Favorite Holiday Cookies
Who doesn't love a Christmas Cookie? And, it is so much fun to do all the traditional ones and add a few more to your annual bake-off. We have bundled all our favorite holiday cookies into one newsletter for your inspiration and enjoyment.
But, let's begin with the best ingredients. Because we all know that good ingredients make a huge difference in the quality and consistency of your baked goods. Here are our staff picks for everything you will need for great results!
We cannot overemphasize how wonderful
King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
is for baking. It is consistent and dependable. And, for our gluten-free friends (and guests) you can't go wrong with Cup 4 Cup Multipurpose Flour. All you need to do is substitute it directly in a recipe, and it really works!
Dufour Classic Puff Pastry
because of its pronounced buttery flavor with a flaky texture and easy-to-shatter crust. It is the best quality pastry we can find, because it is made using only butter. It is crisp, flaky, and especially light. You can use it to make puff pastry twists (both sweet and savory).
is a local craft chocolatier obsessed with creating amazing chocolate. TCHO Baking Discs are made from this award-winning chocolate. They will elevate your recipes. In milk chocolate, bittersweet baking chocolate, and unsweetened baking chocolate.
Organic Chocolate Chips in Bittersweet, Semi-Sweet, and Milk Chocolate are bold chocolates that are deal for baking, ice cream making, and confectionery applications. They are the ones that we use when we want out goodies to come out just so. And, we love their Cocoa Rouge, red Dutch-process cocoa powder for both baking and drinking.
And we always use
Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
in our baking. But, have you tried their other extracts? Their Pure Chocolate Extract is amazingly delicious as is the Almond and Orange Blossom Water.
We also carry
Cook's Pure Vanilla Powder for those European recipes that call for vanilla powder rather than vanilla extract.
Fruits and Nuts
For that classic holiday flavor,
Pennant Brand Holiday Fruit is made from sweetened real fruit. We carry their Red Cherries, Fruit Cake Mix, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, and Citron.
Arroyo Seco Nuts are our go-to for both eating, cooking, and decorating. We have pecans, almonds, filberts (hazelnuts), and walnuts in all their various shapes and sizes.
E. Waldo Ward Crystallized Ginger is made from ginger root coated in sparkly sugar. Delicious in recipes!
And, don't forget he
Odense Marzipan almond candy dough and Almond Paste for baking special treats.
While dried fruits and nuts make great cookie decorations, we also like to add some flair with
India Tree Sparkling Sugar that comes in a rainbow of brilliant color that hold up in the oven. We also have their Party Decoratifs (or Red Hots) because every gingerbread man needs a heart.
And, for cookie dough and frosting colorants, we reach for plant-based
Color Kitchen Food Colors made from natural colors. They come in a package of powder that is easy to mix into your recipe.
A Staff Favorite
You will notice the difference if you use Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter in your holiday baking. Kerrygold's richness is fantastic in cookies, cakes, and pastries where it's creamy, smooth, and subtle taste can shine. Their unsalted butter has a higher butterfat content and is a perfect butter for baking. The uniquely golden color of Kerrygold butter occurs naturally and the beta-carotene that brings out the gold gives a distinct flavor to the butter–sweet or lightly salted.
Kerrygold is also a delicious eating butter to spread on your favorite baked goods, a baked potato, steamed veggies, or warm crusty bread.
What makes Kerrygold butter so special?
It’s creamy and sweet and tastes more like butter than any brand we know. Kerrygold is so fresh-tasting! And, the richness of pure butter flavor makes it cherished by home and professional cooks.
The winds, rain and warming influence of the Gulf Stream all contribute to the lush grass Kerrygold cows feed on year-round. They produce sweet, rich milk, which makes Kerrygold’s butter significantly more flavorful, taste silky-creamy, and glow a healthy, golden yellow.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I come from a big tribe of Vikings. In one corner of the ring you have my dad’s side of the family, The Swedes. In the other corner you have my mother’s side, the Danes…and there really is no contest. The Danes outnumber the Swedes by a significant amount. Because of our familial makeup, it makes sense that many of our holiday celebrations have Scandinavian roots. This is no more apparent than in our Christmas cookies.
Scandinavians are fantastic bakers. In fact we can trace a lot of tasty treats back to the old country. The Danes even have an entire category of breakfast named after them. Where they really shine, in my opinion, is with their cookies. It wouldn’t be Christmas in my family if there weren’t any Gingie cookies. I have
written about them before
, and you will be happy to know that I have gone through two batches already. I will be making two more batches this weekend to hand out to friends. Can’t let Sweden have all the glory though. I will be making traditional Danish Pebernødder along with them.
The Danish people love their warming spices especially at Christmas time. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves are wildly popular flavors that are found all through Danish baking recipes. Pebernødder (or Peppernuts) contain all of the above but they take spice one step further by adding white pepper for some kick. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a large Scandinavian population, you might be able to find these spices already mixed in specifically for Pebernødder this time of year but it’s just as easy to do it yourself.
These cookies are tiny little addictive balls of crunchy goodness that you can eat by the handful. The good news is this recipe makes a lot of them. They are great with a hot cup of tea or coffee or even better with a glass of milk for Santa…
News & Events
Piedmont Grocery will hold special hours over the next two weeks.
We are extending our shopping hours on Monday but close early on Christmas Eve so our staff can go home to celebrate the holiday. Get your holiday shopping completed early so you, too can enjoy the holiday!
Monday, December 23rd, Open 8 AM to 8 PM
Tuesday, December 24th, Open 8 AM to 6 PM
Wednesday, December 25th, Closed
Thursday, December 26th we will re-open at 9 AM for our regular store hours.
We will close early on New Year’s Eve, and be closed on New Year’s Day.
A Cookbook Recommendation
by America's Test Kitchen
Portable, fun to make, easy to gift, and open to countless flavor variations, cookies are everyone's favorite sweet treat. America's Test Kitchen has years of experience making the very best cookies. In The Perfect Cookie, the test kitchen has collected all of that knowledge in one place for the definitive guide to cookie baking.
This comprehensive anthology includes kitchen-tested, never-fail recipes for cookie jar classics, in addition to recipes for rich and chewy brownies, fruit-and-crumble-topped bars, quick no-bake confections, holiday favorites, and even candies like fudge and truffles; they're all included in this gorgeous package, with a full-page photo showing off every recipe.
And, as only the test kitchen can, there are tips and tricks throughout the chapters, as well as an introductory section to get you started with insight on everything from what makes a cookie chewy versus crispy to what baking sheet you should buy so that your cookies bake evenly every time. The result? The perfect cookie.
America’s Test Kitchen is well-known for its top-rated television shows with more than 4 million weekly public television viewers, bestselling cookbooks, magazines, websites, and cooking school. The highly reputable and recognizable brands of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country are the work of over 60 passionate chefs based in Boston, Massachusetts, who put ingredients, cookware, equipment, and recipes through objective, rigorous testing to identify the very best.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Crazy Cookie Lady
My daughter and I fought the crowds this past weekend not because we were trying to find the best deals on the latest 75-inch flat-screen, but because we needed to stock up on cookie tins. Now, you would think that this is a pretty straightforward mission. They’re just cookie tins, after all. But, you would be wrong because when it comes to cookie tins and cookie gifting I am very high maintenance, my friends. I have serious issues.
Here’s the deal… I want anything I give to people to look a certain way, whether or not it’s cookies. I have been known to drive great distances to achieve this goal. From the boxes (or tins) to the ribbon, everything has to be just right. Unfortunately for my daughter, she had to go with me on my journey because she wants to give cookies to her friends. You might be surprised to know that finding cookie tins on the first weekend in December can be a challenge. This is mainly because all of the other cookie bakers with issues, who are better planners than I am, have already stocked up leaving a less than abundant selection in their wake.
Finding the right tin takes much thought and consideration. Do you go with the round tin which is traditional but darn near impossible to put a ribbon on or the square version? What about the tin's color and decoration? Will it be a monochromatic holiday this year or something more whimsical? Then there is size to consider. Just how many of those tasty treats are you willing to part with? And, would it require a deeper tin? So many options it makes your head spin!! And last but not least, do you get a matching mini tin for the toffee you plan to make? It’s madness! Madness I tell you!
Anyway, we managed to find the tins that meet all of our needs. Now for the hard part, narrowing down the list of cookies we want to fill them with. For my family, it’s not the holidays without our
Swedish Ginger Cookies
. And, you can find multiple lists of cookie possibilities on our
Christmas Cookie Collection
This year I am definitely including Cranberry Orange Biscotti. I tested a batch about a month ago and my kids went crazy for them…
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
If you are looking for a really nice bottle for gifting this holiday, our Wine & Spirits Manager has put together a wonderful list of some top-notch bottles.
Joseph Magnus Bourbon $99.99
Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a marriage of bourbon aged in white oak and finished in Oloroso Sherry, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, and Cognac casks for rich and complex character. Double Gold and Best Special Barrel Finished Bourbon 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
The nose shows a classic rich caramel, and also reveals dried fruit and mint. The palate has glossy smooth texture up front. The mid-palate is rich with spices that are embellished by the heat of the alcohol. The finish caps everything with dry wood smoke.
Bozal Mezcal $49.99
Made from a combination of Espadín and Barril and Mexicano agaves in Oaxaca. in A slightly smoky, yet herbaceous undertone rests on the center of the palate, while citrus and floral notes from the Barril are introduced and strengthened by the warm viscose finish of the Mexicano. This is a light and easy sipping mezcal, which will delight and surprise you with its complex lingering finish.
Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 $64.99
Fermentation and barrel aging in ideal conditions produced a deep ruby wine with inviting aromas of red and black ripe fruit, chocolate nib, vanilla, and cedar. The big, round entry expands to a mouth-filling plushness showing flavors of bright cherry and layers of texture. Tannins are seamless, well integrated, and more structured than drying. The natural sweetness of the fruit balances the bright acidity and follows through to the lingering blackberry and caramel-laced finish.
News & Events
Hanukkah starts tomorrow!
You simply can't do Hanukkah without latkes. And, we are planning to make our favorite latke recipe again this year. This recipe produces golden-brown potatoes in about 30 minutes. They pair perfectly with either sour cream or applesauce. We prefer using Yukon Gold potatoes and yellow onion.
A Staff Favorite
Like Ice Cream in a Cup!
Bud’s is our staff pick for eggnog. It’s thick and frothy with a just-right off-white color. The flavor is sweet but not overly sugary. Locally made, Bud’s indeed tastes farm fresh.
Bud’s Ice Cream of San Francisco is a decades-old legend
in a city devoted to culinary arts with a discriminating audience accustomed to quality. Since 1932, Bud’s has been producing their world-famous egg nog using the finest and freshest ingredients available. Only the best quality milk, eggs, ice cream, non-alcoholic rum flavorings, and imported nutmeg go into Bud’s Famous Egg Nog.
Perfect for the holidays! It stands up well to any booze–Brandy, Whiskey, Rum…
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Any Way You Slice It
I have a number of kitchen tools that I just can’t live without. Some of them I use on a daily basis (like my mini prep) but other tools only come out occasionally. These tools are worthy of their spot in the cabinet because they make quick work of whatever I am doing. My tortilla press is one example. My mandolin is another.
If you do not own a mandolin, I would highly recommend you put it on your Christmas list. It doesn’t even need to be one of the super-expensive freestanding kind, though those are pretty nice. The only requirement is that it be sharp because to do what it needs to do, you gotta have a sharp blade. Just watch out for your fingers. It’s really easy to take off the tip of your finger. I speak from experience!
Don’t let the danger turn you away, though. A mandolin can be the key to crispy homemade potato chips or really fantastic gratin dishes like the one below that I like to call Fat Pants Potatoes. I only ever make these during the holidays because if you eat them more often than that you will have no choice but to wear pants with a little give in them
If you don’t have a mandolin, never fear. A similar result can be found using a food processor with a slicing blade or by even, gasp! using a knife like most people.
Holiday Cookie Recipes From Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
There is still time for Christmas baking, and we have compiled a list of some of our favorite Christmas cookies from our collection. Because Christmas just isn’t quite the same without cookies!
Christmas Butter Cookies
This recipe originated with America’s Test Kitchen. We played around with it. It makes a great cookie sturdy enough for icing, and with plenty of butter for tastiness. Yay for butter!
Molded Gingerbread Cookies
Plan to do some project baking to get in the holiday mood—a batch of Molded Gingerbread Cookies should help transform anyone into Mr. or Mrs. Claus.
Classic Scottish Shortbread
The best is traditional Scottish shortbread (Can’t go wrong with the classics.) This recipe adds some oats to the mix for a slightly nuttier flavor. It’s fantastic, and a good choice for gift giving.
Swedish Ginger Cookies
“Gingies” as we call them, are a family favorite. They are easy to make and go great with tea & coffee and you can keep a log in the freezer to cut and bake as needed.
These hard cookies are meant to be dunked into coffee or tea, like biscotti–only a little bit more dense. If you love the flavor of licorice, give these a try with your morning coffee.
Rather than prepare a complicated filling from scratch for these Cherry Tarts, we found canned cherry preserves provided the ideal consistency and flavor.
Red and White Pinwheel Cookies
These vanilla flavored cookies add a splash of pure color to your Christmas Cookie tray. We recommend mixing the white and red dough separately rather than trying to add coloring to the already-mixed dough—the color incorporates better.
A Little Peanut Butter
Talk about your peanut butter bomb! Just beware the altruistic soul who offers to “taste them to check for poison”. You could end up with half a batch…
Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile on a winter's day. And the raspberry ads a nice variety of flavor to a cookie platter.
These bars are good, and we love that she uses honey instead of corn syrup—it give the pecan bars a more floral flavor. Plus, the addition of orange zest is delicious. You could sprinkle the cooling bars with some good-quality sea salt for a salted caramel feel. That would be darn tasty too!
These layer bars are the very definition of indulgence, of course you would expect that from a Paula Deen recipe.
Granola Bar Cookies
This makes a lot of cookies depending on the size. Play around with the add-ins: you can use chocolate chips, rice crispies or whatever you have on hand that sounds good…
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Everyone has their favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie and that is why we decided to present them three ways. We all need choices!
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
The Army & Navy Cocktail is variation on a gin sour that traces its roots at least as far back as David Embury’s
The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks
that was first published in 1948.
Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar, and rose water or orange flower water. It replaces the simple syrup found in Gin Sour recipes. The scent of the drink is fragrant and floral, with a bright citrus note from the lemon juice.
The simplicity of the Army & Navy makes it great for trying variations, like using a fancy barrel-aged gin or different types of bitters.
From our blog, The Butcher's Block
For a show-stopping holiday meal, nothing beats a porchetta.
Porchetta was introduced to the US by Italian immigrants who brought the tradition with them when they came to the United States. At it’s most basic, porchetta is an Italian pork roast that is seasoned generously with garlic, fennel, and other herbs then rolled, tied, and roasted. Traditionally it's made with a skin-on pork middle and roasted until the skin turns a dark brown so it breaks off into crunchy hard-to-resist pieces of pork flavor.
Porchetta can be a huge piece of meat which makes it perfect for a large crowd. And, because of the high quantity of fat found in the belly section, the meat is moist and flavorful. The leftovers also make the base for some amazing sandwiches.
Making an authentic porchetta can be challenging for the average home cook for a couple of reasons. The first is that finding a skin-on pork belly at your typical store or butcher shop can be difficult. It usually requires a special order to bring on in. If you are willing to think a bit outside the box, you can still make a moist flavorful porchetta that is just as tasty bu using other parts of the pig that are more readily available—such as a skin-on pork shoulder or a boneless half leg of pork. Or, for even more variety, you can use a boned-out rabbit to make a smaller version. Turkey is also an option.
The second reason porchetta can be challenging is refrigerator space. Porchetta can require anywhere from 1 to 3 days in the refrigerator to ensure that the flavors penetrate throughout the meat. The wait is worth it but it’s is best to plan ahead. Also, even if you decide to go with a pork shoulder, remember that this is still a big piece of meat and your refrigerator needs to be able to handle it.
The traditional flavors for porchetta consist of garlic, fennel, and rosemary. But, you can definitely get creative and substitute those flavors for something more Cuban with cumin, orange zest, and pimento. A little lemon zest and thyme would be tasty as well.
If you’re up for the challenge and looking for something different for your holiday dinner, check out our recipe for Porchetta Pork Roast. It’s a simplified version of the classic.
Vendor of the Month
Freshen up your spices for holiday baking!
The spices you choose play a big outcome in everything you prepare, that is why we recommend Morton & Bassett for more dimensional flavor. And, now we are carrying them in convenient half-sized jars. They're fantastic to grab when you don't need a full jar of a particular spice. And, it ensures your spices stay fresher when you purchase smaller quantities. Plus, those little jars are charming.
We love Morton & Bassett because they provide the best quality, most flavorful spices in the world. In fact, the difference in quality is so pronounced, you can easily see the difference through the glass jars. And, yes, they are a San Francisco-based company, so you know you are buying local.
We carry the full line at Piedmont Grocery—try a few in your holiday baking!
Seven Days a Week
9 AM to 8 PM
9 AM to 7 PM
4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.