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.)

Olive Oil Tortas

1 tablespoon finely ground aniseed or fennel seeds
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 tablespoons warm (120º F) water
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, preferably Spanish
Flavoring, optional (see ideas at the bottom of the recipe)
1 tablespoon fast-acting yeast
Granulated cane sugar for topping (omit if making savory crackers)
1 egg white

Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind aniseed or fennel seeds. They don’t have to be a fine powder, but the seeds should be cracked open and fairly pulverized.

Whisk the flour, salt, and a few pinches of ground aniseed or fennel seeds together in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine warm water, olive oil, extracts, if adding (see flavor variations, below), and yeast and whisk until yeast dissolves.

Combine the oil mixture with the flour mixture, then knead with the heel of your hand—inside the bowl is fine, if there’s room—for about five minutes. Alternatively, you can use the dough hook of an electric mixer if that’s more your speed.

If it’s chilly in the kitchen, heat the oven to 200° F for the duration of kneading time, then turn it off. Cover the bowl containing dough with a dish towel and place it in the warm oven with the door open, or find another warm space. Let it sit for 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400° F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust a work surface with flour.

Pinch off pieces of dough to form mounds about the size of golf balls. Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a flat round, about 6 inches in diameter. Rounds should be very thin and fairly—but not very—translucent. If the dough resists being rolled flat, the gluten simply needs to relax a little. Move onto the next ball and then try again. Place no more than 4 tortas on the baking sheet at a time.

Brush each cracker with egg white, then sprinkle with a mixture of sugar and aniseed. If making savory crackers, omit the sugar. If adding extra flavors, sprinkle them on now. Note: If doing a chocolate drizzle/dip, save that for baked crackers.

Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on how large and thick crackers are. They can burn within that last 30 seconds, so be cautious. Start with 6 minutes, check the crackers, and rotate the pan. Continue baking at 1-minute intervals until the tortas are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire wrack to cool.

Enjoy the crackers warm, or let cool completely, then wrap individually in waxed paper. Place wrapped crackers in a large zip-top bag. They’ll keep for about 5 days.

Flavor variations: For the sweet-toothed: To the dough add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract, vanilla extract, orange flower water, cinnamon, ground star anise, and/or citrus zest; sprinkle with chopped nuts or dried fruit; or drizzle the baked crackers with or dip into melted chocolate post-baking.

For the savory snacker: Omit the sugar and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of dried herbs (like rosemary, thyme, or sage), 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs or spices like sweet paprika or sesame seeds, or finely grated Parmesan or Manchego before baking.

Buckeyes

1/2 cups (390 g) smooth peanut butter (not “natural”)
1/2 cup (115 g / 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 cups (400 g) powdered sugar
3 cups (525 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Make the peanut butter filling: Place the peanut butter, melted butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl and stir until well blended. Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar into the bowl using a fine-mesh strainer and stir until the sugar is absorbed. Sift the remaining powdered sugar and mix in and a smooth stiff paste forms.

Shape the filling into balls: Scoop up a small portion of dough and form 1-inch balls. Place on a rimmed baking pan lined with a piece of parchment paper. Repeat until all the peanut butter filling is gone.

Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator so the balls become firm enough to dip.

Melt the chocolate for the coating: Once the peanut butter balls have chilled, place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments on high power, stirring between each cook cycle, until the chocolate has melted and is smooth.

Dip the peanut butter balls in the melted chocolate: Skewer one of the peanut butter balls with a toothpick and dip it in the melted chocolate until 3/4 of the ball is covered in chocolate. Leave the top of the ball uncovered so you can see a little of the peanut butter. Place back on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining balls.

Chill the buckeyes: Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight for the chocolate to solidify. Once the chocolate is solid, wet your finger and smooth over the hole the toothpick has formed with your finger.

Store buckeyes in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Skillet Toffee Bars

2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cold but not frozen, more for buttering the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup/210 grams soft-packed dark brown sugar
2 cups/240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup/100 grams slivered or sliced almonds (or walnut pieces), toasted, or 6 ounces/170 grams chocolate chips or small chunks

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in the middle and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on it.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on low speed for about a minute, until softened. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.

With the mixer running at low speed, add salt and vanilla. Add the brown sugar, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until mixture is the color of peanut butter and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.

With the mixer running at low speed, shake in flour, beating just until dough holds together. Mix in nuts or chocolate just until combined.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a small lump of butter in it. As butter melts, brush it onto the bottom and sides of the pan until evenly coated.

Dump dough into skillet and press it out to evenly fill the skillet. You can use your fingers (being careful to avoid touching the hot pan), a potato masher or the bottom of a measuring cup. Press dough down firmly to make a compact, even layer.

Transfer to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is walnut brown. You may be tempted to take it out when the edges have begun to darken, but let it continue to cook so the entire surface can take on that color. There may be bubbles visible on top of the dough; that’s a good sign.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. If necessary, run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Square off the circle shape of the pan by cutting the four rounded edges off; you will have an approximately 9-inch square. Cut the square into bars, squares or diamonds. (The rounded edges can be chopped or crumbled and used as an ice cream topping.)
Let the bars cool completely before removing from pan. Use a small spatula or butter knife to transfer them to paper towels to blot the buttery bottoms. Store in airtight container; they keep well for up to 1 week.

Almond-Oat Crescent Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup softened butter or margarine
3/4 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup flour
1 cup oats (NOT the quick-cooking kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Heat the oven to 325°F.

Place the almond extract and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat thoroughly, sifting in 3/4 cup of powdered sugar as you go. The sifted sugar will make a fine dust that sweetly tints the smell of everything. Add the salt, then stir in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until smooth. Fold in the oats and almonds.

Pinch a little less than a tablespoon’s worth of dough into your palm and roll it into a ball. It should feel a bit greasy from the butter, and mealy from the oats and almonds. Rubbing the ball together between your palms, form the dough into a long, skinny shape, a little thicker than your pinkie finger, and bend into a crescent. Repeat for the rest of the dough. Space evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 15–18 minutes, until they just begin to turn a golden brown and smell sweet and toasty. (Beware of overcooking! They can turn fast from fall-apart just-rightness to crunchy and dry if they’re left in the oven too long.)

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and sift a generous layer of powdered sugar over them while they’re still warm. Eat one as soon as you are able, preferably with some coffee or tea.

World Peace Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (or 1/4 t fine sea salt)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 oz great-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular-sized bits, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more. You want the mixture to be smooth, but not airy. (With cookies, it’s better to beat less than more.)

Turn off the mixer and pour in all the dry ingredients. Pulse the mixer a few times to start the blending. When the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat only until the flour and cocoa disappear into the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate. (This is an unpredictable dough. Sometimes it’s crumbly and sometimes it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. No matter what, the cookies always come out great.)

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together—if it’s really crumbly or not easily gatherable, knead it a bit (it can take it). Divide the dough in half.

Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about the length—get the diameter right and the length will follow. (If you get a hollow in the logs, it happens; just start over.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours, or freeze them (my preference) for at least 2 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking—just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them—don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes—don’t open the oven; just let them bake. When the buzzer rings, they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can munch them or let them reach room temperature. (I think the texture’s more interesting at room temperature.)

Storing: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months, as can the logs of dough.

Olive Oil and Wine Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

2 3/4 C (374 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil, extra-virgin or not, preferably fruity
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine, preferably sweet (see note above)
sugar, for dredging

Dorie’s notes: Right after they’re baked, their texture is crunchy at the tips and cakey in the center—wait a day or so, and the chubby middle dries and starts to resemble a great tea biscuit. In fact, I like these best after they’ve had a little time to age and develop a crunchier texture and a more mellow flavor.

You can use any white wine or even any rosé you have on hand, but if you use a sweet or off-dry wine, you’ll come closer to the original cookies, which are made with Muscat de Rivesaltes, a Roussillon star. In the Languedoc-Roussillon, these cookies are often flavored with orange-flower water (instead of vanilla) or enriched with anise seeds. My favorite addition is grated orange (or tangerine or clementine) zest. To get the most out of the zest, first put the sugar in the mixing bowl, sprinkle over the zest, and use your fingers to rub the sugar and zest together until the sugar is moist and aromatic. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and continue with the recipe.