let’s call them rustic: brown butter cookies & other holiday goodies

I was super excited when I saw Gourmet’s favorite cookie guide. Cookie recipes from 1941 to 2008…amazing!!! The first cookies that really caught my eye were the brown butter cookies from 1961 and when Cornelius needed to make some cookies for a work party on Friday, I suggested those. Now, I don’t want to blame my husband for the outcome of these cookies. True, cooking let alone baking are not his strong suits, but there were factors against his control. Mainly, we were out of white sugar. I figured brown would be an easy substitute. Uh, maybe not. Somehow these cookies didn’t come together like I thought they would. They are super fragile and sandy and they’re not very sweet at all. Whatever. I stuck them in the freezer because I’m sure (like all shortbreads), they’ll taste better when frozen and eaten at midnight as a snack. Try the recipe out if you like, otherwise, just dig into some tried & true holiday goodies from my archives below.

30 comments to “let’s call them rustic: brown butter cookies & other holiday goodies”

  1. 1
    Daily Spud   December 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Well, I can certainly vouch for the Gourmet mag cookie pick for 1985 which was pecan tassies. I made a walnut version recently and they were a huge hit – definitely worth a try!

    Meanwhile, that’s quite a collection you’ve got there yourself – I like the look of that chocolate walnut fudge and the buckeyes and… well, you get the idea 🙂

  2. 2
    Dawn   December 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I always seem to run out of white sugar before the brown.
    Are they overly sweet? I’m kind of interested in making them.
    I had no idea you made sponge candy? I haven’t had that in ages.

  3. 3
    VeggieGirl   December 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm


  4. 4
    Jennywenny   December 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    MMMm delicious! I’m intrigued that you call that stuff sponge toffee. They call it hokey pokey in new zealand and I’m not sure what I call it!

    Maybe you should mix a bit of rum and icing sugar and make a glaze for those brown sugar cookies…

  5. 5
    Hayley   December 18, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    The cookies look tasty no matter what sugar you happened to have. Sometimes a less sweet treat is just what I’m looking for.

    That’s quite a collection of recipes you have there. Looks like I’ll be up for a while, choosing which to bake up for the big day. Thanks!

  6. 6
    eatme_delicious   December 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Too bad those brown butter cookies didn’t turn out well! I love looking at all the other cookies you’ve made. I still want to make those buckeyes.

  7. 7
    megan   December 18, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    This post is deadly! There are so many things that I want to make (and gorge on).
    Your sponge toffee has been on my list of things to make forever. I always forget and never have any corn syrup, but I may have to add it to the list this week.

  8. 8
    Bijoux   December 18, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Egads! Just what I need, more desserts to feast on. I’ve been trying to keep my baking this holiday season to a minimum in an attempt to forgo weight gain. The brown butter cookies look really good, despite their failed results. Maybe some drizzled chocolate is required to make them more palatable? Some of those desserts you’ve listed are calling out my name…mmm, ginger gems…spicy pretzels and nuts…buckeyes!!

  9. 9
    Camilla   December 18, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    You actually are a complete genius Jeannette- I knew you were pretty special, but I didn’t realise just how talented you were until this post. Ahhh that fudge…happy memories!

  10. 10
    lobstersquad   December 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm


  11. 11
    catastrophysicist   December 19, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Oh, I’m dying for some cookies now! Have you heard of the brown sugar cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated? Some of the most simple and delicious cookies I’ have ever had! Cook’s Illustrated makes you subscribe, but someone else posted the recipe on their site (shame on them!): http://www.bigoven.com/162655-Brown-Sugar-Cookies—Cooks-Illustrated-recipe.html

  12. 12
    Cakespy   December 19, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Oh man, it just kept on going!! Wonderful cookies and please, can I spend the holidays with you?

  13. 13
    Amanda   December 19, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Inspiring! My baking marathon begins in about ten minutes and your photos will spur me on!

  14. 14
    kntgrl   December 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    wow. you are amazing!

    thanks for this. I have been soooooo uninspired!!

    you rock!!

  15. 15
    C Allyn   December 20, 2008 at 6:23 am

    Just when I thought my Christmas baking was complete.
    So hard to resist trying one more recipe.

  16. 16
    hanne   December 20, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Whoa…. that’s a lot of amazing all in one post! I’m sorry your cookies didn’t turn out, but you’ve obviously got lots of recipes to fall back on.

  17. 17
    Culinary Wannabe   December 20, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Too bad about the cookies. Why is it that everything always tastes better when it’s involved in a late night snacking session? 🙂 And yea, I would probably give my left arm for one of your little snowball cookies!

  18. 18
    Carolyn Jung   December 20, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I adore buckeyes. It’s a little scary to realize how much sugar, peanut butter, and butter are in them. But then again, sometimes it’s better to enjoy, and not delve so deeply into what you’re swooning over.

  19. 19
    Fiber   December 20, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for these wonderful recipes. I printed out quite a few to make over the next few days.

  20. 20
    Crystal   December 20, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for pulling all these together! I can’t believe I forgot to tell you I was blogging again…so glad you stopped by! By the way, Justin is really excited about your ginger syrup recipe…he LOVES real ginger ale! Happy Holidays!

  21. 21
    kickpleat   December 20, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    thanks spud! i’ll try the pecan tassies. sounds good!

    aw, shucks, camilla! thanks 🙂

    dawn, the cookies weren’t very sweet at all. strange! and the sponge toffee? amazing!

    haha, definitely, veggiegirl!

    jenny, i like the name hokey pokey better! as for the cookies, i remedied them by adding a blob of chocolate on top!

    thanks hayley!

    eatme, those buckeyes are so worth it!

    megan, you can use honey instead of corn syrup for the sponge toffee!

    bijoux, i’m actually getting stressed because i haven’t done much baking yet! yikes. i did add chocolate to the cookies. problem solved 🙂

    thanks lobstersquad!

    catastrophysicist, i’ll definitely check that recipe out. thanks for the tip!

    yes, amanda, gogo!!

    cakespy, please do 🙂

    thanks kntgrl!

    haha, celeste, holiday baking never seems to be over!

    hooray! fibre, let me know how it goes!

    definitely, hanne.

    late night snacking is the best, culinary!

    carolyn, the buckeyes are good. luckily i gave them away as a gift. it’s a good way of learning restraint!

    i’m so glad that i found yer back up blogging, crystal! hooray 🙂

  22. 22
    Yvonne   December 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I was hoping you would make a post like this in time for the holidays! I can’t wait to try some of these. Thank you so much!
    You are made of awesome. 😉

  23. 23
    kickpleat   December 21, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    yvonne, haha i’m grinning over the “you are made of awesome” comment. love it 🙂 thanks!

  24. 24
    tommy   December 21, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    For a second there I thought those fleur de sel caramels were pancetta lardons. Which, come to think of it, I could eat for dessert…

  25. 25
    Megan   December 21, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    I made the Fig Cookies from the Gourmet Magazine website earlier today and have to say they are awesome. I was dipping them in coffee and had to stop before I ate them all.

  26. 26
    kickpleat   December 22, 2008 at 10:56 am

    tommy, that’s quite an imagination. and yes, i’d eat those as well….anytime!

    megan, good to know! i’ve got figs so we’ll see if i can whip up another batch!

  27. 27
    Melinda Feucht   December 23, 2008 at 7:14 am

    What an amazing array of sweets, you must have been a busy couple. My family has done away with sweets this year for Christmas (bad choice), so I will just revel in the pictures of yours!

  28. 28
    kickpleat   December 23, 2008 at 11:40 am

    melinda, these are compiled from 3 years of archives. so far, i’ve only made a tiny fraction of baking this year. so sad.

  29. 29
    Dawna   December 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    What a daunting amount of festive baking!

    I am in awe.

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