These buttered bourbon florentines were the result of a series of questionable decisions on my part.
Should I maybe have tried hot buttered bourbon before making cookies based on that flavor profile? Probably yes. Might I have thought about the consequences of putting a cream filling in a shatteringly crisp cookie? Probably yes. Should I maybe have considered that this “cookie” might be straddling the very thin line between cookie and actual dessert? Also probably yes. Did I do any of those things?
Fortunately, these cookies came out extremely well – despite my best efforts.
I wish I could say that these apple cider cookies were inspired by childhood trips to orchards and memories of parents or grandparents simmering a pot on the back of the stove at holidays – but the truth is a lot less glamorous.
My family goes to a tree farm every year to pick and cut our tree, and once we’ve dragged it back to the car and dad has strapped it into the bed of the pickup, we huddle up around the tailgate, sipping hot cider and eating boiled peanuts from the farmstand out of styrofoam cups until we can’t feel our fingers anymore.
The cider, by the way, is almost certainly powdered, but we’re usually so cold by that point that it doesn’t really matter.
There was no way I was going to make it through a holiday-drinks-inspired Cookie Week without at least trying to tackle eggnog – and I think these eggnog thumbprint cookies knocked it out of the park.
For as long as I can remember, every year at Christmas Mr. Chestnut would give my grandmother and grandfather a quart jar (or two) of his infamous eggnog – and they always brought it out for the family Christmas Eve celebration. It’s heady, powerful stuff – creamy, rich, and the kind of boozy that you don’t taste until you’ve swallowed and your whole chest warms – and I look forward to that jar coming out every single year. Not necessarily for the eggnog itself (though it is undeniably excellent) but for the memories that are tied so closely to it.
So I just knew it needed to be a cookie. The problem is that I had no idea what cookie it needed to be.
I played with this idea off and on in my head for nearly a month, choosing and discarding ideas over and over again. I knew that it had to have a filling – no cookie on its own could ever capture the eggy creaminess this one needed – but I didn’t know what that would look like. A pastry cream in a sandwich cookie? A rolled tuile with buttercream? A spice cookie with a custard center?
These ginger molasses cookies are delicious – I had one for breakfast this morning, and for snack yesterday, and for dessert the night before…I think you’re getting the picture here.
But I have to admit these cookies aren’t quite what I intended.
They were supposed to be Dark and Stormy cookies – sparkling heat from candied ginger and rich sweetness from molasses and spice, balanced by the tingly brightness of lime zest and punch of rum in the glaze.
These hot chocolate cookies are the direct result of my inability to leave well enough alone.
You remember the chocolate crinkle cookies from Cookie Week last year? The ones I said were perfect as-is, and more or less promised not to mess with?
I wanted to make a cookie inspired by all the best parts of hot chocolate, and in my defense, that recipe is the perfect place to start. It’s richly chocolatey, has the sort of dissolving texture I always associate with drinks, AND it all comes together in one bowl. I couldn’t resist.
All I had to do was figure out how to make the cookies a little more like hot chocolate, and a little less like being punched in the face by a lava cake.
Look, I know this isn’t technically a cookie, and I know that technically the workweek is over, but I just freaking love marshmallows*, ok.
Before you panic about the idea of making marshmallows, let me reassure you that if you can boil water and make whipped cream, you can make marshmallows. The whole process has like three steps, and one of them is scraping all that beautiful sticky fluff into a pan. I promise you, the extra effort is worth it.
Homemade marshmallows are pillowy and lush, with a fun springy snap that storebought can’t match. Plus, they actually have flavor! And some texture from the peppermint pieces! Imagine that!
I am not a big chocolate cake person – but I love to make chocolate cake. Seems odd on the surface, but it boils down to one simple truth: I don’t like doing dishes. And most chocolate cakes are one- or two-bowl recipes that are essentially dump and stir – no stand mixer required.
So it stands to reason that I love this cookie – three bowls (you could probably manage it in two), no appliances, and a truly spectacular result. And, unlike chocolate cake, I actually want to eat these.
My apologies if this post seems a little rushed – I need to pack up a few boxes, go vote, and hit the post office before it closes at five. It is currently 3:30. Could I have prevented this little conundrum with better planning? Absolutely. But this is not Eighth Street Everything Goes According To Plan, so…
But you’re here for the cookies.
In a glorious, grown-up ode to peanut butter and jelly, these thumbprints hit just the right balance between rich, nutty pistachios and sweet, slightly sharp raspberries. There’s a hint of ground cardamom and honey to bump up the complexity, and just enough rubbly pistachio chunks to keep things interesting.
My family makes gingerbread every Christmas – in one form or another. When I was little, we would throw a birthday party for baby Jesus, and Mom baked a gingerbread house for every family. These days we keep it simpler – just a batch or two of gingerbread men for the church Christmas shindig. The year I made 8 gingerbread houses and eighty-something ninja-bread men for a youth party is an outlier, and should not be counted.
All that to say, our go-to gingerbread recipe is a workhorse. But as I’ve gotten older and my love for ginger has grown, the old recipe has started to taste flat – lots of molasses and cinnamon, and not enough sparkly ginger kick.
I’m not through with cookies this week, but I can already say, with confidence, that if you bake nothing else this week, you must bake these. I’ve earmarked all the cookies from this grand experiment as holiday gifts, and I’ve already had to hide the containers of pecan pie cookies to keep my family out of them.
Heck, my mom said if Dad hadn’t gotten to her first, she would marry these cookies.
A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.
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