Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Cookie Testing: Italian Bakery Cookies

It's time to start prepping for this year's cookie blitz! Though I don't have my family and coworkers to give treats to this year, I have lots of new neighbors and friends to introduce to my tradition to. To keep things fresh for myself, I always like to try 1 or 2 new recipes. This year, I wanted to try to recreate one of my favorite cookies from a great little Italian bakery Massachusetts. They're a crispy, airy cookie that's created by piping dough through a star shaped decorating tip before baking. They're often covered with sprinkles or dipped in chocolate. Oh how I miss them. They are simply delicious! 

Now, I did have one little problem. I don't know what these cookies are actually called. I've always just referred to them literally as "Italian bakery cookies." And when you're not exactly sure the true name of a dish - it's hard to find the right recipe. But, with some descriptive terms like "crispy and light" and "sprinkles" matched with "Italian cookie," I managed to find a few that seemed promising.

Tonight I tried out 2 recipes. The first recipe, which was called an Italian butter cookie, called for all butter and granulated sugar. The dough ended up being pretty tough to pipe out, though the cookie did hold its shape fairly well when baking.
Italian Butter Cookie

When all was said and done, I thought these tasted pretty much like a regular sugar cookie. They were pretty flat and just didn't have that airy-ness I was going for. I didn't even bother trying to dress them up with sprinkles; I knew they weren't the "one."

Recipe # 2, which was oddly enough called a "Sand cookie," called for 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter, plus a couple of unexpected ingredients - including confectioner's sugar and cornstarch. I think the original oven temperature was a little too hot, though, because they lost their shape a big in the oven. However - the taste and texture was SPOT ON! Dressed up with a little white chocolate and red & green sprinkles and I think we have a serious contender for a new Cookie Blitz star:

Personally, I prefer the name "Italian bakery cookie" over "Sand cookie," so that's what I'm going with. This tweaked recipe below also reflects the adjusted oven temperature, which helps the cookies keep the ridges from the star piping tip better.

Italian Bakery Cookies
(Makes 3-4 dozen)

1/2 c. butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
chocolate & sprinkles for decoration, if desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream shortening, butter and confectioner's sugar together on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix on low-speed until smooth. Stir in flour and cornstarch by hand just until combined.
Add dough to piping bag with a star tip on the end. Pipe dough onto parchment paper in circles or large S-shapes.
Bake at 350°F for 11-14 minutes until golden brown around the edges.
Cool completely.
Dip in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.


Rita said...

They are pretty! I find the cookies at our Italain bakery have a special taste that I think comes from a bit of liqueur added to the dough.

ValleyWriter said...

Oh Rita - that's a great idea! Might have to experiment with a little amaretto in place of the vanilla.

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

These look great! I have no idea what the name is either!

N.D. said...

wow they look so good!