Tag Archives: cookies

Avoid Sugar Overload and Make Rye Shortbread Cookies from Tandem Bakery

We’ve been flipping for Tandem Bakery ever since Andrew Knowlton crowned Portland, Maine, the restaurant city of the year in August. He loved the place so much, he recommended visiting every morning of your trip. There were too many things of baker Briana Holt’s to try: biscuits with jam and butter, black pepper plum pies, chocolate-malt cakes, blue cheese and olive scones, brioche stuffed with kimchi, eggs, and cheddar… At this big-ticket confection counter, it would be easy to miss the unremarkable stack of brown, round coins about the size of your palm. But it would be a mistake if you did.

“It took the rye shortbread cookie a long time to catch on,” Holt says by phone, at home with a cup of Kava tea. “I workshopped the recipe hard, as a personal quest to honor my favorite grain. I had to defend it to the death. But I believed in it wholeheartedly. People are sometimes unwilling to try something simple.”


Photo by Peter Frank Edwards

Ooooh, the display!

Her patience paid off, and the unassuming cookie has its own cult following among bakers, locals, and pastry tourists—those who swoon for its nutty, earthy flavor, nubbly texture, and understated richness. (I can vouch: I hadn’t been at my post at Bon Appétit for one whole week before I started receiving requests to have the recipe tracked down.) It’s the one people bring up the most when she’s out in the wild, Holt says, where people whisper a compliment as if it were a secret handshake. “To me it’s the kind of cookie where you don’t know why you like it, but you just keep eating it,” she says. “It’s not the belle of the ball, but it’s sooooo good.”

So good, that we had to get the recipe. And just in time too. Sure the holidays are for colorful sugar and edible glitter, but we’re all for throwing something a little unexpected, and lot less sweet, into the mix too.

rye shortbread cookies 1

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

Holt, who has a thing for savory pastries, developed the cookie around her love of rye and its nutty, tangy flavor. “It’s a really old grain that’s used a lot in Nordic and Eastern European cooking, which is a heavy combo of where my people are from,” she says. Pairing the aromatic flour with lots and lots of butter felt like the right way to highlight its best attributes, so shortbread was the obvious answer. To top it off, she rolls the batter in black sesame seeds—“they’ve got this oliy richness that adds an extra luxury,” she says.

While the bakery uses organic stone ground dark rye flour that’s as freshly milled as she can get it, Holt assures any rye flour will do. They use coarse, stone ground rye flour. “It allows the nutty flavor of the rye to really shine through while the texture of the cookie is more rustic,” she says. “Finer or more sifted rye will result in a cookie that has more ‘snap’ than ‘crumble.’ It’s a subtle difference.” Most important though, is the butter. She recommends any low moisture, high fat kind you can find (she likes Plugra 84%), which helps build both a decadent full-fat flavor and the overall structure of the cookie: Less moisture means more crispness. This is your excuse to spring for the $6 brick, she says. “It’s a time not to skimp!”


Peter Frank Edwards

On the left, baker-goddess Briana Holt.

But what makes these cookies a true hero during holiday mayhem is that they improve with age. “We bake them the night before. They sit and dry out, and they’re so much better in the morning,” she says. “Shortbread is made to stick around. They’re made to get better.”

If their status as a cult classic wasn’t reason enough to jump on the bandwagon wagon, that certainly is.

Get the recipe:



Rye Shortbread Cookies

Place half of dough in the center of plastic wrap, then fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form dough into a log shape (rolling it on the counter will help), until log is about 2″ in diameter and 5″ long. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill logs until firm, about 2 hours.


These Striped Shortbread Cookies Have Taken Over Our Instagram Feed

Every December, the BA Test Kitchen churns out a handful of festive cookie recipes that go all out on the holiday vibes (glitter, kooky shapes, bizarro toppings). And every December, one cookie steals the stage as the most ogled, most baked confection of the year. For 2018, that winner—and by a landslide—is Chris Morocco’s zebra shortbread, a twist on the OG (literally), with layers of chocolate shortbread rolled right in. And if the black-and-white stripes weren’t enough, the cookies coated in green and red sanding sugar—just in case you forgot that Christmas is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!! So yeah, we can tell you all about how everyone is making the zebra cookies, but wouldn’t you much rather see everyone’s two-toned creations? We thought so.

Sooo, you’re going to make them now right?



These Shortbread Christmas Cookies Will Redeem All the Not-That-Careful Bakers

It was very brave of Bonappetit.com senior editor Sasha Levine to assign me this article. Sure, I’ve made decent cookies and brownies many times before. But any dessert item that involves making two doughs, measuring the size of the dough based on 6×2” rectangles, and creating layers of said dough is a world beyond my pastry comprehension.

Sasha, for unknown reasons, had blind faith that I could handle it. And ya know what, friends? I did okay! Better than okay even! A sugar-happy four-year-old and several colleagues confirmed that my cookies tasted great—like shortbread meets a not-too-sweet chocolate Oreo, minus the cream filling. Plus, they looked mostly like the professionally styled photo, minus some uneven blue sprinkles and a chocolate layer that didn’t make it all the way to the edges. I found myself eating “several” at a time.

If I, a person who has stains on her shirt more often than not, can make these cookies, then I feel very confident that you can too. So bust out that pastry ruler and keep these things in mind:

1. Don’t be intimidated by the swirl.It’s right there in the recipe headnote: “Here’s a fancy-looking swirl that novices can succeed at too.” This is a forgiving swirl. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you make your two doughs and discover that somehow you have a bit more vanilla dough than chocolate dough…and the vanilla dough is a little more pliable. Soldier on, comrade! As long as you can still stack the doughs per the recipe instructions (see more below), it’s all going to be fine. If you’re a perfectionist, I’m sure your cookies will look amazing. If you’re the kind of person who consistently discovers food in your hair many hours since you last ate (hi! Let’s be friends!), these cookies can still be part of your repertoire.

2. You can make the dough three days ahead of time.Cookie projects are fun, but then life gets in the way—grocery shopping took longer than you thought, you have been meaning to go to the gym, that cheesy Netflix Christmas movie is beckoning you… It’s all good. Make the dough, put it in the fridge, and bake the cookies another day. These are cookies for sort of lazy—but not entirely lazy—people.

3. These cookies can help you get out some rage.The step I was dreading the most was when you have to stack the vanilla and chocolate layers on top of each other to join them into one black-and-white log. My doughs were, um, not exactly the same texture (as previously confessed) and I was worried about that final swirl. In the end, though, this ended up being my favorite part. The instructions say to “pat into rectangles” but I interpreted “pat” as “aggressively mold the layers while working through some “feelings.” It was cathartic. May the layering offer you the same respite it did for me.

Get the recipe:


You know what would make a pretty great holiday gift? Our magazine! And a cool tote bag, plus some great baking tools for holiday cookies. More details here.


These Miso Almond Butter Cookies Are Juuuust Healthy Enough

Can a cookie be healthy? I used to think no, then I thought sorta maybe yes, but now I am back to no. Everyone’s definition of healthy (and delicious) is different. Personally my career has put me in front of a lot of cookies and I wouldn’t be good at my job if strong opinions didn’t follow. Maybe I am blinded by knowing how critical fat and sugar are to the structure, moistness, and flavor of cookies. Maybe I have just eaten too many bad cookies.

While these cookies might rely in part on the phenomenal ability of brown sugar to create a moist and chewy cookie, flavorwise, these are actually not too sweet thanks to the addition of almond butter and miso. Yes, you heard me, miso. And, no, it’s not just there for recipe-title window dressing. Miso gives umami depth and salty balance to the sugar. Add the toasty nuttiness of the whole wheat flour, and these cookies are closer to something you might find wrapped near the checkout counter of a super crunchy supermarket (in a good way).

So yeah, there is some refined sugar in these, but it’s there for a reason (tenderness), and I don’t think that means they are unhealthy. Believe me, I tried using coconut sugar. Many times. I got sad little cookie pucks that stuck to the parchment paper while they baked, which is actually really hard to do.

You can make these cookies in one bowl by mixing the dough with a spoon, no mixer required. You start by browning the butter, which creates delicious flavor but also cooks the water out of the butter so that the cookies keep a chewier structure. Once that cools slightly, add the sugar, followed by the egg, then the almond butter, miso, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour and baking soda) just until combined.

Roll the dough into 2 tablespoon-size balls and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to make a crosshatch pattern on top of each dough ball. Bake at 350 just until lightly browned and firm around edges, 12–14 minutes. If you want to go for it with the chocolate dip, let the cookies cool until they are firm before dunking.

Chewy, crispy, salty, sweet. Healthy. Ish.

Preheat your oven now:


Did we lose you with the miso? Don’t go! It adds savory richness that amps up the nutty almond butter and brown butter flavor…but don’t just take our word for it.



Miso-Almond Butter Cookies

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it foams, then browns, 5–6 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg and continue to stir until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute longer. Add almond butter, miso, and vanilla and stir until well combined. Mix in dry ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined. *If you aren’t feeling the chocolate dip (instructions below), now is the time to stir in ½ cup chocolate chips. Let dough rest 10 minutes.


6 Holiday Cookies You’ll Want to Bake, Swap, and Share on Repeat

These bright, sweet-tart beauties are the perfect addition to the typical cookie plate. Adding orange zest and salt to store-bought jam gives the filling an extra dimension of flavor without creating a lot of extra fuss. Plus, rather than shape each rugelach individually, we form a log, then cut it into wedges. Not only is this method easier to execute, but it also reveals more of the jammy, nutty insides.


These Thumbprint Cookies Will Remind You of Mini Pecan Pies

All along, I thought I’d have to stick my thumb in something. But it turns out, thumbprint cookies are just symbolic, like inflatable snowmen and bourbon on the breath of a mall Santa. To master these iconic holiday cookies I wouldn’t need to burn my flesh in buttery cookie dough. The indentation is made by a teaspoon’s rounded rump.

Let me tell you more about these cookies tho. Chris Morocco developed the official Bon Appétit lineup of holiday cookies this December, a task as important and Herculean as the Thanksgiving turkey. How do you convince people to try something new when they’ve been baking the same cookies for decades? By developing some really special, showstopping cookies that they just can’t resist. My favorite recipe (to eat during testing) was this one for double pecan thumbprint cookies. They’re like pecan pie in cookie form. The dough is a buttery pecan shortbread and the frangipane filling is this sweet and gooey pecan paste. Top it off with a crunchy pecan half and an elf’s sneeze of powdered sugar and call it Christmas, folks!

I spent a rainy Sunday morning baking the pecan thumbprints, so know that these are a project. You need the leisure of time (not ALL day), but you can do this over two days if you’ve got things to do and people to see. The recipe is basically two mini recipes, the cookie dough and the frangipane. Both need the food processor, and to chill. Project means it’s got a few moving parts, but that doesn’t mean it’s technically difficult. It’s not. It’s mixing stuff. What took me time was setting up two separate mise en place (egg yolk over here, egg white over there)—which I highly recommend to stay organized—and then pausing to wash the food processor in between. You can mix the frangipane a few days ahead if that makes your life easier.

The hardest part for cookie amateurs like myself was achieving that picture-perfect shape. You use a tablespoon to measure the cookie dough, but lazy, heaping scoops and lazy, under-filled scoops left me with some that were smaller than others. And then the thumbprint. The recipe suggests the handle of a wooden spoon to make the imprint, but I found the bottom of a metal ½ teaspoon to be better, since you’ll then use that same spoon to measure the frangipane. If your imprints are too shallow, you won’t get that satisfying frangipane gooey-center in every bite. See how I’m looking out for you?

Because there’s so much butter in this cookie (hey, it’s a cookie), they can keep for a while—up to five days! And the sturdy pecan-flour dough holds up well in say, a festive holiday tin you bought 50 percent off last January. If you’re looking for a make-ahead cookie to win the swap at the office this year, or cookies you can ship to family across the country, or just a cookie that tastes like a mini pecan pie because that sounds insanely good, this is the one.

Get the recipe:


You know what would make a pretty great holiday gift? Our magazine! And a cool tote bag, plus some great baking tools for holiday cookies. More details here.


Brown Butter Wedding Cookies

Melt 2 sticks butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula, until butter foams, starts to smell nutty, and the milk solids—the sandy bits at the bottom of the pan underneath the liquid butter—are turning golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Don’t walk away; the butter can go from perfectly golden to burnt very quickly! Once butter is golden, immediately pour it into a large heatproof bowl (it will keep cooking if you leave it in the pan) and chill until starting to solidify, about 30 minutes. That’s brown butter, people! That’s all it is!


Chocolate-Tahini Linzer Cookies

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl to combine. Beat granulated sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Beat just until dough comes together. Divide in half and pat each into a disk; wrap tightly in plastic. Chill just long enough that dough is rollable and no longer sticky, about 30 minutes.


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