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Spritz are a Christmas cookie standard. Although deliciously simple, they can also be a bit…well, simple. They easily take the back seat to other, more indulgent, treats.
That’s why I’m so excited about these jazzed-up Christmas spritz. That simple butter cookie is piped into attractive rosette swirls, baked to a light golden crunch, smeared underside with creamy sweet dulce de leche, and then sandwiched to form a show-stopping treat.
makes about 30 sandwich cookies
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks*
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-2 tablespoons milk*
dulce de leche (recipe follows below)
special equipment: parchment paper, pastry bag, large open star piping tip; see notes for instructions if you plan to press the dough instead of piping.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make dough. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar at low speed. Increase to medium and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, add in egg yolks, salt, and vanilla, and beat on medium until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl again, sift flour over the top, and continue to mix on low until smooth. Scrape down mixer once again, add in a tablespoon of milk (see note), and mix until blended. If the batter seems too stiff to pipe easily, add in another tablespoon of milk and mix.
Pipe and bake. Transfer cookie dough to a pastry bag fitted with large open star piping tip. Pipe dough into 1.5-inch rosettes spaced about 1 inch apart (I found I could fit 24 on a sheet). Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes, until cookies are just slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven, wait a minute to let the cookies firm up a bit, and then remove from pan onto a rack to cool completely.
Fill. Once completely cooled, go through your cookies and match them up in pairs of similar shape/size. On the bottom of one in each pair, smear a small amount (about 1/2 teaspoon) of dulce de leche (see notes). Press cookies together firmly. Let the filling set a little bit before piling them onto a tray or they will spread around. Enjoy!
dulce de leche
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread contents of can into a 9-inch pie pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place pie dish inside a larger roasting pan, and fill with the larger pan with water halfway up the pie pan’s sides. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, remove foil and stir thoroughly, cover again with foil, and return to oven for another 45 minutes. When done, it should be a deep golden, thick and creamy spread. If it’s not quite there, stir thoroughly and return again to oven, checking on it every 15 minutes or so.
You’re going to end up with about twice as much dulce de leche than you’ll need for the spritz sandwiches. You have two choices: double the spritz recipe (not a bad idea, considering that my single batch was completely devoured sometime between mid-afternoon and dinner), or you can save it in the fridge to eat by the surreptitious spoonful, or smeared on toast.
leftover egg whites: save your egg whites!! make these lofthouse sugar cookies or these gluten-free fudgey chocolate walnut cookies or check out this post for ideas on how to store them and recipes to use them up.
adding in milk: the milk is added in this recipe to make the dough more pipeable. If you plan to use a cookie press for this recipe instead, then skip the milk and chill the dough for 30 minutes before pressing. Proceed with baking and filling as usual.
pastry tip: I used the Wilton 1M open star for my rosettes. Also, I always keep a box of disposable pastry bags on hand for projects like this. These ones come in a neat dispenser for easy storage; I also like that they are sturdy enough to wash and re-use, but inexpensive enough so I don’t mind tossing them either.
on filling: if you plan to ship or travel with these cookies, I recommend using a minimal amount of dulce de leche filling—just enough to give the cookies a good stick. If there is too much oozing over the edges, they will get all sticky and the cookies are liable to shift. On the other hand, if you plan to eat/serve right away, then pile on the deliciousness!
piping rosettes: piping a stiff cookie dough can be tough (my hands were shaking violently!) but it’s really not that complicated. To make a rosette, hold the bag straight up and down with the tip nearly touching the pan. Press firmly as you move the tip up, over and around in a circle a clockwise direction. Release the pressure from your hands and then pull up.
Spritz recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking.