Last week I made Christmas cookie party for my girlfriends. Like me, they are all moms with small children, so I wanted them to have a break from their busy lives and enjoy cookies and chat with other girls. If you have small kids you know what I am talking about.
I had planed to make very festive cookies, some traditional such as gingerbread, and some a bit extravagant, like peppermint meringues and speculoos buttons.
The party was a success and I must tell you which cookies were hit - Pistachtio macarons and Oat-almond lace. Unfortunatelly, I didn't have time to take picture of the latter, but I plan to make them again anyway - although they turned out very tasty I think there is something wrong with the recipe I found in Bon Appetit magazine. It is about baking time, and next time I will add more flour and less butter, so stay tuned for the Oat-almond lace recipe.
I start from my basic macarons recipe but instead of using almond, I use pistachio flour which is more coarse so macarons do not look so smooth. Anyway, they are delicious with white chocolate ganache filling.
140g egg whites, on room temperature for few hours
100g white granulated sugar
160g pistachio flour (finely ground pistachio nuts)
240g powdered sugar
3-2 drops green food color
200g white chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl combine powdered sugar with ground pistachio.
In another bowl beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed and while mixing gradually add granulated sugar in 3 batches, one at a time. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Stir in nut-sugar mixture and food color using spatula. Do not over mix it. Batter should be thick enough.
Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe rounds, 1-inch apart, on baking sheets. Let it stand 20-40 minutes, until dry film forms on surface. This is a crucial stage. If they are not dry enough macarons will crack while bake.
Preheat the oven. My oven is strong, so I bake macarons on 285F. Usually, people do it on 300F. Do not open the oven for first 7 minutes. In my oven, it takes 13 minutes for macarons to be done. You can check if they are done by touching them and moving them, if they break they are not ready to go out. To much of baking is not good either, because they get brown and change their original color.
When they are done, cool them on wire racks.
Make ganache. Heat heavy cream until it starts to boil. In a bowl place white chocolate chips and butter cut in small pieces. Pour in hot cream, cover the bowl with lid and wait for few minutes. Then stir ganache until all chocolate is melted. Remove it to fridge for 15-20 minutes to thicken. Spoon it into pastry bag and fill between two macaron biscuits, making a "sandwich" held together by ganashe.
Store macarons in airtight containers in the fridge.
My favorite. When I saw them on cover page of Bon Appetit magazine, I immediately fell in love with these meringues. They are very easy to make, and they look extraordinary. Find original recipe here.
3 large egg whites, on room temperature for few hours
Pinch of Kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
12 drops red food color
Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Beat egg whites and salt with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. While mixing, gradually add granulated suger in 3 batches, one at a time. When the mixture is thick enough, until firm peaks form, add powdered sugar and peppermint extract and mix it with spatula, not hand mixer.
Dot the mixture with red food color. Do not stir. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag and pipe rounds onto sheet with parchment paper. You can use different tips for you pastry bag. Make space between rounds. Bake meringues for 2 1/2 hours. When cooled down, store them in airtight containers with parchment paper between each layer of cookies.
I love how those sprinkles add festive look to the cookies. Original recipe from Bon Appetit magazine find here. I changed the recipe. I prefer lemon flavor in a glaze.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pumkin pie spice
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 vanilla extract
1 egg white
Sprinkles, sanding sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Beat butter in another bowl until smooth using an electric mixer. Add brown and white sugar and mix until you get creamy mixture. Then add egg and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low and stir in flour with spice.
Remove batter from bowl and divide into three parts. Roll each piece into an 6-8-inch log. Wrap logs with parchment paper and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat an oven to 375°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough logs from the freezer. Brush each log with egg whites, one at a time and roll them over sprinkles or sanding sugar. Using sharp knife cut log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, discarding ends. Transfer rounds to baking sheet. While they are in the oven, keep other logs in the freezer. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes.
When they are done, transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.
Make glaze. Stir powdered sugar with lemon juice until you get smooth and thick glaze. Spoon it to pastry bag and make rounds on cookies. Decorate them with sprinkles or sanding sugar.
Finally, I mastered making gingerbread cookies. Every year I use the same recipe, but this time they turned out perfect. Obviously, it is not all about recipe, something comes with practice:) My kids helped me baking them. My son showed advanced skills, I promised him next year I would buy him small rolling pin.
We even made window decoration with gingerbread people.