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Chai Spiced Brown Butter Pecan Cookies by North Fork Baker (Photo Credit: David Benthal)

In a year when more people than ever took up baking at home, these four North Forkers went even further: They’ve turned their home-baked treats into thriving small businesses. Some have been professional pastry chefs for years while others have perfected their desserts in their own kitchen. To help celebrate the holidays, we asked each to share a festive cookie recipe. Whether you buy your treats from these bakers or make them in your own home, we hope they bring you comfort and joy. 

Jessica Shearman, the pastry chef at 1943 Pizza Bar in Greenport, remembers making Toll House chocolate chip cookies around the holidays during her childhood. Now, her baking business, North Fork Baker, is doing pop-ups selling baked goods at Deep Roots Farm as well as taking custom orders for all sorts of specialty desserts. “With COVID, everything just kind of accelerated,” she said.

“I’ve always loved the flavor of chai; it’s always reminded me of Christmas,” said Shearman. Her cookie has the base of a chocolate chip cookie, but swaps in pecans for the chips. Brown butter, the caramelization of the milk solids in the butter, gives a savory nutty flavor and aroma that is irresistible. “Having that extra chai spice to add with the brown butter will fill the entire room with a beautiful smell,” she said.

(Photo Credit: David Benthal)
  • 1 cup butter, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups tightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. chai spice mix (like King Arthur brand)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
  • White chocolate for drizzling
  1. In a small wide saucepan, melt ¾ cup of butter on medium-low heat and let it come to a slow boil. To brown butter, keep stirring for 5-10 minutes; keep an eye on it because it will burn easily if ignored. When the butter starts to turn a light amber, turn off the heat and add the remaining ¼ cup butter; this will help stop the browning process. Put the butter in the fridge until it is mostly solid again. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until it comes back together and is light in color. Add the brown sugar and beat for 5 minutes on high speed. Lower the speed to medium and slowly add the eggs and vanilla and mix for another minute. 
  3. Turn off the mixer, set your speed to the lowest setting and add the flour, salt and spices then mix until almost combined. Fold in chopped pecans. 
  4. Scoop 2 ounce (or ¼ cup) balls of dough onto a sheet tray 2 inches apart, press down the dough balls slightly before baking. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Let cool and drizzle with melted white chocolate with a touch of cinnamon. Makes about 16 large cookies.