-law, Aunt Jen, went into factory mode and produced vast quantities of tiny little triangles of dough filled with a prune and raisin filling, dipped in honey and walnuts. They shipped these hamantashen off to all their children, nieces and nephews across the universe. Sadly, Aunt Jen died about 26 years ago, but Aunt Carol soldiered on alone, continuing the tradition of making hamentashen for everyone in the family. We all looked forward to our little parcels in the mail. It’s possible that my addiction to online shopping is her fault. She conditioned me to get happy when boxes arrived in the mail.

I spent some very happy afternoons in Aunt Carol’s kitchen learning how to master hamentashen. The dough for this recipe is hers. The filling recipe for these hamentashen is my creation. While I love the traditional flavours of poppyseed and prune, I like to play with different flavour combos.A few years ago year I made Cinnamon Bun Hamentashen. Last year I baked Salted Caramel Apple Hamentashen, Poppy Seed Hamentashen and Dried Cherry and Pecan Hamentashen. 

I love the combo of maple and pecans. I blitzed some toasted pecans, maple butter and some cream cheese together to make this delicious filling. If you can’t find maple butter, a combo of brown sugar and maple syrup would be a good substitute. In the recipe link below, I give proportions. 

Once cooled, the baked hamentashen get a dip in a maple glaze and some finely chopped pecans.

Click here to print recipe for Maple Pecan Hamentashen.

Click here to print recipe for Aunt Carol’s Hamentashen.


Salted Butter Skor Shortbread

Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread has been popping up all over social media during the past two months. These cookies have been monopolizing my instagram and twitter feeds. My favourite tweet was from @hyphenpfeifer, “Fake news that the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread recipe makes 24 cookies bc you’ll eat a log-worth of dough.” I needed to see what all the fuss was about.
The first time I made them was New Year’s Eve. We had friends visiting and I baked them that afternoon to serve for dessert. They didn’t quite make it to the dessert table. We snacked on them all afternoon. I tucked the few leftover ones into the freezer and we had them for breakfast the next day. We all loved them even more, frozen.

These cookies are made with salted butter. It has long been thought that unsalted butter was the preferred butter for baking. The reasoning behind this had to do with the fact that salt is a preservative, and so unsalted butter was often fresher. This is not the case anymore and blind taste tests have shown that salted butter tastes more buttery, and has a riper, more full-blown flavour than unsalted butter. When butter is a key ingredient, as it is in shortbread, we want to really enhance its flavour, and salted butter does that. You can’t get the same effect from using unsalted butter and adding more salt to the recipe.

This is my twist on Alison’s cookie. I decided to swap out the chocolate chunks for chopped up Skor bars (Heath bars is you’re American). I thought the addition of toffee would take these cookies to a different place, for me, a very happy place! Because Skor Bars are covered in milk chocolate, I also added a handful of cocoa nibs to the dough. Their bitter note would work as a perfect counterbalance to the sweet Skor bars.
Both the toffee and the cocoa nibs added a fantastic little crunch to these cookies. I was thrilled with the results.

These are an extremely versatile cookie, perfect for all occasions. I am a firm believer that what you put out into the universe will come back to you. If you share these cookies you will reap all sorts of unexpected rewards.

Gift a bag to the staff at your hairdressing salon and sit back and luxuriate in the most amazing head massage during your shampoo.

Gift a bag to your noisy neighbour and listen as this,

is soon followed by blissful silence once they go into a sugar/carb coma from ingesting the cookies.

Mail off a package of these to your adult children and sit back and wait for the phone call, or at least a text telling you that they love you and that you’re the best mom ever. (I’m mailing these tomorrow morning so I’ll let you know if it works).

The hardest part about making these cookies is getting the dough to compact into a tight roll. I had to hand knead it, on the counter, for a few minutes before it came together. Divide the dough into 2 and roll each piece into a 2 inch diameter log. Wrap well in waxed paper and chill for several hours or even a few days. Brush logs with beaten egg and coat the logs in turbinado or demerara sugar. Then slice them into cookies.
A final tiny sprinkle of some coarse sea salt. Yes, more salt. Don’t be afraid.

Click here to print recipe for Salted Butter Skor Shortbread.









Maple Sandwich Cookies

sandwich cookies 3While maple might not be the first flavour that leaps to mind for holiday baking, these cookies might change your mind.  Like many Canadians, I grew up eating maple sandwich cookies, so I have a certain nostalgic fondness for them. One of these and a paper cup filled with apple juice takes me right back to nursery school!one cookie 2It’s been a while since I’ve snacked on a maple sandwich cookie, but as soon as I saw them being made on The Great Canadian Baking Show, I couldn’t stop craving them. While Canada’s version of the British original is a bit staid, at least we weren’t pulled from the air after the first 2 episodes for inappropriate behavior from one of our judges. Another fallen culinary hero. Mostly, I feel sad for all the contestants on the U.S. show that never got to showcase their talent.

Just reread that last paragraph and realized that my guilty pleasure for reality TV has been exposed. Not all reality TV though. Only shows that showcase actual skill or talent, such as Top Chef and Project Runway. The less drama and conflict between the contestants, the more I love it. Have any of you caught Masterchef Australia? Completely addictive.

The cookies are a simple shortbread dough, using unsalted butter, icing sugar, all-purpose flour, salt and a bit of maple extract. Do yourself a favour and roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper as soon as you make it. Then chill the sheet of dough.dough ready to roll outCut out shapes from chilled dough. cutting out maple leavescookies on baking sheet with fondant tool If you want to get really fancy, you can draw the veining of the leaf with the tip of a paring knife. Or, if like me, your drawing talents suck, invest in one of these fondant cutters. It works best if you let the dough soften up a bit before you try to stamp the vein imprint on the cookie. fondant toolBefore baking, I sprinkled each cookie with coarse sanding sugar and just a touch of flaky sea salt. ready to bakeThe filling for the sandwich cookies is made from unsalted butter, icing sugar and maple butterjar of maple butter I have tried a few different brands of maple butter and they were all pretty amazing. This one is from Vermont, this one is from Quebectopping sandwichesIf maple is your jam, these cookies are for you. The maple flavour is intense and rich. They are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.  pouring tea

Click here for the recipe for Maple Sandwich Cookies.

cup of tea



Speculoos Townhouse Cookies

let it snow 1If you’ve ever tried the joy that is cookie butter, then you know the flavour of a Speculoos cookie. Speculoos (or sometimes spelled speculaas) is a Belgian cookie. Imagine a gingersnap on steroids. Bolder and much more aggressive than typical gingersnaps,  Speculoos cookies are brimming with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, ginger, and cardamom.

Of course, you can buy ready made Speculoos cookies, so why would you want to make your own? Um, giant townhouse speculoos cookie snow globe! Need I say more? Can you imagine a more adorable holiday centerpiece?with a bowWhen I started researching for this post, I emailed my Belgian friend Brigitte to ask her for her mom’s authentic Speculoos cookie recipe. I figured every Belgian grandmother has her favourite recipe and I’d use that as my starting point. Apparently, her mom has a speculoos cheesecake recipe, a speculoos ice cream recipe, but no speculoos cookie recipe. She never saw the need to make her own. So, I turned to the King Arthur baking website and found a promising recipe. Brigitte helped me make them. While they were good, Brigitte said that they really didn’t taste like the speculoos cookies she ate growing up.

I tinkered with the recipe and came up with my own version. While they’re not exactly like the storebought, they are very delicious!spicesAs soon as the dough is made I divide it into 2 pieces and roll each half between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to a 1/4 inch thickness. Then I freeze the dough for about 30 minutes before cutting it into shapes. So much easier to roll soft dough.cutting housesThe townhouse cookie cutters are from coppergifts.comicing housesI also made a batch of my favourite Thick and Chewy Gingerbread dough to create some trees for my landscape. tree cookies

Click here for the recipe for Speculoos Cookies.

star tree topper

Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans

Malted Milk Cookies on chocolateI have a big jar of Hoosier Hill Farm malted milk powder in my pantry. Pastry wizard Stella Parks, told me to buy it. She promised me I’d find all kinds of uses for it.Malted Milk Cookies stackedI adore the flavour of malted milk. I made malted milk drumstick ice cream cones a few years ago. For the uninitiated, a little primer on malted milk powder. All malt products come from barley. The grain is sprouted, then dried and ground. During this procedure, starches are converted to sugar and the end result is a sweet, dried grain powder. This is the base for much of the beer that is produced today.

The ground powder is  also combined with wheat flour, milk powder, salt and sometimes sugar to create malted milk powder. Some brands, like Ovaltine also add cocoa powder to the mix. Malted milk powder has caramel, toasty, roasted notes. The addition of milk powder to the blend adds a creamy rich dairy note. It enhances most baked goods, complementing both vanilla and chocolate flavoured goods.hoosier and ovaltineI decided to add some to cookies. I started with a recipe for Chewy Malted Milk Chocolate Cookies from Yvonne Ruperti over at Serious Eats.mise en placeI added some toasted pecans and switched out the honey for Barley Malt Syrup, to really boost the malt flavour. Honey or malt syrup help keep these cookies chewy. I also added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt on top before baking. I’m considering mixing in some chopped Malteasers next time I bake these.

Instead of milk chocolate chips, I chopped up some Lindt milk chocolate bars. I really like the big chunks of milk chocolate studded throughout these cookies. A mix of milk and white chocolate would also be good. I think dark chocolate might be too overpowering. adding milk chocolateUsing a portion scoop ensures that you get uniform cookies that are all baked at the same rate. I used a 1.5 ounce (3 tablespoons) sized scoop.scoopingGently flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand. I added a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt to the top of each cookie. It balances all the sweetness perfectly.

These are a hefty, chewy, delicious cookie. Hints of caramel and a unique toasty roasted flavour keep them from being too cloyingly sweet. They are quite fantastic frozen, as my family can attest to. broken cookies

Click here to print recipe for Malted Milk Cookies with Milk Chocolate and Pecans.

milk and cookies