Épicé

 Black Pepper and Maple Syrup Gingerbread | La Pêche Fraîche

“Always winter, never Christmas.”

—C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

 Black Pepper and Maple Syrup Gingerbread | La Pêche Fraîche

If you need some last-minute inspiration for your cookie boxes, I have rounded up some links of cookies that I’ve been stunned by lately. I guarantee we can all find some inspo from these amazing creations!

Cindy @ Hungry Girl Por Vida made really gorgeous and creative linzer cookies—with pistachios and lemon curd! Lemon curd is my favorite, so I’m keen to try this flavor combination out.

I’m sure you already saw these all over Instagram, but Tessa (Style Sweet CA) made perfect (as always!) spritz cookies in a collab with Wilton.

Snowballs—buttery and covered in powdered sugar—are always a weakness of mine. Christina (Dessert for Two) made gluten-free matcha and pistachio snowballs, and I want to try these so bad. I can only imagine how well the bitter, greeny matcha tastes when in a butter cookie!

Elizabeth from Brooklyn Supper made cardamom orange sugar cookies, and I’m intrigued.  They look delicate and lovely.

 Black Pepper and Maple Syrup Gingerbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Jes from Whisk and Wanter made these sparkly, adorable girly evergreen cookies. I’m inspired to step up my sugar cookie game after seeing her gorgeous creations!

These super comforting peanut butter and chocolate crinkle cookies from Tieghan @ Half Baked Harvest are a must! The flaky sea salt on the milk chocolate kisses, swoon.

Last year I made some eggnog roll out cookies which were a hit, as well as chocolate peppermint shortbread, cinnamon toast crunch treats, and Russian teacakes.
The year before, it was honey spice and dark chocolate cookies, among others. You can find links through to years even before that, as well, if you really want to do a deep dive!

The fact that I only made two batches of cookies this year makes me feel like a bit of a loser, ugh. I have to remind myself to step back and enjoy what I can—the holidays are a time to be with family and relax, not worry too much about cooking (this isn’t Thanksgiving, ha!).
Besides, baking in a different (tiny) kitchen can be frustrating.

 Black Pepper and Maple Syrup Gingerbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Still, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that brings me as much winter cheer as gingerbread, and if there was a single cookie I’d like to make and smell baking in my home, it would be these.
I just love the warm spiciness of gingerbread, whether in a layer or bundt cake or cookies crisp or soft.

These gingerbread cookies are crispy and thin—good for gifting and safe for shipping—and they stay fresh for a long time.
They are made with maple syrup and black pepper for a spicy little twist!
These are very similar to Swedish pepparkakor, or ginger thins—they’re not as dark and spicy as American style gingerbread, but rather a little lighter in color and in the spices added.
I think they’re absolutely addicting and cute, however you choose to decorate them!

 Black Pepper and Maple Syrup Gingerbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Maple Syrup and Black Pepper Gingersnaps
makes ~60 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (6 ounces) maple syrup
3 cups all-purpose flour

directions:
Cream butter for 2 minutes to soften.
Add in the spices and sugar and cream for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and cream for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the maple syrup.
Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
Scrape the bowl and add the flours.
Mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Knead once or twice, then wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface and cut shapes as desired.
Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, depending on desired level of crispness.
Decorate with royal icing, if desired.

O Tannenbaum

Christmas Tree Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

Christmas Tree Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Let me just say what needs to be said: if you haven’t seen the most recent Carpool Karaoke with Ultimate Diva Mariah Carey, there’s no way that you’re adequately prepared for the holidays. I’ve watched that video at least 5 times. It’s so fun and energetic, and obviously, the song is infectious (in a good way the first 25 times you sing/hum the chorus out loud, then a worse and worse way each successive time your subconscious forces you to sing it).

To be quite honest, I haven’t done much other holiday prep other than that (and baking these cookies to send to my friends!). Since my family moved to NYC, we don’t have a Christmas tree or any of our normal decor (we have a lot more space in our house in the country than this loft in Soho, needless to say).
I’ll be making a Christmas cake closer to the actual date (only 5 days now, gah), but other than that, it looks like a lot of MCAT studying and not too much holiday-ing apart from, of course, spending time with my family.

Christmas Tree Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

These sparkly, highlighted Christmas trees were made with my tried-and-true butter cookie dough, which I rolled out extra thin so that they could survive being shipped.  The frosting is an easy royal icing—just whisk together three ingredients.

I decorated my cookies with a little bit of gold luster dust mixed with alcohol, and then I dusted silver luster dust over the whole cookie once it was dry to give it a little sparkle and shine!

These are definitely my go-to holiday cookies. These (and gingersnaps) stay fresh since they’re nice and crispy, so they’re ideal for shipping and gifting—just not to anyone who has braces, ha!

Christmas Tree Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Perfect Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
makes 10 2 1/2 inch cookies

ingredients:
112 grams (1/2 cup) butter
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 medium egg (or half a large, whisked and weighed)
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour

directions:
Beat butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the salt and sugar and vanilla and beat on high for another 3 full minutes.
Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes; scrape the bowl and beat until homogeneous again.
Mixture should be light and fairly fluffy.
Add in the flour and stir on low speed until fully combined.
Roll out to 1/4 inch-3/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
Cut into desired shapes and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Decorate with royal icing.

Angoissant

Halloween Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Halloween Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Yesterday, I took over The Feed Feed’s snapchat to make these cookies!  It was a first for me, and it was so. fun.

At first, I was super nervous, but as I had some practice (and reassurance from my amazing cameraman Nati), I loosened up.  Now, I’m toying with the idea of changing my snapchat, or creating a new account, to be more blog-focused.

I had a blast, and a huge thank you to The Feed Feed for the opportunity! They really are a fantastic site.

You can check out the video of my takeover here.

Halloween Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

These cookies use my typical recipe (3-2-1-1-2-3 dough), which you can find here.
The royal icing is Bridget’s trustworthy recipe, which is always my go-to. I use it for all my cookies!

Halloween Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Bonne Maman

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

And the Wild Things said,

Oh please don’t go—
we’ll eat you up—
we love you so!

—Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

March—in like a lion, out like a lamb.
We hope, at least. It’s been both warm and sunny and frigid, snowing, and icy. And it’s only the 8th!
The weather is sending some seriously mixed signals to Chicago.  But then again, what’s new about that?

I disappeared for the second half of February, but I’m back with spring-y feelings and and lots of bright whites and pastels. My holiday Pinterest board is flooded with delicately dyed eggs and bunnies. I’m really, really ready for spring.

I do wonder about these 3 weeks—the blog lying fallow and outdated dressed in its Valentine’s day best—because I’ve had pictures and recipes to post, but an absence of words to fill the blank space. Three weeks of quiet silence, of empty, unremarkable days and hands folded on top of my keyboard. Nothing to type.
Somehow my silences are always precipitated by a lack of words, rather than a dearth of new recipes.

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Anyways, as I mentioned in my long-forgotten last post, Hana’s birthday is at the end of February.
Her 21st birthday cake is one of my favorites ever—a little 6-inch number completely covered in happy sprinkles.

She’s totally the best friend/big/Theta mama in the world and she definitely deserves treats on her 22nd birthday!
Here’s the thing: she’s in France right now, and has been for this whole quarter. *pouts*
I did NOT want her to go but she’s been having an absolutely fabulous time in Paris and Europe and I can’t fault her for that, even with how much I miss her.
I guess I’ve forgiven her for leaving me!

My solution to not being able to give her a cake and gift in person was to bake and ship her some sturdy cookies, which still only had a small shot in making it there unharmed.

Good news! My plan worked! These cookies, carefully packed, made it all the way across the Atlantic without breaking into a thousand million crumbs. Thank goodness.

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

To make these, I whipped up a half batch of my perfected roll-out sugar cookie recipe: buttery, a little salty, and cut thick so as to not break any teeth.
You’ve seen it before, in many forms. It’s pretty failproof—doesn’t spread, keeps in the freezer for an eternity, etc.

To decorate them, I used egg white royal icing. Instead of just flooding them with thin icing, I kept a small portion very thick. I used a tiny French tip to pipe the most minuscule of roses, then I set them to dry while I decorated the cookie base.
I’m not totally happy with how my watercolor rose effect came out and I think my technique needs some perfecting before I share it here, but the whole set together had the look I was going for. In the future, I’m going to experiment more with wet-on-wet icing techniques.
A little “H” and a few roses and leaves on each one rounded them out nicely.

These would be perfect for a baby or bridal shower, Easter or anything springy, and the birthday of someone special, of course!

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy March, everyone. May spring come soon.
And a very happy belated birthday to Hana! May Spring Quarter come so I can hug you, friend.

Decorated Rose Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Perfect Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
makes 10 2 1/2 inch cookies

ingredients:
112 grams (1/2 cup) butter
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 medium egg (or half a large, whisked and weighed)
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour

directions:
Beat butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the salt and sugar and vanilla and beat on high for another 3 full minutes.
Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes; scrape the bowl and beat until homogeneous again.
Mixture should be light and fairly fluffy.
Add in the flour and stir on low speed until fully combined.
Roll out to 1/4 inch-3/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
Cut into desired shapes and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Decorate with royal icing.

XOXO

XO Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Fear is dark but my love is a lantern
Shining up like coins in a fountain.
Hope is a tree sitting on a mountain where the grass don’t grow
There’s a sad old sea but my love is an island
Wild and free like the hills in the highlands
Hope is a breeze that brings me back to dry land
Where the flowers grow…

—Passenger, Coins in a Fountain

XO Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

In the last week, I’ve rediscovered the luxurious pleasure of a long, piping hot bath.
My bathtub is pitiful—so short that it only really fits half of me and I’m forced to clamber up and down to wet my feet or my hair—and yet the ritual of taking time to sit and soak in solitude still feels like a sort of radical self love.

It’s the dead of winter, and nothing takes the edge off like sliding into water that instantly warms you through and relaxes tired, shivering muscles.
Afterwards, I swipe on my richest lotion to fend off dry skin, leaving me a toasty little shea nut.

Someday, I’ll have an enormously oversized claw-foot tub, and I will take quiet, steaming baths filled with lavender and almond oil until the water goes cold, and I will feel altogether like a Roman goddess.  How’s that for self love?!

XO Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

These lovely cookies are delicious in their simplicity: tanned to a fragrant, slightly nutty golden brown, they are crisp and an addictive buttery vanilla flavor with a generous hit of salt.
Slightly lemony royal icing, sweet and crunchy, tinted the palest of baby pinks, makes these all the more adorable and utterly giftable.

I packaged each XO set up into sandwich baggies and attached a little note (written on homemade, linoleum stamped Valentine’s Day cards from when I was in fourth grade! Totally amazing find/save by my mom, who also, by the way, made me the cutest quilted heart coasters—see above…), to give to my friends.
Because I’m all about spreading pinky cheer and love and sweet little cookies!

XO Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

321 Sugar Cookies
makes 30 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
225 grams (1 cup, 2 sticks) butter
2 scant teaspoons kosher salt
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
360 grams (3 cups) flour

royal icing or buttercream for decorating

directions:
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Beat on high speed for 2 full minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add the salt and sugar and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the egg and vanilla; beat for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the flour; mix until combined and the dough has come together into a cohesive ball, about 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut shapes as desired.
Place cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet; freeze until solid, at least 45 minutes and up to a month, very well wrapped.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden at the edges and set in the center.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Snog

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

“Mistletoe,” said Luna dreamily, pointing at a large clump of white berries placed almost over Harry’s head.
He jumped out from under it.
“Good thinking,” said Luna seriously.
“It’s often infested with nargles.”

—Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J.K. Rowling

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

I told you I had many holiday posts to share, even in the short time we have before Christmas day.

There’s lots I’ve been trying to fit in during my break; it feels quite truncated because when compared to my friends who are on the semester system, it’s 3 weeks shorter!
I reread one of my favorite series (the Inheritance cycle), chewed through a mystery book (Girl on the Train), and have watched 3, count ’em, 3 of the Star Wars movies.
(Not to mention catching up on Top Chef and RHOBH.
P.S. Just watched this week’s episode, Lisa Rinna is definitely my favorite housewife this season.
Okay I’m zipping it shut now; I purposefully never ever discuss reality T.V. on this here website.)

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Anything else I must get to over break during my luxurious free and empty afternoons and evenings?
I am intending on reading Sellout by Paul Beatty next; I’m seeing Star Wars VII on Christmas Eve, I think.

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Virtually all of my cut-out cookies are based on the most simple recipe since pound cake.
If you can count to 3, you can make this recipe.
And if you can make this recipe, you can adapt it in an infinite number of ways to create whatever cookie your heart so desires.

3 cups of flour, 2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of sugar. 1 egg, 2 teaspoons coarse salt (to taste), 3 teaspoons vanilla.
So simple.  Swap out some of the butter for coconut oil; some of the flour for cocoa; brown sugar for white, etc.
Make it your own; change it to suit your tastes.

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Today, I’m sharing eggnog sugar cookies.
To make these, I swapped out the egg for 3 yolks, added brown sugar and a heap of fragrant, freshly ground nutmeg.
If I had some on hand, I would have swapped a couple of the teaspoons of vanilla for something boozier.
I guess these are virgin eggnog sugar cookies, as it were.  But methinks that’s unnecessarily wordy.

These are crisp but not too crunchy; the brown sugar keeps them slightly softer than some other cut-out cookies.
The extra egg yolks make them a lovely golden color, as well as making them even butterier than usual (if possible…!).
The nutmeg is fragrant even days later, post-icing; it really makes these taste like eggnog in a cookie form.

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

I save the whites from these cookies in order to make the royal icing necessary for decorating.
More often than not, I use raw egg whites for making my decorated cookies; if this gives you the creeps, feel free to use meringue powder instead.

The recipe I use for raw egg whites is from Joy of Baking; it’s simple and effective.
The recipe I use for meringue powder is from Bake at 350; I use whatever brand of powder I have on hand.

Be patient and go slowly while tinting your icing and decorating your cookies!
This is definitely not a process to rush.
One of my best tips (which I did not actually use this year) is to add a tiny pinch of cocoa powder to colors to make them a little more realistic.
I prefer gel colors for tinting royal icing, but liquid works too (just don’t add as much water as you go).

Finally, have fun.
We all learned this as little kids decorating cookies by slopping icing and candies and sprinkles everywhere, but the ugly cookies in a batch taste just as good as the pretty ones.  And so it goes.
Except if you like to add red hots.  Those are gross, seriously… What’s wrong with you?!

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

I’ve linked back to all my other Christmas posts in my last two posts, so I’ll just copy and paste in case you’ve only found your way here.

This year: chocolate peppermint cloud cake
chocolate peppermint shortbread, 5-spice snickerdoodles, Russian teacakes, and cinnamon cereal marshmallow treats
festive marshmallow ropes

1 year ago: honey spice and dark chocolate roll-out cookies
chocolate, sour cherry, and coconut cookies, grapefruit butter cookies, and dark chocolate pecan snowcaps.
peppermint and chocolate cupcakes
souche de Noël (eggnog layer cake with ganache)

2 years ago: pepparkakor
candy cane and chocolate macarons,
Nutella and various fruity jam Linzer cookies,
maple, nutmeg, and rye roll-out cookies
gingerbread layer cake

Eggnog Sugar Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Eggnog Sugar Cookies
makes 36 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
225 grams (1 cup) butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
3 egg yolks (save the whites for icing)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
360 grams (3 cups) flour

royal icing for decorating, if desired

directions:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on high for 2 minutes.
Add in the salt and sugar and beat for 3 full minutes.
Add in the egg yolks, nutmeg, and vanilla and beat for another 3 full minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the flour; stir until dough comes together.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into shapes as desired and place 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden on the edges.
Allow to cool completely before icing.

Bippity Boppity

Decorated Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

“Even miracles take a little time.”

—Fairy Godmother, Cinderella

Decorated Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

It’s October….!!! It’s October 15th….!!!
I have to start planning/making/prepping Alexa’s birthday cake, which means we’re definitely in mid-October and fast approaching Halloween.
Don’t ask me how.  I think September might have gotten sucked into a time warp.

I want to make some Halloweenie treats for the blog, as it’s one of my favorite holidays. I just hope I have enough time to prep + write them!
Especially a certain cake that I’ve been plotting since June or so.  Funny because I’m not joking lol.

(All of my favorite holidays are in the Autumn/Winter: Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas.  Le duh.)

I also have to havetohaveto figure out what the heck I’m going to dress up as.  Any ideas?

Decorated Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

To get in the not-so-spooky spirit, I have these cute little pumpkin roll-out cookie for you today.
They’re not pumpkin flavored, unlike 99% of what will be floating around the internet for the next month and a half, but they’re pumpkin shaped and that’s practically as good.
I thought about putting pumpkin purée in my cookie base, but I knew it would be far too wet and wouldn’t give me a nice crisp cocoa cookie like I wanted.

So these are my simplest, go-to chocolate roll-out butter cookie dough, with a heaping spoonful of cocoa powder and a fair pinch of salt that plays off the super sweet royal icing, which is also simplified by using egg whites instead of meringue powder (which I seem to never be able to keep hold of.  Kitchen elves, I tell you.).
They’re rolled out extra thin to give extra crunch, shaped into pumpkins and baked off, then filled with royal icing, and given a scrawl of cursive and a swirly little vine to finish them off.
You can, of course, use meringue powder if you’re worried about the safety of the egg whites.  I will highly recommend Bridget’s recipe—when I have meringue powder on hand (never), it’s the one I will always choose.

These are very crisp, chocolaty cookies, with a bit more complexity than their decorated blonde cousins thanks to the extra hits of salt and cocoa.  Perfect and adorable for autumn with a cup of milk or tea!

One thing is for certain—by the time the clock strikes midnight, these will have disappeared!
Bippity boppity boo…

Decorated Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Decorated Chocolate “Pumpkin” Cookies
makes 20 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
for the cookies:
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
60 grams (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
225 grams (2 sticks, 8 ounces) butter, soft
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

this recipe for royal icing

directions:
Make the cookies: line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly flour a flat surface, a rolling pin, and a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter (or whatever shape you want).
Whisk flour and cocoa powder together.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 2 minutes.
Add in the sugar and salt and beat on high for 3 more minutes.
Add the egg, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 5 minutes.
Scrape the bowl, add in the vanilla extract, and mix on low until combined.
Add in the flour and cocoa powder and stir until the dough comes together.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.
Cut out shapes, then knead dough and re-roll.
Repeat until all the dough has been used.
Place cookie shapes onto the baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant and crisp on the edges and the center is set.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the royal icing, place egg whites in a bowl with the cream of tartar and salt.
Whip on high speed until soft to hard peaks form.
Sift the powdered sugar over the egg whites, then whisk until completely homogeneous and no lumps remain.
Add water as needed, 1 teaspoon as a time, to get to a wipeable consistency.
Split out 1/3 cup for the green, and tint the rest orange.
Of the green frosting, split out 2-3 tablespoons to be the fill, and thin a little more to create runny frosting.
Of the orange frosting, split out 1/3 cup to be thick, pipeable consistency (don’t add water to this part), and thin the leftovers to a runny consistency.
To decorate, pipe an orange edge around the main part of the pumpkin.
Do the same with green on the little stem.
Allow to set for 5-10 minutes, then flood the orange part of the pumpkin.
Repeat with the stems.
Allow to set for 30-45 minutes, until matte.
Pipe a little vine from the stem coming down the main part of the pumpkin, then pipe thick orange frosting into pumpkin grooves or a little cursive “boo.”
Allow to set completely, 3-5 hours, before serving.
Cookies keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Left Footed

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

 Left foot, right foot, breathe.

-Pat Summit

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Midterm season.  Run.
Trip, clumsy, with leaden feet and wearied mind.
Make it through with 3 hours of sleep and 37 pages of painstaking notes.  Promise yourself a nap, forget to take one.
(Did you even remember to take your vitamins? Tsk.)

Lose—at the end of the simultaneously hellish and fabulous weekend—your last assignment, nearly finished (one question left!) to the perilous brink of Autosave in Word.
Redo the four page lab, tears in your eyes and hate in your heart, and fall into bed—alas— at 2 am.

Monday: forget how to function; forget how to swim; forget how to run and jump and write your name.
Remember, and breathe; remember, and breathe.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche
I am currently embarking on an (insane) journey to get 200 cupcakes made and delivered to a philanthropy pre-event that my sorority is hosting this Thursday.

I baked 100+ today.  Tomorrow will be the rest and frosting.

I’ve never seen this many cupcakes before in my life.  It’s pretty intense over here guys—I have no space in my kitchen—and the cupcake towers have gone vertical and are only climbing.
From Alexa: “it’s like Japan!”

Wait. Did I just hear a crash coming from my kitchen?!
(I kid.  Cupcake Tokyo will live to see another morning.)

Lots of delicious flavors—nutella, funfetti, red velvet, caramel, etc. so if you’re from UChicago and reading this, come to the pre-event on Thursday and eat one for free!!

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

So, I’m keeping this brief here because I am tired and need to read the ever-engaging textbook from my Genetics class.

These little buttery cookies are a perfect rendition of a classic shortbread.  They’re dipped in chocolate and pecans to make them extra special, but to be honest, they don’t really need it.
The rich dough needs little accompaniment: it’s a beloved classic for a reason, friends.

Still, it is awfully, terribly hard to resist a buttery, slightly crumbly cookie dipped in deep, dark chocolate with a smattering of crunchy pecans.

I brought these to a superbowl party (not exactly football fare, but whatever) and they were gone within 10 minutes.
Always a good sign.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Even though I’ve shared this quote before, it’s one of my favorites:

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”

—Tyler Knott Gregson

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread | La Pêche Fraîche

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread
makes 30 cookies

ingredients:
3 cups (360 grams) flour
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
vanilla sugar, optional
4 ounces melted dark chocolate
chopped nuts, optional

directions:
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 3 minutes.
Add the sugar and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg; beat for 5 more minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and the flour and slowly mix until homogeneous.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4-1/2 an inch and cut out desired shapes; press the tops in a little vanilla sugar if desired.
Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and into the freezer.
Freeze for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
Allow cookies to cool completely, then dip half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate.
Top with nuts while the chocolate is still wet, then place in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.

Can’t Catch Me

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Not my gumdrop buttons!!!

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

The gingerbread man story is kind of dark, no?
Triumph after triumph, this little cookie man prances away unscathed, and then boop! gets eaten by a fox.

Cheery.

(I also find eating gingerbread men a little weird.  Do you decapitate?  Or systematically remove all the limbs?  Or just chomp your way up the torso?  Yikes.)

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Tell me, is it a bit late for holiday baking?
Because I have 2, possibly 3, posts coming at you this week.

Hark, all you procrastinators; all you who like to continue baking up until the very last moment.
Let’s make some cookies!

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Side note:
Not into xmas cookies?
I am straight up crying over Deb’s jelly doughnuts.  Help!! Someone get me a big pot of oil, stat.

Or, oh my god, if we’re talking about fried dough, Sam’s glazed pear fritters are SO necessary.  Hey, didn’t we just get a box of pears from Harry and David? Hmmm.

This challah.  So fluffy and perfect!

Finally, and most importantly, Molly put tahini in rugelach!  Have you ever heard a more beautiful union than halva rugelach?  I think not.  (It’s fun to say, too!)

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

So, these cookies.  I made a lot of them.
I baked off 5 or 6 sheets of them one night, covered them up nice and tight, and the next morning, settled down with piping bags, a #1 tip, and the Lord of the Rings (duh).
Unfortunately, I left all of my cookie decorating stuff at school, so I literally only had 1 pastry tip and 3 pastry bags, to last me through 5 colors (plus flooding!) and around 75 cookies.

It took me 5 hours to decorate all of these cookies, and now they are under lock and key so that no one eats them.
These are not for my family to eat.  They are for gifting, so that people nicer than us can enjoy them.
Just kidding!!!!  Kind of.  I’m a little loath to see them go.

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

The two types of cookie that you see here are dark chocolate and honey spice.

The chocolate dough bakes up buttery and crisp, with crunchy edges and a slightly salty, very chocolaty bite.  They are, in short, the most perfect chocolate sugar cookies I’ve ever made.  The deepness of the cocoa is complimented by the sweet royal icing.

The honey spice cookies puff up a little when baked but dry out and get very crunchy-crispy as they cool.
They’re a cross between a regular sugar cookie and a gingerbread cookie; lighter in color but still spicy.  Heaps of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves go into the dough, along with a touch of honey that rounds out the sweetness.
(To be honest, they taste a lot like graham crackers to me.  Which is a good thing, people.)

You can use royal icing made of meringue powder (follow the instructions on the can!) or do what I did, in a pinch, which is use plain old egg whites to get the job done (not if you avoid raw egg, however).  I actually prefer egg white royal icing because it seems to bubble less.  That’s just personal taste, though.

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Decorated cookies come out differently for everyone.  There’s a big learning curve—I certainly have experienced it (and my cookies are still far from perfect).

Part of the fun, however, is in designing your cookies and getting down and dirty in the icing.  The end product doesn’t matter that much—people will love and appreciate them (as long as they taste good!).
So, I’m leaving you with the recipes for the two types of dough, which are both guaranteed to taste good, and the royal icing.
The rest is up to your imagination!

Dark Chocolate and Honey Spice Cookies | La Pêche Fraîche

Dark Chocolate Roll-Out Cookies
adapted from Sweetopia
makes approximately 35 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
1 cup (225 grams) butter, softened but cool
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) flour
3/4 cup (90 grams) dark cocoa powder

directions:
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on high for 4 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the sugar; beat for 3 full minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the salt, vanilla, and egg; beat for 5 minutes until very, very fluffy and light.
Scrape the bowl and add in the flour and cocoa powder; stir until the dough is homogeneous.
Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, wrapped well in plastic wrap.
To roll it out, flour a clean surface lightly.
Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookie shapes.
Collect and reroll scraps.
Place cookies on sheet pans lined with parchment and freeze for at least 1 hour and, wrapped very well, up to 2 weeks.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies straight from the freezer, for 12 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Honey Spice Roll-Out Cookies
adapted from Sweetapolita
makes approximately 35 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
3 1/4 cups (405 grams) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 grams) butter, softened but cool
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 egg
1/2 cup (110 grams) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

directions:
Stir flour and baking soda together.
Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on high for 4 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the sugar, salt, and spices; beat for 3 full minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg; beat for 5 minutes until very, very fluffy and light.
Scrape the bowl and add in the honey and vanilla extract; mix well.
Add in the flour mixture and stir until the dough is homogeneous.
Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes, wrapped well in plastic wrap.
To roll it out, flour a clean surface lightly.
Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out cookie shapes.
Collect and reroll scraps.
Place cookies on sheet pans lined with parchment and freeze for at least 1 hour and, wrapped very well, up to 2 weeks.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies straight from the freezer, for 12 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Egg White Royal Icing
adapted from Joy of Baking
makes enough for 75 2-inch cookies

ingredients:
2 egg whites
pinch salt
3 cups (330 grams) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon water, and as needed

directions:
Whip egg whites and salt until foamy.
Sift confectioner’s sugar over egg whites and beat until smooth.
Add in water as needed to get desired consistency (check out Sweet Sugarbelle).
Tint as desired, and go to town!