Holiday Baking 2023: 3 new cookbooks to inspire the perfect cookie platter

We scoured new baking cookbooks for recipes to help you make your best holiday cookies yet.

Are you looking for ways to improve your cookie-baking abilities this holiday season? We turned to three hot new baking cookbooks for inspiration, and the results — Scandinavian honey cookies with chocolate, gingerbread, and coconut almond slice-and-bake butter cookies — will wow your guests at your next holiday party or cookie exchange.

But these recipes aren’t the only ones. Here’s what you can expect from the pages of these new baking-focused books.

‘Scandinavian from Scratch’ by Nichole Accettola

Why not ask the people who live through some of the harshest winters in the world, the Scandinavians, for advice on what to bake when it’s cold outside?

Nichole Accettola, the chef-owner of San Francisco’s Kantine, a Scandinavian bakery and cafe, has released a new cookbook with over 60 recipes inspired by her time in Denmark. Accettola grew up in Ohio and traveled to Denmark for the first time after her family hosted a Danish exchange student. She moved to Copenhagen after returning to the United States to attend the Culinary Institute of America and working in fine dining in Boston for about a decade.

She and her previously long-distance partner married soon after. After three children and 16 years, she and her family returned to the United States, this time to San Francisco.

Accettola began baking and selling her own Scandinavian-style rye bread at the Ferry Building after missing it in Denmark. Kantine — the Danish word for canteen — opened in 2018.

The new cookbook begins with cookie recipes – because priorities! – before moving on to cake, desserts, and bites perfect for the Swedish tradition of fika. Coffee, cake, and conversation with friends or colleagues is a charming ritual that is part of everyday life in that Scandinavian country. Workplaces in Sweden usually observe the tradition at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Accettola explains that sweet treats, known as fikabröd, are an important part of the ritual.

The cookbook also includes recipes and ideas for breakfast bites, rye bread, and smrrebrd (Danish open-face sandwiches), as well as a selection of sweets labeled “winter therapy.” Cardamom, a warming spice popular in Scandinavian baking, is used in many recipes.

“In baking, as in everything else, try to put perfectionism aside.” Any baked good made from scratch and with love is bound to taste better than anything you can buy, and no one will mind if it isn’t perfect! It also gives you the option to try again at some point.”

Nichole Accettola’s “Scandinavian From Scratch: A Love Letter to the Baking of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden” (Ten Speed Press, $29.99) is available in bookstores and online.

‘The Cookie That Changed My Life’ by Nancy Silverton with Carolyn Carreño

During the COVID lockdowns, many home bakers were getting into sourdough, but Nancy Silverton, the award-winning Los Angeles chef and restaurateur behind La Brea Bakery and Michelin-starred Osteria Mozza, shifted her focus to classic American baked goods.

Inspired by a peanut butter cookie from Friends & Family in Los Angeles, Silverton put her baking skills to the test, focusing on recipes to make “the absolute best version of the familiar baked goods that we all know and love,” she writes in the introduction to her new cookbook. Breakfast foods, cookies, casual and dressed-up cakes and cupcakes, pies and tarts, seasonal fruit desserts, and, of course, breads are all covered in chapters.

Some of her recipes do require a few extra steps, but she claims the results are worth it.

“Perhaps it’s my advancing age, but I’m beginning to wonder: Do we really need matcha in our pound cake?” Shortbread with lavender? What about pie on a stick? Is that cake in a jar? Or in any dessert with bacon? For me, the answer is emphatically ‘No.’ Yes, you are creative. But, for me, these creations lack craveability, which was the ultimate criterion for a recipe to be included in this book… Nothing makes me happier than biting into one of these familiar treats and discovering that it has been done to perfection.”

Details: “The Cookie That Changed My Life and More Than 100 Other Classic Cakes, Cookies, Muffins, and Pies That Will Change Yours” by Nancy Silverton and Carolynn Carreo (Alfred A. Knopf, $40) is available at local independent bookstores and online.

‘Bake Your Heart Out’ by Dan Langan

Dan Langan, a baker, blogger, and Food Network host of “Dan Can Bake It,” has a new cookbook out. In its pages, you’ll find recipes for My Big Fat Fudge Brownies, Best-in-Class Cinnamon Rolls, glazed honey ricotta biscuits, and a simple yet elegant Darn Good Chocolate Cake.

Langan’s recipes are simple and straightforward, with notes explaining the whys behind certain steps and advice on how to achieve great results without a lot of kitchen equipment. He specifies which recipes can be mixed by hand rather than with a mixer, and he provides instructions for measuring the most consistent cup of flour without a scale: Stir the flour in the container with a large spoon, then fill the measuring cup and sweep the top with a straight edge. He explains that tapping the cup down compacts the flour.

Dan Langan’s “Bake Your Heart Out: Foolproof Recipes to Level Up Your Home Baking” (Union Square & Co., $29.99) is available at local indie bookstores and online.

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