Sunday, December 7, 2014

Austrian Wreaths

Also known as Mandelkranzchen, Austrian Wreaths are one of my favorite Christmas cookies. The dough is made with lots of butter and ground almonds and spiced with ground cloves and cinnamon. Unlike many nut-based doughs, this one 

is relatively easy to work with, and the cookies retain their shape well. I like to put lots of sliced almonds on top of the cookies, so that they have that random casualness of a home-spun wreath. Feel free to use whatever jam or preserves you 

like for the filling. I like raspberry preserves, but sour cherry or apricot would also be delightful. The dough can be made up to a month in advance and frozen (well-wrapped), an option which allows you to enjoy these cookies throughout the holiday season and even into the new year. Click on Read More below for the recipe. 

Austrian Wreaths
Adapted from Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) by Todd Knaster

Makes about 20 cookies

1 ¾ cups (232 g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup (96 g) ground almonds
12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 2/3 cups (191 g) confectioners’ sugar, divided
1 large egg, separated
1 cup (85 g) sliced almonds
½ cup (152 g) raspberry preserves or apricot jam

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground cloves, cinnamon and ground almonds. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2/3 cup (76 g) of the confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until light, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the egg yolk and mix to combine, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and reduce the speed to low. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture all at once and mix just until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Gather the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 days).
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to slightly less than ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2 ¼-inch round cutter, cut out rounds from the dough, saving the scraps so that they can be re-rolled and cut again. Cut out a 1-inch hole in the center of half of the cookies. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 ½ inches apart.
5. Lightly brush the cookies with the hole in the center with the egg white and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate and switch the baking sheets as necessary for even baking.
6. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheets then transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
7. Spread some preserves or jam on the cookies without the holes.
8. Lightly dust the top cookies (with holes) with the remaining confectioners’ sugar and sandwich the cookies together. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.