‘Tis the season for sharing home-baked treats! This year we partnered with some of our favorite bakers to create the ultimate holiday cookie swap. See them all here, then follow along and show us your own holiday cookies on Instagram @williamssonoma with the hashtag #wscookieswap.
On her blog Cannelle et Vanille — and in her cookbook, Small Plates and Sweet Treats — Aran Goyoaga shares recipes for recipes so beautiful and delicious, you’d never know they’re gluten free. Here, she tells us all about her holiday baking traditions, go-to flavors for the season, and what makes her Pistachio Sandies so special.
What are some of your favorite holiday baking traditions?
My grandparents owned a pastry shop when I was young and I remember lots of marzipan cakes, nougat and apple tarts. I helped blanch and peel whole almonds and the smell of it all. So now that I have small children myself, I love having them help me bake in the holidays. We make apple tarts with apricot glaze every year as well as cookies flavored with cardamom and cinnamon.
What flavors are best for baking this time of year?
I think spices are the way to go. They make the home smell so good and add such warmth to baked goods. Also fall fruits like apple, pears, quince, cranberries and pumpkin with spices.
Let’s talk cookies. What are your top tips for making the best batch every time?
One thing that saves a lot of time when making cookies is to mix large batches and to freeze dough. Most dough can be frozen and then baked to order, so having some cookie dough in the freezer is my number one advice to all home bakers. Sugar dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap, flattened and shaped into a square and frozen for up to a month. To thaw out, leave in refrigerator overnight and roll the next day as you would normally. Other doughs can be shaped into logs, tightly wrapped and also frozen. Then simply slice and bake as you need.
Any creative cookie decorating ideas?
I like very simply decorated cookies with fine lines. I think the best way to decorate cookies is to make small cornettes, or pastry bags, with parchment paper and cut a very small tip so your lines are super fine. I tend to like softer colors as well.
When it comes to holiday cookies, do you stick to tradition or try to experiment?
Both. I do love to experiment, but during the holidays I really enjoy a good classic cookie like a shortbread or sugar cookie flavored with cinnamom, vanilla and cardamom.
Any memorable cookie baking disasters?
Hmm… I cannot remember. Maybe I just blocked it out of my mind?
What’s in your ideal cookie tin?
I don’t like cookie tins, but instead I use a craft paper tube. I wrap the cookies in parchment and insert them in the tube.
Tell us about the recipe we’re sharing, Pistachio Sandies. What was your inspiration? What’s special about the recipe?
Well, they are gluten free, which most people don’t even realize when they eat them. I love a sandy and buttery cookie dusted with powdered sugar, and nuts in my cookies. They are very soft and melt in your mouth.
Any tips for people making these cookies? Creative twists or other ideas?
It’s very important to use superfine brown rice flour to avoid getting a crumbly cookie. It’s very forgiving and you can include other fruits and nuts in combinations like cranberry-orange, pistachio-currant, pecan-chocolate (with a bit of shaved chocolate).
What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?
With a cup of coffee or tea and friends!
Photo Credit: Lena Hyde