peanut butter and concord grape sandwich cookies

Bake number 55 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person officially closes out the Bars & Cookies chapter. These Peanut Butter and Concord Grape Sandwich Cookies were the last recipe to check off our list before we officially move on to the fourth chapter of the book: Layer Cakes & Fancy Desserts.

Lauren’s Take

Happy New Year to all! As I reflect on 2021 and the challenges it has posed to us all, I am exceedingly grateful to have these bakes to look forward to every week—bakes that continue to challenge me in the culinary arts and introduce me to new flavours and techniques! I am very much  looking forward to a new year filled with layer cakes and fancy desserts! But first, we had to complete the final cookie in the book; the PB& (Concord grape) J sandwich cookies.

My overall thoughts/realizations for this cookie;

-peanut butter and jam is an iconic and always delicious combination

-Claire’s log rolling trick never works for me and always turns into oval shapes rather than a perfect circle and there must be a better method

-If you don’t have a round cutter, use the tip of your pastry bag

-this seems like an almost too long process for a peanut butter cookie

Definitely this cookie is delicious; it has a great balance of sweet and salty from the peanut butter (don’t cheap out and use the good stuff, friends), and the tartness of the Concord grape jam pairs perfectly. But is it leaps and bounds better than your average, back of the peanut butter jar cookie recipe? I would have to say not really. Although the sandwich idea is definitely a nice touch.

Overall, not too complicated and a delicious, but not mind-blowing result. 4 stars 🙂

Julia’s Take

Who doesn’t love a peanut butter and jam sandwich? It is classic nostalgic and a flavour combination that screams childhood and comfort food. I was really excited to see Claire’s spin on the classic PB cookie, and thought it was so creative of her to take this concept of a peanut butter and jam sandwich and turn it in to a cookie!

I also am a huge fan of grape jam; in my opinion, maybe other than raspberry, it is the superior of all jams. I had some leftover concord grapes in my freezer from when we made the Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie a few months back, so I was able to make the concord grape jam from scratch using the recipe in the book. Concord grapes have such an incredible flavour, and the jam turned out great, but overall I’d say it’s not really worth the effort. If you’re making a huge batch of jam, then fine– but just for a cookie recipe, I’d recommend going out and buying the premade stuff and saving yourself the time.

The cookie recipe in general was a bit finnicky and more time-consuming than it needed to be. The texture and flavour was amazing in the end, as always, but I wasn’t convinced by the end that every step was worth it. I would also probably use a circle cookie cutter to shape things next time, because I cannot for the life of me get the log method to work.

All that said, the people I shared these cookies with raved about them. It’s a 4-star bake for me.

Coming up next: we venture in to the Layer Cakes & Fancy Desserts chapter, starting with Claire’s Classic Birthday Cake. We’re nervous and excited for the recipes to come. Wish us luck!


earl grey and apricot hamantaschen

Our 54th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person is another recipe from the Bars & Cookies chapter, the Earl Grey and Apricot Hamantaschen. Neither of us had heard of hamantaschen before, but learned they are a cookie traditionally made for the Jewish holiday, Purim. Claire’s take on the classic recipe adds cream cheese to the cookie dough, which makes for a much more tender result. The flavour was unbelievable: a soft and flaky cookie with a hit of lemon zest, tartness and subtle sweetness from the homemade apricot filling, and the special twist of earl grey tea, which is seeped with the apricots to add a new flavour dimension.

Lauren’s Take













































Julia’s Take





























































thrice-baked rye cookies

Bake number 52 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person was these super unique and super delicious Thrice-Baked Rye Cookies. This latest recipe from the Bars & Cookies chapter included cooked egg yolks in the dough (yup!) and involved a three-step baking process, hence the name: one – bake the AP and rye flours for a toasted flavour; two – bake the combined cookie dough as a slab; three – cut into little diamonds and bake again for extra crisp.

Lauren’s Take






















Julia’s Take






























minty lime bars

Hello friends! We have made it to our 50th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person—can you believe it?! We are just a couple of bakes away from hitting the halfway point of this project, which is truly mind-blowing. This week, we bring you another recipe from the Bars & Cookies chapter, the Minty Lime Bars.

Lauren’s Take

These were quite easy to make, had really good flavours. They could have used more mint but were really tart from the lime, sometimes maybe a little too much. 4 stars!































Julia’s Take

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive going into this bake. I love anything citrus, and lime is one of my favourite flavours, but 1) it’s almost Christmas and this bake just doesn’t seem to be the vibe, 2) I’d heard from several fellow bakers that the curd topping was almost impossible to get set properly, 3) I’d also heard the mint part of this bake (found in the shortbread base) was a bit lackluster. So overall, the bar was pretty low.

Luckily, I was so pleasantly surprised with how these turned out! The process was relatively simple and very different from the other bakes in this chapter so far, which was fun. The whole thing starts with the shortbread base. You start by zesting 4 limes and blending with granulated sugar until fragrant (this smelled amazing!). Then flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt are mixed in, along with the chopped mint, before finally adding slices of cold butter and mixing with your hands until the whole thing is well combined and sticks together.

Since I’d read that the lime really overpowers the mint in this recipe, and really wanting the mint flavour to come through, I went heavy on this ingredient and probably doubled the amount that the book called for. Spoiler alert: this was a good call. The mint was still very subtle but definitely came through nicely!

The shortbread mixture is spread into the baking pan and then bakes for about 25 minutes until browned. While this cooled, I prepped my curd. This comes together with a blend of freshly squeezed lime juice, fresh lemon juice (about ¾ cup of the lime and ¼ cup of the lemon), 4 egg yolks and one whole egg, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisking the various components of the curd, gradually heating, and watching it thicken was super satisfying.

The hot curd gets poured over the cooled shortbread, and then the whole thing goes back in the oven for about 35 minutes. I gave it the full bake time and found that this achieved the puffed up edges that Claire says to look for, with just a slight wobble in the center. I veered on less wobble vs. more given all of the reported issues with setting. They looked fairly firm coming out of the oven, and once they’d fully cooled at room temp and sat in the fridge overnight, they were perfect!

I sliced them up the next morning and did a few drop-offs to my neighbours. These were SUPER tart and fresh. I loved how the lime and mint flavours played with each other, and the texture combination of the crispy, buttery shortbread and the smooth curd was fantastic. I will definitely make these again this summer, maybe served with a side of tequila! This was a 4.5 star bake for me!

Next week, we’ll be heading back to the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes chapter and finally baking the Spiced Persimmon Loaf. See you then!

oat and pecan brittle cookies

Welcome back, fellow Dessert People! This week, we’re bringing you another stellar bake from the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person, and one that has been praised as one of the best recipes in the whole book—the Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, back number 49!

Lauren’s Take

Hello all! Christmas music has started on the radio this week, so I am a HAPPY camper. I hope the world is treating you all well.

I remember the video for this bake was one of the first ones I saw and watched when Claire started releasing her Dessert Person videos on YouTube and I had a few main thoughts…

1. There is brown butter in this, it must be amazing

2. Wow this looks like quite a proces

3. Wow that looks like a lot of dishes

I am happy to report that after making these cookies, I can confirm all of the above. They are finicky, involve many steps, but damn, are they worth it.

In terms of ingredients, these cookies include most things you’d already have in your house: LOTS of butter (which has become a staple of each grocery store trip for me these days), flour, old fashioned oats, white and brown sugar, eggs, baking soda, and pecans. Nothing too fancy.

The cookies involve a series of steps that individually don’t take that long; the most time-consuming piece is the time needed to chill the dough. The first step is to make the pecan brittle. You do this by toasting the chopped pecans, and then make a caramel-like mixture by heating sugar, butter, and water. Once the caramel is that pretty colour, you remove from heat and stir in the toasted pecans. Honestly, nothing smells better than toasted nuts but then you add them in caramel?! I mean, c’mon. Then, quickly, you add in the baking soda and salt to create a foaming action for your brittle. I must say, I was pretty excited for this but nothing happened? It didn’t foam or grow or anything. I’m not sure if my baking soda is just old and doesn’t have the same oomph it used to? Anyways, I then spread out the brittle quickly on a piece of parchment paper. In Claire’s video, it appeared that the brittle was wet and hardening quickly, but mine was already hard and brittle, so who knows. I tasted a piece and it was delicious so I decided to just go with it anyways. I let it chill for 10 minutes and then chopped the brittle into small pieces and put aside.

Next step was to make the cookie dough. First, you brown half of the butter and put the other half in the bowl on the stand mixer. Once the butter is browned, you pour it over the other butter, and let it sit until room temperature (I waited about 30 minutes for this). In the meantime, I mixed my dry ingredients which has to be done in a food processor to ground the oats. My mini food processor barely hung on to get everything done in one go (I really need an adult sized one, you listening Santa?). You pulse the flour, salt, baking soda, half of your pecan brittle, and a cup of oats until it makes a finely ground mixture.

Next, you add your white and brown sugars to butter and beat until smooth. I have noticed that in many cookie recipes, Claire does a combo of white and brown sugar; I think it just adds a lot more depth to the flavour. Then you add in your eggs and vanilla, and finally your dry ingredients until everything is well combined. To your dough, you add the reserved pecan brittle and oats.

Once the dough is done, you scoop out roughly 2oz mounds and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then chill in the fridge. I chilled overnight, so they were in there for about 24 hours in total. I was able to get 18 cookies from the dough. After the chilling phase was complete, you FINALLY get to bake them. These cookies grow so make sure you give them lots of space (Claire recommends 6 cookies per sheet, but honestly I would’ve done less). I decided to only bake 12 and I put the other 6 mounds into a freezer bag to save for later!

The cookies don’t take long to bake, about 18 minutes or so for me. But the SMELL that comes from the oven while baking is something else…it smelt so butterscotch-y I couldn’t wait to taste. They are done once they are a dark golden brown along the outsides but still kind of gooey in the middle. The cookies are left to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferred to a wire rack.

As I mentioned, these cookies really expand in the oven, and with all the brittle and oats inside, get a really cool ruffled look along the top. They are so inviting both in terms of look and smell. They hit the perfect balance between crispy and chewy. The toffee flavour from the brittle is excellent and the brown butter adds some savoury aspect too. Honestly, it is a perfectly balanced cookie and you aren’t left searching for any other flavour. Just be prepared to have a mound of dishes in your sink when you’re done. This cookie is excellent and very much deserving of 5 Stars!

Julia’s Take

Another week, another cookie recipe and considering what a “meh” start this chapter had, these last few bakes have been absolutely stellar! There are so many cookie recipes that I’ll be making again and again once this project is over, and these Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies are on that list!

This process is not for the faint of heart. There were so many steps involved but, let me tell you, each one was absolutely worth the time and effort. Step one: toast the pecans. Step two: make a caramel. Step three: combine the toasted nuts and the caramel to create a brittle. Mine firmed up with away and was super clumpy/not spreadable like Claire’s seemed to be, but nevertheless it tasted absolutely delicious. Would definitely make just this on its down as a special treat!

After the brittle stage came the butter stage. Half of the butter that the recipe calls for is browned (Claire’s favourite thing and now mine) and the other half goes into the bowl of the stand mixer. Once my butter was browned, it was poured over the rest of the butter and then the whole mixture was left to cool and re-solidify. This is the second time Claire has called for this particular butter process, and the book says it takes about 30 minutes, but in my experience it takes at least an hour, likely longer, for the butter to come anywhere near solid form again while cooling.

While my butter cooled, I got started on the dry blend. This was a mixture of AP flour, whole oats, salt, baking powder, and half of the pecan brittle. It all gets blitzed up in the food processer (yes, that’s right—there is toffee brittle mixed right into the batter itself. Genius.).

After I had my dry ingredients ready to go, I went back to my stand mixer and added brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the butter mixture. Once this was all combined, the dry ingredients were added in. Last but not least, some additional oats and the rest of the brittle, cut into little chunks, were gently folded in to the batter.

You would think after ALL this, your cookie would be ready to bake but, alas, they are not. The batter is portioned out in quarter cup size-ish scoops, and then left in the fridge to cool for about 24 hours. This stage is supposed to contribute to the overall texture and chewiness of the cookies; it’s the same process we used for the Chocolate Chip Cookies and, can confirm, it makes a big difference!

The next day, I took my cookie scoops out of the fridge, arranged them onto baking sheets, and baked my cookies. The house smelled absolutely unreal—toasty and butterscotchy and delicious. These cookies were NEXT. LEVEL. Everyone I shared them with raved about them, and they did not last long. I’ll be baking up another batch ASAP. 5 stars from me for sure!

Next week: Minty Lime Bars!

coconut thumbprints

Happy Sunday, everyone! We are continuing our journey through the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person, inching our way closer to the midway point of this baking project. This week, we’re bringing you bake number 48, the Coconut Thumbprints.

Lauren’s Take

Hello hello all! I hope you have all been enjoying your week and keeping well! This week has been very hectic and full, but not too full that I wasn’t able to squeeze in my bake; Coconut Thumbprints! This was one I’d been looking forward too for a while…I love anything coconut flavoured and macaroons are one of my favourite things.


This bake is extremely simple and can be done quickly in one afternoon. First you make your dough and bake the cookies. The dough comes together in the stand mixer (using the paddle attachment). It combines lots of butter, powdered sugar, salt, egg yolks, and shredded coconut. The dough is extremely thick and heavy when it comes together.

You then form the thumbprint cookies; I used a tablespoon measure to collect the dough, then rolled them in my hand into balls. Once I had made balls with all of the dough (I ended up being able to make about 42 cookies), I used the end of a wooden spoon to make the holes in the middle, then went over them all with my hands to widen. In retrospect, I don’t think I pushed down hard enough when making the holes, because they ended up being a bit shallow, but they still worked!

Once the cookies were formed, I put them in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes, then baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes. The book said to bake until the cookies are golden all over which was tricky to get. I found for me, my cookies got pretty golden on the bottoms and sides after like 15 minutes but the tops weren’t, so I kept leaving them in. Well, the tops never got golden really and the bottoms just continued to bake, so my advice would be to just go with what’s happening on the bottom/sides of the cookie.

Once the cookies are done, you leave them to cool while you make your coconut caramel. I was DETERMINED this time to make an excellent caramel because I have slightly burnt every single one I’ve done so far. This was a wet caramel, so it just starts with sugar, corn syrup (finally another use for it!), and some water. Once it has boiled down and is amber in colour (I went a bit before amber), you remove from heat and add coconut milk, coconut oil and salt, which I thought was such a cool switch from heavy cream. The caramel still tastes so rich but it’s lactose friendly, which my partner was excited about.

Once the caramel has cooled and thickened slightly, you fill the thumbprints. I ended up being able to pour about 1/2 teaspoon plus a bit more into each one. Some of them I was a bit over zealous and they split over a tad. The filled cookies are left to cool a bit longer to let the caramel set and then you’re done!

On my first try of this cookie, I was disappointed. I went into it expecting that quintessential chewiness of a macaron, but instead, this cookie is more crumbly and buttery like a shortbread. Once I got over that, I tried it again and really enjoyed it with my new set of expectations. There is so much coconut flavour packed into this little cookie, that you can’t mistake what type of cookie it is! And I did nail the caramel and it is so delicious. They are a bit intense with coconut, so I find they aren’t the type of cookie you want to have multiple of, but they are quite good. 4 stars from me!

Julia’s Take

I am a HUGE coconut lover, so when I saw that these cookies had coconut in the dough itself PLUS a coconut-flavoured caramel to spoon into the middle, I was pumped to say the least. By now, I’ve developed a great love of making caramel, and we haven’t had a chance to make any special components like this since finishing the Pies & Tarts chapter, so I was also looking forward to using some of these other skills again.

It’s been interesting writing these last few blog posts because I feel like nothing overly story-worthy has been happening during the cookie-baking process. That said, I did finally bake my fruitcakes and THAT was a journey, so stay tuned for more on the week-long debacle that was involved in getting those babies prepped and ready to feed. They are currently nestled in their little beds waiting for next week’s shot of brandy.

These thumbprint cookies came together in the stand mixer with a combination of butter, powdered sugar, eggs, flour, salt, and shredded coconut—a shortbread-esque dough with basically a one-to-one ratio of flour and coconut for added texture and obviously flavour.

Once I had my dough, I portioned out little balls using my scale, placed them on baking trays lined with parchment paper, and then shaped them by pressing down on each ball and then using my thumb to make that signature little dip in the middle of each cookie. Once all my cookies were formed, they sat in the fridge to firm up for about 20 minutes.

At this point, I got started on the caramel. The process was exactly the same as any caramel—sugar and water in a pot brought to a boil and monitored closely until you get that deep amber colour. In this case, some light corn starch was also added which I think was meant to help the caramel firm up as it cooled. The main difference here was that, instead of pouring cream into your caramel at the end to create the sauce, coconut milk is used. There were also a couple tablespoons of coconut oil added in at the end, and a dash of salt. This caramel was BOMB and I would make it on its own again and again (much like the other caramel recipes in this book). It would be so good on ice cream.

Once the cookies were baked, some of the caramel was spooned into the thumbprint centre. I did find that my cookies took way less time to bake than what was indicated in the book, so a few came out a lot darker than I would have liked.

These had all the coconut flavour you would hope for, and the shredded coconut in the cookie added great texture. These were still a bit drier than I expected or would have liked, but the addition of the caramel in the middle definitely helped balance things out. It is a 4-star bake for me!

Coming up next week: the long-anticipated Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies!

aunt rose’s mondel bread

Good morning fellow Dessert People! We are back with bake number 47 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This latest recipe from the Bars & Cookies chapter is a family favourite that has been passed down through four generations—Aunt Rose’s Mondel Bread. You know we love families who bake together 😉

Lauren’s Take












































Julia’s Take

I love learning about different cultural recipes and family traditions, so when I read the little introduction to this recipe in the book and found out that this was one that had been passed down through four generations of family, I was excited to give it a try.

From what I read, it sounds like mondel bread is basically a Jewish variation on biscotti. It’s similar to the Italian version that we’re all familiar with (and that our dad and brother bake together every Christmas) except that oil is used instead of butter and the mondel bread is only baked once instead of twice. Most of the cookies in this chapter so far have been pretty standard in terms of process—mix dry ingredients, mix wet ingredients, combine to create a dough, form and bake—so it was fun to bake something that had a few different steps involved.

The formation of the dough is exactly what you’d expect—dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt), wet ingredients (oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla), and then slivered almonds that I had been toasted in the oven earlier in the day are all combined in the stand mixer. The dough then sits in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up.

Once you have your chilled dough, you form the logs. I was a little unsure from the description in the book what exactly these were supposed to look like, and there was no photo or video in this case to go off of, so I just went with how I knew biscotti were formed and hoped for the best. I found it a little tricky to form the logs without any cracks but made them as smooth as possible. Each log is then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and into the oven they go!

This was a three-step bake: round one – logs are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and bake for 20-ish minutes. Round two – they come out, are flipped over, sprinkled with more cinnamon sugar, and bake for another 15 minutes. Round three, you guessed in – they come out, are flipped over again, sprinkled with MORE cinnamon sugar (this was definitely more cinnamon sugar than you really needed…) and bake for a final 15 minutes.

At this point, I should have given the mondel bread a little bit of time to cool and then sliced while still warm, but I was heading out for the night so left the baked logs sitting on the counter. I came back the next morning and sliced the fully cooled mondel bread, which led to some cracking and breakage, so for anyone planning to make this recipe, take Claire’s advice and slice while warm.

Overall, these were what I expected—a drier, simpler cookie (as intended) but with great almond flavour and texture, and a solid accompaniment to a cup of coffee. The process, like I said, was definitely a lot of fun but compared to some of the other recipes in this chapter, these cookies weren’t life-changing. A solid, 3-star bake for me!

Next week we’ll be baking Coconut Thumbprints. See you then!

chewy molasses spice cookies

Welcome back, friends! We are now almost halfway through the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. This week, we’re bringing you bake number 46—Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies.

Lauren’s Take

Happy November everyone! (And for you holiday fanatics like myself, Happy official beginning to the holiday season!) This week we baked, in my opinion, the perfect cookie! It just so happened that Claire’s video for the week on her YouTube channel was for this bake as well…. like to think it’s because she is following along with Julia and I and wanted to do us a solid.

Speaking of the holiday season, there is nothing I like more than a gingerbread cookie. The combination of spices and the warmth of the ginger and molasses is just something I will never get tired of. So I was so excited to make this cookie! And it did not disappoint.

This is a very simple cookie to make, with a large payoff. The most time consuming part is chilling the dough before baking. I gotta say, chilling cookie dough has become one of the greatest life lessons I have learned from this experience…it just makes the cookie so much chewier!

The dough comes together by creaming the brown sugar and butter together in the stand mixer, then adding eggs, molasses, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and finally all your dry ingredients. The spices used for this cookie include ginger, all spice, cloves, and black pepper. The sticky dough is then separated into two equal halves, wrapped, and then chilled.

Once the dough has chilled (I left mine overnight), you can then divide the dough and bake. I separated the dough into 1oz balls and then coated them in Demerara sugar (yes, I bit the bullet this week and actually bought legit Demerara sugar). The balls are spaced evenly on the baking sheet and then baked in the oven for about 12-14 minutes.

This amount of dough makes A LOT of cookies, so I had to do this in stages, making sure I placed the dough balls I wasn’t baking back into the fridge so they wouldn’t get too soft.

The baking was where I had a bit of a snag: in the video and in the cookbook, Claire’s cookies come out with these beautiful large creases along the top, which still look shiny and a but underdone when removed from the oven. For whatever reason, I didn’t get a lot of cracks in my cookies. I thought that perhaps it had to do with my Demerara sugar, which was a bit heavier than traditional raw sugar. So I did a batch with less sugar coating, and then one with no sugar coating at all. Progressively each time, I did get more cracking along the top, but nothing remotely like what I saw in the book. I was a bit bummed, but that feeling soon went away once I tried a cookie.

This is my perfect cookie, hands down. It is so chewy and soft and the flavour hits in all the right places. The black pepper really adds a nice kick at the end of each bite. I am a huge fan and everyone I have shared with has asked for the recipe! 5 stars for me! Even though this recipe made so many cookies, I don’t think I’ll be able to save any for Christmas so I guess I’ll just have to make more 😉

In other news, I have made my fruitcakes! They are currently nestled inside of their beds, and will be taken out each week to be fed brandy (not a bad life). Stay tuned!

*Shoutout to my friend Taylor for letting me use her new phone to take high quality photos this week*


Julia’s Take

My little freezer stash of Christmas cookies just got a bit bigger with this week’s bake! I love anything with warm spices and molasses, and gingerbread always brings those wonderful nostalgic holiday feels, so I was pumped to take a crack at this recipe!

Normally I am a “crispy gingerbread cookie” over a “chewy gingerbread cookie” kind of girl, but in general I love a good chew on a baked good, so Claire’s method and results were spot on. This recipe was quick and easy to put together: first, mix all the dry ingredients together (a brilliant spice combo of black pepper, cloves, all spice, and ginger in this bake—mad props from me on this because, call me crazy, but in terms of warm spices I would rank clove high above any day!).

The other ingredients come together in gradual stages in the stand mixer—brown sugar, butter (which has been melted and then cooled to room temp to help with overall texture of the final cookie), molasses, eggs, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and eventually the dry ingredients. You end up with a pretty sticky dough, which is typical of a gingerbread cookie; the dough then chills in the refrigerator to firm up before shaping. I left mine in the fridge for a couple of hours while I did some other errands, and then came back to finish the bake.

I’ve always had a pretty loose approach to scooping/shaping cookies, but after measuring out the specific amount Claire called for in the book per cookie, and seeing how beautifully uniform all the cookies came out, I will never go back! Working with a cold dough and making sure each ball of cookie dough measures an equal number of grams is key to getting that perfectly circular bake, and man is it ever satisfying to pull them out of the oven! I rolled each ball in raw sugar before baking, and the end result was a pretty, crackly, shimmery top.

The one thing I couldn’t figure out with this bake is why some of my cookies ended up with more of a crack on top than others. I had two baking sheets in the oven at a time, and rotated them halfway through like the recipe suggests, but for some reason the tray of cookies that started on the top rack ended up with more prominent crackling than the tray that started on the bottom rack. If anyone has any idea why, holler at your girl.

Overall, these had the most delicious flavour, a unique hit from the pepper, the most ideal texture, and such a gorgeous overall look. I can’t wait to serve these to friends and family over the holidays. It’s another 5-star bake from me!

Next week, we’ll be baking Aunt Rose’s Mondel Bread.

pistachio pinwheels

Can you believe we’ve already made it to our 45th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person? It feels like we just started this little project of ours, and yet somehow we are almost halfway through the book. The Bars & Cookies chapter continues to be filled with delicious little treats; this week’s cookies were the Pistachio Pinwheels.

Lauren’s Take

Hello all! Can I just say how much I’m loving this Bars & Cookies chapter? Although a part of me does miss the tedious, time management focused bakes of the past (and the future), there truly is something to be said about being able to bake something in the moment, no real planning needed.

These Pistachio Pinwheels definitely fit the bill! The only snag this time was finding blanched, shelled pistachios that were green enough to make a pronounced swirl in the cookie. I made the mistake of sending my boyfriend to find them when he went grocery shopping, and he returned with a huge bag of un-blanched, un-shelled pistachios (A for effort Ben!). I was able to find them at my local bulk barn though!

Once you have all the ingredients, putting this cookie together is fairly simple. You are essentially making two doughs; one with ground pistachio and one without. The first dough is made by combining flour, almond flour, butter, powdered sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract in the food processor. You then roll it out into a 12×8 rectangle and let it chill. The second dough uses the same base as the first, but you add ground pistachio to it to make it green and leave it at room temperature.

Once the first dough is chilled, you spread the second dough all across the base dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the outside. The dough is then rolled up into a log and chilled for about an hour. Once firm, you remove the log from the fridge, roll it in Demerara sugar (I used my trusty dark brown again), and then cut them into 32 equal pieces!


Cutting the log was a very satisfying part as it exposed the really cool, bright green swirl within each cookie. The cookies are baked for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown on the outside. This time, I trusted my nose when they were done and not the timer! And it worked! I definitely did not over or under bake these.


Aesthetically, this is such a beautiful cookie and will be perfect for the holidays. They are not overly sweet and have that essential buttery texture that you want in a shortbread cookie. Initially, you don’t get hit with the pistachio flavour right away, but it leaves a perfect after taste in your mouth. Really good cookie…nothing spectacular that leaves you wanting to eat one after another, but pretty delicious all the same. 3.5 stars from me!

Julia’s Take

Welcome back to another Sunday baking post! The Pistachio Pinwheels were one of the first recipes from the book that I learned about because Claire put out a YouTube video with NYT Cooking around the holidays last year, shortly after the book was published and right before I got it for Christmas. Watching her make these pretty little cookies made me even more excited to snag my copy and get baking myself!

The process was fun and simple once again this week. Everything is combined in a food processer, which I love—the less bowls to clean up, the better if you ask me! There are two different doughs created for this cookie, one that is primarily almond and the other that brings the pistachio flavour and colour. The base of each is your typical shortbread cookie: flour, butter, powdered sugar, and egg yolks. You then take about two thirds of this shortbread base and add almond flour and almond extract to it, roll it out into a rectangle between two pieces of parchment paper, and then let it chill and firm up in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

While the almond dough chills, the ground pistachios are added to the rest of the base dough. I was able to find shelled pistachios, but they were not blanched so I was worried my spiral wouldn’t come out as green as it needed to be. I decided to add some green food colouring to the pistachio dough and this worked out really well!

Once the pistachio dough comes together, it is spread over the chilled rectangle and everything is rolled up into a log. For some reason, the almond dough started to warm up really quickly and got super soft as I was starting to roll. I think it probably could have stayed in the fridge another 10 minutes at least. Even though I wasn’t able to get as tight a roll as I wanted, the log still formed just fine, and then sat in the fridge for an hour to firm up again.

The best part of this recipe by far was slicing the cookies! Once the log is removed from the fridge, it is rolled in our good ol’ trusty Demerara sugar (has there been a single recipe in this book that HASN’T called for Demerara sugar??), and then sliced evenly. Based on how horribly my roll seemed to go, I did not think I would get tight spirals, but I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw those pretty green swirls in the centre of each cookie!

The cookies bake for 15-20 minutes—my first batch stayed in for 16 minutes and they were just a touch dark, so I kept the rest in for 14 and they were must better. I would say I found them a little more almond-forward than pistachio flavoured, but still nutty and delicious. The overbaked ones definitely came out a little dry, but overall you get that wonderfully soft shortbread texture that you want from a cookie like this. Maybe if we hadn’t just made the palmiers and the brownies, which were so unreal, I’d rate these slightly higher, but it would have to be a 3.5 star bake from me. These cookies are going to be perfect for Christmas!

Coming up next week: Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies!

malted “forever” brownies

We’ve made it to bake number 44 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. The latest recipe we tackled from the Bars & Cookies chapter of the book was a super decadent one—the Malted “Forever” Brownies.

Lauren’s Take

Hello hello! Finally we make it to the highly anticipated malted “forever” brownies!

Ever since Claire released the video of her making this recipe, I (as well as many other people in my life) have been excited for this recipe to come up. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, as you already know…but there’s something about a fudge-y, chewy brownie alongside a big glass a milk that I can get behind.

This is a very simple recipe—but takes a bit of time to get everything to cool as Claire instructs. Otherwise, it is a “throw everything into a bowl, mix it up, and bake” kind of recipe. The biggest challenge was finding this elusive malted milk powder. I had never heard of it before. My only experience with the word malt is beside the word liquor, but I knew that couldn’t be it. After many texts with Julia and some Googling, I discovered/was told that Ovaltine is malted milk, and my local grocery store had the specific non-chocolate flavoured, malted milk one! I was so excited when I got home from the store with this massive jar of malted milk…I became less excited when I realized we only need 2 tablespoons for the recipe. If anyone in the Ottawa region loves malted milk and would like a massive jar of Ovaltine, hit me up.

Anyways, in terms of the recipe, you mix cocoa powder with hot water, then add vegetable oil, butter, and semi-sweet chocolate, whisking until smooth. Then the brown and white sugars are added, along with eggs and vanilla. This makes a super smooth and shiny batter. Then the dry ingredients of flour, salt, and least we forget, malted milk powder are whisked in until combined. The rest of the chocolate is now mixed in. I used milk chocolate chips, rather than cutting up a bar.

The mixture is poured into a foil covered 8×8 metal pan and baked in the oven until the mixture is dry but still soft to the touch. After over-baking my cookies slightly last week, I was really nervous about doing the same with the brownies. After 25 minutes, the top felt dry but still looked a tad wet, so I left it for another minute or so and then took them out.

I did as instructed; I let them cool for 1 hour at room temperature in the pan, and then placed the pan in the fridge to cool for another hour. When I removed them the dough still felt quite soft and there were pieces in the centre that seemed really gooey. So I do think that I did under-bake them slightly. Either that, or I didn’t allow the brownies to cool long enough to allow the chocolate chip pieces to re-solidify? Not sure. Either way, after cutting I placed all the brownies back in the fridge overnight to firm up even more.

The next day, the brownies had some together better. They are SO chewy and fudge-y (which may be because they are undercooked but yolo). I added flaky salt on top, which I find really helps to balance the rich chocolate flavour. I don’t know if I taste malted milk per say, but I do think it adds to the creamy quality of the brownies for sure. Pretty solid brownie recipe I gotta say. If I do make them again though, I’d bake for longer. 4 stars!

Julia’s Take

I don’t think you’d find many people out there who say they don’t enjoy a good brownie. Although they aren’t in my regular rotation of baked goods, sometimes nothing hits better than a super chocolatey, decadent brownie. Claire calls these “forever” brownies because she claims they are the only brownie you’ll ever want to eat ever again. With this kind of hype, you can bet I was excited to give them a try.

Although Claire offers a few variations in the book (mint, nuts, whole grain), the original recipe is “malted” because it calls for the addition of malted milk powder. Apparently this is not as common or easy to find in Canada as it is in the US, and after searching high and low for this ingredient (grocery stores: nothing; bulk food stores: nothing; online: unavailable or ridiculously expensive), I came up empty handed. I’d heard from some fellow dessert people that Ovaltine can work as a decent substitute since there is malt in the ingredients; the recipe only called for 2 tablespoons’ worth so I figured for just that, Ovaltine should work just fine.

The batter comes together easily and quickly—such a nice turn of events with this chapter after a laborious summer making pies and tarts. The ingredients are what you’d expect—cocoa powder, but bloomed first with boiling water (apparently this makes the chocolate flavour really come through), butter, oil, semisweet chocolate, egg, vanilla, brown and granulated sugar, and then eventually AP flour, the Ovaltine in my case, and a touch of salt. Once the batter is whisked together, Claire calls for some roughly chopped pieces of milk chocolate to be folded in. I decided to use Maltesers instead of regular milk chocolate to ramp up the malt flavour.

The batter is poured in to an 8×8 baking dish lined with foil and the brownies bake for just under 30 minutes. Besides the addition of malt, the other distinguishing factor in Claire’s recipe is the rest time—1 hour in the pan and another hour in the fridge. She says this helps create a chewier texture.

These brownies were SO good and absolutely lived up to the hype. I definitely veer more towards a chewier vs. cakier brownie, so these were right up my ally. They are fudgy without being overwhelmingly sweet, and the Maltesers were absolutely the right call—you get that extra little hit of chocolate in every bite with a hit of that special malt flavour. I can see why you’d never want to have another brownie ever again. 5 stars for me again this week!

Next week, we’ll be baking up the Pistachio Pinwheels. See you then!