Nothing quite satisfies the sweet tooth like the taste of your favorite bakery-fresh confection. Bakeries have been around since the time of the ancient Romans, reports the Houston Chronicle, and people are just as sweet on sugary snacks now as they were in the early days.
It’s hard to resist the pull of those glass bakery cases, but you can save yourself some money and a trip to the bake shop by using 7 of your own sweet recipes at home.
1. Black And White Cookie
If there’s a bakery on this planet that doesn’t sell the Black And White Cookie, we have yet to find it. Ambrosia Baking perfectly replicates the soft, cake-like base to these quintessential treats. Each buttermilk-vanilla cookie base is topped with a rich half-vanilla, half-chocolate frosting — a perfect metaphor for racial harmony, in Jerry Seinfeld’s estimation. This recipe yields about 30 cookies.
For the cookies:
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup buttermilk, shaken
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
For the icing:
- 2¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 to 6 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
Directions: Begin by preparing the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, and combine well. Lower the mixer speed, and with the mixer running, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture, making sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Mix only until just smooth.
Drop the batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies until the tops have puffed and the edges are a pale golden brown in color, about 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the icings. In a bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of water. If needed, add more water to get the icing to a spreadable consistency, but do so gradually, stirring in only a little at a time. Transfer half the icing to another bowl and stir in the cocoa powder. Add enough water to thin the chocolate icing out to the same consistency as the vanilla icing.
Once the cookies are cool, use an offset spatula to spread vanilla icing on half of the flat side of each cookie. Spread chocolate icing on the other half of the cookies, making sure to begin with the cookies that were iced first. Let the icing set for a few minutes, then enjoy!
Numerous pastry chefs have laid claim to the invention of tiramisu, writes the Washington Post, but it’s still unclear who deserves credit for this spectacular snack. Regardless of tiramisu’s mysterious past, the popularity it enjoys today is an undisputed truth. The dessert incorporates creamy whipped mascarpone with pillow-soft lady fingers, while an infusion of bold espresso and rum flavors creates a remarkably sophisticated sweet. Culinary Hill’s recipe for Tiramisu yields 8 servings.
- ¼ cup espresso or strong coffee
- 6 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1 pound marscapone cheese
- 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 2 (3-ounce) packages lady fingers
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
Directions: Prepare espresso or coffee and place in refrigerator to chill.
Meanwhile, In a 2-quart saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Remove marscapone cheese from the refrigerator so it softens while the custard chills.
In an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a spatula, blend chilled custard with softened marscapone cheese until smooth. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fit with the whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat heavy whipping cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add rum to chilled espresso.
Separate lady fingers horizontally and arrange a single layer in the bottom of an ungreased 10½-by-7-inch (or 11-by-7) baking dish, about 16 lady fingers. Brush with the espresso-rum mixture. Spread half of the custard mixture over the lady fingers, then top with half of the whipped cream.
Repeat with remaining lady fingers brush with the espresso-rum mixture, remaining custard mixture, and remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with cocoa as desired (1 tablespoon or up to ¼ cup).
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Store covered in the refrigerator.
3. Miniature Lemon Tarts With Fresh Fruit
Vegetarian Ginger’s vibrant fruit tarts are a nod to the lovely miniature sweets that line the shelves of seemingly every local bakery. These Lemon Tarts With Fresh Fruit offer a smooth, lemon-tinged filling inside a from-scratch tart shell. Each individually-sized treat is topped with an array of colorful fresh fruits, making the dish as beautiful as it is delicious. The recipe yields 7 fruit tarts.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2 to 6 teaspoons water
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ cup each raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and sliced kiwi
- 2 tablespoons apricot jelly or jam, melted
Directions: Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium-size bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon peel and salt; mix well. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is coarsely crumbled. Stir in 1 egg and enough water until the mixture forms a dough ball.
In 3½-inch tart pans, press dough into the bottom and sides — make sure the dough isn’t too bulky. Poke the dough lightly with a fork to form air holes so the dough doesn’t puff up. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a medium-size bowl, combine all filling ingredients except lemon juice; mix well with a whisk. Stir in lemon juice. Pour mixture over warm crusts after they have been baked, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool to room temperature. Arrange fresh fruit on top however you like, then lightly brush some of the jelly on top of the berries as a glaze using a pastry brush. Store in an airtight container in the fridge if not serving the same day.
4. Espresso Cannoli
Brooklyn-Portland’s sweet cannoli incorporate perhaps the only ingredient that could make cannoli even more Italian: espresso. These marvelous Espresso Cannoli combine robust coffee flavors with the creamy, ricotta-based cannoli filling. Buttery cinnamon-tinged shells add a crispy character to each bite. To prevent soggy pastries, don’t fill your cannoli shells until directly before serving. This recipe makes about 30 cannoli.
For the shells:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup white dessert wine
- 1 quart canola oil for frying
For the filling:
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons coffee extract
- 3 tablespoons good quality chocolate, chopped
Directions: For the shell: Mix the first five ingredients together, rubbing the butter between your fingers to crumble it into the flour. Add the egg yolk and wine and knead until just combined.
Form a disk, wrap in cling film and refrigerate, while you make the filling. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough very thinly (so you can almost see through it). Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Wrap around a cannoli mold, brush a little water on one side and overlap, pressing down firmly so that they don’t unroll during frying.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the cannoli shells one or two at a time, using a spatula to turn them in the oil to ensure even browning. Gently transfer to a sheetpan lined with paper towels. When cooled slightly, gently slide the shell off the mold. Repeat until you run out of dough.
For the filling: If your ricotta is very wet, drain it for a half hour or so. In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the ricotta until smooth.
In another bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Whip the cream into the ricotta, then add the sugar, lemon and coffee extract, beating just until incorporated.
Fill a large piping bag with a big round tip and pipe the cream into each shell, starting in the center and pulling out. Sprinkle chocolate on the ends.
Eat as soon as possible. If not eating all of them immediately, don’t fill the shells. Store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days and fill as needed, so that they don’t get soggy.
5. Profiteroles With Chantilly Cream
The Endless Meal’s recipe for Profiteroles With Chantilly Cream offers a traditional taste of the world-renowned cream puff. Top off each sensational puff with powdered sugar — or, for added decadence: chocolate ganache. The recipe yields 30 small, or about 15 large profiteroles. If not serving immediately, store cream puffs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 hours (any longer and the pastry will become soggy).
For choux pastry:
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 equal pieces
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
For chantilly cream:
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Directions: For choux pastry: In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring gently with a wooden spoon.
When the mixture begins to boil, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the paste reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, pulls away from the sides of the pan, and forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Allow the paste to cool, stirring a couple of times, to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next, stirring vigorously until well combined and the paste is smooth.
For chantilly cream: Combine the cream and the vanilla bean and seeds in an airtight container. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or preferably 24 hours, to allow the vanilla to infuse.
At least 30 minutes before whipping the cream, put the bowl and whip attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer. Just prior to whipping, remove the vanilla cream from the refrigerator and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the cold bowl. Discard solids.
Fit the mixer with the whip attachment and begin beating the cream at high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to high and continue beating to stiff peaks, about 2 minutes longer.
If not using immediately, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerator until ready to use, no longer than 3 hours.
To bake and assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Transfer the choux pastry to a large pastry bag fitted with ½-inch plain tip (like Wilton 1A). For larger profiteroles, pipe the paste into 1½-inch rounds, spacing 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. For smaller profiteroles, pipe the paste into 1-inch rounds, about 1 inch in diameter, spacing 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. To prevent the tops from burning, level the peaks with a wet fingertip.
Bake one sheet of profiteroles at a time. Using a small spray bottle filled with water, lightly spritz the profiteroles with water and immediately place in the oven. The water will help to create steam, which helps give the profiteroles volume.
Bake until tops and sides are golden, 25 to 30 minutes for larger profiteroles and 15 to 20 minutes for smaller ones. Turn off the oven and allow to rest in the oven for 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Pierce each profiterole in the side with a small paring knife to allow steam to escape. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
With a serrated knife, cut each profiterole in half crosswise. Transfer the chantilly cream to a large piping bag fitted with a large tip (like a Wilton 1M). Pipe the cream in a decorative swirl on the bottom half of each profiterole. Replace the tops.
To serve, dust with confectioners’ sugar or top with chocolate ganache.
6. Almond Croissants
Achieving a perfectly buttery and flaky croissant is every amateur chef’s dream. With a bit of patience and the help of The Cooking Bowl’s step-by-step tutorial, you’ll achieve bakery-worthy Almond Croissants in a flash. This fantastic recipe fills each fresh and pillowy croissant with a sweet, bourbon-infused almond filling. Finish each confection with a drizzle of homemade vanilla glaze, then garnish with sliced almonds and enjoy.
For the croissants:
- 3½ cups flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cups cold butter
For the almond filling:
- ½ cup almond paste
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1¼ cup yellow cake crumbs (recipe below)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cup powdered sugar
- 2½ teaspoons milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon shortening
- Sliced almonds
Directions: For the croissants: Combine 1 cup flour with water and yeast, just enough to break up the lumps of flour. Let rise for 1 hour, then stir in the remaining flour, the cream, and salt. Knead for 1 minute, then cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Knead the mixture by hand for 10 minutes (or by mixer with a dough hook for 20 minutes). Once smooth and elastic, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take out the butter and work on a cutting board with the heel of your hand until pliable. Shape the butter into an 8-inch square. Roll the dough out into a 9-by-17-inch rectangle and place butter on one half of the rectangle. Fold the dough over so the butter is encased and seal the edges.
Gently hammer on the square of dough with a rolling pin to stretch the dough and butter. Roll out the dough to a rectangle and fold into thirds like a letter. Roll out the dough again, shaping into another rectangle, and fold the dough into thirds again. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Repeat this rolling, folding, and refrigerating process 4 more times.
For the yellow cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour muffin tins. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a separate bowl. Add eggs and combine. Pour in milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until fully combined.
Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, crumble enough cake crumbs to fill 1½ cups. Reserve the remaining cupcakes (you can ice them with store bought icing or drizzle with glaze).
For the almond filling: Put the almond paste, sugar, eggs, sea salt, and bourbon in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Combine the almonds and cake crumbs into the mixture until evenly moistened. Refrigerate the filling for about 30 minutes.
For the almond croissant assembly: Take the croissant dough out of the refrigerator and roll out into a large rectangle about ¼-inch thick.
With a pastry wheel (or pizza wheel), cut triangles into the dough at about a 30-degree angle. Roll together the remaining scraps after cutting and repeat the process of cutting out triangles. Take about 1 hefty tablespoon of almond filling and spread it out on the triangle. Roll the triangle up from the widest end to shape the croissants.
Once all the croissants are filled and rolled, brush with an egg wash of 1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons milk. Bake croissants on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1½ inches apart, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.
Turn the baking sheets after 12 minutes and baking an additional 10 to 12 minutes.
For the vanilla glaze: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth. When the croissants have finished baking and have been set out to cool, drizzle with glaze and garnish with sliced almonds. Enjoy!
7. Pecan Sticky Buns
The best desserts also tend to be the messiest, and such is the case with these sweet and buttery Pecan Sticky Buns from Deliciously Yum. These sugary delights wed the exceptional flavors of caramel, cinnamon, and decadent butter pastry, all smothered in a sticky-sweet brown sugar topping. Top it off with a sprinkling of pecans for a tantalizing crunch in each bite. The recipe yields 12 sticky buns.
For the dough:
- 3⅓ cups bread flour, divided
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- 1 egg
For the topping:
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Stir to combine using the paddle attachment.
In another microwave-safe bowl, combine milk, water, and butter. Heat in the microwave for 1 to 1½ minutes (the mixture should register at 110 degrees Fahrenheit). Add yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Add egg and continue stirring until fully incorporated. After that, continue to beat for 3 minutes.
Switch to the dough hook and mix in remaining flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides. Knead for 5 additional minutes. Roll dough into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until dough is double in size, about 1½ hours.
When dough is done rising, grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or two 9-inch cake pans. Next, prepare the sticky topping by mixing together all of the topping ingredients except for the pecans. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Pour into prepared baking or cake pans (divide mixture evenly if using two cake pans) and sprinkle with pecans. Finally, prepare the filling. Mix together all of the filling ingredients until well combined (it should look like cinnamon butter). Set aside as well.
Lightly flour your work surface and place dough on top. Roll out dough into a rectangle, measuring 15-by-12 inches, it doesn’t have to be exact. Spread with the filling. Starting with the longer side, roll up dough. Pinch edges to seal and cut into 12 equal pieces. Place spiral side up into the prepared pan(s). Cover again with a kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes or until double in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake sticky buns for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove sticky buns from the oven and let stand for a minute or two. Invert rolls onto your favorite serving platter and serve while still warm.