I am in hog heaven lately. It’s no surprise to you guys that Christmas is a holiday that I just adore, and with the holidays, there is always baking. Lots and lots of baking. I know I mentioned last week that I had to special order 28 blocks of cream cheese…well, when the butter goes on sale, I’m pretty sure I’m going to need 15 boxes. I’m not even kidding. I just love holiday baking, and truly enjoy sharing those treats with the ones that I care about.
America’s Test Kitchen recently came out with their newest book: The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, and sent me a complimentary copy to review. I just adore America’s Test Kitchen. I subscribe to both Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country, as well as frequently cook from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. So when they asked me if I’d like to review this book, I didn’t even have to think about it. I actually had this book on my holiday wish list when I first read about the book in this post (which is what encouraged me to bake those scrumptious sticky buns in the first place). When I received it in the mail, I had my post-its in hand ready to mark the recipes that I wanted to make right away.
The book contains 15 different chapters, with 450 recipes total. The book also has a comprehensive section called baking basics, explaining pretty much anything you ever needed to know about basic baking ingredients and tools, as well as tips to become a better baker in the kitchen.
It’s also beautifully illustrated. I’m usually a sucker for color photos when it comes to food photography, but the black and white photography just draws you in. Also, in true Cook’s Illustrated fashion, there are step-by-step illustrations for some of the more complicated recipes. I appreciate this, because while you don’t necessarily always need step-by-step photos, there are some recipes where you just need an illustration or two to guide you along the way. There’s also notes in the beginning of every recipe, explaining what the recipe is and how certain ingredients in the recipe work to make this recipe just perfect.
As I was skimming through the book, these holiday spritz cookies caught my eye. Really, it was the word “holiday”. I’ve attempted to make spritz cookies before, and sadly, the dough ended up being too thick to use in the cookie press. I haven’t attempted spritz cookies since, and that was a few years ago. While I own a cookie press, I wanted to try it with another method that they recommended: a star tip and a piping bag. Genius….
I was so excited when these cookies actually piped out, and they baked up perfectly. These cookies put those holiday tin cookies to shame. They’re perfectly buttery, not too sweet, and are so simple to make! I ended up adding some sprinkles to some before baking as well, and that gave them some extra holiday flair. Of course, they’re delicious on their own, but sprinkles make everything more fun, right?
Holiday Spritz Cookies
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Move the rack to the middle position in the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare 2 cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set them aside.
- Whisk the egg yolk, cream and vanilla extract in a small bowl, until well-combined. Set the mixture aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and with the mixer on medium speed, add the egg yolk mixture to the butter mixture, and beat for about 30 seconds, or until incorporated. Change the speed on your mixer to low, and gradually add in the flour until everything is combined. Scrape down the bowl, and give the dough a final stir with a spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain in the dough. (At this point, if you’d like, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for up to 4 days. Before you’re ready to use the dough again, allow the dough to stand at room temperature for about 45 minutes, until softened.)
- If you’d prefer to use a cookie press to make these cookies. follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fill the press. If you’d prefer to use a pastry bag, fit it with the star tip and fill the bag with about half of the dough. (You don’t want to put all of the dough in the piping bag at once….your wrists will thank you.)
- Press or pipe the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave 1 1/2 inches space between each cookie. Fill up the cookie press or piping bag as needed. Bake the cookies 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 7-15 minutes (depending on cookie size…mine were small and took 7 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through the baking process.. Make sure to check on them frequently to see how long it will take for a batch to bake (they can go from perfectly baked to burnt rather quickly). Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack to allow them to finish cooling completely.
The generous folks at America’s Test Kitchen are offering the readers of The Nifty Foodie a chance to win a copy of The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book. Don’t you want a copy of this gorgeous book for the holiday season? To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. Note: This giveaway is open to readers in the continental US only. Entries will be accepted until November 19th at 12:00am (central standard time). Winner will be emailed (make sure you leave an email address in the form), and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: America’s Test Kitchen sent me a complimentary copy of The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book for a fair and honest review. They are also supplying a copy for the giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.