The Most Popular America's Test Kitchen Recipes in December

The recipes you loved the most last month.

Published Jan. 8, 2020.

We're looking back at the recipes that got the most attention in that hectic time between Thanksgiving and the start of a new year (and decade!), so it's no surprise they're holiday-themed. Based on recipe pageviews, our members loved elegant mains, beautiful cookies, and as usual, our Ultimate Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits. Get inspired for January and the rest of the winter months by checking out the six most popular recipes in December, and then view the rest of the top 25 in this collection.

25 Most Popular Recipes in December

Curious what other recipes our members made in December? Check out the rest of our Top 25 collection.  
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1. Millionaire's Shortbread

Millionaire’s shortbread has a lot going for it: a crunchy shortbread base; a chewy, caramel-like filling; and a shiny, snappy chocolate top. The only thing that could make it better would be foolproof methods for producing all three layers. We started by making a quick shortbread with melted butter rather than pulling out the mixer or food processor. Sweetened condensed milk is important to the flavor of the filling, but it also makes the filling vulnerable to breaking because the whey proteins, crucial to keeping the mixture emulsified, have been damaged by heat both during processing and during the cooking of the filling. We added fresh cream to supply just enough whey to keep it together. Melting the chocolate very carefully so that it never got too hot and stirring in grated chocolate at the end created a smooth, firm top layer, which made a suitably elegant finish for this rich yet refined cookie. [GET THE RECIPE]

2. Best Prime Rib

The perfect prime rib should have a deep-colored, substantial crust encasing a tender, juicy, rosy-pink center. To achieve this perfect roast, we started by salting the roast overnight. The salt enhanced the beefy flavor while dissolving some of the proteins, yielding a buttery-tender roast. To further enhance tenderness, we cooked the roast at a very low temperature, which allowed the meat's enzymes to act as a natural tenderizers, breaking down its tough connective tissue. A brief stint under the broiler before serving ensured a crisp, flavorful crust. [GET THE RECIPE]

3. Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies

Our holiday roll-and-cut sugar cookies taste as great as they are easy to make. For a crisp and sturdy texture with no hint of graininess, we made superfine sugar by grinding granulated sugar briefly in the food processor, and we added small amounts of baking powder and baking soda to the dough. We skipped creaming softened butter and sugar in favor of whizzing cold butter with sugar in the food processor, which let the dough come together in just minutes. The just-made dough was cold enough to be rolled out immediately. We then chilled it after rolling. For an even, golden color; minimal browning; and a crisp, crunchy texture from edge to edge, we baked the cookies at a gentle 300 degrees on a rimless cookie sheet on the oven’s lower-middle rack. [GET THE RECIPE]

4. Beef Tenderloin with Smoky Potatoes and Persillade Relish

For special occasions, few cuts top a beef tenderloin. This elegant roast cooks quickly and serves a crowd, and its rich, buttery slices are fork-tender. We found that a hot oven delivered rich, roasted flavor and perfectly rosy meat without overcooking this lean cut. Tying the roast helped ensure even cooking. The roast needed company, and a side dish of small whole red potatoes proved to be the perfect match. To punch up the flavor, we tossed the potatoes with smoked paprika, which added a pleasant smokiness to complement the meat, along with garlic and scallions for a deep, flavorful backbone. The tender meat needed a sauce, so we whipped up a simple yet bold persillade relish, which featured parsley, chopped capers, and minced cornichons. [GET THE RECIPE]

5. Shrimp Scampi

Our shrimp scampi recipe uses a few test kitchen tricks to ensure flavorful and well-cooked shrimp along with a cohesive, garlicky wine-and-butter sauce. First, we brine the shrimp in salt and sugar to season them throughout and keep them moist and juicy. Then we poach them in wine rather than sauté them, so they cook evenly and gently. To get good seafood flavor into the sauce, we make a stock from the shrimp shells. And for potent garlic flavor, we use a generous amount of sliced garlic—too much minced garlic made the sauce grainy. Finally, to keep the sauce silky and emulsified, we added a teaspoon of cornstarch. Emulsifying with cornstarch means that we can use a little less butter, so the sauce isn’t overly rich. [GET THE RECIPE]

6. Ultimate Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

For the ultimate flaky biscuits, we grate the butter so that it’s evenly distributed in the flour mixture, which is key for flakiness. Freezing the butter prior to grating ensures that it stays in individual pieces throughout the mixing and shaping process. Using a higher-protein all-purpose flour (such as King Arthur) provides the right amount of structure for flakiness (rather than fluffiness, which you’d get with a lower-protein flour) without toughness, while buttermilk gives the biscuits tang and sugar lends complexity. To produce the maximum number of layers, we roll out and fold the dough like a letter five times. Cutting the biscuits into squares is easy and avoids any wasted scraps (or tough rerolls). And finally, we learned that letting the dough rest for 30 minutes and trimming away the edges ensures that the biscuits rise up tall and true in the oven. [GET THE RECIPE]

Want to see the rest of our top 25? Check out our Most Popular America's Test Kitchen Recipes in December collection. And view these recipe collections to see which recipes were popular in past months:

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