Rosewater Shortbread Cookies

One of my favorites. Classic, buttery, whole wheat shortbread cookies fragrant with rosewater, flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals.

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These are buttery, whole-wheat shortbread cookies – fragrant with rosewater, and flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals. They have a crunchy dusting of sugar on top that provides a satisfying, sweet tongue scratch, and are punctuated with black sesame. I’m not going to lie – it took a few attempts to nail them down. As many of you know – dealing with floral flavors can be a bit tricky. But now, as written, they’re oh so tasty.Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Shortbread Cookies: Inspiration

These little guys came about when I was tasked with bringing dessert to a friend’s house. She was cooking an impressive Ottolenghi-inspired feast, and I thought these would be a pretty finish. With the rose petals and all. In the years since that dinner they’ve become part of my regular shortbread repertoire, and I make them often for special occasions and holidays. I mean, they’re so pretty and tasty!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Baking with Flowers

The trick with cooking or baking with florals is figuring out how much is too much, and how little is too little. For example, with this shortbread recipe, the first couple of attempts I used dried rose petals only, and a good amount. But the flavor got pushed around a bit, bullied and overpowered by the browning butter.

Second attempt? I gave the rose notes a boost by layering the petals in the dough with a splash of rose water. The dough immediately became more fragrant, balanced, and helped nail what I intended (and hoped for) from the start. I suggest using a bit of caution when baking with rose water, because each bottle seems to vary in strength, quality, and scent. Strictly for reference, I’ll mention that I have been using Nielsen-Massey Rose Water. If you’re unsure about the quality or strength of your rose water, start with half, and taste the dough. You can always adjust with more from there. Trust your senses :)!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

These little shortbread cookies are perfect alongside other bite-sized treats on a post-dinner sweets board. I like to break up a good bar of chocolate, include some salted caramels, maybe a few dates, etc. Or you could do a cookie-only sampler, with a range of tiny cookies. There are a lot of favorite cookie recipes to explore, or bake larger cookies, and cut them into quarters so people can sample.

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Gingerbread Cookies

Everything you want in a classic gingerbread cookie. These are classic, spice-flecked, and delicious.

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Gingerbread cookies are the best. I like to bite their heads off first, then each arm, and then each leg. These are going to be the second cookie I am going to include in my holiday cookie boxes.

I have a few strong opinions on how I like my gingerbread and this recipe fits the bill on every front. These cookies are tasty, classic, spice-flecked and a rich shade of brown – exactly what they were supposed to be.Gingerbread Cookies Recipe with Icing

Let’s Make Strong Gingerbread Cookies

This isn’t the time for chewy, moist, or flaky cookies. When you are making gingerbread men (or women) it’s important to make a cookie that is crisp, sturdy, and a shade on the dry side. This is especially important if you are making large + tall gingerbread men, or using the recipe to create walls for a gingerbread house or structure. You should be able to hold you gingerbread cookies by one leg and not have the leg crumble or bend off. I’m not talking about making a gingerbread cracker here, but hopefully you get my drift. As you can see from the picture my gingerbread cookie is standing tall and straight. That’s what you’re after.

Big Flavor

I love gingerbread cookies with some kick. No skimping on the spices please. This recipe is loaded with a generous dose of ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, and pepper. Every bite should have a spicy tingle to it. As they are baking, people should flock to the oven from the far recesses of the house to have a peek at the source of the wonderful smells. You can’t be shy with the spices.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

Appearance

Gingerbread cookies look best when they’re deep ginger in color, and spotted from head to toe with freckles of spices. The molasses in this recipe along with the generous amount of spices made for a nice, classic gingerbread appearance. I’m also picky about the shape and physique of my gingerbread people. I’m always on the lookout for cookie cutters that are just the right shape for them. Too squat or stubby is no good, but my current cutter (the one I used for these pics) is a tad on the lean side.

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

I tend to opt for simplicity here. Sometimes just two little button dots are enough. I may do a few without the buttons and go for one tiny white heart sprinkled with a touch of sugar sparkles instead. A little variety is nice.  And, although I like a cookie with higher frosting to cookie ratio, more elaborate frosting designs on gingerbread sometimes end up looking a little too krafty for my tastes.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe with Icing

Baking Tips

Getting the baking time key. Whatever you do, don’t over bake these guys. They will dry right out. If anything, under bake them just a shade. They will continue to bake for another couple of minutes once you pull them from the oven. Big cookies take longer to cook than tiny ones, keep that in mind as well.

A Clever Serving Idea

I was at a holiday part once where gingerbread cookies were baked onto popsicle sticks. They were arranged, bouquet-like, in a container filled with sugar. Kids loved eating them like lollipops.

Use all the Dough

My gingerbread men and women tend to bake alongside tiny gingerbread stars, hearts, and gingerbread candy canes. All made from dough scraps. You can gather your scraps and re-roll a couple of times to use as much of the dough as possible.

Overall, I love this gingerbread recipe, especially for cookies (and beyond!). It’s a classic dough that could easily be adapted for other gingerbread endeavors!

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Sparkling Cranberries

Around the holidays these pretty, sugared, sparkling cranberries are perfect. Tart and sweet, they glint and wink in the surrounding holiday lights, and lend a striking dash of red to the table.

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I’ve become convinced that these sparkling, sugared cranberries should be a part of every holiday spread. They glint and wink in the surrounding holiday lights, and lend a striking dash of red to the table. Another great thing is the way they effortlessly make the transition from savory course to sweet. So, for example, I’ve become fond of serving them as part of a cheese spread, but I imagine they’d be nice as the finishing touch on on a tart or clustered atop a crème brûlée or pudding of some sort.
Sparkling Cranberries Recipesparkling_cranberries2.jpg

What Type of Sugar?

This is key, and I’ve experimented with a range of sugars here. Some work better than others. In the beginning, I wanted to make them with a maple sugar coating – but the cranberries looked like they had been dropped in dust. The same goes for raw cane sugar, coconut sugar, and Rapadura. So I gave up trying to do a less refined sugar version. Take note, extra-fine grain sugar didn’t work well either – clumpy. Essentially, the best way to get a good sparkling sugar crust on your cranberries is to first roll them in an slightly-chunky organic sugar (something like this), and later toss them in regular granulated sugar. The small grains of the granulated sugar cling to any spots that are still sticky from the simple syrup.
Sparkling Cranberries Recipe

They are simple to make, but you need to do the first step the night before. I like to toss the cranberries in sugar the next morning, and off and on throughout the day so they have time to dry and crisp up. Enjoy, and happiest holidays!

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Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

Classic, homemade cinnamon rolls made from a favorite cardamom-flecked, buttery, yeast dough with a generous cinnamon-sugar swirl.

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I make a version of these cinnamon rolls nearly every year for Christmas. The first time I made them was in 2010, inspired by the version in Lotta Jansdotter’s book. They’re beauties. Everyone LOVES them. The base recipe is for a version of Lotta’s beautiful, homemade, hot from the oven, loaded with sugar and spice, golden, buttery, classic cinnamon rolls.
Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Cinnamon Roll Basics

To make cinnamon buns you start by making a buttery yeast dough. I know some of you shy away from yeast-based recipes, because of perceived difficulty, but these really are fun to make. One thing to know, they do take time. You’ll need to let the dough rest and rise at various points, but most of that time isn’t active, so don’t let that deter you. Also, once you get the hang of things, you can play around with all sorts of different fillings in future batches. If you want to explore something beyond cinnamon sugar, the filling can be anything from jam, a sweet compound butter, a flavored cream cheese filling. Have fun, experiment, and use this recipe as a jumping off point.
Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls: The Process

Making cinnamon rolls goes like this. Mix the dough. Let it rise. Roll it out. Put down the filling. Roll. Slice. (Freeze here, if you’re going that route). Another rise. Bake. Lotta sprinkles her cinnamon buns with pearl sugar before baking, which gives them a nice crunchy top, but I know a lot of people like a thick slathering of icing – to the horror of some Swedes, I might add. Sometimes I serve these w/ raw sugar on top and icing on the side, and often use the icing from these hermit cookies
Cinnamon Rolls being Filled with Cinnamon Sugar

Variations

I’ve made little tweaks over the years reflected here. Above you see a version of the cinnamon rolls topped with icing. Alternately, you can do a simple sugar sprinkle before baking. I include instructions for both below. You can also play around with the flour. I’ve done versions with a percentage of rye and also whole wheat flour, for a kiss of rustic-ness. There are some great insights in the comments as well.
Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Make Ahead Magic

One of the great things about these cinnamon rolls, is that you can prepare them ahead of time. You can even freeze the pre-baked rolls. The night before you’re ready to bake them, leave them to thaw, covered, on your counter, and bake them in the morning. 
Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

More Ideas:

There are a lot of way to go from classic cinnamon rolls to something else. Here are some of the ideas that have come up over the years. For the vegans out there, Shannon notes, “1 cup wheat whole wheat flour and used coconut milk and a flax egg. Topped with nutella and whipped cream.” I make a version of the icing with creme fraiche, always a hit, but buttermilk is great too, and easier to come by.

Danielle had this to add,” I added 1 tsp of a medicinal masala chai spice blend I ordered on etsy, and it put these over the top!” I love this idea, and heartily encourage experimenting with other spice blends as well. I make these at times with a cinnamon, rose petal, sesame blend. Also, hard to go wrong by using a bit of lemon zest in the bottom of your baking dish.

Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Hope you love these as much as we have over the years!

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