Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd

Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry

Spring is in the air…I can feel it.  At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  As I daydream out the window through the 30 degree bitter skies, I have desperate visions of it off in the distance.  I embrace each and every one of the seasons but am nevertheless always eager to transition to the next.  It has been dry, cold and barren in Denver now for over five long months and the warm Spring weather on the horizon teases us.  Even the bulbs are anxiously waiting as they sprout back to life eager for their offering to the season.  Inevitably, more snow will descend upon us covering the young flowering buds like a stifling blanket.  During this vacillating time, the weather imposes patience and fortitude onto us causing much time for daydreaming.  After all, the leafless trees allow you to see and dream quite far.  This daydreaming is what led me to this Spring-filled post; Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon curd.  Oh my.  It might not officially be Spring yet, but my taste buds are telling me otherwise!

Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry

Meyer lemons are a native fruit of China and are a perfect hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin.  This fruit exhibits itself in the shape of a lemon but tastes sweet like a mandarin.  Meyer lemons are seasonal typically from November through the end of March and admittedly can be difficult to find.  I have found that most Whole Foods Stores stock them.  If you can’t find them, you can always substitute either lemons or mandarins for this recipe.

Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry

These scones are outrageously good!  Light, fluffy and biscuit-like in texture with a wonderful crunch on top from the turbinado sugar, these scones project just the right amount of sweetness.  The tart citrus notes are subtle and balance the sweetness perfectly.  Every now and then your taste buds receive a burst of amazingly sweet, tart chewiness from the candied lemon peel.  Don’t even get me started on the Meyer lemon curd…utterly ethereal.

Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry

My suggestion is to make the curd and candied peel a day in advance.  The scones come together quickly.  The scones can also be frozen before baking if you don’t want to bake the entire batch.  Simply place the wedges on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour or so.  Then transfer the frozen scones to a freezer bag for longer storage.  When you’re ready to bake, remove the scones from the freezer, preheat your oven and bake the scones from frozen!  Just add a couple of minutes to the baking time.   This recipe requires some extra steps but I assure you it is well worth it!

Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker's Pantry
Meyer Lemon Scones with Meyer Lemon Curd | The Baker’s Pantry


Meyer Lemon Scones          {Print Recipe}

For the candied Meyer lemon peel:

4 Meyer lemons

¾ cup granulated sugar

Wash your lemons thoroughly.  Using a sharp knife, slice both ends off of the lemon.  Carefully cut off the peel in strips with a sharp knife or a peeler along the lemon and remove as much pith as possible.  Slice the peels into ¼ inch slices.

Place the peels in a heavy-bottomed pot and add just enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat and boil the peels for 5 minutes.  Drain the peels, put back in the pot and cover with fresh cold water.  Bring to a boil and blanch again for 5 minutes.  Repeat this process for a total of 3 times.

In the same, but now empty saucepan, place the sugar and ½ cup of cold water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the peels and reduce the heat to low (you want to simmer them gently).  Simmer for about 20 minutes until they turn translucent.  Stir occasionally to make sure that they don’t burn.

Pour peels along with the syrup into an airtight glass container and store at room temperature.  You will use this entire batch for the scones.


For the lemon curd:

Yield: 2 ½ cups

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 cup minus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar

¾ cup freshly squeezed/strained Meyer lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

Fill a large bowl approximately halfway with ice and water and set aside.  Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water at least 2 inches, but not full enough to touch the underside of the top double boiler and bring to a boil.

Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar into the top of the double boiler (off of the heat) and whisk until blended.  Add the lemon juice and mix well.  Reduce the heat to medium low until the water comes to a gentle boil.  Place the egg mixture over the water and heat, whisking constantly and scraping the edges frequently with a spatula (so that the eggs don’t scramble) until the curd is very thick, about 7-10 minutes.  The curd should coat the back of a spoon when ready or hold a distinct shape on the surface when the curd is lifted and falls back into the bowl.

Push the curd through a fine strainer with a spatula into a medium sized bowl.  Add the cold pieces of butter, letting it sit for a minute and then mix gently until combined.  Once all of the butter is melted and incorporated, place the medium sized bowl over the large bowl filled with ice water and let sit until the curd is completely cool.  Once cooled, place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.


For the scones:

Yields: 16 scones

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp kosher salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and COLD

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk, divided

¼ cup grated Meyer lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)

½ cup diced candied Meyer lemon peel (see recipe above)

2 Tbsp turbinado or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to combine.

Add the cubed butter and with your fingertips and rub into the flour mixture until the butter is approximately pea sized.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg, ¾ cup of the buttermilk and the zest.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently combine the dough with your fingertips.  Gently knead until the dough just comes together.  Add the candied lemon peel and knead to incorporate.  Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into two discs about 1 1/2“thick.  Try not to overwork the dough.

Cut each disk into 8 wedges and place onto the baking sheets spacing wedges about 2” apart.  Brush the remaining ¼ cup of buttermilk onto the tops of the scones and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar (be generous).  Bake scones for 25-30 minutes (rotating halfway through baking) or until they are golden brown.

Transfer the scones to a cooling rack.  They can be served warm or at room temperature and can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for two days.

Recipe: Slightly adapted from Baked New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito



Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins

Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker's Pantry
Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker’s Pantry

On any given morning, I struggle to extract myself from the warm covers only to emerge into the frigid unforgiving air. Chilled to the bone, it takes everything in me to slowly guide myself along the path to the kitchen where I face my beloved coffee maker and come head to head with my fuel for the day. In only a moment, the entire house is entwined within an alluring aroma that in itself, gives me an instant jolt and purpose to my day. Not a single day transpires that I abandon this habit. On the contrary, mid-morning most days inevitably presents itself with hunger rumblings as I realize I’ve completely forgotten to eat breakfast. How can I consistently lose sight of such an important introduction to my day? After all, the thought of neglecting my caffeine ritual is unimaginable! If only I could behold breakfast as much I do my coffee. This consequently is how this amazing muffin came to life. Espresso, cinnamon and walnuts intertwined harmoniously into a muffin…surely I can get on board with that…right? Yes I can and yes I have.

Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker's Pantry
Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker’s Pantry

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the month of March is “Caffeine” month (shouldn’t every month be deemed this?)! An entire guilt-free month dedicated to my most prized addiction. What better time to embrace this new caffeine-induced breakfast tradition?

Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker's Pantry
Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker’s Pantry

Honestly, this might just be the best muffin I’ve ever eaten. First of all, the texture is sublime. It is so incredibly moist and the crumble on top provides an unexpected crunch that is down-right addictive. The almond and coconut flour in combination with the almond butter creates this fabulous texture as well as a notable nutty flavor. Second, it is Paleo and Gluten-Free which means that it contains no refined sugars or flours and uses no dairy. They’re practically good for you. Third and perhaps most importantly, this is a perfectly sweet, but not overly sweet muffin so you can enjoy it anytime of the day without guilt. It pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee and even better enjoyed with that cup of coffee in a nice quiet house (one can dream).

Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker's Pantry
Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins | The Baker’s Pantry


Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins (Paleo, GF)          {Print Recipe}
Yields: 12 standard sized muffins
For the filling:

¼ cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp natural cocoa powder
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

For the crumb topping:

½ cup almond flour (not almond meal)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coconut butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

For the muffins:

¾ cup almond flour (not almond meal)
½ cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda (-1/8 tsp for high altitude)
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
½ cup honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
½ cup coconut cream
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 ½ tsp espresso powder
1 ½ Tbsp warm water
¾ cup almond butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for high altitude). Line a 12 cupcake pan with paper liners. Note: At high altitude, you don’t want to fill the muffin cups more than halfway full as the batter expands more quickly and tends to collapse if the cup is filled too full. To help combat this, I use tall muffin liners (Paper Chef brand Tulip cups) as they allow the batter more room to expand.
To make the filling:
Mix the maple syrup, cinnamon and cocoa powder in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside.

To make the crumb topping:
Mix the almond flour, cinnamon, coconut butter and maple syrup with a fork in a medium bowl to make a coarse crumb texture and then mix in the chopped walnuts. Set this mixture aside.
To make the muffins:
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon with a whisk. Set the bowl aside. In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder and warm water. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the eggs, honey, vanilla, espresso, coconut cream, and melted coconut oil and mix on medium speed until just combined. Add the almond butter to the bowl and mix until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Spoon 2 Tbsp. of the batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle about a Tbsp. of chopped walnuts onto the batter. Next spoon 1 tsp of the filling on top of the walnuts into each of the muffin cups. Lastly, spoon 1 Tbsp. of the remaining batter on top of the filling in each muffin cup. Add a heaping Tbsp. of the crumble on top of the batter in each muffin cup. I suggest being liberal with the crumb topping…it is delicious.
Bake muffins for 25-30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack.
Store these muffins in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days (they won’t last that long…trust me) or they can be double wrapped and frozen for up to 6 months.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry
Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry

Hello Friends!
I’m back! I’m thrilled to be thrust back into my world of blogging, baking and voracious consumption. While life has pulled me away from my blogging for a while, I feel that my mind has never stopped overflowing with baking ideas to share with you! After all, my passion for baking runs through my veins and can’t be suppressed for long! I’ve really missed my time focusing on the blog and connecting with my baking community and it feels so great to immerse myself into it again.

For this post, I want to highlight one of my favorite cakes that I reach for time and time again. It’s versatile for all occasions and a sure crowd pleaser. Pound cake; presumed the most humble of all butter cakes and often misrepresented as dense, dry and unworthy. I’m here to prove different. Pound cake prepared the right way will yield a buttery moist cake with a fine texture and an exceptional crumb. I like to think of myself as a pretty simple girl, not a lot of fluff (not too much anyway). I tend to garner this same attribute when it comes to desserts as well. I don’t like overly sweet or fussy, but instead rich and indulgent with the perfect amount of sweetness…pound cake certainly fits the bill. What I love most about this cake is that it also lends itself as a blank canvas eager to meld with almost any flavor profile. Some flavor ideas might include: For a bright citrus flavor, add the zest and juice of a lime, orange, lemon or any combination of these (just don’t add more than 2 Tbsp. of juice as it will affect the outcome of the cake). For added warmth, scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean into the batter or add a spice combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and cardamom. For an indulgent twist, infuse the cake with coffee, espresso or chocolate. The options are literally endless…

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry

Pound cake originated in Europe in the early 1700’s and was given its name for the main ingredients it is comprised of; a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. These four unassuming ingredients come together beautifully to yield greatness. While no cake I’ve ever made has weighed four pounds (some have come close), the ratio of 1:1:1:1 is the general rule of thumb when making this cake. This recipe makes two loaves at a time and when wrapped well, it freezes beautifully.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry
Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry

Here are some simple guidelines to follow as a general rule of thumb to ensure cake greatness.
1. Don’t just scoop the flour when measuring. Flour packed too much can create a dense cake. Whisk it and fluff it with a little love before spooning it into the measuring cup and then level with a knife. It’s also important to whisk or sift the dry ingredients to alleviate any annoying clumps in your batter.

2. Let all of your dairy come to room temperature. It is so important for your butter, eggs and any liquids to not only come to room temperature, but to also be the same temperature as one another. This ensures that they will better incorporate with one another. The beautiful and necessary air pockets that develop as the butter is creamed will be destroyed and will cease if you add cold eggs to it! Take your dairy ingredients out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before beginning. If you find yourself short on time, you can use a few shortcuts. Remove the butter from the wrapper, slice it and set it on a plate for about 15-30 minutes. Eggs can be placed into a bowl with warm water for about 5-10 minutes.

3. Don’t short change the creaming stage. It’s easy to undervalue this step when you have good momentum going, however, this stage is a critical step to creating good structure in your cake. Ensuring that the eggs, butter and sugar emulsify properly will result in a well risen cake. All of this said, once the dry ingredients are added, please don’t overmix your batter! Once the flour is just combined into the batter (should still see some white streaks), carefully hand mix a few more time with a large spatula and you’re good to go!

4. Don’t forget to prepare your pan. I lightly butter and flour my pans (including all pesky corners!) and like to use a piece of parchment paper between the butter and flour layers. This ensures easy cake removal. I also find that light colored pans tend to deliver a more evenly baked cake with a nice golden crust.

5. Check your oven temperature! Always check the actual temperature of your oven with a thermometer. Just because you set it at 350 degrees does not mean that it is actually running at that temperature.

6. Partially cool the cake in the pan before removing it. A cake just out of the oven is way too vulnerable to remove from the hot pan. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes and then carefully remove it to let it cool completely on a cooling rack.
Now that you’re armed with some tips, go bake this cake! You won’t be disappointed.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry
Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries | The Baker’s Pantry


Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Balsamic Cherries          {Print Recipe}
Yield: (2) 8×4 loafs – 6-8 servings per cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 ¼ cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)
Cream Cheese Glaze (see recipe below)
Balsamic Cherries (see recipe below)
Butter and flour two 8×4 loaf pans. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter at high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add the cream cheese and beat well at high speed until incorporated, about one minute. Add the sugar and beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
Add the sour cream and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and mix well at medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the butter and egg mixture beating on low speed until smooth. Using a large spatula, mix the batter gently removing any unincorporated bits at the bottom of the bowl.
Fill each pan approximately ½ full. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake on wire racks for 15-20 minutes before turning them out of their pans to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or enrobe with some delicious cream cheese glaze (see recipe below).
Note: This cake is best when eaten the day it’s made (not hard to achieve), but for longer storage, it can be refrigerated for a week or double-wrapped and frozen for 6 months. Let the cake come to room temperature before devouring. If freezing, wait to add the glaze until just before serving.
Cream Cheese Glaze:
Yield: enough glaze for two pound cake loaves

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 Tbsp. milk, plus more if needed
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and mascarpone on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add the sugar and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add salt, lemon juice, and milk; mix on low speed until smooth. If glaze is too thick to drizzle, add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Balsamic Cherries:
Yields: 2 cups

1 pound frozen cherries, thawed with juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp kirsch
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp cold water
Pinch of salt and pepper (optional)
Simmer the cherries, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, almond extract and kirsch in a saucepan for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water. Stir this mixture into the hot cherry mixture. Place back on heat and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.
Enjoy on top of the pound cake or just with a spoon.


Chocolate Chip Cookies


What quantifies the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Everyone holds their own discretion regarding what defines this most beloved cookie, but the broad characteristics seem unanimous; a cookie with a soft chewy center, chewy but crisp golden edges, the perfect ratio of chocolate to buttery dough, a little bit of sweet with the balance of some salty, not too thick, not too thin…such a simple cookie demands such complex merits! Chocolate chip cookies are one of the most fundamental elements that a baker holds in his/her repertoire. It even seems like they need little explanation. What could be complicated about such an unassuming yet omnipresent cookie? So here I ask…why is this cookie so difficult for me to master?? I’ve spent countless hours making so many chocolate chip cookie recipes and while they’ve been graciously consumed (mostly by yours truly), they’ve fallen well short of ideal. I’ve thus decided to take this cookie on head to head stopping at nothing for defeat. Let the pursuit begin…may the best cookie win.
In order to battle this cookie properly, I had to dissect and assess the role of each ingredient and how it directly affects the end result. While this might just be too much information for your interest, I personally found the process fascinating and feel compelled to share my research with you nonetheless. While some cookies are unaffected by high altitude, this cookie proves quite the challenge. My chocolate chip cookie creations of the past have emerged from the oven completely flat due to unruly spreading and entirely too crisp lacking the desirable chewiness that they deserve.
Here are a few discoveries that I’ve made along the way to cookie perfection:
• Butter adds wonderful flavor to a cookie but at high altitude it can pose a problem by causing the cookie to spread too much when baked. I find that substituting anywhere from 1-3 Tbsp of vegetable shortening (Crisco) in place of the same amount of butter provides additional structure and prevents the cookie from spreading too much without hindering the flavor of the cookie.
• Sugar not only provides sweetness to the cookie, but also crunch. Brown sugar on the other hand, lends itself to a moist and chewy textured cookie due to its molasses content. You’ll find that most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for an equal amount of these two sugars in order to create the ideal textural balance. You can however play with these individual sugar amounts depending on if your cookie preference runs chewy or crispy.
• Letting the dough rest overnight (24-36 hours) not only allows the flavors to meld together, but also allows the dry ingredients to soak up the eggs, which will create very dry dough. This dryness creates the most perfectly textured cookie.
• After the dough is incorporated, I chill it in the refrigerator (in the mixing bowl) for about 30 minutes to one hour until it is slightly firm, then I scoop the dough into ¼ cup scoops onto a cookie sheet. At this point, I chill it overnight in the refrigerator and then double wrap the dough scoops and place in the freezer. This makes it easy (sometimes too easy) to grab individual cookie dough servings to bake so that you can enjoy fresh warm baked cookies any time!
• On this note, it is imperative to place the dough straight from the refrigerator or freezer immediately into the oven to bake. The baking time is the same whether frozen or chilled. Cold dough means firm butter, which in turn means less spreading during baking.
• Use parchment paper or Silpat liners on the cookie sheet to help prevent cookies from sticking and to make clean-up easy.
• Finishing off the cookie with a light sprinkle of sea salt just before baking truly enhances the flavors of the cookie while also balancing the sweetness.






Chocolate Chip Cookies         {Print Recipe}
Yield: 18 – 4” diameter cookies
2 ¼ cups [+1 Tbsp for high altitude] all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature [replace 3 Tbsp with shortening for high altitude]
¾ cups granulated sugar
¾ cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chips
1 cup semi-sweet chips
Sprinkle of sea salt (optional)
Whisk the flour, baking soda and the salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and add both sugars. Beat until well incorporated and smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.
Adjust the speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Beat until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place plastic wrap directly on the cookie dough surface and place in the refrigerator until chilled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and form dough into ¼ cup portions using a large cookie or ice cream scoop. Return the cookie scoops (on the cookie sheet) to the refrigerator for overnight storage. After 24 hours, the cookies are ready to bake. Simply remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and place directly into the oven or double wrap the dough mounds and relocate to the freezer for longer storage.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. I like to bake one sheet of cookies at a time, but if you choose to bake two sheets at a time, place the racks on the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Make sure to rotate the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time. Bake the cookies, spaced about 4” apart, until the edges are golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven when the center of the cookies still looks soft…trust me. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes and relocate to a cooling rack to cool completely (or indulge in them while they’re still warm). I like to make the cookies large (4” cookie), but if you’d prefer to make smaller cookies, make the dough balls with a medium sized cookie scoop (3” cookie) and bake for about 10-12 minutes.




Spiced Sugar Cookies


I have a confession to make.  I’m caught in the midst of a love affair…no not of the traditional variety, but rather the sweet kind.  Sugar cookies.  Sugar cookies of all kinds…vanilla,  lemon,  almond,  chocolate.  The list is ever evolving and I have no intention of ceasing my indulgences.  You might not believe this, but I have a surprising amount of willpower when it comes to most desserts, keeping my portions at bay (relatively speaking).  But when it comes to sugar cookies, I’m afraid I simply can’t resist. Thin, crisp and subtly sweet with a delicately crunchy icing that adds just the right amount of sweetness and texture.  I adore making these cookies because…well…let’s face it, everyone loves a good sugar cookie.  I also cherish them because of the accuracy that comes along with the task.  Don’t get me wrong, sugar cookies are simple to make, but achieving the desired shape and finished product comes with precision, lots of patience and plenty of challenges.  In an effort to create the perfectly crafted sugar cookie, I attempt them often and find myself tweaking my recipe a little each and every time that I make them.   Living in the “Mile High” City of Denver, high altitude undoubtedly plays a large part in the end result as it presents numerous baking challenges.  The dough rises too quickly and the cookie spreads too much, all but eliminating the details of the shape that you’ve worked so hard to create.  The center of the cookie is under baked while the edges of the cookie quickly become too dark and last but not least, the texture of the cookie reveals tiny bothersome bubbles throughout ruining the anticipated flawlessness.  After many years and a lot of tries, I’ve finally discovered my choice recipe and methods to creating sugar cookie perfection.  You may remember my post for “Sugar Cookies” from a couple of years back.  These cookies have the delicious flavor of almond infused in both the cookie itself as well as the icing…soooo good.  The chocolate sugar cookies from the “Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies” (another post from the past) are incredibly rich and chocolate-y and display the magnificent versatility that a simple sugar cookie can uphold.

Now that I’ve successfully surmounted the sugar cookie hurdle, I ask myself, “how can I further explore this beloved cookie?”  Sugar cookies are a chameleon of sorts, quite versatile, revealing endless possibilities.  The dough is a pleasure to work with and can accept many flavors to transform it from a humble sugar cookie to a cookie with more complex form and flavor.  After much contemplation, I concluded that in the spirit of this fall season and with the holidays quickly approaching, what better flavor addition than to infuse the cookies with the warm spices and flavors that this season embodies?

These lightly spiced cookies are really really good.  By altering my sugar cookie recipe slightly, I discovered such a lovely flavor combination.  These cookies warm your senses with the aromatic flavors of spice.  They truly embody the essence of fall, yet the cookie still maintains the admired qualities of a sugar cookie.  They are a perfect cross between a sugar cookie and either an English Biscoff or Dutch Speculaas.  Never heard of Speculaas cookies?  They are essentially a shortbread biscuit derived from the Netherlands, and are common particularly during the Christmas season.  Both varieties are a delicately thin and crisp cookie infused with holiday spices.  Whatever you call them, they’re delicious.

These spiced sugar cookies are lovely all on their own, but the royal icing and sanding sugar offer a contrasting sweetness and crunch that takes them over the top.  I think that you’ll find that these cookies become part of your beloved cookie repertoire as they did for me and you just might find yourself caught in the midst of a love affair.


Spiced Sugar Cookies          {Print Recipe}

(recipe adapted from Susan Gold Purdy, Pie in the Sky)

Yields approx.: Four dozen 2” cookies

12 Tbsp (1- 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup  superfine sugar

¼ cup  dark brown sugar, lightly packed

2  large eggs, at room temperature

1 ½  tsp  vanilla extract

2 ¾ cups  all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough

1 tsp  baking powder (1/2 tsp at high altitude)

1 tsp  salt

2 tsp  cinnamon

½ tsp  nutmeg

¼ tsp  cloves

½ tsp  ground ginger

¼ tsp  black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and divide the oven racks into thirds.  Line the cookie sheets with baking parchment or a nonstick baking mat.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, scraping down the bowl and beater as necessary.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on the lowest speed until well incorporated.  Remove from bowl and form the dough into a ball on a slightly floured surface. If it feels too sticky, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of flour, until it is easier to handle. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes to an hour, or even overnight.

Work quickly with one-half of the dough at the time (keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator).  Lightly flour table surface and rolling pin and roll out dough to about a 1/16-1/8 inch thickness. Cut out shapes as quickly as possible.  The key here is to keep the dough as cold as possible (this helps to solve the bothersome bubble problem).  Transfer cookies onto prepared cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes (this helps the cookies to keep their intended shape).

Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes, or until they look slightly golden around the edges. Make sure to rotate pans halfway through baking time for even baking. Let the cookies cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cookies completely cool before icing.

Sugar Cookie Icing

(recipe adapted from

3 cups  confectioner’s sugar, sifted

2-3 Tbsp  milk

2 Tbsp  light corn syrup

¾ tsp  vanilla extract

Assorted food coloring

Assorted sanding sugars

In a mixer bowl on low speed, beat together the confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth.  Increase the speed to medium and beat in the corn syrup and vanilla extract until icing is smooth and glossy.  If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide the icing into separate bowls, if using multiple colors and add food coloring to the desired intensity.  Spread icing over completely cooled cookies.