Holiday Danish Butter Cookies

I have very few store bought guilty pleasures that I not so secretly love, and have loved ever since I was a kid. Zebra cakes, frosted circus animal cookies, powdered sugar tiny doughnuts and those Danish butter cookies that come in a blue tin are my all time favorites. I’m obsessed. Now I know they’re not healthy treats, and who really knows what kinds of crazy unpronounceable ingredients they have, but I can’t help it, they remind me of my childhood. In my defense, it was the nineties and no one was really scared about crazy chemicals in food back then (or at least I don’t think they were). It was a different time, for sure. Don’t judge me! I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with guilty food pleasures. Sure, I’m a baker and I can easily make any dessert at home, but no matter what I do, those treats up there are irreplaceable. I’m not saying to go out and eat these cookies, cakes and doughnuts every single day, but I am saying it’s totally okay to treat yo’ self every now and then. You deserve it. 

I most commonly get a craving for Danish butter cookies during the holidays. Maybe because that’s when I see millions of those blue tins around grocery stores everywhere. My favorites are the wreath shaped ones and the small pretzel shaped cookies. Those are the best. I recently decided it was time to make my own version of those cookies at home. I browsed online and found that I’m not alone in this Danish cookie fascination. I was lucky enough to find lots of recipes on the internets that I was able to piece together a few to make the ultimate butter cookie recipe. It’s great because they’re made with everyday ingredients that you (most definitely) probably have on hand already. No need to take a trip to the grocery store for anything fancy. Well, maybe just sprinkles but you know what, that’s totally worth a trip to the store because these cookies need to get they’re sprinkle on. 

With the holidays around the corner, I think they fit perfectly with the season. Plus, who doesn’t love a good cookie recipe in December? Let’s get into the holiday spirit and whip up a big batch of these cookies and make it rain down the most delicious buttery treats you’ll ever encounter. Let’s also run down to the grocery store, while we’re at it, and try those guilty pleasures I mentioned earlier. Let’s keep it just between us and not tell anyone that we’re living our lives. Most importantly let’s have a good holiday season filled with lots of guilty pleasures!

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Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon and Pecan Rugelach

Well hello again! If you haven’t already noticed by now, I’ve been away for a while. I sincerely apologize for that. Believe me, it hasn’t been by any choice of mine. The holidays have kept me quite busy.  Thanksgiving taught me that there is no limit to how much turkey I can eat. I know that it seems like I haven’t been working on the blog, but if you really think about it,  I have been working on new recipes for the blog to share with you guys. I’ve teamed up with a few companies that I’m super excited to work with and although I can’t share the recipes or all of the details right at this moment, I do want you to know that some new and exciting recipes (that I’m most proud of, mind you) are coming to the blog very soon. And by very soon I mean a couple of weeks. I’m just itching to tell you guys all about them. To let the cat out of the bag and spill the beans but unfortunately I can’t just now. I can tell you though that these recipes I’m talking about are going to blow your socks off. Blow them clear across the country. I think that justifies my absence, right? 

The other day I was video chatting with my mother—which by the way, I had no idea she even knew how to Facetime, but I gotta tell you she’s more of a pro than you and I could ever dream of being—so she proceeds to tell me that I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long. She hasn’t gotten any email updates from me recently, and she’s worried that I’m going to lose all of my followers if I don’t post anything soon. Thanks mom. Now, I’m no cookie pro baker but I do have to inform you that I am a professional cookie eater. Don’t believe me? It’s on my resume. (It really isn’t on my resume, but how cool would that be?) Anyhow, as I was saying, my mother was throwing shade my way so I knew that I needed to get my act together.  

After that, I wanted to get into the holiday cookie-baking spirit so I decided to think outside of the box for a bit. I didn’t want to share an easy recipe of something we’ve all seen far too many times. I wanted something that was unique and perhaps maybe even new to some of you. Rugelach sort of made all the sense in the world because you can easily fill it with whatever your heart desires. These are loaded with butter, cinnamon sugar, dark chocolate, cherries and pecans. I don’t think it gets any better than this, but luckily for me, I’m not complaining about the situation. Rugelach kind of look like croissants but the doughs are completely different from one another. This one is a little more dense than pie crust, but it’s still super delicious. If you’ve never made these before or have never tried them for yourself, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve been missing out. Don’t worry, you still have time to catch up to the rest of us. I’ll even help you eat your way through. I’m willing to take one for the team. 

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Fluffernutter Cookie Sandwiches

Fluffernutters are my childhood. Literally, my entire childhood. If I had to choose one thing I loved as a kid, it would be fluffernutters. (Well that would be my sweet pick, if I had to choose a savory it would be tater tots. Tater tots all the way). If you’re not familiar with fluffernutters, allow me to explain this marvelous invention to you. They are sandwiches made with white bread, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Delicious right? I think I’ve mentioned on several occasions that my mamma isn’t much of a baker. Somewhere out there, at this very moment, my mamma is saying, “Yes, Jonathan. You’ve already mentioned that I didn’t bake anything for you and your sisters when you were little, on several occasions. Any chance you get. Stop telling the whole world I can’t bake!” I’m sorry mamma, but it’s true, and if it makes you feel any better, it’s not really the whole world. It’s like a few people here and there. Anyhow, my mamma didn’t really bake when my sisters and I were kids. Have I told you that? She didn’t at all. Cut and bake cookies, do those count? Anyhow, she did however, make us a few treats here and there, like jell-o (hmmmm), Rice Krispies treats (yummm) and lastly, flutternutters (coma inducing deliciousness).

The fluffernutters that my mamma would make my sisters and I, however, weren’t the traditional kind I described earlier. Unfortunately she didn’t make us whole sandwiches because I think she knew it would basically be a sugar rush and we’d be jumping off the walls for hours if she had. Whomp whomp. She’s a smart woman. She knew what she was doing. Instead, she’d take two ritz crackers, spread creamy peanut butter on one, and marshmallow fluff on the other, and then sandwich them together. It was the best thing on the planet. I could eat like fifty of them. I even think one time I challenged myself to see if I could actually eat fifty in one sitting. I only got to like eight, but needless to say, I’m still trying to challenge myself. I’m up to like nine now. It’s going to take me a while. 

This past week, I wanted to bring back a bit of my childhood, so I came up with these cookie sandwiches. Mostly I just wanted an excuse to eat marshmallow fluff and peanut butter straight out of the jar without getting caught. I did that for a while before I realized I needed to save some for the cookies. Darn you cookies (but not really because you’re super delicious and I just want to keep you all to myself). I’m trying to devise a plan that would allow me to eat all these cookie sandwiches without giving my mom or doctor a coronary. So far, I got nothing. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be tucked away in a corner sneaking a cookie sandwich here and there, trying my best to outdo my record for most fluffernutters eaten in one sitting. 

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Gingerbread Cookies

When I was a kid all I really wanted to do was eat gingerbread cookies. Like all the time. Gingerbread cookies, night and day. It wasn’t because I loved gingerbread cookies so much that I just had to have them. The truth was, I just wanted to bite their heads off. And then eat them. But definitely not in the weird way that it sounded just now. Sometimes I’d go easy on them (I was a reasonable kid) and start with an arm, or a leg and then work my way up. Okay, that does sound weird, now that I think about it, but come on, I was a kid. You can’t blame me. What child doesn’t get pleasure out of torturing cookies by eating them, limb by limb? I think that’s totally normal, right? Doesn’t everyone do that? Nothing screams “Happy Holidays” like a cookie massacre, and by massacre I of course mean feast. A cookie free for all. A buffet of cookies. A never-ending supply of cookies. I envied Santa Claus (maybe because of his red suit) but it was mostly because of the fact that he got to eat cookies and drink milk all night long. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Talk about a dream job. Professional cookie eater sounds like the kind of thing I would be great at. I can eat cookies for a living. I would’t mind. I’d do it like my life depended on it, and as if every cookie I ate, saved a life. I’d save a million lives, in that case. It would be a tough job, but one I would hesitantly excel at, you know, for the good of the people. I’m saving lives after all.

It’s fun sometimes to just forget about everything and decorate some cookies. Especially during the holidays. There’s something about gathering everyone together in the kitchen and getting all those creative juices flowing. The holidays can be so stressful at times, brought on by the pressure of fighting the crowds and purchasing gifts, but if you really think about it, it isn’t about the gifts but rather the good times and the memories you create with those you love. Those are the things we carry with us throughout our lives. Material items come and go, but memories, those will last a lifetime. No assembly or batteries required. Just the willingness to have fun. It doesn’t even matter how old you are, you can still have a good time at any moment of your life. I mean, I’m a quarter of a century and I still get a kick out of biting the heads off of gingerbread men. Some things never change. Especially my love for gingerbread. That will always be there.

As a child, I often wondered if Santa Claus had a favorite cookie. It would keep me up at night. “What if he doesn’t like sugar cookies?” I would ask my mom, (which were the ones we always left for him). I felt bad, as a kid, for forcing him to eat just the one type of cookie, year after year. What if the man loved gingerbread and I had no idea? Of course it was impossible to leave a variety for him because my mom wasn’t much of a baker, and the cookies we left Mr. Claus were from out of a tube. It wasn’t until I was older when I saw the red markings left behind on the glass of milk and the leftover cookie pieces one year and I thought to myself, “Santa Claus wears lipstick?!” Who am I to judge? Whatever floats your boat Santa. Whatever floats your boat. Of course it was then that I realized it didn’t matter what cookies we left behind because my mom (aka the best Santa in the world) was just like me. We don’t discriminate against a cookie. We welcome each and every one of them. I’ll never say no to a spicy gingerbread cookie that’s for sure, and something tell me, Santa wouldn’t either.

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Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies

This morning I woke up with chocolate all over my face and caramel in my hair, and I don’t even know why. It’s the spookiest thing if you think about it, because I know I didn’t go to bed in that state. Or at least I don’t think I did. To be perfectly honest, I can’t really remember. Maybe I was attacked by some kind of jumbo chocolatey-caramel Easter bunny while I was sound asleep (let’s not talk about those dreams) or maybe I just woke up in the middle of the night and dragged myself into the kitchen and scarfed down a few cookies when no one was looking. That could be it. Then I just lazily walked back to my room and slipped into bed without bothering to wipe off my indiscretions. That’s what they call sleep eating right? I hear it’s a thing, or maybe I’m just making it up. Either of those explanations are plausible really. You’re right though, my bets are totally on the chocolate bunny. It makes complete sense. Although I did go to bed craving said cookies and they were on the counter last night before I knocked out, and by some weird coincidence, it just so happens that the cookies are now nowhere to be found. Where are those cookies? Where did they go?! Yeah, that chocolate bunny must have eaten them right before going into my room to attack me. Damn that chocolate bunny. It’s the only logical explanation. I’m glad we figured that out together. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight, wondering what on earth happened to me, but more importantly what in the world happened to my cookies. Thanks for solving that mystery with me, I really appreciate it. So, chocolate bunnies love dark chocolate cookies with salted caramel drizzled on top just like me. Who would have thought? Not me, friends. Not me.

It takes a certain kind of cookie to really flip my world upside down and get me to forget about my love of doughnuts. It also takes a certain type of cookie to wake me up in the middle of the night and fight off a chocolate bunny for them. You might ask what kind of cookie could ever do that? What kind of cookie has that kind of power over me?! If you weren’t going to ask, let’s pretend you were, just for the sake of this post. Okay so you asked me the important question, oh thanks for asking! I’m glad you did. I’ll tell you, it would have to be the kind of cookie that is chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate. And not just any chocolate, but dark chocolate. With dark chocolate chunks all throughout, melted, all gooey and warm. Said cookie would also have to have salted caramel drizzled all over the top of each and sprinkled with coarse sea salt because salty and sweet is the way to do it, in my book. It would have to be the type of cookie that would be easy to make and even easier to eat all of them without ever realizing you just ate all of them. It just so happens that I’m going to share that type of cookie with you now. That way you can make some for yourself, just be careful though. These cookies come with a warning. You’ll wake up in the morning with chocolate all over your face and caramel in your hair, but don’t fret about it because we all know how it got there.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and we are all running around like mad people trying to check off items on our long to-do lists. The Pre-Thanksgiving tasks have begun. No amount of mental planning could have prepared us for all of this. Although our lists are nicely organized we cannot help but still feel overwhelmed and anxious. It does not matter how much time we spend mapping everything out, to the last detail, we somehow still do not feel super confident about all that goes into this big event. Everything that has yet to be done. From all that needs to be prepped, cleaned and cooked, to the table setting and anticipation of our guests’ needs. We have a lot to do in a short amount of time. Of course there are some of us who live for these moments. Big gatherings and celebrations where we can cook ridiculous amounts of food in a short period of time and not feel an ounce of pressure. Unfortunately, not all of us our lucky to be that way. For the most part, we fall into that percentage of people where preparing a big Thanksgiving feast just sounds completely daunting to us. We are nervous and worried that we will not be able to get everything finished on time. All the worst possible scenarios run through our heads, and we shudder at the thought that we might have forgotten something, so we run through our lists about twenty more times within the hour. Then the worst does happen. You are in the middle of cooking something and you realize that you are out of a certain ingredient, or that you completely forgot to get an item at the grocery store. That occurs even to the best of us. There is so much on our minds, it seems only natural that we will forget something, or that we thought we had a certain ingredient but come to find we ran out or were mistaken.

When those moments of panic arise, it is best to just relax. Nothing will get solved by panicking and getting upset. We must run through our options in our minds. Do without the ingredient? Use a substitution? Or go to the market for a quick trip and brave the madness with the rest of the forgetters and the last minute shoppers? Perhaps the ingredient is not that important and you can just omit it. I have done that before. In which case, just laugh it off and continue cooking without it. If the ingredient is important but you do not feel like putting your shoes and coat on, hopping into your car, driving to the market, braving the craziness of the last minute shoppers and the long lines at checkout, well then perhaps a substitution will work for you. Surely there is something in your pantry or fridge that will give your recipe the same taste or effect without going out of your way. To help you on your substitutional journey, here is a handy dandy holiday substitution resource put together by my friend Russell over at Chasing Delicious. It is an “informational potluck” with tips and tricks submitted by a variety of food bloggers and cookbook authors, including yours truly. And last but not least, if you cannot skip the ingredient all together or even find an adequate substitution for it, well then your last resort is to put on your brave face and go to the market. Go with your goal in mind. No fuss no muss. Walk in there like you own the place. Shoot straight for the aisle, grab your ingredient, and go pay. If you convince another brave soul to go with you, have them wait in line while you retrieve your item, that way you can get out even faster.

With all the planning and work we put into this holiday, or any holiday for that matter, we all fail to realize one thing. The holidays are not about impressing people, or busting our chops to try and make the “perfect” everything. Life is not perfect. Sometimes things do not go as planned and we need to accept that that is okay. Thanksgiving should not be stressful or overwhelming. Although at times, it seems inevitable when planning a big meal for family and friends. We want to impress and make a great feast that everyone will enjoy, but it is important to stop, take a step back, and breathe deeply. This day is about being around loved ones and enjoying yourself. It is about being thankful for everything around you. It is a day for appreciating those people that we do not get to see often and for giving thanks for the opportunities that have arisen and been given to us.

You can spend the entire day stressed, cooking all sorts of complicated dishes that will surely impress your guests. However, that does not sound fun at all. Or you can also just enjoy the day, stress-free and having fun. Laughing and playing games with your family and friends. Make easy, yet delicious, dishes that you have cooked countless times before. That way, you know it will definitely come out right. Aim for easy recipes. Dessert should be just as carefree and fast to whip up. One that does not take precious fridge space. For we all know how hard it is to arrange everything in the icebox, on this day especially. A cookie of some sort seems to fit the bill. Not just an ordinary cookie, no that will not suffice, but a seasonal cookie. One that brings together all those classic Thanksgiving dessert flavors into one tiny package.

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