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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Cookies

Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Marc J. Sievers

A really good chocolate ganache is a fabulous recipe to have in your arsenal of quick and easy desserts because once it is made it has so many uses.  It can be used to glaze shortbread cookies, rolled into truffles, served warm over ice cream, used for chocolate covered strawberries, glazing cakes and cupcakes, or even whipped in a stand mixer until light and fluffy to use as a ganache frosting!  My Cointreau Chocolate Ganache is flavored with orange liqueur and Cognac, adding sophisticated (and boozy!) flavor of sharp orange and the warmth of Cognac, both of which happen to pair perfectly with dark chocolate.  Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to make and instantly makes even the simplest garnishes feel special and soirée-ready!


Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients (makes 2½ cups)

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped, 72% cocoa preferred

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Orange Zest – 1 ½ teaspoons, finely zested

  • Cognac – 2 tablespoons (Remy Martin 1738 recommended)

  • Orange Liqueur – 3 tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)

  • Shortbread Cookies – store-bought (Walkers brand recommended)

Directions

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the dark chocolate, heavy cream, honey, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, orange zest, Cognac, and Cointreau. Stir to combine.

  3. Drizzle ½ of each shortbread cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it. Set each coated cookie onto a paper baking cup that has been flattened. Garnish with more orange zest if desired. Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: Stirring the ganache as it cooks with help make it shiny when it is used as a glaze, making for a professional and dramatic presentation.  The ganache will stay fresh in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.  

Idea: Once the shortbread cookies set, do not refrigerate.  Store them tightly wrapped at room temperature.  

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Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things to do at home is have a pot of tea with Ryan on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Throughout the years I have collected antique silver and porcelain teapots, sugar bowls, creamers, and other accessories to create my own special and unique tea service at home.  I have also done a good job at building up my tea selection and always keep a little tin of cookies or biscuits on hand to enjoy, as the English do so well.

When I want to make something homemade for a special treat my go-to recipe is my Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies!  They are buttery and crisp, and have such a well-rounded flavor that pairs perfectly with black tea (my favorite is Earl Grey Lavender) with honey and cream.

Whether you enjoy a cup of tea on the go (wrap a single cookie in parchment), set an elaborate table for tea time (serve these on a silver platter), or just want to eat scrumptious shortbread (these also make fabulous gifts), these are perfectly versatile and delicious.  I hope you love them as much as I do.  Now, if only I had a bigger tin!  Hats on, pinkies up, its tea time!


Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies 

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Butter - 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar - ⅓ cup, granulated

  • Vanilla - ½ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Sea Salt - ⅛ teaspoon

  • Honey - 2 tablespoons

  • Lemon Zest - 1 ½ tablespoons

  • Flour - 1 cup + 2 tablespoons, all-purpose

  • Lavender - 2 tablespoons, dried, lightly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment set to medium speed, mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the vanilla, sea salt, honey, and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated.

  4. Next, with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and lavender. Mix until the dough comes together,

  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the dough and place onto a floured surface.

  7. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness and use a fluted edged cutter to cut out cookies. Gather excess dough and repeat process of rolling and cutting.

  8. Place cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the pan into the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

  9. Remove from the refrigerator, place into the preheated oven and bake for 14-18 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a light brown.

  10. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Developing new recipes allows me the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of ingredients.  Whether they are from my local grocery store, a gourmet food shop, or even an ethnic market, the possibilities and combinations are endless.  Sometimes navigating your way down the aisles and seeing the amount of variety there is when it comes to brands, packaging, and price (we have all had those “YIKES!” moments), can be a bit overwhelming.  Usually when I am testing a recipe that has a star ingredient, like chocolate, I go straight for the best quality I can find but still in my price range.  The outcome – my Triple Chocolate Cookies – so incredibly luxurious in both texture and taste that I have had to stop keeping some of the ingredients in the house because I can’t stop making (and ultimately eating!) them.

These cookies are filled with rich Pernigotti Cocoa Powder, Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips, and French Président Butter.  While most of my posts and recipes encourage you to shop at your local grocery, this recipe is one I highly recommend you splurge on these few ingredients.  If your local grocery doesn't have these particular brands, you can easily find them online and have them shipped directly to you, even the butter


Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Flour – 1 cup, all-purpose

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cocoa Powder – ¾ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups, lightly packed

  • Eggs – 3, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature, Président (or another European-style) recommenced

  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 11.5 ounces (1 bag), Guittard recommended

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a single baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa power. Set aside.

  3. In another medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla until there are no lumps from the brown sugar. Set aside.

  4. In a small microwave safe bowl add the butter and unsweetened chopped chocolate. Microwave on half power for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth.

  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until completely combined.

  6. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour mixture. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Allow the dough to rest for exactly 20 minutes at room temperature.

  7. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Only 6 cookies will fit per baking sheet, per baking cycle.

  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until just set, rotating the sheet tray once halfway through baking time.

  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat above steps to finish baking the other 6 cookies.

Idea: These cookies can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over top – a truly decedent treat!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Entertaining friends, family, and clients is something that truly brings me joy.  Surprising people with little details, thoughtfully crafted tablescapes, and rustic food is my life’s passion and interest.  Ever since I was a little boy growing up alongside my nana (Ms. Rita Madonna Hillard-Berube) poking about the china cabinets, cupboards, and pantry to set the table or to help cook was, and still is, where you can find me!

The holidays in our 3rd floor walk-up apartment were always bountiful, festive, and magical.  The tinsel clad tree in the living room, the electric candles in all 18 windows, the stockings and Christmas cards hung around the doorways, and the constant ebb and flow of family and friends – and the food that seemed to (and still does!) go on forever.  Nothing was fussy, perfect, or over-calculated.  Everything was infused with love – the key ingredient.

As I look back to the parts of the holidays (and birthdays, card nights, and other celebrations) that stuck with me, the main theme was always every inch of our Farley Street apartment was utilized.  The kitchen table was piled high with hors d’oeuvres, the tiny kitchen counter was set up with drinks, the coffee table had dips (Bugles and Shrimp dip, to be exact), cookies, fudge, and so on.  That was the key to keeping the festivities moving about, encouraged mingling, and ultimately allowed for what seemed like a never ending party!  Now, fast forward to present day.  I am 33 and still following in nana’s footsteps: Cooking and entertaining for friends and family but with a Marc Sievers twist! 

The iconic Christmas cookie – seen in every grocery store, specialty food shop, and home cook’s kitchen in America – is still one of my favorite components this time of year.  Buttery, crisp, and covered in course sanding sugar, my Vanilla Christmas Cookies are the closest I have gotten to the memories of my childhood.  They are fuss-free, and the ingredients (including the colored sugars) can be found at your local grocery store.  For a slightly more elegant look (as elegant as sanding sugars can be!), I found matte silver and gold Wilton sanding sugars at my local crafts store. 

For my annual Christmas party, I wanted to create a focal point for my coffee table that would double as part edible and part décor.  Setting up vignettes like I mentioned above really allows your guests to mingle about your entire space, or at least the space you want them in (serving in the powder room is not something I have tried, yet!).  A quick trip to my corner pharmacy (I still love those “seasonal” aisles), I found an adorable iron ornament tree, which I used to hang my Christmas cookies on – take that “cookie platter!”  As guests indulge in the festive cookies, keep a tray of extra cookies strung with ribbons on hand to refill the tree, and a separate tray piled high with cookies (arranged in another area of your entertaining space) minus the ribbons for those “cookie-aholic” guests (that’s me!).

This holiday season while you are entertaining, make sure you too are enjoying this marvelous time of year.  Focus on a few things and do them really well – it’s better to have fewer components if they are delicious, well thought out, and filled with love!  Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me, I hope that my memoires sparked some of your own.  From my home to yours – I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the brightest year ahead!


Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Ingredients (makes 2-3 dozen cookies)

  • Flour – 3 ½ cups, all purpose

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 1 ½ cups, granulated

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter. With the mixer set to medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla.

  4. Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

  5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flat disk, wrap each one in waxed paper, and chill for 1 hour.

  6. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough with festive cookie cutters. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Using the end of a chopstick, make a hole in the top of each cookie.

  7. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

  9. Once cooled, string ribbon through each hole and hang.

  10. Repeat the above process until all the dough has been baked.

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Goodies for Santa - Winter Hot Chocolate & Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Marc J. Sievers

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  As a little boy I would count down the days until it was time to listen to Christmas music, decorate the tree, and of course Christmas Eve.  I would leave cookies and milk for Santa, chocolates for his elves, and baby carrots for Rudolph.  In the morning I would rush to the table to see if the goodies were gone, and sure enough each year there were crumbs left behind and a note from Santa thanking me for thinking of him!  To this day I still leave Santa and his little helpers goodies on Christmas Eve, the tradition and magic lives on!


Watch my webisode of From My Kitchen to Yours - Cookies for Santa (filmed in Williams-Sonoma Lincoln Park's grand gourmet kitchen!) for a complete tutorial:


Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Ingredients (makes 24 cookies)

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Light Brown Sugar – ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Flour – 1⅓ cups, all-purpose

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Cream of Tartar – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – 1½ teaspoons

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a small bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and set to medium speed cream together the butter, honey, vanilla, granulated sugar, and ½ cup of light brown sugar, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the egg and allow to mix until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl making sure everything is well mixed.

  6. In a shallow bowl or plate combine the cinnamon and remaining 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar.

  7. Using a 1¼-inch metal scoop, scoop the dough and release each ball directly into the cinnamon/sugar mixture and gently roll it around.

  8. Arrange the dough balls two-inches apart onto the prepared sheet pan. Lightly press down the tops of each ball.

  9. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

  10. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Tip: When baking, the light brown sugar on the outside will caramelize slightly adding a depth of flavor to this fresh take on an iconic cookie.


Winter Hot Chocolate

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles & Winter Hot Chocolate are two classics with a Marc Sievers twist!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Light Brown Sugar – ¾ cup

  • Half and Half – 3½ cups

  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Vanilla Bean – seeds of 1 large pod

  • White Chocolate – 5 ounces, roughly chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – unsweetened, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium-low heat add the half and half. Allow it to come to just below the simmering point.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, salt, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and the white chocolate.

  3. In the pan, quickly whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted.

  4. Gently reheat over low heat, and then carefully ladle into mugs.

  5. Garnish each mug with a dash of cocoa powder and a marshmallow (or two)!

Tip: Make a BOOZY version by adding in a shot (or, two!) of Butterscotch Schnapps,, Caramel Baileys, or your favorite spiced liquor! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

You can never have too many cookie recipes, right?!  I’ve never known anyone to turn down a freshly baked and hot from the oven cookie.  My White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies are sweet, crunchy and even a bit luxurious.  They are jammed packed with whole macadamia nuts, lots of white chocolate chunks, golden raisins and cherries!  Once you try a bite, you’ll be saying “hello lover” to this scrumptiously sinful and downright decadent recipe!  Grab your apron, put milk (or champagne!) on ice and let’s get started!

These cookies are the perfect offering during a sunset cocktail party with a Côtes du Rhône or flute of crisp Champagne. Of course, they are equally as good with a tall glass of cold milk!


White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Ingredients (makes 22 cookies)

  • White Chocolate – 11.5 ounces, roughly chopped

  • Sugar – 1 cup, granulated (white)

  • Light Brown Sugar – 1 cup, packed

  • Flour – 2 cups, all-purpose

  • Cocoa Powder – ⅔ cups plus 1 tablespoon, unsweetened

  • Vanilla – 3 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Eggs – 2, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sea Salt – 1¼ teaspoons

  • Baking Soda – 1 teaspoon

  • Dried Cherries – ¾ cup

  • Golden Raisins – ¾ cup

  • Macadamia Nuts – 1 cup, unsalted, whole

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. Next, add the vanilla, then eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate.

  4. Sift the dry ingredients together.

  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

  6. With a large wooden spoon, gently fold in the chocolate, raisins, cherries and nuts until evenly distributed.

  7. Using a 2¼ inch metal scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Note: (only 6 cookies with fit per tray)

  8. With wet finger tips, slightly flatten the dough.

  9. Bake for 17 - 19 minutes, rotating once half way through.

  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat steps until all dough has been baked.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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