Almond Florentines

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 1/2 cups skinless sliced blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and honey; stir until dissolved and smooth. Stir in the heavy cream for a few minutes, forming a light caramel. Turn off the heat. Stir in the almonds until they are all well coated.

Use about a third of the mixture to fill the bottoms of the muffin wells, compacting each portion into a disk. Bake (middle rack) for 8 to 9 minutes, until bubbling and just golden brown at the edges.

Let cool in the muffin pan for 7 to 10 minutes, then use a small offset spatula or table knife to release each florentine; some may still be a little flexible. Transfer to a sheet of parchment or wax paper to cool and set completely.

Repeat with the remaining almond mixture. If you are using foil liners, replace with new ones for subsequent batches.

Gingerbread Ornaments

5 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup molasses
2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans lined with parchment or foil

In a large bowl, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Stir well to mix.

Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Scrape down bowl and beater.

Lower speed and beat in about half the flour mixture. Beat in all the molasses then scrape bowl and beater. Add the remaining flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, and beat after each addition until it has all been absorbed.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the dough a final mixing with a large rubber spatula. Scrape half the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and press it to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap the dough securely and repeat with the remaining dough. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and cut it in half. Rewrap one of the halves and return it to the refrigerator.

On a floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Use a floured cookie cutter to cut the cookies. As they are cut, place the cut cookies on the prepared pans with about 1 inch between them on all sides. Repeat with remaining dough. Save, press together, and reroll scraps (they don’t need to be chilled before rerolling).

Bake the cookies until they become dull and dry looking and feel slightly firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 12 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake the cookies or they will be very dry. Slide papers from pans onto racks to cool.

Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing
(Source)

1 pound of confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and egg whites.

Mixing on low speed, add up to 1/2 cup water depending on the desired consistency. Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Place the icing in different piping bags with a small tip for tracing the contours and a larger one for filling each shape.

Chocolate Pizzelles

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup melted butter

Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, espresso powder, and salt till smooth.
Add the cocoa and baking powder, again beating till smooth.

Add the flour, mixing till well combined. Add the melted butter, again mixing till well combined.

Bake pizzelle according to your pizzelle iron instructions. A tablespoon cookie scoop works well for scooping batter onto the iron; a level scoopful of batter is the right size for most standard pizzelle makers.

To make two-tone pizzelle: Prepare plain pizzelle batter, flavoring it with 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut flavor, if desired. Using a teaspoon scoop (which holds 2 level measuring teaspoons), drop a chestnut-sized ball of vanilla batter just below center in the cooking area of the pizzelle iron. Drop a slightly smaller ball of chocolate batter just above the center line, nestling it right next to the vanilla batter. Close the iron, and bake according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Meyer Lemon Pizzelles

Makes 40-50 depending on iron size

1 3/4 cups Granulated Sugar
6 Large Eggs, room temp
2 Sticks of Butter, melted and cooled
3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Pure Orange Extract
Zest of 3 Meyer Lemons
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
4 cups All-Purpose Flour, spooned into measuring cup

Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until well incorporated. The eggs must be at least room temperature. Cold eggs will result in an unworkable batter.

Slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture, while mixing on medium speed.

Add the extracts then the zest.

On low speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Alternate between medium and low speed while beating in the flour. (turn it to low while pouring in the flour; medium to incorporate the flour before adding more). The batter should have a satin sheen to it, but should be light and stiff. If your batter is too liquid, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time until the batter is stiff.

Using a tablespoon scoop, place dollops of batter into the iron. Repeat 20-25 more times depending on iron size. The cookies take about 25-30 seconds in the iron. Fresh, hot cookies can be rolled or shaped into cups.

Classic Pizzelles

3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter

Beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla until well combined.

Stir in the flour and baking powder, mixing until smooth.

Add the melted butter, again mixing until smooth; the batter will be thick and soft.

Heat your pizzelle iron. Grease it as directed in the manufacturer’s instructions. As the iron heats, the batter will stiffen.

Cook the pizzelle according to the instructions that came with your iron. In general, they’ll take between 45 seconds and 2 1/2 minutes to brown.

Remove the pizzelle from the iron, and cool on a rack. If desired, use a pair of scissors to trim any ragged edges.

Dust cooled pizzelle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Shortbread

3/ 4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/ 2 cup powdered sugar
1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/ 2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease pan lightly.

Cream butter until it’s light.

Beat in the powdered sugar, then the vanilla.

Finally, work in the flour. Knead dough on an unfloured board until smooth.

Firmly press dough into shortbread mould so that it comes up below the rope detail.

Poke all of the surface with a fork, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a plastic knife, and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into serving pieces while warm.

Pasticcini di Mandor (Italian Soft Almond Cookies)

Makes 12-16 biscuits

350g ground almonds
150–200g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
Zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons
2 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and eggs to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Dust your hands with icing sugar, and scoop out a walnut-sized ball of dough. Then gently roll it between your palms. You can also roll it on the work surface as long as it is dusted with icing sugar. Repeat. Put the balls on the baking tray and make an indentation in the centre of each.

As they bake, the biscuits will crack gently. For soft and marzipan-like biscuits bake for 11-12 minutes, for a firmer, chewier biscuit 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will keep in an airtight tin for a month.

Shortbread 10 Ways

2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
2/3 cup/150 grams granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 sticks/1 cup/226 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to fine crumbs. Pulse a few more times until some of the crumbs start to come together, but don’t overprocess; the dough should be somewhat crumbly. (You can also mix the dough in a bowl using two knives or a pastry cutter.)

Press dough into an even layer in an ungreased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, or a 9-inch pie pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes for the 9-inch square or pie pan, 45 to 50 minutes for the 8-inch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares, bars or wedges while still warm.

Here are nine variations for the master shortbread recipe above.

Scottish Shortbread: Use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup white rice flour.

Tender Shortbread: Substitute confectioners’ sugar for the granulated sugar, and 1/3 cup cornstarch for 1/3 cup of flour.

Vanilla Bean Shortbread: Split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the back of a knife to scrape out the pulp. Pulse the pulp into the flour-sugar mixture before adding butter. Or add up to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with the butter.

Citrus Shortbread: Add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon, lime or orange zest with the flour. Add up to 1 teaspoon orange blossom water with the butter if desired. These are classic with poppy seeds.

Nut Shortbread: Grind 1/2 cup toasted nuts in the food processor with the flour before combining with remaining ingredients.

Spice or Seed Shortbread: Add up to 1 teaspoon spices, like ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or cardamom, or seeds like caraway or anise. Or add up to 3 tablespoons poppy or sesame seeds.

Brown or Maple Sugar Shortbread: Substitute 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar or maple sugar for the granulated. This yields a slightly softer shortbread.

Cornmeal or Whole Wheat Shortbread: Substitute up to 1/2 cup cornmeal or whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. Season with spices, seeds, citrus or rosemary if desired.

Buckwheat Shortbread: Substitute up to 1/3 cup buckwheat flour for 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour.

Dark Chocolate Pizzelle

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Add flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a bowl and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, add egg and brown sugar and mix on medium speed until mixture is smooth and has thickened, approx. one minute. Change the mixer speed to low and slowly pour in melted butter and vanilla extract until just combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, approx. 15 seconds, taking care not to overmix.

Heat your pizzelle iron to your desired leve. Brush the top and bottom of the iron with a small amount of cooking spray to ensure there wouldn’t be any sticking.

Add batter to the center of the bottom grid and repeat for the remaining grids in your iron. As the batter will spread when you close the iron, do not completely cover the pizzelle grid with batter. For a 4-inch pizzells, use 1-1/2 – 2 tsp batter. Adjust to less if you’re looking for smaller pizzelle.

Close the iron and cook until the timer light indicates, about a minute to a minute and a half. Remove pizzelle to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat for the remaining batter, brushing the pizzelle grids with cooking spray if needed throughout.

Double Chocolate Pizelle

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces very finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the Pizzelle Press on Setting 3 while preparing the batter.

Place flour, cocoa, chopped chocolate, and baking powder in a small bowl and stir with a whisk or fork to combine; reserve.

Place eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix on medium speed for 1 minute, until thickened. On low speed, add the melted butter and vanilla in a steady stream and mix until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds; do not overmix. It may be necessary to lightly brush both the top and bottom grids with a flavorless vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening before baking.

Use the spoon provided to scoop the dough, about 1-1/2 – 2 teaspoons, and drop onto one of the patterned cookie grids; repeat to make a second cookie. Close the lid and lock. The red indicator light will come on. When the red indicator light goes out and the green indicator light comes on, the pizzelle are ready.

Adjust baking times for softer or crispier cookies, according to personal preference.

Remove pizzelle from the press using a heatproof plastic spatula and place on a rack to cool completely. Warm pizzelle may be wrapped around the dowel provided to form cannoli shells. Completely cooled pizzelle may be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

Variation: Mocha Almond Pizzelle: Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in 2 tablespoons hot water. Add to batter along with 1/3 cup finely ground almonds. Use 1-1/2 teaspoons each of almond and vanilla extracts in place of 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Make 36-40 pizelle.

Notes:

If you are rolling pizelle, roll them immediatelynupon removing them from the press.

Hot pizelle can be molded areound a cylinder or a ramekin to create a cup.

Pizelle can be frozen. Stack in small bundles with a paper towel between them and store in an airtight bag.

If pizelle become soft, place on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven for 3-5 minutes.

Pizelle batter can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Warm batter to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

Classic Pizzelle

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or anise extract

Preheat the Pizzelle Press on Setting 3 while preparing the batter.

Place flour and baking powder in a small bowl and stir to combine; reserve.

Place eggs and sugar in a medium bowl and mix on medium speed for 1 minute, until thickened. On low speed, add the melted butter and vanilla in a steady stream and mix until combined, about 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds; do not over mix.

It may be necessary to lightly brush both the top and bottom grids with a flavorless vegetable oil or melted vegetable shortening before baking. Use the spoon provided to scoop the dough, about 1-1/2 – 2 teaspoons, and drop onto one of the patterned cookie grids; repeat to make a second cookie.

Close the lid and lock. The red indicator light will come on. When the red indicator light goes out and the green indicator light comes on, the pizzelle are ready.

For a lighter colored pizzelle, bake for a shorter time; for darker pizzelle, add a few more seconds. Remove pizzelle from the press using a heatproof plastic spatula and place on a rack to cool completely. Warm pizzelle may be wrapped around the dowel provided to form cannoli shells. Completely cooled pizzelle may be dusted with powdered sugar before serving.

Variations: Marble Pizzelle: Add 2 ounces finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate to the batter. Bake as directed.

Make 36-40 pizelle.

Notes:

If you are rolling pizelle, roll them immediatelynupon removing them from the press.

Hot pizelle can be molded areound a cylinder or a ramekin to create a cup.

Pizelle can be frozen. Stack in small bundles with a paper towel between them and store in an airtight bag.

If pizelle become soft, place on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven for 3-5 minutes.

Pizelle batter can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Warm batter to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

Buckeyes

2 cups/242 grams confectioners’ sugar
1 cup/270 grams sweetened, smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons/57 grams unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces/142 grams semisweet chocolate

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt until smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.

Portion the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. Roll the balls into neat circles between your palms. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

A few minutes before the balls are done chilling, prepare the chocolate. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in short bursts, stirring often. If chocolate becomes too thick during the dipping process, it can be liquified again in the microwave.

Use a toothpick to skewer one ball at a time, and dip it into the melted chocolate, leaving a small circle of the peanut butter mixture exposed at the top and allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Transfer buckeyes to the prepared baking sheet and remove the toothpick. Repeat with the remaining balls, returning them to the freezer for a few minutes if they become too soft to work with. Smooth over the holes left by the toothpick with a small offset spatula or your finger. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Syrian Walnut Baklava

13 ounces/367 grams walnuts (3 1/4 cups whole walnuts)
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 package phyllo dough (1 pound, about 30 sheets, sized as close as possible to 13 x 18 inches), defrosted if frozen
1 1/2 cups/340 grams clarified butter or ghee, melted
3/4 cup/150 grams granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Chop walnuts by hand into small pieces. (A food processor will bruise and pulverize the walnuts, creating a powdery effect.) Transfer to a bowl and mix with confectioners’ sugar and orange blossom water.

Cover phyllo pastry with a clean, lightly damp kitchen towel. Layer a pastry sheet into a 13-by-18-inch pan, securing it in a few places with dabs of clarified butter in the bottom of the pan. Brush sheet lightly with butter before layering on the next sheet. Continue layering butter and sheets; once half the sheets have been used, scatter the walnut mixture evenly over the top, being careful not to rip the pastry or leave any spots uncovered.

Layer the remaining sheets, brushing each lightly with butter, including the top one. If your sheets are larger than the pan, trim the stack all at once so the edges are flush with the pan. Cut baklava into 3-inch squares, and pour any remaining butter around the edges. Bake for 40 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare simple syrup: Boil granulated sugar and 3/4 cup/180 milliliters water together in a small pot over medium-high heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir, set aside and let cool to lukewarm.

If there is excess butter in the baklava pan, carefully tip it over the sink to drain. While baklava is still hot, drizzle over the lukewarm syrup, being sure to get it in the gaps between pieces. Once completely cool, the baklava is best stored covered at room temperature and eaten within a few days.

Pain Quotidien Brownies

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
5 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1 1/3 cups superfine sugar
3 tablespoons pastry flour

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Roughly chop the chocolate into pieces. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the butter. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, until the two ingredients have melted. Mix well and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Sift the sugar and flour together, then stir into the chocolate. Add the eggs and mix well. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The batter will thicken as it stands.

Spoon one-fourth cup batter into each paper-lined muffin cup. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. The brownies will still be moist when done; they will puff up and fall slightly as they cool.

Lemon-Pistachio Bars

THE CRUST:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

THE FILLING:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

To make crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (if using foil, lightly butter it). Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add butter and process until well combined. Stir in chopped pistachios. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup (if it sticks, place a piece of parchment paper on the dough before pressing). Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust is baked, pour the filling into the pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 2-inch squares.

Almond-Lemon Macaroons

2 cups whole blanched almonds, plus about 30 almonds for decoration
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Using a food processor equipped with a metal blade, grind 2 cups almonds very finely. Add 3/4 cup sugar, the egg and lemon zest, and pulse to make a cohesive dough. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner. Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl.

Pinching off pieces of dough about the size of a walnut, roll them first into balls, then into sugar. Gently press an almond point first into top of each cookie, so that half the almond can be seen. Arrange cookies one inch apart on baking sheet.
Bake until cookies have barest hint of color but still remain soft, 8 to 10 minutes. (Cookies must be soft when removed from oven to avoid excess hardening when they cool.) Cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

Pantry Brownies

Cooking spray
2/3 cup canola or any flavorless oil
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325°F. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, dust with flour, tapping out the excess, and set aside.

Place the oil into a microwave-safe medium bowl and heat on low power in 4 to 6 (5-second) bursts until it is warm but not hot. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until completely smooth and combined. Let sit for 4 or 5 minutes so the cocoa can bloom. Meanwhile, prepare the dry and wet ingredients.

Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.

Place the eggs, powdered sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl. (Alternatively, place in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.) Beat on medium speed until fluffy and lighter in color, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla until just combined.

Add 1/2 of the cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and mix at medium-high speed until it is shiny and fully combined, about 5 minutes.

Add the flour mixture to the egg and cocoa mixture and mix at low speed until fully combined. Add the remaining cocoa mixture and and mix at medium-high speed until the batter is shiny and fully combined, about 1 minute. Transfer to the baking pan.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes (you can allow it to bake for up to 30 minutes if you like a firmer brownie with some crisp edges). The brownies will pull away from the edges of the pan, but a cake tester or knife inserted in the middle will not come out clean. Let cool before cutting into 16 small squares.

Recipe Notes
Storage: These will keep in a closed container or wrapped in plastic at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Ricotta Turnovers

1 sheet ready-made puff pastry (about 230 grams or 8 ounces of pastry)
7 ounces (200 grams) ricotta
1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar
1 egg, separated (save the white for brushing the tops)
Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
1 splash rum (optional)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) candied orange, finely chopped (see note for substitutions)
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Roll out the puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and with a sharp knife divide the dough into 12 even squares.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the ricotta, sugar, egg yolk (save the white for later), zest, rum (if using), and candied orange until smooth. Use a fork or a spoon.

Place about 1 heaped tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on the bottom corner of every square (not too close to the edges), then brush the rest of the surface of the pastry with the leftover egg white. Immediately fold over the opposite top corner to create triangles encasing the ricotta filling. Press the edges firmly down with fingers or with the tines of a fork.

Bake 15 minutes or until the pastries are puffed and golden.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Peanut Butter Change-Ups

2 cups (384 grams) flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (384 grams) smooth or chunky peanut butter, at room temperature (see headnote)
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2/3 cup (134 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (146 grams), lightly salted peanuts, finely chopped
DIRECTIONS

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg (to taste) in a medium bowl.

Combine the peanut butter, unsalted butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld mixer; beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the granulated and light brown sugars; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until they are well incorporated. Beat in the eggs one at a time for 1 minute each on medium speed. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour mixture all at once; pulse a few times to start blending in those dry ingredients, then beat on medium-low speed until well incorporated. Add the chopped peanuts and beat on low speed, just until evenly distributed. Stop the motor; use a spatula to give the dough a few turns, making sure no trace of flour is left.

Use a medium cookie scoop (about 1 1/2 tablespoons, a #40 disher) to transfer level scoops of dough to the baking sheets, spacing the dough mounds 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the mounds with granulated sugar.

Bake (upper and lower racks) for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back; bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until the edges are set but the cookies feel squeezable. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly to the racks to cool completely.

Repeat to use the remaining dough, making sure the baking sheets are cool before reusing.

Tweaking the shape of the classic peanut butter cookie creates crisp edges and a soft, caky center — plus “inexplicably” more flavor.

Use a peanut butter that doesn’t separate, recommending Skippy brand.

Make Ahead: The dough can be portioned into mounds and frozen for up to 2 months. The baked cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Tested size: 54 cookies

Crinkle Cookies (with many variations)

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat granulated sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar to completely coat. Place 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned and slightly cracked on top. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Variations: replace vanilla with rum, coconut, maple, orange, or lemon extract. (May want to use a little food coloring as well.)