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How to Win at Holiday Baking

Maggie Borden

December 11, 2017

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Photo: Alan Richardson

The best way to know you’ve hit the holiday season? The aroma wafting from the oven: ooey-gooey cookies, tender loaves of gingerbread, hot crossed buns, and more. To prepare you for the end-of-year baking barrage, we turned to JBF Award winner and dessert demi-god Dorie Greenspan, who has won over many a frost-chilled heart with her oven output. Below, Greenspan shares tips for handling common holiday gastronomic challenges, from office potluck to Hanukkah party—plus her recipe for Coffee–Cardamom Cookies, an unusual spin on a teatime treat that goes big on spice and flavor. 

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JBF: Your office is having a holiday potluck, and you've only got an evening to prepare a dessert. What do you make?

Dorie Greenspan: Bar cookies! They’re easy, quick to make, and they feed a crowd. The Swedish Visiting Cake Bars from Dorie’s Cookies are among my favorites. They’re not only great-tasting; they’re good travelers.

JBF: The lights are up on the Christmas tree, but you've got hungry trimmers in search of a snack. What do you serve them?

DG: Around holiday time, I’ve always got fun nibbles in the house. I like to have salmon rillettes at the ready. I make a big batch a few days before and put it out with crackers and rounds of baguette. Wine, too. And there’s almost never a time when I don’t have World Peace Cookies on hand—either baked or in the freezer ready to slice and bake.

Greenspan's Coffee–Cardamom Cookies (recipe below)

JBF: You're hosting friends for a Hanukkah party, and you need a dessert to go with your latkes—what's on your menu?

DG: The sensible dessert after latkes would be something light, like wine-poached pears or even baked apples—I love them both—or anything meringue, but nothing’s more fun than do-it-yourself sundaes.  

JBF: It's New Year's Eve, and you're hoping to make some nibbles to serve along with the Champagne. What's your preferred hors d'oeuvre?

DG: Easy—gougères. I think of these as my “house special” and always serve them with Champagne. There’s no more elegant way to welcome the New Year.

Fuel your holiday prep with Greenspan’s recipe for Coffee–Cardamom Cookies.

Hungry for more? View our entire recipe collection.

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Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.