This time of year brings memories of my Grandma Maxie and her Christmas cookies. She was a fabulous cook and baker. I still remember her hands, speckled with age spots and knuckles swollen with the beginnings of arthritis, spooning out dough onto a baking sheet.
My grandmother and my mother would make spritz cookies when I was a little girl. They were darling little cookies. I remember their tender, melt-in-your mouth butteriness. Sometimes there were trees or wreaths with little silver dragees adorning the top of each tender cookie. Each one was so pretty and begged my little girl hands to keep reaching for another and another.
After seeing Aran's post about Lemon Cream Cookies in the Spring of 2009, I was in love with the idea of sandwiching buttercream (the real kind, mind you) between buttery spritz cookies. I made Blood Orange Cream Cookies awhile back.
Since it is Christmas and all, I have had holiday flavors on my mind. We made homemade eggnog last week and it was out of this world. (Watch for the post this week.) Now I want a bit of nutmeg, rum and brandy in everything.
Eggnog Spritz Cookies seemed like the natural thing to make. And then when I remembered I had some leftover meringue buttercream in the fridge from the wedding...Well, what else could I do but add some nutmeg and a smidge of booze to it? It is Christmas after all.
And at last I had my Eggnog Cream Cookie Sandwiches.
Eggnog Creme Cookie Sandwiches with Eggnog Buttercream
adapted from Cooks' Illustrated and Martha Stewart
For spritz cookies:
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. brandy
2 tsp. rum
1-2 tsp. ground nutmeg (to your taste)
1 lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
5 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (4 sticks)
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. rum
1 tsp. brandy
In a small bowl, mix together the yolks, cream, vanilla, brandy and rum. Set aside.
For spritz cookies:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Beat in the egg yolk/cream mixture. Scrape down sides again.
Whisk the flour and salt together. Add a little at a time to the creamed mixture, scraping down sides after each addition and making sure all the flour has been incorporated.
The dough should be smooth and not stiff. If the dough is too stiff, it will be too difficult to pipe. You may need to test with a bit of dough to see. The dough will soften a bit in the pastry bag with the heat of your hands. If the dough is too stiff, add a little more cream. Or if you are familiar with the dough, you can also add less flour.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a 3/8" star tip with a small portion of dough. (Don't overfill the bag or piping will be very difficult and your bag may split under the pressure.)
Pipe small, 1/2" to 3/4" stars or swirls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. (Adjust baking time if your cookies are larger or smaller.) Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes before removing to a baking rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
For eggnog buttercream:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 1/3 cup water to a boil. Boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees on a candy thermometer).
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with an electric mixer on low until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat on medium high until stiff but not dry.
With mixer running, pour syrup down side of bowl into egg whites in a steady stream, and beat on high speed until steam is no longer visible, about 3 minutes. Beat in butter a few pieces at a time. Add the nutmeg, rum and brandy and beat until smooth. If it looks curdled at any point, keep beating until it comes together.
Use immediately or store at room temperature for a few hours. Can be made up to three days ahead and kept in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to a month or so.
Smear a bit of buttercream on the bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie.
Smoosh them together and
P.S. The ribbon and mulit-colored tea towel came from IKEA. I love their wrapping paper and ribbon. It's inexpensive and pretty. I always stock up when I can. The white boxes can be found in cake decorating and party stores. Keep a few ready for delivering homemade goodies to friends and neighbors.
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