Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Cookies - Spitzbuben

Long before the season was in full swing I announced that I would not be baking as many cookies as I usually do for Christmas. I had decided with full conviction that I would bake two batches of the most popular cookies and that would be it. But as the season approached, the pull of baking one or two more cookies - new cookies that I had not baked before - was too great to resist and so I found myself leafing through seasonal magazines yet again for new recipes. One of these recipes was for Spitzbuben, a sandwiched cookies that I had always wanted to bake. I had even bought the proper cookie cutter.

The ingredients for the dough consist of your basic sugar cookie dough; butter, icing sugar, egg yolks, flour and salt. Once the dough is mixed it is wrapped and refrigerated for one hour. The dough is then divided into six even pieces and each piece is rolled out to a 9" square. Using a 2" round cookie cutter cut out circles of dough, then you cut an equal amount of circles with a special insert to the cookie cutter that cuts a decorative hole in the centre. The dough is baked and cooled.

Meanwhile seedless raspberry jam is heated in a small pot to thicken and reduce by one quarter and because there are chocoholics in the family I decided to make a chocolate ganache as well to fill the cookies.

About a teaspoon of filling is spread over a cookie and another cookie, with the decorative hole, is dusted with icing sugar and placed on top. It takes a bit of time to put these cookies together but in the end you are rewarded with a really pretty cookie that tastes really good.

I've also baked Cinnamon Rugelach, Lora Brody's Rugelach, Kifli, French Macaroons and Pecan Tarts and made White Chocolate Bark with Pistachios and Cranberries and Truffles. So much for two batches only - maybe next year.

A tin of cookies ready for giving.
Merry Christmas everyone!


3/4 lb. butter, softened (3 sticks)

1-1/2 cup icing sugar

3 egg yolks

3-1/2 cups flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Icing sugar for dusting

Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time beating until smooth after each addition. Mix flour and salt together and then add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time beating between additions. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Press into a 9" x 11" rectangle and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place two racks evenly spaced in the centre fo the oven. Divide chilled dough into 6 even pieces, then rewrap 5 pieces and put back in fridge.

On a lightly floured surface, work one dough piece at a time. Keeping surface and dough floured, roll dough into a 9" square. Using a to 2" round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing cookies about 1" apart (reserve dough scraps for rerolling later). Repeat process with remaining chilled dough pieces, then combine leftover scraps into a ball, reroll and continue circles until most of the dough is gone. Using small star cookie cutter punch a hole in the centre of half of the circles - these will become the tops. Bake all cookies in batches, rotating pans on racks halfway through, until cookies are a pale-golden colour, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool.
Pour raspberry jam into a samll pot and heat over medium until it comes to a boil, stirring every so often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, still stirring, until thickened and reduced by one-quarter, about 5 minutes. Transfer jam to a bowl and cool.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust cookie tops with icing sugar. Turn whole cookies upside down and spoon about 1 teaspoon of jam onto each cookie. Using a small spatuala, spread jam to 1/8" of the edges leaving a small mound of jam in the centre of the cookie. Cover each with a cookie top. Serve cookies immediately or store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze.