Mexican Chocolate Christmas Trees


My favorite Chef and dear friend Karen and I recently made over eight dozen cookies to send to the troops in Afghanistan. One of my favorites we made was these Mexican Chocolate Christmas Trees. They are essentially a shortbread cookie but with all the decadence of chocolate. Adding cinnamon, chili powder and pepper make these cookies spicy, giving them a rich and deep flavor.

I have to admit I have been baking more cookies than even the cookie monster can eat and there are a few tricks I have picked up along the way. One, always use room temperature ingredients unless otherwise specified! When you use room temperature butter and eggs you can really see the difference in your batter. It is also generally good to chill your dough before baking as it will hold better shape when baking. I also like to use good quality butter & eggs as they can really add a lot of flavor!

Mexican Chocolate Christmas Trees

1 1/2 cups room temperature butter

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 room temperature eggs, beaten

3 cups flour

1 1/2 cups cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs one by one and beat until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together and add creamed mixture. Beat until combine. Divide dough into three balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough and cut into desired shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until firm. Cool & enjoy!!!

Gingersnap Whoopie Pies with Cranberry Orange Ganache


I recently moved out of Philadelphia and back to my family's bed & breakfast the Bridgeton House on the Delaware in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania. Our 1836 Inn overlooks the Delaware River and is riddled with my childhood memories. I remember all the incarnations of the Inn's kitchen and I always loved sitting at the counter, watching the chef prepare breakfast, but mostly I was in it for the cakes & cookies. 

Today was the first day I had free reign of the kitchen and prepared breakfast for the guests. While mastering my omelet game & making pumpkin cornbread waffles, I made a simple cranberry orange compote. After breakfast was all said and done it was time to make cookies for tea time (my dream). I decided to make a simple ginger snap but also wanted to get rid of my excess cranberry sauce. After baking off the snaps, I decided to take the compote add a little sugar and cream cheese and make a filling for whoopie pies! The color alone is super fun and they taste even better.  

Gingersnap Whoopie Pies with Cranberry Orange Ganache 


makes about 4 dozen cookies


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/3 cup unsulphured molasses


Combine dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Slowly add the egg and molasses and beat until combined, scraping the edges of the bowl often. Slowly add dry ingredients and scrape sides of bowl until mixed. Transfer dough into plastic wrap and refrigerate for and hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350. With a small ice cream scoop or spoon, roll into 1 inch balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until deep brown. Sprinkle with Turbinado suagr for a festive pop.

Cranberry Orange Ganache

3 cups Fresh Cranberries

1 or 1/2 cup Maple Syrup

Zest of 1 Orange

1/2 cup Cream Cheese

In a sauce pan over medium heat, add cranberries and simmer until berries burst and release juices(5-10 minutes). Add zest and syrup to taste and let cool. In a mixing bowl, add the cranberry mixture and cream cheese and combine. 



Take two like sized ginger snaps and place about a tablespoon of the ganache in the center. Press together and practice serious self control in trying not to eat them all!

Michael's Christmas Coconut Macaroons

This article comes from my second father, Michael Lynch. A retired pastry chef, Michael always prepares the most wonderfully delicious morsels for the holidays. His coconut macarron recipe is one of the best and one of my favorites. Bon appetit! 

If it’s Christmas, It must be Macaroons


Macaroons have become for me, my wife and daughters, an annual drumbeat, a marker of the season, smaller than a breadbox, more reliable than the weather, small jewels that we never tire of. Of course I speak of the incomparable Coconut Macaroon. 

Having recently brought forth a batch of 6 dozen for my companies Christmas cookie exchange, I posted some photos on Facebook and immediately received 4 requests for recipes! And two requests for samples!! 


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