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Fire up your oven for holiday baking with tips from the experts.  Fox New's Lilian Huang Woo shares advice from Mark Bittman, Dorie Greenspan, Martha Stewart and Harris Mayer-Selinger.

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Flourless chocolate cookies, (Robert Bredvad / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)



Text excerpted from HOW TO BAKE EVERYTHING © 2016 by Mark Bittman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

MAKES: 3 to 4 dozen TIME: About 45 minutes Sugar and egg whites make this rich, fudgy cookie crisp and glossy on the outside and nice and chewy when you bite into it. It's simple and endlessly adaptable, so use any nut and just about any flavor you like, from coffee to dried fruit -- see below for some ideas. 3 cups confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting ½ cup cocoa powder ½ teaspoon salt 5 egg whites at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3½ cups almonds, toasted (see page 57) and finely chopped 1. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl. 2. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until foamy; add the vanilla and beat for another minute. Gradually add the nuts and the sugar mixture, stirring until a loose, sticky dough forms.
3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, since these cookies can be very sticky. Use a spoon to drop tablespoon-size mounds of dough onto the sheets about 3 inches apart; keep the cookies small, as the dough spreads quite a bit. Bake until hardened on the outside, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on the sheets, then remove with a spatula. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving if you like. These will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
MOCHA-PECAN COOKIES Add 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder to the sugar and cocoa mixture. If you like, chop 4 ounces dark chocolate and add that with the nuts.
WALNUT SPICE COOKIES Use walnuts instead of almonds. Substitute ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cardamom, and ½ teaspoon allspice for the cocoa powder.
PISTACHIO LEMON COOKIES Use pistachios for the nuts. Omit the cocoa powder; stir 2 tablespoons each grated lemon zest and juice into the finished batter.
HAZELNUT COOKIES The Italian name for this cookie is brutti ma buoni, or "ugly but good"; true on both counts: Omit the cocoa powder and use 4 cups hazelnuts instead of the almonds. After toasting them in the oven, rub the nuts in a tea towel to remove as much of the skins as you can, then pulse them in a food processor with the sugar until finely ground. If the dough is too wet for your liking, feel free to add more ground hazelnuts. 7 MORE COMBINATIONS FOR FLOURLESS NUT COOKIES Nuts are a natural match for chopped dried fruit, so add up to 1½ cups or leave it out if you aren't wild about the texture. Leave in the cocoa powder or omit it, as you like. Almonds, dried cherries, and 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate Peanuts, raisins, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon Pecans, dried apricots, and 1 teaspoon ginger Walnuts, dried figs, and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme Pine nuts, dried currants, and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary Macadamia nuts, dried mango, and 2 tablespoons grated lime zest Hazelnuts, dried blueberries, and 2 tablespoons grated orange zest


Dorie Greenspan World Peace Cookies

World Peace Cookies


The original recipe for these cookies was given to me by my friend, Pierre Herme, the wonderful Parisian pastry chef.  In the cookies' first incarnation, they were called Sables Chocolats, or chocolate shortbread.  In their second, the one in which chopped chocolate was added to the sweet/salty dough, they were dubbed Sables Korova and were served at the Paris restaurant of the same name.  Finally, a neighbor of mine gave them the name they truly deserve:  World Peace Cookies.  He was convinced that if everyone in the world could have these cookies, there would be planetary peace.  I hope he's right.  What I know for sure is that everyone who has these cookies smiles and smiles are pretty powerful.


Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons; 5 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chip-size bits, or an equal amount of storebought chocolate mini-chips


Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and keep close at hand.


Working in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy.  (If you'd like, you can make the dough by hand using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.)  Add both sugars, the salt and the vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.


Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated - the dough may look crumbly, but that's fine.  For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added.  Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.


Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide it in half, gather it together and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or for up to 3 days.


Getting ready to bake:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Have two lined baking sheets at hand.


Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice rounds that are 1/2 - inch thick.  (The rounds often crack as you're cutting them - don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto the cookie.)  Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets leaving about 1 inch of spread space between each round and slide one of the sheets into the oven.  Bake the cookies for 12 minutes - 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 serve them or let them reach room temperature.


Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.


Storing:  The dough can be made ahead and either chilled or frozen.  In fact, if you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking - let it warm just enough so that you can slice the rounds; bake the cookies 1 minute longer.  Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days; they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Dorie Greenspan
Christmas Spice Cookies

Christmas Spice Cookies

When you start with something really good, it doesn't take much to make it better. And that's the story of this cookie. I started with my Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough, and then I added the spices that always make me think it's Christmas: cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice. The result is a cookie that's perfect with coffee or tea, mulled cider, mulled wine or a late-night cognac. The cookies are nice left plain or sprinkled with sanding sugar before baking, but I usually can't resist the allure of a spiral of melted white chocolate in the center or a faint brushstroke of chocolate across the top.

A word on batch size: This recipe uses one quarter of the Do-Almost- Anything Vanilla Dough. Make the full recipe of the dough then, if you'd like, you can double, triple or quadruple this cookie recipe or use the vanilla dough to make other cookies.


Makes about 18 cookies


For the Cookies

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of ground allspice

¼ recipe Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough; just made and still soft (see headnote)

For the Topping (optional)

Sanding sugar or ½ cup (85 grams) white chocolate chips


To make the cookies: Mix the spices together in a small bowl and, using a flexible spatula, blend them evenly into the dough. Gather the dough together and shape into a disk.

Place the dough between pieces of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of ¼ inch. Slide the dough, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Peel away the paper on both sides of the dough and return it to one piece of paper. Using a 2-inch-diameter cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can. (You can use any size or shape cutter you like, just know that the yield will be different.) Place them on the lined baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Gather the scraps together, re-roll them between paper and chill.

If you're using sanding sugar, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with it. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes, rotating the sheet after 10 minutes, or until the cookies feel firm to the touch. Transfer the sheet to a rack and let the cookies rest for 5 minutes before lifting them onto the rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure your baking sheet is cool.

To make the glaze and finish the cookies (optional): If you want to give the cookies a spiral or swipe of white chocolate, melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. For the spiral, use a small pastry bag fitted with a tiny decorating tip or drizzle the chocolate off the tip of a small spoon. For the swipe, use a narrow pastry brush and only a little bit of chocolate and brush it across the cookie lightly. Refrigerate the cookies for about 20 minutes just to set the decoration.



The rolled-out dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. The cookies will keep in a covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week. They can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.

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