Wrap the most humble pantry ingredients in a sheet of puff pastry, and what comes out of the oven will look as glamorous as a movie star. And if, like me, you don't make your puff pastry from scratch, the most difficult part of creating a great dessert will be waiting for the pastry to defrost. My husband Ted and I raided the pantry one Sunday afternoon to put together a filling for these flaky brown sugar and walnut puff pastry swirls. A bit of lemon zest balances the sweetness, and if you have almonds or pecans in your freezer, go and ahead substitute for the walnuts. Figure on two or three per person. Really fun to make with kids, these sweet puff pastries are dressy enough for any dinner party, yet easy enough for weeknight treats, too.
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What I love about snickerdoodles: even if you're not a baker, and I am not, you always have all of the ingredients you need to bake these cookies right in your pantry. Cream of tartar might not be in constant rotation, but you know you have it somewhere in the rear of your spice rack, and even if it's almost ancient, like mine, it will give these cookies the bit of puff they need. The cardamom in this recipe lends the cookies a grown-up air, but kids will love them, too. We sprinkled ours with a pinch of extra cardamom after they came out of the oven. If you like your cookies sweeter, top the cookies before baking with demerara or another large-crystal sugar.
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Chelsea, Alex and I dubbed these waffle brownies when we took our first bites during Wafflepalooza, and I promise that when you taste these chocolate chocolate chip waffles, you'll understand. I'm a coffee-with-waffles girl, as a rule, but these waffles beg for a glass of cold milk, just like the very best brownies. For all the chocolate chips and cocoa powder, the waffles aren't as dense as you'd expect. In fact, they're almost fluffy. In our house, these are "special occasion" breakfast waffles, the kind my husband Ted might make on Christmas morning. They also make a fine (and fun) dessert, with a drizzle of raspberry sauce on top. You can make them ahead, freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan, then pack into ziploc bags; to serve, simply pop them in the toaster.
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Did your family dunk? We did. Oreos in milk, and for the older set, chocolate chip cookies in coffee. If you didn't grow up in a dunking family, you might not know that biscotti are twice-baked Italian cookies, so crispy that the best way to eat them is to dip them in coffee, or tea, or vin santo, a Tuscan dessert wine. The biscotti absorb the liquid, and just before they fall apart, you pop them in your mouth. Almost every recipe for pumpkin cookies or cupcakes or custard calls for half a cup of pumpkin pureé, so you're sure to have a little container of leftover in the refrigerator, just enough for these pumpkin chocolate chip biscotti, or you can substitute canned squash pureé. These cookies will stay crisp for a few days in an airtight container.
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