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    Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes with Gingerbread Cookie Antlers

    These Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes are flavored with prepared eggnog and brushed with golden rum syrup. Gingerbread cookie antlers add a touch of seasonal fun.

    ‘Tis the season to enjoy alll of the eggnog! I’ll take mine in the form of these mini eggnog bundt cakes. The eggnog flavor really carries through, and it’s enhanced by a golden rum syrup that soaks into the sponge. Gingerbread antler cookies are too cute and so tasty. Place a cookie atop each bundt cake to create a really sweet table display.

    Start with the fluffy cake batter portioned into four (or more) mini bundt pans. This recipe will make about 8 minis, or you can bake the batter into one large 12 cup bundt pan.

    Bake the bundts for 28-30 minutes. Mine cooked perfectly in 30 minutes. Next, bubble up some butter-rum soaking syrup on the stovetop. Poke holes in the cakes, then spoon or brush on the syrup.

    Nothing beats a classic!
    For the antlers, whip up a batch of my gingerbread house dough. It’s quite good and easy to work with. The antler cutter I used can be found here. Cutting the shapes is easy when the dough is chilled, but it’s a little fiddly getting the cookie dough out of the cutter. Even with a floured cutter I had to coax the dough out with a pinky finger inserted into each antler-end.

    You’ll need 8 cookies for toppers, or if you’re baking the batter in one large bundt pan you could serve them on the side. Either way, you’ll have lots of gingerbread cookie dough left over if you make the entire recipe. But since this is cookie season, I’m sure you won’t mind stamping out some extra gingerbread folk!

    Stand an antler cookie upright on top of each bundt cake and insert a toothpick behind a tall end of the antler. The toothpick keeps the cookie propped upright.

    These mini eggnog bundt cakes are so tender and lovely. The eggnog is truly present in flavor with the rum sauce carrying a light boozy note. These would make wonderful gifts, or arranged together for a fun centerpiece.
    The cookies will soften over time if left on the moist cake. Serve these soon after you assemble them.

    Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes with Gingerbread Cookie Antlers

    Heather Baird

    These Mini Eggnog Bundt Cakes are flavored with prepared eggnog and brushed with golden rum syrup. Gingerbread cookie antlers add a touch of seasonal fun. Don’t have mini bundt pans? See the recipe notes for instructions on how to make this into one large bundt cake.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 55 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment4 1/2 x 2 inch mini bundt pans (4)3 1/2 inch deer antler cookie cutterPastry brush
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Bundt cakes1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1 cup brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar4 large eggs at room temperature3 tablespoons golden rum or spiced rum1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 cup eggnog commercially prepared, room temp.Rum syrup1/2 cup unsalted butter1/4 cup water1 cup sugar1/4 teaspoon salt1/2 cup golden rum1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Instructions Mini bundt cakesPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat four 4 1/2 x 2 inch mini bunt pans with flour-based baking spray and set the pans on a large baking sheet.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium-high. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate before adding the next egg. Mix in the golden rum and vanilla extract.In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix until just combined. Add half of the eggnog; mix until just combined. Alternate the remaining flour and eggnog additions, ending with the flour mixture. Mix each addition until just combined and do not overmix. Scrape down the bowl and fold together any pockets of butter of flour by hand.Divide the batter evenly between the four mini bundt pans, filling them about 3/4 full. Cover the remaining batter in the bowl with a tea towel.Bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick tester inserted into the cake should come out clean when it’s done. Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then gently turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.Wash and dry pans; re-coat with flour-based baking spray. Bake the remaining batter in the four mini bundt pans as before. Gently turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.Rum syrupIn a medium saucepan combine the syrup ingredients except the vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce to a simmer. Cook 5-8 minutes, or until the syrup thicken slightly. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.Crumple a large piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking pan large enough to hold all 8 cakes. Place mini bundt cakes upside down on the foil. Position the cakes so the foil cushions the tops of the cakes. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the bottoms of the cakes. Spoon some of the syrup over the bottoms of the cakes. Allow the syrup to soak in, about 10 minutes. Gently turn cakes over and lightly brush on more of the syrup using a soft pastry brush. You may not have to use all of the syrup.AssemblyFollow instructions for preparing and rolling the gingerbread dough in the linked post. Cut the dough using the deer antler cutter. Cut at least 8 antlers for toppers, and cut more to serve on the side of the cakes. Place the cut-outs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the gingerbread antlers are puffed and fragrant. Cool completely before using as cake toppers.Just before serving, place an antler upright on each cake. Use a toothpick inserted just behind one side of an antler to prop it up.
    NotesWhat to expect: These mini cakes have a soft sponge and a moist texture with notes of rum. The eggnog flavor is obvious and so delicious.
    Top the cakes with the cookie antlers up to an hour before serving. Any longer and they will lose their crispness over time. The cookies will soften due to the moisture of the cake. Some of my cakes that sat 24 hours topped with the cookies (covered in plastic wrap) softened considerably. The cookies were still delicious but their texture was fragile and more cake-like than cookie. 
    For one large cake, coat a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan with flour-based baking spray. Prepare batter as directed. Spread evenly in the bundt pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes in clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Poke holes in the bottom of the cake using a long skewer and pour some of the rum syrup over the cake. Let stand until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and brush with more of the syrup. 
    This recipe was researched and adapted from several recipes online, with thanks and kind regards to The Little Epicurean and Homemade Hooplah. The rum syrup recipe is adapted from King Arthur Baking’s Caribbean-Style Rum Cake. 

    Keyword eggnog, golden rum syrup, nutmeg, unsalted butter

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    Butterfinger Truffles

    Crunchy, peanut-buttery Butterfinger Truffles are easy to whip up and they make a wonderful edible gift. Just four ingredients!

    Here’s something sweet and delicious for your candy tin! These candy bar-inspired truffles come together in a hurry with only four ingredients for you grocery list. Soft silky chocolate ganache holds crunchy chunks of candy bars inside. The outside is covered in more Butterfinger candy bars that have been ground fine for a tasty truffle coating.

    Use good quality chocolate for the truffle mixture. Baker’s bars are a good choice. Semisweet chocolate is my to-to for truffles. But milk chocolate could also be used for a milder truffle, and to match the candy bar’s milk chocolate coating.

    Use the magic truffle ratio of 2:1, chopped chocolate to hot cream. Whisk it up and then add 3 whole chopped up Butterfinger candy bars. Fold all that peanut-buttery goodness into the ganache mixture and chill to set.

    Roll ’em up!
    Scoop and roll the set ganache by the level 1 tablespoons. Then roll the truffles in finely ground Butterfinger bars. The crumbs stick to the truffles well and it gives the candy a uniform appearance.

    These are potent little bites, so one batch will go a long way if you’re gifting them. Package up 4-6 in a little box or bag for a cute gift.

    A festive paper cup makes a good container to slip a bag of truffles into. That way they don’t get crushed during transport. I love these bright red metallic striped cups. You can find them for purchase right here.

    Candy making is such an enjoyable holiday tradition, and these are so easy to throw together. It could easily be a fun project for the whole family.

    Butterfinger Truffles

    Heather Baird

    What’s better than a Butterfinger candy bar? A Butterfinger truffle! These are highly giftable and so tasty. Semisweet chocolate is lovely in this recipe, but milk chocolate can be used to match the flavor of the candy bar’s coating.These keep for 7 days in the refrigerator. See recipe notes for more tips.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 1 min2 hours chill time 2 hrsTotal Time 2 hrs 26 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 24 truffles

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 5 full-size Butterfinger candy bars 1.9 oz. each8 oz. semisweet chocolate fine chopped1/2 cup heavy cream1/2 teaspoon butter and nut extract optional
    Instructions Break two candy bars in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to fine crumbs. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside.Chop remaining candy bars into pieces with a chef’s knife.Place the semisweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. In a glass measuring cup with a pour spout, heat the heavy cream in the microwave for 1 minute, or until steaming but not boiling. Alternatively you can do this on the stove top in a sauce pan.Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Add the butter and nut flavor if using. Whisk slowly until a shiny ganache is formed, this should take about 3 minutes to fully incorporate. Stir in the chopped candy bars. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or until the ganache is firm and scoopable.Scoop the truffle mixture into level 1 tablespoon balls. Roll quickly between palms to make smooth, evenly shaped truffles. Quickly roll in candy bar crumbs.Store truffles in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.Let the truffles stand at room temperature before serving, as the flavors are more developed.
    NotesWhat to expect: Silky chocolate ganache holds chunks of Butterfinger candy bar inside with a fine crumbly coating of Butterfinger bars on the outside. Each truffle is a rich bite, and one batch could be divided into many gifts.
    If you have leftover Butterfinger crumbs for rolling, save them. Over time in the fridge the coating on the truffles gets a little sticky. Re-roll the truffles in more crumbs just before serving. (Although they may not last long enough to get sticky!)
    Butter and nut flavor is a southern pantry staple that many home bakers use in cakes and banana pudding. It is optional in this recipe but it adds to the buttery flavor of the candy bars. Butter pecan flavoring can also be used. You can find both of these for purchase online.

    Keyword butterfinger candy bars, heavy cream, semisweet chocolate

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    Hungarian Dobos Torte

    Dobos Torte is a traditional Hungarian cake with thin layers of light sponge filled with rich chocolate buttercream. A showy caramel garnish makes it an eye-catching holiday centerpiece.

    Dobos torte is such a classic special occasion cake with rich history and flavor. Although the number of layers are often debated (6, 7, 8, 11?) everyone can agree it is both beautiful and delicious.
    The cake is named for its creator, József Dobos. The finer details of the original Dobos torte recipe were lost in the Second World War. Perhaps that’s why the recipes are so varied today. This this six layer cake is a fine version of Dobos Torte. It is balanced with light sponge layers and rich chocolate buttercream, and makes a very pretty holiday centerpiece.
    The Hungarian pastry chef József C. Dobos created this torte in the late 1800’s. Its decoration was considered minimalistic compared to the elaborate cakes of that era. The cake was such a sensation throughout Europe, it was often poorly reproduced by other pastry shops. Dobos donated his recipe to the local Confectioner and Gingerbread Industry Board so pastry chefs would have access to the true recipe, and to halt the bad imitations.-Researched and paraphrased from Dobos C. Joseph Memory Book, The Hungarian Gastronomy Book

    Feather light sponge layers.
    These days the sponge for traditional Dobos Torte is made with potato starch and flour. And like most sponge cakes the egg whites are whipped separately from the fatty yolk mixture. No surprises there. But take care not to over whip the egg whites or your cake will be too dry. Look for stiff peaks with a glossy finish. If you have stiff peaks with a dry or matte finish, you’ve gone too far.

    Use pasteurized eggs for this buttercream.
    The buttercream is wonderfully rich and silky, and that’s due to uncooked egg yolks whipped with the butter, sugar, and chocolate. This method for buttercream was new to me, but it’s not unlike the raw egg yolk custard in My Favorite Tiramisu. It is highly unlikely that microorganisms will grow in such a fatty, sugary frosting, and using yolks from pasteurized eggs is the most preventative measure. So, use them! And save your farm fresh eggs for the sponge layers.
    From my research, the addition of yolks aims to replicate the texture of the original buttercream that Mr. Dobos made. Based on the information available, his recipe used cocoa mass (cocoa liquor) and cocoa butter which are not usual staples in the home baker’s kitchen. So this is our more approachable option. If you remain dubious about using raw eggs, see the recipe notes for a quick chocolate buttercream that does not use egg yolks.

    The buttercream is not only the filling, but also the covering. I pressed in some sliced almonds while the frosting was still tacky, but you could use pecans, walnuts, or the traditional favorite which is hazelnuts.

    You’ll have plenty of frosting left over to pipe large swirls on top of the cake. These are important because they prop up the cake’s eye-catching garnish of hard caramel.

    The design creates an almost a windmill effect, and it’s beautiful from a bird’s eye view. The recipe is simply sugar and lemon juice cooked to amber hard caramel stage. It sounds really simple but timing is everything.

    How to make the caramel garnish.
    First, use the bottom of the same 8″ cake pan you cooked the sponge in to trace an 8″ circle onto parchment paper. Cook the caramel while watching it constantly and be ready to remove it from the heat at a moment’s notice. When the amber color is achieved, pour the caramel in the center of the circle and spread it out with a hot stainless steel spatula. You can make your spatula hot by placing it on the stove eye for 20 seconds, or if you have a chef’s torch you can heat it up with that. If you try to spread the caramel with a cold spatula, it will stick terribly.

    Practice makes perfect.
    Next, wait a few seconds until the caramel starts to set, then score it into wedges with a buttered knife. After the caramel is completely hardened, break it apart at the score lines. My first attempt at making this garnish broke apart irregularly. I had to make a second one, and it turned out much better. Practice makes perfect (or in my case, adequate). Luckily it takes very little time to repeat the process, because hard caramel doesn’t take long to cook!

    The swirls on the cake prop up each caramel wedge. I just love the effect.

    “A torte — is one with a pleasing appearance inside and out.”-confectioner’s description, early 20th century

    European cakes are often sponge-based and less moist than what American palates are accustomed to. And although it’s not original, I brush the layers with simple syrup which is included in this recipe. It seems to be an accepted practice, and some even add a boozy note with the addition of bourbon, whisky, etc. Tradition in baking is a wonderful thing, but a dry cake is not. The syrup is an extra step but improves the end result, and if you’ve overwhipped your sponge it’s a fail safe for a moist cake.

    Hungarian Dobos Torte

    Heather Baird

    Dobos Torte is traditionally a confection with thin sponge layers, filled and frosted with a rich chocolate buttercream, and covered with a clear sheet of caramel glaze. In this version the caramel is cut into triangles and placed in a fan design on top of the cake.The chocolate buttercream uses uncooked egg yolks. It’s very important to use pasteurized eggs for safe use in this dish. If you’re preparing this cake for guests who might be sensitive to this, or if you prefer not to eat raw egg yolks, I’ve included a quick chocolate buttercream recipe in the notes section that can be used instead.

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    Prep Time 45 minsCook Time 30 minsTotal Time 1 hr 15 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Hungarian

    Servings 10

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (2)large closed star piping tipPiping bagPastry brush
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Sponge layers2/3 cup all-purpose flour1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch2/3 cup granulated sugar6 eggs separated and at room temperature1 teaspoon lemon zestSimple syrup1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup water1 teaspoon vanilla extractChocolate buttercream16 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature6 large egg yolks1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon vanilla extractGarnishes2/3 cup sliced almonds3/4 cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon lemon juice
    Instructions Sponge layersSift together the flour and potato starch. Set aside.Set aside two thirds of the granulated sugar. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until light and pale. When the beater is lifted the batter should leave a trail in the bowl (this is called ribbon stage). Stir in the zest.In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the reserved sugar to form stiff, glossy peaks. Stir two big spoonfuls of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to loosen the texture. Gently fold in the flour. This will take a bit of careful mixing and the texture will seem strange and thick, but keep going. When no streaks of flour remain gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Do all of these steps as gently as possible so that you don’t knock out all of the air.Preheat the oven to 425F. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray, or grease the pans and line them with parchment rounds.Using a scale divide the batter into six bowls evenly (mine were about 3.30 oz. per pan, but yours may vary). This ensures each sponge layer will be the same thickness upon slicing. Alternatively, divide 1/3 of the batter between the two prepared pans. Spread an even layer in the bottom of each one using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon.Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Invert cakes onto wire racks and remove parchment, if using. Wash pans and re-grease. Repeat the process twice more with the remaining mixture to make another four layers of sponge, making six in total.Simple syrupIn a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is melted; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract and let cool completely.Chocolate buttercreamIn a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate until melted and smooth, in 30 second increments, about 2 minutes total. Cool to room temperature but still liquid and pourable.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium-high. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add in the cooled chocolate and sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate any hidden streaks of butter or chocolate. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy.Place about 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a large closed star piping tip; set aside. Brush a sponge layer lightly with the simple syrup using a pastry brush. Sandwich each of the six sponge layers together, brushing as you stack, with 1/4-inch-thick layer of the chocolate buttercream, then spread more buttercream evenly over the top and sides of the cake. To garnish the sides of the cake, press the sliced almonds into the sides while the buttercream is still tacky. Pipe 8 large rosettes of chocolate buttercream, evenly spaced, on the top edge of the cake using the piping bag of frosting. Chill for one hour before adding the caramel garnish.Caramel garnishDraw an 8” circle on a piece of parchment paper using the same pan you baked he sponge cakes in; set aside on a flat heat-proof work surface.Place the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and mix together until the sugar looks like wet sand. Cook over medium high heat, watching constantly, and stirring/prodding the mixture occasionally until an amber caramel is formed.Immediately pour the caramel into the center of the marked circle and quickly spread out using a hot stainless-steel spatula (to heat the spatula, let it rest on a hot stove eye, or heat it with a chef’s torch). Leave it for a few seconds until it starts to set. Grease a large chef’s knife then score the caramel into 8 wedges. Let set completely then gently break apart at the score marks.Rest a caramel wedge at an angle on each rosette on the cake.Store the cake covered at room temperature. This cake keeps well for a week and seems to improve upon standing.
    NotesUse the following recipe if you prefer to not make the buttercream with uncooked egg yolks. It is not as dark or silky as the yolk buttercream, but it is a fine replacement. The recipe is taken from the Dobos Torta recipe in the book Ultimate Cake by Barbara Maher. You may also choose to use your own chocolate buttercream recipe.
    Quick Chocolate Buttercream 

    3 teaspoons instant coffee
    3 teaspoons unsweet cocoa powder
    6 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
    3 cups unsalted butter softened
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 

    Dissolve the instant coffee and cocoa powder in 6 tablespoons boiling water. Pour into a small heat-proof bowl and add the chopped chocolate; melt over a pan of simmering water. Let cool until thickened but not set.
    In another bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until pale and fluff. Add the chocolate and mix well until combined. Then beat the mixture until pale and fluffy and thick. Use to fill, frost, and decorate a 6-layer Dobos Torte.

    Keyword chocolate buttercream, hard caramel, potato starch, sliced almonds, sponge cake layers

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    Matcha Almond Shortbread Trees

    Naturally green Matcha Almond Shortbread Trees are buttery and delicately flavored with green tea. They’re finished with a dark chocolate drizzle and a pinch of coarse sea salt.

    Shortbread – what’s not to love? It might be my favorite cookie of all time. The ingredients are so few, with butter being the star ingredient. Here it shares the spotlight with matcha green tea. If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, then you know I was an earlier adopter/enthusiast of using matcha green tea in baked goods. It’s so beautiful, and the flavor pairs well with almond. I discovered this back in 2009, with my favorite Matcha-Almond Genoise Layer Cake.

    Matcha + Almond = ♥.
    This recipe is a riff on my favorite shortbread formula, which is from the Sprinkle Bakes book. A little of the AP flour is replaced with almond flour. Whip up this un-sticky naturally green dough until just combined. If you overwork the dough the cookies will be cardboard tough. Your restraint will be rewarded with tender, crumbly goodness.

    Roll the dough to the desired thickness. I rolled these cookies (pictured below) a little thinner than 1/2 inch. However, I also rolled some at 1/4 inch thickness, and they were wonderfully crumbly and so buttery tasting. There’s room for both in my cookie jar.

    Chill those trees! Shortbread will inevitably relax a little in the oven, but if you freeze the shapes first the edges will stay sharp.

    They come out of the oven looking almost the same as they went in. Except – the edges are ever-so-slightly golden. I am truly impressed by color and flavor imparted by the Suncore Foods matcha I recently tried for the first time. You can find it here for purchase.

    The flavor of these cookies are a little grown up. But altogether, the delicate green tea, dark chocolate, and sea salt create a nice balance of flavor.

    A kiss of salt.
    After the cookies are drizzled, sprinkled, and set, turn them over and tap off the excess salt. Nobody wants an over-salted cookie. But be careful! These cookies are require gentle handling. The almond flour in the recipe makes the texture of these cookies even shorter, which gives them a tender, delicate crumb.

    These Matcha Almond Shortbread Trees are so beautifully flavored and perfect for the gourmand or tea connoisseur in your life! I’ve formulated the recipe to impart delicate green tea flavor. Because, I’ve often tried recipes that use too much which can make confections too bitter. Along with the dark chocolate and sea salt garnishes, this cookie is a real treat!

    Matcha-Almond Shortbread Trees

    Heather Baird

    Naturally green Matcha Almond Shortbread Trees are buttery and delicately flavored with green tea. They’re finished with a dark chocolate drizzle and a pinch of coarse sea salt. I use and recommend Suncore Premium Midori Jade Matcha Supercolor Powder for the most intense green hue. See the blog post for shopping links.The yield will depend on the size cookie cutter you use and the thickness of the dough. You’ll average about 36 cookies with 3-inch cookies rolled to 1/4 inch thickness. My cookies were larger, at 4 inches and just shy of 1/2 inch thickness. My yield was about 26. Be careful when re-rolling cookie scraps. Don’t overwork the dough or the cookies will be tough instead of delicate and crumbly.

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    Prep Time 45 minsCook Time 15 mins50 minutes chill time 50 minsTotal Time 1 hr 50 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 36

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Matcha almond shortbread2 cups unsalted butter softened1/4 cup granulated sugar1 cup confectioners’ sugar2 tablespoons matcha tea powder sifted3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup almond flour1/2 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon almond extractToppings1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or semisweet chips melted1 teaspoon coarse grey sea salt or other coarse sea salt
    Instructions ShortbreadIn a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the sifted matcha tea powder. Mix again until well dispersed. Scrape down the bowl and mix again.In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, and salt. Add half of the flour to the creamed mixture and mix until a dough forms. Add the almond extract; mix to incorporate. Then, add the remaining flour and mix again on low speed until a stiff dough forms.Gather the dough together with your hands and place on a lightly floured surface. Divide into two pieces. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece of dough until flattened to the desired thickness (slightly less than 1/2 inch for thick soft cookies, 1/4 inch for thin, crisper cookies with browned edges).Wrap the dough pieces in plastic film and place on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. The dough will firm quickly because of the high butter content.Remove dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and cut shapes from the dough. Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets and freeze the shapes on the cookie sheets for at least 10 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350°F.Bake until lightly golden around the edges: 7-10 minutes for small cookies, 12-15 minutes for medium cookies, 17-20 minutes for large or thick cookies.When cookies are lightly golden around the edges and fragrant, remove them from the oven and let cool on the pans completely. These are tender cookies, and they will break if you try to move them while still hot.ToppingsPlace the melted dark chocolate in a piping bag and cut a small opening in the tip. Pipe the chocolate onto the cooled cookies still on the parchment paper in the pans. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of coarse salt. Let stand until the chocolate sets, about 10 minutes, or refrigerate them to speed setting.Remove the cookies from the pans and tap off excess salt – do this gently, as these cookies are delicate. Place cookies in an airtight container, or plate them and cover with plastic wrap.
    NotesWhat to expect: This shortbread has mild matcha tea flavor. The matcha gives the dough an herby note that underlies the buttery flavor. It’s not overt, or bitter. The almond extract takes the edge off of the matcha’s grassy flavor, but it is mostly undetectable as a flavor. Almond flour makes the shortbread’s texture delicate and crumbly, just as good shortbread should be. 
    Be sure to sift the matcha tea powder before using. It can have a little static cling sometimes, and it will clump and ball together.
    You may not use the entire teaspoon of coarse salt as called for. Grey coarse sea salt (I like Celtic Sea Salt) has a mixture of large and small granules, which is nice on these cookies. Use the salt sparingly, and tap off the excess. To gauge your taste for the salt, test a pinch of salt on a cookie. Add more or less to taste for the remaining cookies. 

    Keyword all purpose flour, almond extract, almond flour, coarse sea salt, dark chocolate drizzle, matcha green tea

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    Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes

    Nothing beats a beautiful and classic bake for the holidays, like these Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes. This recipe makes two yule log cakes from one sheet of sponge; one to give, and one to keep.

    This is my first yule log cake of the year, but I love the tradition so much I may post a second one this month. It’s my absolute favorite bake for Christmas, and for me, it’s right up there with making a gingerbread house. Silky-smooth crème au beurre au café (coffee-flavored French buttercream) fills a classic chocolate Swiss roll in these Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes, and both cakes are wrapped in chocolate marzipan ‘bark’.

    Swiss roll batter starts with well-whipped eggs. Beat them until they are pale, thick, and when the beater is lifted the batter forms a trail in the bowl. The mixture will deflate slightly when the other ingredients are added, but should still yield a thick yet pourable batter.

    Bake the sponge in a 15×11-inch jelly roll pan (or similar size). When done, immediately turn it out and cut it in half so that you have two 7.5 x11 inch pieces. Then roll each half up into a sugar-dusted tea towel starting at a short end and cool completely.

    Crème au beurre au café (French coffee buttercream).
    While you’re waiting for the sponges to cool, whip up a batch of coffee-flavored whole egg French buttercream. It’s a lot like regular French buttercream, but instead of using egg yolks, you use whole eggs. Get out the ol’ candy thermometer for this one. It’s an extra step but worth it, I promise. Because it’s so silky-smooth and luxurious!

    Unroll the sponge and let the most curved end stay curled. Pipe lines of buttercream onto the sponge, spread evenly and then roll it back up. Repeat this process with the second sponge.

    Wrap both of the swiss rolls , in a double thickness of waxed paper and then with plastic wrap. The waxed paper helps the cake keep its round shape, and the plastic wrap prevents it from drying out. Refrigerate until firm.

    While you wait for the cake to chill, knead some marzipan with unsweet cocoa powder. We’re going to make faux tree bark, and marzipan makes a tasty and beautiful covering.

    Tree bark impressions.
    First, you’ll need to acquire a tree bark silicone mold, which can be found here. It’s inexpensive and easy to store because it’s flat. Apply some unsweet cocoa powder to the mold to ‘dust’ it before pressing the marzipan. Gently roll the marzipan onto the mold and then turn it out. Trim away the plain edges.

    Drape the marzipan over the cake and and fit around the top and sides. It should adhere naturally. But if it seems too dry, brush the cake with a little water before applying the covering. Trim away any excess ‘bark’.

    You just can’t go wrong with the flavors of chocolate and coffee together! The silky coffee buttercream is a lovely contrast to the sponge texture. The marzipan tastes mostly of chocolate instead of almond, as the addition of unsweet cocoa will overtake the delicate almond flavor. And that’s preferred for this deeply chocolaty confection!

    I opted for a simple presentation without meringue mushrooms (but if you’d like to make some, see this post!). Instead, I used some cute red axe cupcake picks, purchased from Cranky Cakes Shop. Although they are currently out of stock, you can find some for purchase here instead. I think they’re so funny and cute. And they’re perfect with this woodsy cake.

    Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes

    Heather Baird

    Nothing beats a beautiful and classic bake for the holidays, and Chocolate Mocha Yule Log Cakes tick both of those boxes. This recipe makes two yule log cakes from one sheet of sponge.For the textured ‘bark’ marzipan topping, you’ll need a silicone tree bark impression mat. See the blog post for shopping links. Or, if you’re not keen on purchasing an impression mat, crumpled aluminum foil will create a vague tree bark appearance if you lightly press it into the rolled marzipan.

    #wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #5A822B; }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-33 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-50 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50); }#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0 .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-66 svg * { fill: url(#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66); }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-33 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-50 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }linearGradient#wprm-recipe-user-rating-0-66 stop { stop-color: #5A822B; }No ratings yet

    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 12 mins1 hour chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 52 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment15×11 inch jelly roll pan, or similar sizeTree bark silicone impression matKitchen dedicated art brushAxe cupcake picks
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Swiss roll1/2 cup powdered sugar4 eggs3/4 cup granulated sugar1 tablespoon oil2 tablespoons buttermilk1 teaspoon vanilla extract3/4 cup all-purpose flour1/4 cup dark cocoa powder1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon saltFrench coffee buttercream1 cup granulated sugar1/3 cup water2 large eggs1 1/2 cups unsalted butter softened3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water1/4 teaspoon fine grain saltAssembly14 oz. marzipan1/4 cup unsweet dark cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
    Instructions Chocolate spongePreheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 15×11 inch jelly roll pan (or similar size) with flour-based baking spray. Alternatively butter the pan and line with parchment paper.Lay out two tea towels on a work surface. Sprinkle each tea towel with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and rub sugar into towel with your hands.Place eggs in large bowl; beat using electric mixer on high speed, 5 minutes with a timer set. The whipped eggs will become thick and lightened in color. With the mixer still running, slowly add sugar and oil, followed by buttermilk and vanilla.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the liquid ingredients. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back when pressed with fingers.Immediately turn the sponge sheet out onto one of the sugar-covered tea towels. If you used parchment paper to line the pan, remove it, then cut the sponge in half width-wise so that you have two 7.5 x 11 inch pieces. Roll each cake into a tea towel from a short side. Place the rolled cakes on a wire rack, seam-side down, and let cool completely.Make the French coffee buttercreamIn a small heavy saucepan set over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until it registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs until they are thick and pale, about 5 minutes on medium high speed. While mixer is running, add the sugar syrup in a thin stream, carefully tempering the syrup into the eggs without cooking them. Beat until the mixing bowl is cool. Change to the paddle attachment and add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. The mixture will deflate and look runny, then curdled. Keep adding butter and mixing. This buttercream goes through several ugly stages before it reaches fluffy consistency. When all the butter is added, add the espresso mixture and salt. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.Transfer buttercream to a piping bag with 1/2-inch hole cut in the end of the bag.Gently unroll a cake, letting the end remain curled. Pipe lines of buttercream over top of cake; spread evenly. Roll the cake back up and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining cake and the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm, about 1 hour.Conservatively trim both ends of the cakes away with a serrated knife so the swirl is visible.AssemblyKnead the marzipan and dark chocolate cocoa powder together until the marzipan is consistently dark brown in color. Dust the tree bark impression mat with cocoa powder using a small kitchen-dedicated art brush to get into all the nooks and crannies of the silicone mat.Roll out half of the marzipan on a lightly cocoa-powder dusted work surface. Place it on the impression mat and roll so that the marzipan takes on the tree bark impression; don’t roll too hard or the marzipan will tear.Turn the marzipan bark out of the mold and place on top of one of the cakes. Cover the top and sides of the cake entirely, but do not cover the bottom. Trim away excess marzipan. Repeat the process with the remaining cake. Cut cake into rounds and add little axe cupcake picks, if using, before serving.Serve cakes at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Return cakes to room temperature before serving.
    NotesWhat to expect:
    This chocolate sponge is light in texture and deeply chocolaty. It does a good job of holding the rich coffee buttercream and supports the covering of marzipan very well. It’s a wonderfully rich coffee break treat. 
    I chose to serve this cake as a grouping, with one whole yule log cake as the centerpiece, and the second cake I cut into rounds and decorated with the mini axe cupcake picks on plates for easy serving. However, ’tis the season to give. You may decide to keep a cake and give one away.

    Keyword chocolate sponge cake, coffee buttercream, instant espresso powder, marzipan

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    Milk Bread Gibassier

    A French bread from Provence, the  is flavored with anise, candied orange peel, and orange blossom water. We took this decorative holiday bread one step further, incorporating the milk bread method to create an extra-fluffy loaf. 3¼ to 3¾ cups (413 to 477 grams) bread flour, divided 1⅔ cups (334 grams) granulated sugar, divided 1 […] LEGGI TUTTO

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    White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange Chocolate Sauce

    White Chocolate Panna Cotta is a holiday host’s best kept secret. It’s a creamy, eggless custard that can be made ahead for convenience. Dark chocolate sauce dazzles as a topping with a shot of orange liqueur.

    Unlike last Christmas, I’m planning to do a little entertaining this year. Nothing too grand, but just a few more than my immediate family. Good holiday hosts know that even a small party can be stressful if you’re not well organized. That’s why I love recipes like this one. This white chocolate panna cotta comes together in minutes and looks elegant in stemware. You can make it a day (or two!) ahead and store it in the refrigerator until party time.

    Creamy components.
    Start by melting some white chocolate morsels with heavy cream in a saucepan. After it’s heated and consistently mixed, add in bloomed gelatin – that’s the lumpy-looking stuff in the bowl up there. Stir until melted then whisk in half-and-half (or whole milk, your choice!).

    Divvy the mixture up into stemware. I used some miniature martini glasses that hold exactly 1/3 cup and got 12 servings. Serve this amount for a small cocktail party or a dessert tasting. Or, if you’re hosting an intimate dinner, portion them into larger glasses for a heartier serving size.

    A simple sauce.
    Make the chocolate sauce with just three ingredients! Use an orange chocolate bar to impart more orange flavor, as I did. Or, if you can’t source one easily, use a regular dark chocolate bar.

    Add a splash of Triple Sec (or Cointreau) to liven things up! However, this can be an optional addition. Or switch up the flavor with your favorite liqueur.

    Top each glass with a little of the sauce. You won’t need much! Add just enough to contrast the creamy white chocolate custard.

    Garnish the glasses with candied orange peel. I used some Callebaut Crispearls, too. You can find them here. They are little dark chocolate beads with a tiny biscuit inside for crunch. I keep them on hand to use as a dessert garnish.

    These little White Chocolate Panna Cotta cups are decadent and so smooth. The creamy white chocolate custard perfectly contrasts the dark chocolate topping. The hit of orange gives them a bright citrusy note that tastes celebratory.
    If you’re looking for more panna cotta recipes, another of my other favorite seasonal panna cotta recipe is this Eggnog Panna Cotta with Spiked Cranberry Sauce. The recipe is so well-loved it’s usually my most popular blog post in December.

    White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Orange-Chocolate Sauce

    Heather Baird

    This white chocolate panna cotta is an elegant eggless custard topped with a quick orange-chocolate sauce. It can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve in stemmed glasses or mold the panna cotta in ramekins. I served these in mini martini glasses, which yielded 12 small cocktail party-sized servings. However, if you’re hosting an intimate dinner, portion them into six 8 oz. glasses or ramekins.

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    Prep Time 10 minsCook Time 5 mins4 hours chill time 4 hrsTotal Time 4 hrs 15 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Italian

    Servings 6

    Equipment8 oz. glasses or ramekins (6), or 3 oz. mini dessert glasses (12)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Panna cotta1/4 oz. powdered unflavored gelatin 1 envelope1 1/2 cups half and half or whole milk cold1 cup heavy whipping cream1/2 cup white chocolate morsels or 3 oz. white chocolate bar chopped1/4 cup sugarOrange-dark chocolate sauce and toppings3 oz. orange dark chocolate bar finely chopped3/4 cup heavy cream1 tablespoon orange liqueur2 tablespoons Callebaut Crispearls chocolate beads or other chocolate caviar12 pieces candied orange peel 2-3” lengths
    Instructions Panna cottaSprinkle the powdered gelatin over 1/4 cup of the half and half in a small bowl. Stir briefly and let stand 2 minutes. The mixture will be lumpy.Combine the heavy cream, white chocolate, and sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook while stirring until the chocolate is melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.Remove from the heat and stir in the lumpy gelatin mixture into the hot mixture until dissolved. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 cups half and half.Divide the mixture evenly between six 8 oz. stemmed glasses or ramekins. Or, portion them into smaller glasses for more servings (I used 2.6 oz mini martini glasses for a yield of 12). Cover and chill the glasses until set, about 4 hours or up to two days ahead of service.Orange-dark chocolate sauceIn a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate and cream on high power for 1 1/2 minutes until melted, stirring every 30 seconds between heating. When the mixture is smooth stir in the orange liqueur. Cool mixture until just warm but still pourable. Pour a little of the dark chocolate sauce on top of the set panna cotta. Serve extra sauce on the side in a small syrup pitcher.Garnish each glass with a few chocolate beads and a candied orange peel before serving.
    NotesWhat to expect: This white chocolate panna cotta is deceivingly light, but holds richness with its creamy ingredients and orange-infused chocolate syrup topping. It is soft set with a small wobble when turned out of a ramekin. 

    Look for white chocolate morsels that contain real cocoa butter, which will be listed in the ingredients. These will melt best and impart the best white chocolate flavor. Or, chop a 3 oz. white chocolate baking bar to use in this recipe.
    I used Theo 70% orange dark chocolate bar for the sauce, but an unflavored dark chocolate bar will work just fine.
    This recipe is easily scales up or down to serve as few as 6 people, or as many as 12. It’s a rich dessert, so even small servings pack a big punch. If hosting an intimate dinner, portion into 6 servings. Finger foods and cocktail party atmosphere call for smaller servings or even shot glass-sized portions.
    The panna cotta can be made up to two days ahead. You can also top the set panna cottas in glasses with chocolate sauce ahead, but do not garnish. The candied orange peel may weep. Wait to garnish an hour or two ahead of serving.
    If molding these into ramekins for a plated dessert, serve the chocolate sauce on the side, or drizzle just before serving.
    The chocolate sauce will be liquid and pourable just after it is mixed. If you pour the sauce over the set panna cotta and store in the refrigerator, the sauce will set slightly, yet not as firm as ganache.

    Keyword dark chocolate, half and half, heavy cream, orange chocolate sauce, orange liqueur, powdered gelatin, white chocolate

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    Baklava Fudge

    This Baklava Fudge recipe puts a new spin on a Greek classic. A ribbon of spiced honey-nut filling runs through this salty-sweet candy.

    Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in all things sweet and spiced. Like this baklava-inspired fudge. It is truly decadent with a creamy almond butter fudge base. A ribbon of salty-sweet spiced honey-nut filling runs throughout the candy.

    First, the honey-nut filling!
    Make the nut filling first, because it will need to cool. It’s made with toasted walnuts and roasted, salted pistachios. The formula is from my favorite baklava filling recipe. Honey syrup is boiled on the stovetop and poured over the ground nuts to give it true baklava flavor.

    The nut mixture needs to be paste-like to hold its form in the chilled candy. Add a little almond flour and stir until a paste forms. Set aside to cool.

    When the nut mixture is cool, begin cooking the fudge. It only takes three ingredients, and three minutes in the microwave. You’ll need sweetened condensed milk, natural almond butter (no salt or sugar added) and white almond bark or white chocolate. You can also melt the ingredients in a saucepan on the stovetop if you don’t have a microwave.

    Heat and stir the fudge to a smooth consistency, then pour half of it in a prepared 8×8 inch pan. Top with half of the nut paste. Spread it out as best as you can. You won’t get it totally even, but that’s alright!

    Work quickly!
    Top with the remaining fudge. This mixture sets quickly, so if it isn’t spreadable, microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.

    Swirl the remaining nut paste into the top of the fudge. This will look messy and your knife (or skewer) will leave trails, but keep going. When it’s well swirled, pick up and drop the pan several times on the countertop to even the surface. Most of those trails with disappear.

    I couldn’t resist a few more roasted pistachios sprinkled on top, and the extra bit of saltiness is ice. Let the fudge firm in the refrigerator. Lift it out by the parchment liner and slice into pieces.

    The salted nut mixture is such a nice foil for the sweet fudge candy. I can usually eat only a small piece of fudge and be done, because of its sweetness. But this one is a different story!

    I’ve always loved baklava and I continue to be inspired by its flavors (see this Baklava Pull-Apart Bread). I also make the original recipe quite often. Baklava Fudge is perfect for holiday gifts and such a nice addition to any candy tray. Enjoy!

    Baklava Fudge

    Heather Baird

    This Baklava Fudge recipe puts a new spin on a Greek classic. A ribbon of spiced honey-nut filling runs through this salty-sweet candy.
    This recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, which can be confused with evaporated milk. Be sure you get the right canned milk. Sweetened condensed milk is thick and sweet.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 3 mins2 hours chill time 2 hrsTotal Time 2 hrs 18 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American, Greek, Greek-Inspired

    Servings 32 pieces

    Equipment8×8 inch baking dish
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cinnamon-honey syrup1/4 cup granulated sugar1/4 cup water1/4 cup honey I used wildflower honey1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamonNut mixture3 oz. walnut pieces raw3 oz. shelled whole pistachios roasted and salted1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt1 teaspoon cinnamon2 tablespoons almond flour plus 1-2 tablespoons more if neededFudge14 oz. sweetened condensed milk 1 can2/3 cup natural almond butter no salt and no sugar added16 oz. vanilla almond bark 1 package, broken into pieces2 tablespoons chopped pistachios roasted and salted for sprinkling on top
    Instructions SyrupStir together the sugar, water, and honey in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and let cook until reduced and syrupy, about 10-15 minutes, or until the yield is a little less than 1/3 cup of syrup. Remove the syrup from heat and stir in cinnamon. Set aside to let cool completely. Nut mixturePreheat oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes in the oven. Let cool, then add them, along with the pistachios, to a food processor bowl and process in quick bursts until finely chopped. Transfer the nuts to a medium bowl and add the cooled syrup, the salt, and the cinnamon. Stir together.Add 2 tablespoons of the almond flour and stir well. The mixture should form a paste. If the mixture is still syrupy, stir in another 1-2 tablespoons of almond flour until a pasty consistency forms. See pictures in the blog post for visual of the correct consistency.FudgeLine 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil that overhangs all four edges and spray it with cooking spray.Place the sweetened condensed milk, 2/3 cup almond butter and almond bark in a large microwavable bowl. Heat in the microwave uncovered on high (100% power) in 1-minute increments, stirring well between each heating. Allow the residual heat from the bowl to do most of the work melting the mixture. This will take about 3 minutes. Be careful; the bowl may get hot. Alternatively, you may heat this mixture together in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat. Immediately pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture in clumps on top and spread out as best as you can. Pour in the remaining fudge and top with remaining nuts mixture; swirl using a butter knife. Pick up and drop the pan twice or until the surface becomes level. Sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios and transfer to the refrigerator. Let chill until set, about 2 hours.Lift the candy out of the pan by the overhanging foil; cut the candy slab into pieces with a large chef’s knife.The fudge may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
    NotesWhat to expect: Roasted, salted pistachios contribute the right amount of salt to balance this sweet confection. Natural almond butter with no salt or sugar added allows for the purest almond flavor. The honey syrup which coats the nuts gives this candy true baklava flavor.
    You can usually find natural almond butter with no salt or sugar added in the produce department, or in the bulk nuts section. Shelf-stable creamy almond butter can also be used in this recipe.

    Keyword almond butter, baklava filling, chopped pistachios, ground walnuts, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla almond bark

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