Christmas Spritz Cookies

WOOOOOOO got that holiday spirit this weekend who is WITH ME?? Last week was such a wonderfully Christmas themed week at the Lewis house- we took our annual trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in the city (it never gets old), saw the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and wandered the Bryant Park Christmas village like a bunch of tourists and it was a blast. THEN, on Saturday we bought our Christmas tree and decorated it while eating these very cookies, and it was all very cozy and warm and happy. Funny story, on last year’s Christmas tree, my siblings and I stuck a picture of Harry Styles’ face over the angel on top of our tree (because he is the true angel), and waited to see when our parents would notice. The days went by, Christmas went by, and NO ONE noticed until the day we took our tree down. Now, we’re already plotting who to make the angel of our tree this year…any suggestions?

Isn’t she lovely!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been buying Christmas presents like crazy and wondering if you’ll ever have enough, but I doubt there’s a person alive who wouldn’t be overjoyed to receive these babies in a lil box. The recipe I adapted comes from this recipe from the New York Times by Alison Roman, whom I admire very much. I didn’t change a whole lot, aside from using salted butter instead of unsalted because I had run out, and was pleased to discover that the combo of regular salted butter and the recommended teaspoon of salt made for a beautifully sweet and salty combo that I will be making from now on. 10/ 10 would recommend adding this to your Christmas cookie repertoire, and pull it out for your next cookie exchange or office party.

Enough chit chat however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Jelly doughnuts.

TWO. Seeing a second trailer for Captain Marvel (I will lose my mind seeing this movie).

THREE. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

FOUR. Giving presents feeling better than getting presents.

FIVE. Having a favorite tree ornament.

 

Makes: Roughly 130- 140 cookies (I KNOW!)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Required Tools: Spritz cookie press (I used one from OXO)

Ingredients

3½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) salted butter, softened
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Colored sugar, sprinkles for decorating

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is creamed together and becomes light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat until everything is well combined, about 2 minutes.

THREE. Carefully add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, about a minute. Load the dough into the cookie press in batches, and press cookies out onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles immediately so that they will stick. (I used an egg wash, which you are welcome to do, but I didn’t like the way it made the colors of the sprinkles run so I won’t be doing that again.)

FOUR. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until just golden. Be careful not to overbake, these cookies are small and will go from golden to burnt pretty quickly.

Best enjoyed with a large mug of hot chocolate (regular or peppermint!) xoxoxoxoxoD

 

 

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Passionfruit Macarons

So something BIG happened this week, and that big thing was that someone was brave enough to pay me to bake for them! A few weeks ago after a tough work week, I brought in a batch of these passionfruit macarons as a morale booster, and my sweet sweet coworker then asked me to make some this weekend for a party she’s having. So the pressure was on because macarons are notoriously temperamental, but the gods of french baking were smiling down on me because these cookies went off largely without a hitch.

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Still some cracks, but it’s okay to be perfectly imperfect because the taste is remarkable!

Something that I’ve been noticing when I make macarons sometimes is their tendency to crack on the tops, and for so long I couldn’t figure out why. After some research and many MANY trials, it seems that the batter cracks for a few reasons, like a batter with too much liquid, a batter that’s under-mixed, or an environment that’s too humid. But never fear, there are solutions for all of these problems! To keep a batter from getting too wet, switch to gel food colorings instead of liquid. Not only will you get a more vibrant color, but you’ll be using way less food coloring while you’re at it. Next, when mixing your final batter (after the flour mixture is added to the whipped eggs), you’d be surprised how much mixing you actually have to do. I always used to be afraid of mixing too much and deflating the egg whites, BUT it turns out you have to mix the batter until it’s thin enough that when you lift up your spatula, the batter flows off in a v-shape like lava. Lastly, the humidity is a little tricky. If you desperately need to make these on a humid day, keep all the windows closed and crank the air conditioner way up to keep it cool and dry. If this isn’t possible, you may just have to postpone your macaron adventures until a less-humid day. Who knew cookies could be so high maintenance?

It’s important to remember that no matter what happens, these cookies will taste SO good that no one who eats one will even notice if there are some cracks. The passionfruit is tart and summery and a perfect compliment to the delicate sweetness of the almond cookie base and the rich buttercream. Feel free to make your own passionfruit curd if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, but since the cookies are labor intensive on their own, I figured I’d give myself a break and use store bought passionfruit curd (which, btw, I could eat with a spoon out of the jar). Anywho, let’s get started, happy baking!

Makes: About 50 2-inch complete macarons (depending on how big you pipe them)
Prep Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1.5 hours

Macaron Ingredients: (adapted from Ladurée Sucré: The Recipes)

2¾ cups + 1 tbs almond flour (ground almonds)
2 cups + 1 tbs confectioners sugar
6 egg whites + ½ an additional egg white, separated and lightly whipped until foamy
1 cup + 1 tbs granulated sugar
Yellow gel food coloring

Macaron Steps:

1. Begin by prepping your baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. Do NOT grease your pans for this type of cookie.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the ground almonds and confectioners sugar to remove all lumps. Set aside.

3. In the (CLEAN, GREASE-FREE) bowl of your mixer, whip the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add in a third of the granulated sugar and beat until it has dissolved. Add in another third, beat until dissolved, and then add the last third. Add the food coloring at this point to achieve the desired yellow color. I went for a lighter one this time, but it’s totally up to you! Whip this mixture until the egg whites are pure white and can stand up on their own when the beater is removed, it should be about 5-7 minutes total.

4. Fold the almond flour mixture into the egg white mixture, continuously mixing until all the flour is incorporated and, when the spatula is lifted out of the batter, the batter flows like lava in a v-shape back into the bowl. If your batter seems too thick, slowly add a little of the extra ½ egg white, a little at a time, mixing until the right consistency is reached.

5. Pour this mixture into a piping bag fitted with a wide circle tip (or just cut the tip of the piping bag into a 1 inch wide circle or so). Pipe the macarons about 2 inches in diameter, leaving about an inch of space in between each one- they don’t spread very much but you wouldn’t want any to bake together. If you get a little “Hershey Kiss” looking swirl on top, dip your finger in a cup of water and gently smooth it down. Tap your baking sheets on the counter to release any trapped air bubbles.

6. Preheat your oven to 300ºF now. Let the macarons sit on the baking sheets for 10-30 minutes until a sort of skin forms on the tops of the cookies- when you touch the tops, they should feel smooth and no cookie batter should come off on your hands.

7. Bake the macarons for 15 minutes and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheets before removing. If you pull them off when they’re still warm, they are more likely to break or fall apart. When they’re cool, gently peel them from the parchment paper and match up your pairs so that they’re ready for filling.
Passionfruit Buttercream (and Filling) Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners sugar
½ cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbs whole milk
¼ cup passionfruit curd, plus about ¼ cup more for filling

Passionfruit Buttercream (and Filling) Steps:

1. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter, vanilla, and confectioners sugar. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until you reach the desired smooth consistency.

2. Add in the passionfruit curd and whip the frosting until it’s light and spreadable.

3. On one cookie from each pair of macarons, pipe a wide circle of buttercream along the edge. Fill another small piping bag or ziplock bag with passionfruit curd, and pipe a small dot in the center of the buttercream for a little surprise bite! Place the second macaron on top and voila!

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The passionfruit curd is the perfect surprise in the middle!

These cookies are best enjoyed after a night in the fridge so that the flavors can fully develop, but if you simply can’t wait, they’ll be delicious immediately as well. Enjoy!!!

xoxoxoxoD

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