Some of my fondest memories are spending the lazy Christmas vacation days in the kitchen with my mom, cooking and baking, baking and cooking. It was cozy and warm from the oven. We made cakes, fudge, toffee, gingerbread houses, iced sugar cookies, you name it. Why not whip up some of your own memories in the kitchen this holiday season?
Cookie exchange? School potluck? Relatives visiting? Try these cute-as-a-button checkerboard cookies, Chocolate & Orange Damier, from Sylvain Nicolas, executive pastry chef at Morocco’s Four Seasons Resort Marrakech.
Or for a festive family brunch, wow ‘em with Red Velvet Pancakes, a playful creation from Georgia’s Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta. Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker at the hotel’s Park 75 serves the sweet-savory treat on the restaurant’s acclaimed menu—intriguing guests with the unlikely combo of a classic Southern dessert and traditional breakfast entrée.
The chef tops the triple stack with powdered sugar, house-made pecan-cinnamon butter and a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup. (Add a side of applewood-smoked bacon and free-range eggs the way your family likes them.) Or serve it as a dessert, topped with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.
Canadian by birth, but a Southern transplant for over a decade, Chef Robert wanted to combine the traditional Red Velvet Cake with one of his favorite breakfast dishes, buttermilk pancakes. The recipe was so popular with his family and friends, he introduced it at the restaurant.
1. Pre-heat a griddle or heavy pan over medium heat. If using a non-stick electric griddle, set the electric griddle temperature to about 325 degrees F.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk until all lumps are gone.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar, confectioner’s sugar and food coloring.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk to the mixture. Stir until combined.
5. Add in the melted butter and fold gently to mix. Pour onto the griddle, cook until golden and flip to cook the other side.
Sweet Pecan Butter Topping:
1. In a bowl, whip the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
2. Make a pancake short stack while the flapjacks are still warm. Add a scoop of butter between each pancake and on top.
3. Sprinkle the pancakes with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Serves eight.
For the orange dough:
For the chocolate dough:
1. Make each dough separately, using the same procedure. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar. Using a whisk, whisk until the texture is creamy.
2. Add the egg yolks, flour, almond powder (for the chocolate dough, add the cocoa powder as well). Mix until well-combined into a nice cookie dough.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a few hours to harden.
4. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough onto waxed paper to a half-inch thickness. Put back in the fridge to set, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and place onto a flat surface. Beat the egg yolks, then brush over each rolled dough piece with a pastry brush.
6. Reserving some chocolate dough, place the orange dough over the chocolate dough and press together. Cut long strips and arrange together alternatively to make a checkerboard pattern.
7. Next, roll out the remaining chocolate dough to 1/8-inch thick. Lay the checkerboard-pattern dough over the top and press to stick together. (One side of the cookie will be brown; the other checkerboard pattern.) Slice the dough into squares 1/3-inch thick and place onto a parchment paper-lined cookie baking sheet.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for about six minutes or until a light-brown color. Place on a rack for a few minutes to cool and enjoy!
Read our Concierge Recommendations for Marrakech in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read our Marrakech Within Walking Distance tips in Four Seasons Magazine.
Michelle Pentz Glave is the Have Family Will Travel editor. Before diving into communications/PR, she was a journalist for 25 years in the US and Germany including stints with The Wall Street Journal Europe, Gruner+Jahr (Bertelsman) and the Albuquerque Journal. Her work has appeared in Outside, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Sunset and Fortune. She has a Bachelor's in English from Yale and a Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. Michelle is passionate about family, food, farmers, her garden and taekwondo. She lives on Bowen Island, near Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two kids: Sabrina, 11, and Duncan, 10.
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