Monday, December 20, 2010
For me, I think Spritz cookies are the most quintessentially Christmas. Even though I didn't really grow up with them, and got my first cookies press a couple of years ago, they always seem to find their way into the holiday baking schedule. This recipe is pretty close to the one I used a couple of years ago. It's also just as good. Instead of ground almonds it uses almond paste, calls for cake flour and uses confectioners' sugar instead of regular.
I can't say that one or the other was particularly better, so you should chose based on what you already have on-hand. I, for example, wanted to use up some cake flour. I can say that this recipe is quite almondy, which is another reason I picked it. They're almondy, and buttery, and delicious once baked. But they were also a little finicky with the press. Nick Malgieri, whose recipe this is, suggests piping for the cookies. As far as the press goes, if the almond paste was not sufficiently mixed and dissolved, it tended to clog up a bit. So I had to go back into the dough with my hands and squeeze out the clumps of almond paste. You can avoid that by making sure your almond paste is very well mixed and smoothed with the egg and sugar. Also, just as a side note, almond paste is not the same as marzipan, although there's debate on what exactly the difference is. Marzipan is sweeter, apparently, and used to roll out and top cakes or to form into figures. But since marzipan does tend to contain more sugar, I'd use almond paste for this recipe as written.
Almond Butter Spritz Cookies
Adopted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake
1/4 pound almond paste
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs and 1 large yolk
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups cake flour
Rock sugar for decorating (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 F, and set the wracks on the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Set parchment paper over several cookie sheets and set aside. You can oil the cookie sheets before you put the parchment paper on top so that the paper will stick to the sheet while you pipe.
In the bowl of your mixer and combine the almond paste with the sugar and half of the eggs. Stir together so that the almond paste starts to soften. Beat in the butter gradually, then pour the rest of the eggs in in a thin stream. This is the best time to make sure that the almond paste is as smooth as you can possibly get it.
Add all of the flour at one and mix just until combined. Don't overmix, or your cookies will be tough. Either pipe the dough or press it into shapes using a cookie press. You don't need to leave a ton of room between the cookies, as they won't spread a ton. If you're going to decorate with rock sugar, do it now.
Bake for about 15 minutes, and allow to cool on the sheets.