Two Bites to Holiday Bliss

We’re busy ushering in the holidays across the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses with all sorts of seasonal favorites. The Bakehouse is baking loaves of Cranberry Pecan bread and the Coffee Company is brewing up batches of Holiday Blend coffee. The Deli is mixing up their house blend of Hot Cocoa Mix. Mail Order is busy shipping everything from heirloom turkeys to loaves of Chocolate Babka across the country. 

While we’re looking forward to sharing all of those treats with you and yours, we also wanted to bring you a few of the dishes that help usher in the holidays for some of our Managing Partners. They’ll be whipping them for friends and family throughout the holidays, and now you can, too. And, since they’re all two-bite recipes, you can share and enjoy more of them!

A Holiday Recipe from the Bakehouse

We first created Espresso Stars for our most beloved BAKE! class, Fancy Schmancy Holiday Cookies, at the suggestion of Nikki Lohmann, one of our BAKE! Instructors. We started the class in December 2009, and have been teaching it every holiday season since, adding more sessions along the way—we now teach the class 100 times between Thanksgiving and Christmas! The combination of coffee, chocolate, and buttery shortbread was such a hit that, for a time, they made it into our regular line-up at the Bakeshop, Zingerman’s Coffee Company, and Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

This recipe can be found in our Fancy Schmancy Holiday Cookies cookbooklet, a bite-sized collection of some of our favorite cookies from the class over the years. I’m excited to share that it will also appear in Celebrate Every Day: A Year’s Worth of Favorite Recipes for Festive Occasions, Big and Small, our second full-length cookbook, which will be released in the fall of 2023. We packed it full with nearly 80 recipes, most of which have never been published, and included a number of guest favorites. We can’t wait to share it with you!

—Amy Emberling, Zingerman’s Bakehouse Managing Partner

Holiday cookies, Espresso Stars dipped in chocolate

These shortbread cookies are flavored with freshly ground espresso beans from Zingerman’s Coffee Company, making them a rather adult addition to a dessert line-up, both in terms of flavor and the little jolt of caffeine. We like the added help staying awake until the celebratory ball drops at midnight in New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Day; but if you’d prefer less of a burst of energy, feel free to use decaf beans. (Just don’t be tempted to try and swap in instant espresso powder, which is designed to dissolve; we want both the flavor and the texture from the freshly ground coffee to be front and center.) To make them look as festive as they taste we partially dip them into chocolate, and make the effort to find gold luster dust or gold leaf to garnish them.

Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Stars

Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp (150 g) all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp (10 g) espresso beans, finely ground

1 cup (170 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped

Gold luster dust or edible gold leaf (optional)

Make the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt until sugar is well mixed in.
  3. Add the flour and ground espresso beans and mix until the dough holds together. If necessary, use your hands to gently knead the dough together into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4-in (6 mm) thick. Cut out cookies using a 1 1/2- to 2-in (4- to 5-cm) star cutter. You can reroll scraps and cut out more stars, but take care not to overwork the dough. This cookie will be delicious in many different sizes and shapes. Use what you prefer and what you’re able to find. If you choose a much bigger cutter, leave them a little thicker. If they are large and too thin they will break easily.
  5. Carefully place cut cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, evenly spaced about 1 in apart. 
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. The tops should look dry and cookies should be slightly browned. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely to room temperature before dipping in melted chocolate.

Garnish the cookies with melted chocolate

  1. Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave or over a double boiler until just melted. 
  2. Dip 1/3 of each cookie into the melted chocolate, then place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you have gold leaf use a couple of small pieces as garnish and apply them to the soft chocolate. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the chocolate hardens.
  3. If desired, lightly brush gold luster dust over the hardened chocolate. 

Store the cookies in an airtight container, with parchment paper between layers of cookies, at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw frozen cookies at room temperature before enjoying. If thawing cookies with luster dust, do so gradually, moving them from the freezer to the refrigerator, and then to room temperature.


Luster dust is a type of decorating powder used to add color and sparkle to cakes, candy, cookies, and other sweet treats. It’s available in stores that sell cake decorating supplies or online, as is edible gold leaf.

A Holiday Recipe from the Deli

You definitely know it’s the holiday season when you start smelling Spiced Pecans in the Deli kitchen. Every batch is made by hand and bagged right at 422 Detroit Street. We get the pecans from the South Georgia Pecan Company in Valdosta, Georgia, and use a spice blend we make ourselves using Épices de Cru spices. 

There is a disco dancing spiced pecan cartoon on our Spiced Pecan bag and a few years back we figured out we could print them with sparkly red ink. Nick Jaroch painted a poster of this pecan guy with glittery pants that is one of my favorite pieces of merchandising ever at the Deli.  We like to make big, bountiful displays of these bags all over the Deli. Like hanging tinsel on your tree, it’s festive and fun and you know the holidays have arrived.

—Rodger Bowser, Zingerman’s Deli Managing Partner

overhead view of a bag of holiday Spiced Pecans with some in a dish

Spiced Pecans with Apples & Cheddar

Pick up a bag of Zingerman’s Deli Spiced Pecans, crisp local apples (like from Nemeth Farms in Milan or Kapnick Orchards in Britton), and a block of cheddar—you can’t go wrong with Nor’Easter Cheddar from Cabot, but the new cheddars from Deer Creek in Wisconsin are also pretty fabulous. Put these three items on a tray and viola! A simple, yet delicious combination that’s sure to win over your kids, neighbors, or a crowd!

A Holiday Recipe from Mail Order

Zingerman’s Mail Order does half its years’ business in the month of December. That kind of surge is as crazy as it sounds. We go from a nicely busy business to a rather insane business. Our staff quadruples. Food and boxes fill our warehouse to the rafters. Trucks and people and conveyors are constantly in motion. The operation runs 24/7. It’s kind of nuts. I’ve known no other version of December for the past two and a half decades, it’s a really strange yet exhilarating way to spend the holidays.

Mo Frechette, Zingerman’s Mail Order Managing Partner

illustrated jar of wild cherries for a holiday recipePreserved fruits, candied fruits, fruit cakes—they all say the holidays are here. They’ve been part of festive eating for centuries. For me, outside of jam on toast, I rarely eat fruits like this from January through November. But I crave them in December. Agrimontana’s Italian cherries are the handcrafted, flavorful alternative to the ubiquitous blue and white jars of Amarena cherries you see at cafes. They taste of dark fall fruit, sweetened in their purple syrup. Combining them with chalk white Brabander goat gouda is stunning to look at and, frankly, a blast to eat. I think of Brabander as the milkshake of cheese—creamy, sweet, and easy to eat. Why not have a cherry on top?

Goat Gouda with Wild Cherries

Spoon one or two Agrimontana wild cherries from the jar and drape them on a thick shard of Brabander Goat Gouda cheese.

Originally published in the November/December 2022 Zingerman’s Newsletter