Pastry chef and cookbook author Erin Gardner shares her favorite Christmas recipes

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Pastry chef and cookbook author Erin Gardner of Barrington shares her favorite recipes to make for holiday treats.

Barrington’s Erin Gardner is and has been a lot. She was a restaurant pastry chef and owner of Wild Orchid Banking Co. in Hampton, where she created beautiful cakes. In 2012, she won the Food Network‘s Sweet Genius competition with a Taj Mahal cake made with surprise ingredients tahini, blood orange and quinoa. Her cake designs have been featured in magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides. The Knot, MSW, and Brides have named her one of the nation’s top wedding cake makers. She is now also a three-time cookbook author, blogger and cake design trainer.

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Erin gardner

Erin gardner

But in the weeks leading up to Christmas, she’s the head baker like the rest of us. Here are her favorite recipes for Christmas sweets.

“My Rosemary Lemon Cookies are the perfect snack when you want something seasonal and fragrant, but not too spicy or rich,” Gardner said. “It’s an adult cookie that pairs perfectly with an afternoon cup of tea.”

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“In my Puppy Chow Buckeye recipe, I combined two holiday favorites, Puppy Chow (Muddy Buddies) and Buckeyes, to create one of the tastiest and easiest treats to make of the holiday season!” she said. “The addition of cereal to the Buckeyes provides a much needed element of ‘crunch’, while the classic finish of the chocolate-covered Buckeyes makes them simple to serve and share. “

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For another quick batch, Gardner recommends a simple recipe she developed that you can prepare by hand.

“No blender? No time? No problem! My blender-free brown butter chocolate chip cookies make in a flash without having to use any special tools,” Garner said. “The brown butter flavor complements the chocolate ribbons that run through the cookies and provides a high flavor profile for something that combines so easily.

For more information, recipes, tutorials, see the Gardner website erinbakes.com.

Rosemary-lemon cookies

Rosemary-lemon cookies

Rosemary-lemon cookies

By Erin Gardner from “Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes to Do Nothing The Most Delicious”

Makes 34 cookies

2 tablespoons of whole milk

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

4 ounces of unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 large egg

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350 * F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

2. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together milk, lemon juice and vanilla. Set aside to allow the milk to thicken.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, baking soda, cooking power, salt, lemon zest. and rosemary until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop every now and then to scrape the sides of the arch to make sure there aren’t any lumps of butter.

4. Add the egg and milk mixture, scraping the bowl as needed.

5. With the mixer on low, add the flour until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl one last time and incorporate the remaining streaks of flour by hand.

6. Divide the dough into 1 1/2 inch (0.75 ounce or 1 1/2 tablespoon) balls and roll the balls in the sugar to coat them. Arrange balls on lined cookie sheets at least 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies a bit with the palm of your freshly washed hand or the bottom of a drinking glass.

7. Bake cookies in batches, until tops start to crack and edges brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Let the cookies heat in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Puppy Chow Buckeyes

Puppy Chow Buckeyes

Puppy Chow Buckeyes

By Erin Gardner

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups (16 ounces) smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon of molasses (or maple syrup)

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

3 cups of powdered sugar

3 cups of Chex corn

16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon of coconut oil or shortening

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (or in a large bowl if using an electric mixer), beat the butter, peanut butter, molasses, vanilla and salt until blended. Scrape down sides of bowl.

2. Add the powdered sugar and mix for a few seconds, just starting to mix the ingredients. Stop and add the cereal. Mix over low heat until combined. The grain should be broken, but not pulverized.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Divide the dough into 1 1/2 inch (0.75 ounce or 1 1/2 tbsp) balls and place them on the lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or overnight, before soaking. Alternatively, the balls can be frozen for up to 3 months at this stage and removed from the freezer as needed.

4. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave on high power in 30 second increments, stirring after each, until that they are completely melted.

5. Insert a toothpick into one of the peanut butter balls and dip it in the chocolate three-quarters of the way up. Shake off excess chocolate and place the soaked ball on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the balls. Smooth any holes left by the toothpicks with your fingertip. Dip your finger in lukewarm water to prevent it from sticking.

6. Buckeyes can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies No Mixer

By Erin Gardner from “Procrastibaking: 100 Recipes to Do Nothing The Most Delicious”

Makes 36 cookies

8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 bag (11.5 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Heat oven to 350 * F and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

2. Brown the butter in a medium, light-colored saucepan. To do this, melt the butter over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until it turns from bright yellow to golden brown with small dark brown spots at the bottom of the pan. It should only take a few minutes, so stay tuned. Using a light colored saucepan makes this easier to see. Stir the butter or gently stir the pan until you see the color change. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly while you put together the rest of your ingredients.

3. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla to the pot and whisk to combine. If you don’t want to do this in your pan, transfer everything to a large bowl.

4. Whisk the egg. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour and cornstarch a few times to mix loosely. Add chocolate chips and fold until blended. The chocolate will start to melt a bit from the heat of the pan. It is perfectly fine, encouraged, and indeed wonderful if that happens. Stop mixing at this point to leave the dough streaked with chocolate.

5. Divide into 1 1/2 inch balls (just under 2 tablespoons) and arrange on lined baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Bake cookies in batches, turning pan halfway through cooking, until edges just begin to brown, about 9 minutes.

6. Allow the cooler to cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring it to a rack to complete cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

This article originally appeared on the Portsmouth Herald: Cookbook author Erin Gardner of Barrington NH shares cookie recipes


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