Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Karen DeMasco beats the dough for these buttery cookies with an entire vanilla bean, so the oils in the pod add deep vanilla flavor. By rolling the dough in demerara sugar before slicing and baking the cookies, she makes them extra-crispy.
Zoe Nathan has the zany, freewheeling air of a person on a permanent sugar high. Her salted-caramel squares are just as bold, with tender caramel atop a dense, buttery crust.
Chocolate-Frosted Golden Cupcakes with Coconut
Keep the cupcakes and the frosting and coconut separate until you're ready to serve these. Make sure the frosting is room temperature before spreading it.
Salted Fudge Brownies
F&W's Kate Krader has been making these fudgy, sweet-salty brownies since she was 10 years old. As a kid she used regular table salt; now she recommends a flaky sea salt like Maldon, because the flavor is less harsh and it melts so nicely into the batter, accentuating the chocolaty sweetness.
Saffron gives these delicate and crumbly cookies a beautiful yellow hue.
Ganache-Stuffed Chocolate-Chip Cookies
A stuffed cookie is like a sandwich cookie, only with more cream on the inside—it's fatter, fuller and (if you're the kind of person who twists apart the cookies to get to the cream) better. Pastry chef Jessica Sullivan makes hers with nutty chocolate-chip cookies and silky chocolate ganache.
Almonds and chocolate are a winning combination. For these crisp, chewy bars, Grace Parisi mixes roasted almonds, almond butter and chocolate chips with sugar and egg, then bakes them.
Take 5 Carrot Cupcakes
Chef Bryan Vietmeier makes these terrifically moist and carroty cupcakes. He suggests freezing the cupcakes before frosting to firm them up, preventing crumbs.
Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut butter binds these supernutty flourless cookies.
Almond, Elderflower and Lime Travel Cakes
Inspired by French travel cakes (small sweets meant for bringing to parties, picnics and other events), William Werner created these miniature desserts. He calls them "gussied-up pound cakes."
Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars
These bars were inspired by the candy and cookies you'd mail to a homesick kid at summer camp.
Sticky Oat-and-Pine-Nut Bars
These chewy, nutty, white-chocolate-dipped sweets are a little bit granola bar, a little bit trail mix. Pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez wanted to put his own imprint on the portable snacks, so he added a twist: a good dose of spicy black pepper.
Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars
Feel free to swap walnuts or almonds for the pecans, or use half nuts and half dried cranberries for tart, chewy bars.
Lemon-Curd Sandwich Cookies
Sablés (French butter cookies) were Kevin Sbraga's favorites growing up. His wife, Jesmary, who teaches baking, had the idea to sandwich them with lemon curd.
Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans
Kat Kinsman tops her rich brownies with bacon and pecans. To enhance the smoky flavor, she mixes some of the bacon fat into the batter.
Raspberry Shortbread Bars
This recipe is especially great if you chill the dough, grate it into a baking dish, then top it lightly with raspberry preserves and more grated dough before baking it.
Sugar-Crusted Chocolate Cookies
This is Jacques Torres's recipe for sablés, a classic French butter cookie with a sandy, crumbly texture (sablé means "sandy") though this fabulously dense version is actually more like shortbread.
Poppy Seed Cake
Lauren Chattman brings out the taste of the poppy seeds in this cake by soaking them in hot water. She lightly crushes the seeds in a blender before mixing them into the batter.
Butterscotch-Glazed Coffee Shortbread Bars
Flo Braker flavors her ethereally light shortbread with finely ground espresso beans. The best part is the golden, gooey butterscotch glaze, which becomes deliciously fudgy as the bars sit in the cookie jar.
Free-Form Pineapple, Mango and Berry Tarts
Chef Mauricio Couly created these tarts filled with local fruits like pineapple, mango and blueberries. The filling can, of course, vary depending on what's in season.
Green-Tea Fortune Cookies
Joanne Chang likes having fun with the fortunes she puts inside these large cookies, like "Give the chef a big kiss." Shaping the tuiles while they're hot can be tricky, so consider using cotton gloves.