Day 10 – French Christmas Cookies
// January 6th, 2011 // A State of Yum
Sure, we have a Day 10 cookie post on Day, um, 13… but timing aside, I wanted to go ahead and complete the 12 days of Cookies because I’m enjoying writing and hope someone out there is benefiting from these pictures and recipes. If not, it’s a great way to catalog some of my favorite holiday recipes! French Christmas Cookies are the best combination of sugar and butter cookies in the world. I have avoided sugar cookies for years. I never keep them cold enough, rolling out the dough is a total PITA and I almost always cut the cookies too thin which means the bottom of the cookie is slightly scorched OR the cookie breaks when I decorate it. Madness, I tell you. Since I tend to avoid anything that leaves me writhing on the floor in sheer, utter frustration, sugar cookies fell out of rotation once I realized that the simple, undecorated butter cookies made my child as happy (in 1/8th of the time) as cutout, decorated sugar cookies. Over time – and time really does dull all painful memories (childbirth, bad dating experiences, Christmas cookie disasters) – I started missing the creative process involved in decorating sugar cookies. So, me being me, I went to le Goog and started researching foolproof sugar cookies, narrowed down the search to a few that, on paper, seemed yummy and easy, and put them to the test! After a few near misses with sugar cookies, I found a site on French Christmas cookies and how using cake flour (not all-purpose) and honey make a HUGE difference in the flavor of the cookie and the malleability of the dough. I downloaded and tried the recipe and the cookies were sheer perfection! And now you can benefit from the fruit of those labors. Aren’t you the lucky one?
1/2 cup cold butter, NOT room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 and 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
Cream butter until soft, add sugar and beat. Add honey and egg yolks and mix into the sugar/butter mixture until the mixture is fluffy. Add milk, vanilla, and combine. Then add flour gradually, beating in the flour after addition. Once mixed, immediately wrap dough in plastic and chill for 2 hours, minimum (overnight is preferred).
Once chilled, roll out the dough (1/2 inch thickness) and cut. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool and frost with thinned royal icing and decoratives like nonpareils, M&Ms, chocolate sprinkles, red and green sprinkles, etc.
Note: Do NOT allow the dough to come to room temperature while rolling and cutting. I reach into the fridge, grab a quarter of the dough, roll it and cut it and immediately bake the cookies, putting leftover dough back into the fridge until the next rolling/cutting/immediately baking session. This is the secret to perfectly rolled, perfectly cut holiday cookies!!
3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. You will need to thin your royal icing before using it (and make sure you have your nonpareils in a bowl ready for use and toothpicks nearby before you get started).
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