TMH favorites of 2014

Happy holidays to all!  For the first time in several years, TD and I aren’t traveling (the whole family is meeting up in Maui in January).  So, for us today will include Christmas donuts, a walk to the beach and Mexican food.

This time next week it will be 2015.  So before this orange year slips into into a red year (someday I’ll explain), I thought it would be nice to revisit my favorite recipes from 2014.

Thank you to all who read in 2014 and happy new year!

The Oh Rhubarb!

Pineapple and Coconut Macarons

Gateau Basque

Corn Cookies

California Blondies

Sriacha and Peanut Butter Macarons

Maple Bacon Biscuits

 Sugar Cookie Skulls

Tartine’s Shortbread

Jewelry Organization on the Cheap 


Ina’s Jam Thumbprints…with a twist

As you know, I like to vary my holiday baking from year to year.  Each year there are the “they’d kill me if I didn’t make these.”  These are your rum butter nuts, schweddy balls (chocolate peanut butter bon bons) and sugar cookies.  Then there are the newbies–always at least one or two.  The newbies aspire to be tried and true.  Sometimes they advance, like the World Peace addition from a couple of years ago.  Sometimes they see a single season and then are never heard from again–like last year’s white chocolate and pink peppercorn sables.  Finally, there are the rotators.  These guys come in an out every few years depending on the whim of the baker and which way the wind happens to be blowing.  Or something like that.   Baklava, toffee and jam thumbprints among others fall into this category.

Always a personal favorite of mine, jam thumbprints were asked back to the dance this year after a three or four year absence.  They’re festive looking and a nice fruity and nutty balance to the chocolate goodies.  They can also be a pain to make.

In recalling where this recipe came from, I realized that jam thumbprints might just be my introduction to Ina Garten.  I was home from college for the holidays and while polishing the silver or making name cards (tasks which I’ve only recently realized were designed to keep me out of trouble), my mom turned on a show hosted by a lady with nicely manicured hands and a ridiculous house in the Hamptons.  In the episode she made a batch of jam thumbprints, wrapped them up in little glassine bags tied with ribbons then hopped in her Mercedes, hand delivering to friends along the way.

The whole thing seemed so contrived.  And yet.  I wanted to wrap up cookies in cute bags, jump in my German luxury vehicle and drive among the mid-winter dunes delivering cookies like a WASPy socialite santa.

But back to the fact that jam thumbprints are tedious.

The original recipe asks the baker to make the dough, chill it, shape individual balls, roll them in egg wash, roll them in coconut, make thumb indentations, fill with jam and then, finally, bake.  Not awful, but I found that since these are a fairly crumbly shortbread cookie, the rolling and printing after the dough was cold could be problematic.  Often, the dough would crack…and a cracked vessel will not hold its treasure.  And, the egg wash was messy.

So I played with the process a bit in the name of mass production and came up with a technique that streamlines the rolling and dipping and such.

In this little twist, the dough is made and then immediately shaped, rolled in coconut (no need for egg wash), indented and then chilled.  Then, when it’s time to bake all that needs to be done is to fill with jam and into the oven.  No cracks and because the dough is still cold when it goes in, they keep their shape a little better.

Did I take pictures of this?  Of course not.  Why would I do that?  It isn’t like all of this was going to go in a visually driven blog.

You’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Ina’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies

methodological twist provided by TMH


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam


  1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla.
  2. Separately, sift together the flour and salt.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.)
  5. Once balls are rolled, roll each in coconut.  Then, go back through and press a light indentation into the top of each with you finger.
  6. Arrange closely on a cookie sheet, wrap loosely and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet with at least 1 inch in between. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown.



For the record

No recipe this week.  Just some pictures and a list from the last month.

Lots of citrus to power several batches of citrus sables.

Rum butter nuts.

World peace cookie dough assembly line.

The freezer.

Several dozen kittens with whiskers.

I’ll admit, I had a little bit of a hard time giving these up.

Warm woolen mittens.

The wrapping station.

This is what nearly 2,300 cookies, candies and fun bits looks like close up.

Near….far…(in Elmo voice).

Nearly done packaging for shipping and delivery.

All boxed up.

This year’s label and sincere sentiment.

The 2014 List:

Favorite Things Sugar Cookies

Minty Marshmallows

Almond Toffee


Peanut Butter Bon Bons (aka Schweddy Balls)

Rum Butter Nuts

World Peace Cookies

Citrus Sables

California Blondies, Holiday Edition

Raspberry Thumbprints (coming soon to TMH…I do a version of the linked recipe)

This is it!



Total number of goodies distributed: 2,261

Total number of goodies made (includes goodies for parties, TD’s allowance etc): 2,415

While Jenn was closest she guessed after the deadline, so our winner was Brenda with a guess of 1650.  Congrats also go to you clever guessers who got this year’s theme correct (The song Favorite Things).

Other fun facts:

  • was my friend.  While baking  I listened to Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Stephen King’s Revival.  And of course, Serial.
  • I used nearly 25 pounds of butter, over 40 pounds of granulated sugar and just about 30 pounds of flour.
  • I mailed 25 boxes across the country.  Farthest distance: New York, New York. Closest: North Redondo Beach. Yeah, I know.
  • I delivered goodies to an additional 25 offices and friends.
  • 4:00 AM: the time I got up every morning in the month of November to pull-off this nonsense.
  • 1: the number of burned-out Kitchenaid motors.  It died on the very last batch of royal icing.  I’m taking her in this weekend but the outlook isn’t looking good.

Whew.  Now, let the holidays begin!





Up until an age I am truly embarrassed to admit, I believed that poppy seeds were dried spider eggs.  I also believed cheetos were super old rusty nails–and thus, a good source of irn.  That aliens often landed in our local mountains (serendipitously close to times when we’d be camping there) and that it was impossible to eat and be cold at the same time.

Thanks mom.

It should be no surprise then that my relationship with poppy seeds is a little shaky.  Objectively I know where they come from.  Subjectively, they make the hair on my arms stand on end.  And so, it was with a little trepidation that I tried this fantastic citrus loaf recipe from the Huckleberry cookbook.

In the original the recipe calls for kumquats, lemon and tangerine zests.  However I can only ever find kumquats in Southern California in mid-spring.  So, I pursued the citrus section at the local market and went with lemons, tangerines and a humble navel orange.  But you know what they say, when life gives you lemons…

I was attracted to this recipe because it uses butter instead of oil as the fat source.  Often loaf cakes call for oil instead of butter as a way of helping to keep things moist and tender.  In general butter ranges from 80-90% milk fat (the remaining is water) whereas oil is generally 100% fat.  That water can help gluten strings to form–good for a chewy pizza crust, bad for a crumby, tender loaf or muffin.

But, butter tastes better.  So, I dove right in.  If I was actually doing my due diligence I would have baked a comparator alongside this loaf.  Maybe Ina’s yogurt lemon loaf.  But I didn’t.  And, as a stand alone, I thought this bread was pretty fantastic.  Zesty and moist with a little richness I think I might have to continue my experimentation with butter.

 Lemon Kumquat Poppy Teacake

from Huckleberry stories, secrets and recipes from our kitchen


  • 1 C+ 2 TBS/ 255 g unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 C/ 200 g sugar plus 3 TBS
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Zest of 8 kumquats, fruit reserved
  • Zest and juice of 3 lemons
  • Zest of 1 tangerine
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 C/ 160 g all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C/ 35 g pastry flour
  •  1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBS + 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 TBS buttermilk
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line with parchment a 9X5 loaf pan.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, 1 C/200 g of star, salt and citrus zests on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the eggs and egg yolks one-at-a-time, because well after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl a couple of times.
  4. Add-in the flours, baking powder, poppy seeds and vanilla.  Mix-on low until ingredients are just combined.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched and cake tester comes out clean.
  6. While loaf is cooking, combined the lemon juice, 3 TBS of sugar and reserved kumquats in a blender.  Blend to a course puree.
  7. In a small pan, simmer the puree until the sugar dissolves completely, about 2 minutes.  Set aside.
  8. Once out of the oven, let rest for 5 minutes then remove loaf from pan.  Strain the glaze and brush it on all sides of the car while the cake is still warm.


The penultimate

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Almost there folks.  As you can see from the 2014 Holi-day calendar above (click on it), it’s all over but the packaging.  With only one Tuesday left in this partay here is the running total:


The last two items aren’t in here because I cut it off at Sunday.  So, that count will go up one more time.  As I explained in the beginning, we’ll call it at the number distributed and the above is the running total of produced.  So, the final final will be lower. But higher than today.  Get it?  Who’s on first?

But not by much.

Follow me on Instagram #TMHostess this week to see if you can guess this year’s sugar cookie theme.