Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Egyptian Christmas Cookies "Petit Fours"

If you have read this blog before, you know that my passion is knitting.  But my other passion is baking cookies.  I love to create special holiday cookies.  In years past, I made close to a dozen different types.  But, since my husband and I are empty nesters now, I make a few favorites.

My husband is Coptic.  You normally wouldn't think of Egypt celebrating Christmas, but the Christian community there does celebrate and it's a special time for special foods, especially after the long Advent fast.  These cookies are quite popular there during Christmas or Easter.  They are easy to prepare.  The most complicated part is clarifying the butter.  So, here is the recipe:


Take 1 pound of butter (or 3/4 pound) and put into a small covered saucepan.  Place on low heat and heat until butter melts.  Do not let it boil.  After it is melted, remove from heat and pour into a tall skinny glass or other vessel.  You will notice that the milk solids begin to drop to the bottom of the glass and the clear liquid butter "ghee" is on top.  Pour off the butter into a 1 cup measuring cup and a 1/4 cup measuring cup.  Place in refrigerator and let cool until it is solid.  It's probably best to make this a day or two in advance of making the petit fours.  If you only end up with 1 cup of clarified butter, you can use  1/4 cup of regular butter for the additional butter needed in the recipe.  I use only unsalted butter.


1 1/4 cup clarified butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs (not extra large)
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 to 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, add butter and sugar and mix until creamed.  Add in eggs and vanilla and mix until blended.  Add in flour, 1 cup at a time along with baking powder.  You may need to mix by hand at the end after all the flour is incorporated.

Divide dough in half; half will be left plain and the other half will be mixed with the cocoa powder to make chocolate dough.  If you prefer, you make make 1/4 chocolate dough or 1/2 or whatever you wish.

Put dough in cookie press and press out on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees 8 to 10 minutes or until bottom of cookies are very light brown.  You don't want them to color but you do want them to be done inside.  Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet.

You will then sandwich them together using your choice (or a mixture of) apricot jam, melted white chocolate or dark chocolate.  Place a little jam or melted chocolate on one cookie and place the other cookie on top.  Dip the end of the cookie sandwich into melted chocolate and into sprinkles or nuts.  You can mix it up a bit.  The traditional way is to sandwich them together with apricot jam, brush a little apricot jam on the end and dip in chopped nuts.  I used white chocolate since I found out I didn't have any apricot jam in my pantry!! 

You may think they are like the Danish spritz (I'm Danish) but they have a little different texture.  This is because of the clarified butter and powdered sugar.  They have a lovely "melt in your mouth" texture which I'm sure you will enjoy.

Feel free to add comments if you have any questions.  Happy baking!

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