All Things Thursday: Christmas Cookie Edition

All Things Thursday: Christmas Cookie Edition

Hey there. Happy All Things Thursday!

Remember me? I know, I know…it’s been a minute. Please forgive my tardiness. I just woke up from a 4 hr nap. Naps are very necessary when you’re crazy busy. Crazy busy doing what, you ask? Making cookies, man…tons and tons of cookies.

Typically, during Christmastime, people are making cookies as gifts or for general snacking purposes. I get it…’tis the season. The thing is…I bake cookies for a living so during the holidays, when I’m baking thousands of cookies for corporate parties and the like, I’m not really into making cookies for myself.

That being said, I do love the holidays and the cookie celebration it brings. If I weren’t up to my eyeballs in dough, these are the treats I’d put on my Christmas table…

When I’m in the mood for sweet and crispy, I reach for these Chocolate Star Cookies. (Williams-Sonoma)

Little clouds of joy topped with icing? Yes, please. Italian Anise Cookies (Food)

Ah…the genius of Dorie Greenspan. Speculoos Buttons (Bon Appetit)

The perfect Sugar Cookie.

Sometimes the perfect sugar cookie needs Royal Icing. (Cupcakes and Cashmere)

What would Christmas be like without Gingerbread Snowflakes? I don’t wanna know. (Martha Stewart)

How cool would your mantle look with this Gingerbread Men Garland? Pretty freakin’ cool, man. (Donna Hay)

That’s it for me, friends. I’m taking my ginger-honey tea and heading back to bed. I hope your holiday is filled with family, friends and Irish Whiskey…and cookies, of course.


Nothing wins you friends faster than a full cookie jar.
Mary Hunt Altfillisch



Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread & One of Those Days

Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread. Finally, a pumpkin cookie that's crispy |

Ever have one of those days?

One of those…just my luck, stay in bed, bag of of Oreos, watch Die Hard days?

Of course, you have. You’re a human being! Well, as luck would have it, I experienced just such a Crapfest the other day.

I don’t wanna go into details but I was feeling a bit blue. Whenever I get like that my first reaction is to eat/drink my feelings. But if I have an ounce of will power, which is rare, I force myself to get out of the house, out of my head and into my car. So I hopped into P-POS.  P-POS stands for Purple Piece of Shit. Hey, it’s a term of endearment, ok!

So…I was driving along, thinking about how I can make beer and cookies go together, when I slowly came to a red light and noticed some green paper on the ground.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How slow was this chick going?

Answer: Slow enough to know that green paper was $20.

Needless to write, I pulled over, picked up the twenty, stuffed it in my jeans and took off like my ass was on fire. The rest of a day was a blur, but I remember feeling surprised and relieved. Yes, it was only twenty bucks but that’s a whole lot of Oreos…enough to eat through my feelings properly.

In the future, if Oreos aren’t an option, I hope I will have enough energy to make this Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread. I’ve worked on this recipe for a minute because cakey pumpkin cookies are just not my thang. It took a few tries but I finally removed most of the water content, as to produce a crispy shortbread. Here’s how I did it.

  1. Brown Butter. Butter is roughly twenty percent water. When you brown it, the water cooks off.
  2. Pumpkin Butter. Make a dense decadent pumpkin butter.
  3. Thin Cookie. Roll the dough no thicker than 1/3″. I prefer 1/8″-1/4″.

Go on, now. Make some brown butter pumpkin shortbread. It’s a wonderful treat…much like the six bags of Oreos I bought with the twenty that I found in the street.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread. Finally, a pumpkin cookie that's crispy |

Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread Recipe

Note: Use this recipe for Decadent Pumpkin Butter. I used the glaze from Lauren’s Latest Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes ~ 24 cookies, 2¼in
Serves: 6-8
  • ½ c butter, 113g, browned
  • ⅓ c powdered sugar, 34g
  • 1⅛ c flour, 135g
  • ⅛ t salt
  • ½ c decadent pumpkin butter, 135g
  • ½ t vanilla
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ⅛ t ground cloves
  • ⅛ t ground nutmeg
  1. Cook butter on medium high for 3-5 minutes, until it becomes golden. Pour brown butter in a bowl and let cool.
  2. Mix the pumpkin butter and powdered sugar.
  3. Add cool brown butter and vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Mix flour, salt, and spices.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  6. Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper, roll ~1/3in thick and freeze for 10-15 minutes. There's no need to flour the parchment.
  7. Use a 2¼ in ring to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps and repeat process.
  8. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 18-24 minutes.
  9. Remove cookies and let cool on rack.
  10. Glaze cookies, if desired.
  11. Remember: The thicker you roll the cookie, the longer it will take to bake. Watch carefully, as they will burn easily.



Brown Butter Pumpkin Shortbread Photo Notes

by David

This wasn’t fun.  Over the years, Mondo and I have shot a lot of cookies for Mondo’s Morsels and frankly, when it comes to photographing cookies, the creativity tank is on “E.”

The Old Days

Years ago when I first started shooting food, film was my thing.  It’s almost laughable now, but I would use a 24 exposure roll and dedicate 6 shots to each setup.  Film and processing was expensive so this made complete sense.  If I didn’t get the shot in 6 tries ….. tough luck.

With digital, I usually dedicate 10-20 shots per setup.  For this shoot, I was at 100 shots and had gone from bad to average.  The cookies in the cup just weren’t working.  I finally got something usable, but it wasn’t great.

When we finally moved over to the green mat with the cookies on the grate, we got it in 6.  Go figure.


The lighting is the same as the Decadent Pumpkin Butter shoot.  Both were done on the same day so I didn’t bother rearranging the strobes.

Lighting setup for brown butter pumpkin shortbread


Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 50mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/11