My friend Jen is a classically trained baker and someone I turn to when looking for a little sweet inspiration. After various stints as a Pastry Chef in esteemed New York City kitchens such as Mario Batali’s Esca and the Upper East Side mainstay, Orsay, she now heads the pastry department at Citibank’s Executive Dining program.
As any chef who has tried their hand at baking can attest, being a good cook doesn’t necessarily make you a good baker. Baking requires a certain kitchen alchemy that comes with patience, know-how and a ton of trial and error.
Jen recently texted me a picture of some Italian Butter Cookies she made and I immediately felt inspired to give it a go myself. Normally, I run in the opposite direction of butter, but the thought of using a piping bag was too enticing to pass up. At this stage of my cooking ‘career’, I’m all about trying new things and that includes utilizing different tools.
I learned two things from this culinary experience. First, my piping skills require MUCH more practice! And second, butter does indeed make many things better!
Piped Italian Butter Cookies (Adapted from Jen’s Recipe)
1 2/3 cups of flour
2/3 cup of 10x confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 eggs* (Originally stated 2 eggs plus 1 yolk, but reduced to just 2 eggs as a potential fix to below issue.)
1 tsp of lemon zest
1 tsp of vanilla or almond extract
Toppings: Dark chocolate, Celtic or Macon sea salt flakes, Raspberry jam
Piping bag with star tip
To start, preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, zest, extract and softened butter. If you’re like me, you’ve just bought your butter so it’s not softened. An easy hack to soften butter is by placing it between two pieces of paper and pounding it with a rolling pin. (It’s both stress relieving and efficient.) Also, if you don’t have an electric mixer, you’ll have to use some elbow grease to really get at those wet ingredients. Once it’s adequately broken down, add it to your dry ingredients and mix together until you get a smooth, consistent cookie dough consistency.
Editor’s note: Our cookies lost their shape in the oven. We’re not entirely sure why this happened but it might have something to do with too much butter or not enough flour. Either way, try it on your own. We’ll continue to test this recipe and update accordingly.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pack your piping bag with dough and get piping. You’ll want to create a swirl like effect. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie. Add whatever topping you prefer. I chose bits of dark chocolate, whole almonds and a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt. But, I think the best combination is with raspberry jam. These cookies are made with confectioner’s sugar, which means they’re not overtly sweet.
Place in the oven for about 12 minutes. Once they’ve browned, let them cool, then serve.