4 Swap-Worthy Cookies, Courtesy of Our Favorite Bakers

You'll snag all their sneaky tips and tricks on our new podcast.

December  4, 2020
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Lauren LaPenna.

ICYMI: Last month, we launched cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe, where hosts take you through their most treasured, oft-made, and iconic recipes. On the show, you’ll hear (and hopefully join in) as they whisk, stir, slice, dice, and bake their way through a recipe—offering insider tips, tricks, and backstory along the way.

Our new podcast!

We heard from The Splendid Table host, cookbook editor, and food writer Francis Lam on the Chinese American Thanksgiving Meatballs inspired by his childhood, teenage angst, and—of all things—Pizza Hut.

And from The Flavor Equation author and The Kitchen Scientist columnist Nik Sharma, on the Green Olive & Chouriço Stuffing recipe that combines flavor memories from his early childhood in Goa, India, with ones from his current home in Northern California. (Nik also explained why the recipe calls for exactly 20 strands of saffron.)


From cookbook author Hetty McKinnon, we learned why her family associates the holidays with tater tots, and deep-dived into bowls of Creamy Tahini “Mac & Cheese,” crowned with an uber-crispy-but-fluffy crust. Plus, Hetty's sneaky, snacky tip for what to do with those extra tots.

And just last week, we heard from our Resident Baker Maurizio Leo on how to judge proper proofing and ideal dough strength in his Soft & Fluffy Pull-Apart Sourdough Rolls recipe. These rolls are reminiscent of the ones we remember from school lunches, holiday gatherings, and summer picnics—but given a textural and flavor upgrade thanks to sourdough starter.

This month, we’re all cookies all the time. We asked four cookie experts for recipes they turn to during the holidays—these are the foolproof, impressive cookies that keep well (ready for a spur-of-the-moment book-and-tea session), the ones they're (almost) famous for, and the ones they'll be gifting this holiday season.

Meet the Lineup

Sarah Kieffer’s Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Whenever she makes this cookie dough, 100 Cookies author and pan-bang inventor Sarah Kieffer has a flashback to a specific, very sweet memory. “They were my dad’s favorite dough to sneak,” Kieffer tells us in the episode while rolling dough balls in sugar. “And for whatever reason, my mom would never let him sneak the dough—it was their thing. He would, like, try to get it, and she would always hit him with a dish towel.” Pop your earbuds in and roll along—we’re rearing to try not one, but three (!) very smart, delicious-sounding riffs Kieffer shares in the episode.

Samantha Seneviratne’s Jeweled Butter Cookies

“They're basically a cookie that is meant for a cup of tea, which is basically my favorite kind of cookie,” says The Joys of Baking author and food stylist Samantha Seneviratne. Tune in to this episode for not only the song stylings of her son, Artie, but for Seneviratne’s nuggets of ingenious baking wisdom: a wonderfully specific method for just-right room-temperature butter, a trick to ensure perfectly round slice-and-bake cookies, and how to get just enough chocolate glaze onto and around each dipped cookie.

Susan Spungen’s Triple-Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Open Kitchen author and food stylist Susan Spungen developed this cookie recipe while she was a food editor at Martha Stewart Living. In the years since, Spungen has painstakingly tweaked and refined the recipe: ”There were certain things I wasn't as happy with. I was always happy with the flavor, but the texture, I always thought, could use a little bit of work.” What resulted is a cover-star cookie she’s (almost) famous for (especially by her grandson Jonah’s standards). Throughout the episode, Spungen shares styling tips for ensuring your crackly, chewy, gingery cookies are picture perfect: moonlike, with a snowy sugar crust, and fissured through with virtual rivers of chocolate.

Carla Hall’s Cranberry Ginger Linzer Torte Cookies

Chef, cookbook author, and TV personality Carla Hall knocks out two proverbial birds with this one recipe. “This combines my love of making cookies...and my holiday tradition of making cranberry sauce,” Hall says. “I plan on giving friends these Linzer cookies this holiday season because I think that it's a special year,” she says with a laugh. “And imagine if you make extra jam! You can also give jam.” This episode is brimming with baking best practices: visual cues to make sure you’re not overcreaming your butter, how to bridge flavors across varying components, and how you should—and shouldn’t—reroll scraps.

We’re excited to bake, box, and share these cookies—with our loved ones and especially with you, our community. We hope that during these odd and trying times, these audible, edible cookies bring warmth and joy to your kitchens.


And, as always, if there’s a recipe you’d like to hear us make on Play Me a Recipe, email it to us at [email protected]. We’re all ears!
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Coral Lee is an Associate Editor at Food52. Before this, she cooked food solely for photos. Before that, she cooked food solely for customers. And before that, she shot lasers at frescoes in Herculaneum and taught yoga. When she's not writing about or making food, she's thinking about it. Her Heritage Radio Network show, "Meant to be Eaten," explores cross-cultural exchange as afforded by food. You can follow her on Instagram @meanttobeeaten.