Holiday Pastries: Lemon-Cranberry Scones, Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps and Carrot Cake Cookies

Moms and grandmas are known for cooking with love, but cooking to show people you love them isn’t exclusive to moms and grandmas. Especially during the holidays, I love to share home-cooked meals and desserts with friends and family.

This year, I attended a potluck brunch filled with delicious flavors including biscuits and sausage gravy, kale frittata, purple cauliflower and leek quiche, lemon bars, coal cookies and more. I brought lemon-cranberry scones, which were a huge hit. You can substitute orange for lemon and any dried fruit for the cranberries.

For my next baking adventure, I made chocolate-espresso snowcaps and carrot cake cookies before our family trip to Tahoe. Enjoy the recipes below!

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Lemon-Cranberry Scones

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a knife until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the egg, milk, agave nectar, lemon zest, lemon juice and dried cranberries. Stir into the wet mixture into the flour mixture until moistened.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for five or six turns. Pat the dough in to a 1/2-inch thick round. Cut into 16 square or wedge-shaped pieces and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 16 small scones.

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Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar for coating

Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, espresso, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar, using an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture. Add milk and beat until just combined.

Flatten dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Pour confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl and roll balls in sugar two times until fully coated.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 14 minutes, until sugar coating is cracked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes 20 cookies.

Recipe from Martha Stewart.

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Carrot Cake Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and yolk. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture. Mix in oats and carrots. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Pour pecans into a medium bowl, and roll balls in pecan to coat.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.

Makes 20 cookies.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint

It’s Christmas time and like everyone else, you’re probably trying to figure out what the best festive dessert to bring to the holiday party is. Well, look no further for a chocolate lover’s holiday dessert. What originally started out as mini flourless chocolate cakes turned into a piece of art.

Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint (3)

The recipe for the flourless chocolate cake was taken from Sur La Table’s The Art & Soul of Baking.

~ 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
~ 5 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
~ 5 large eggs
~ 1/2 cup sugar

Flourless Chocolate Cake Parfait with Peppermint (2)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly coat a mini bundt cake pan or a 9-inch square pan with melted butter or cooking spray.
2. Bring 2 inches of water to boil in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the chocolate and butter in the top portion. Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the chocolate mixture on top. Stir frequently, until melted and smooth. Set aside.
3. Whip the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer on high. With the spatula, scrape the eggs on top of the chocolate mixture and gently by thoroughly fold in until no streaks of eggs remain.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of pan, until firm to touch and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Note: The cake will fall in the center a bit and look uneven, however this is normal.

Once the cake is cooled, remove it from the pan and crumble it into small chunks. In a serving bowl, preferably glass so that the layers can be seen, place one-third of the cake in the first layer. Using pre-packaged chocolate frosting, make a frosting layer and sprinkle with crushed peppermint (candy canes work well). Repeat the layers two more times to make three layers of each the cake, chocolate frosting and crushed peppermint.

Serve and enjoy! If a glass of milk is not needed for the dessert, you’ve got some major chocoholics in your bunch!