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.
Pastry chef Meghan Saccone has been baking for 15 years — she used to be the pastry chef at the restaurant Tellers in Islip. This spring, she decided to start her own business called North Fork Flour Shoppe where she makes cookies, cakes and other sweet treats out of her Jamesport home. “Once COVID hit, it really pushed me to push myself,” she said. “I started doing things from home and it really took off.”
“They’re personally my favorite. My mom used to make them every Christmas. That was her staple dessert that we would bring with us. I soak mine in an amaretto-almond simple syrup. And I usually use apricot jam, as well as raspberry.”
- 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 12 ounces almond paste
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ounce amaretto
- 1 ounce almond extract
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. red food coloring
- 1 tsp. green food coloring
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease three 13×9 baking pans with cooking spray, then line each with parchment paper. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the sugar, almond paste and half the butter. Mix until smooth and lump free, being sure to break down the almond paste as best you can. Add the remaining 1 cup of butter and continue to mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Gradually add the egg yolks, followed by the amaretto and almond extract. Mix until combined, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to evenly mix.
- Add the flour and slowly mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once the flour is fully incorporated, set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the flour mixture to form a smooth batter, using an under/over folding method. Then divide equally between 3 bowls.
- Stir the red food coloring into the first bowl of batter until evenly red colored, then stir the green color into the second bowl of batter until evenly green colored, leaving the third bowl untouched. Keeping the batters separate, evenly spread them into the greased and parchment-lined quarter sheet pans, and bake, rotating halfway through, until set, 8 to 10 minutes. Then let cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling, make your syrup with the water, almond extract and amaretto. Set aside.
- Once cooled, brush a generous amount of syrup off the green layer and then spread the raspberry jam to cover the surface of the green cake and place the undyed layer, making sure the parchment is discarded, directly on top, sandwiching the jam. Repeat this step by brushing the undyed layer with your amaretto syrup and then spreading the apricot jam on top of the undyed layer and placing the red layer directly on top of it, discarding the parchment.
- Cover the cake with plastic wrap and top with another sheet pan. Weigh down with heavy cans, evenly over the cake, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the weights and plastic wrap. Spread the melted chocolate over the top of the cake (green layer on top). Halfway through setting, sprinkle nonpareils on top of chocolate and allow to fully set.
- Once set, trim the cake edges. (Reserve all trim for snacking or rainbow cookie ice cream.) Cut the cake into 1½-inch squares. Store in tightly closed containers or wrap with plastic wrap. Makes 30-40 squares.