These chewy Chocolate Orange Macarons were inspired by candied orange rinds dipped in chocolate. Stiffly whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, almonds, and cocoa form perfect circles of chewy chocolate cookies that are naturally gluten-free. Then, sandwich two of these macarons with a chocolate-orange ganache that literally melts in your mouth. It is impossible to eat just one of these.
These Neapolitan Butter Cookies are three flavors in one and so unusual, I decided to throw one more cookie at you for the holidays.
Originated by Amy Hoan avid baker in Canada there are myriad variations on Instagram. These are a simple butter cookie that goes together without effort and is easy to shape. The dough itself is a breeze to work with right out of the mixer. You can vary the flavors by substituting other powders for the cocoa and strawberry.
To obtain the strawberry powder, I processed freeze dried strawberries in the processor. However, be sure to remove the package of desiccant that is in the package. I failed to do that once and when I saw the shreds of paper in the powdered strawberries I had to throw the whole batch out. If you process the whole package, store the leftover powder in an airtight container with the desiccant to keep it dry. Trader Joe’s has these and other flavors.
It is important not to over bake these Neapolitan Butter Cookies or they lose the balance of flavors. The bottoms should be barely browned. The cookies will have crisp edges and soft centers.
Neapolitan Butter Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (225 grams, 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (300 grams or 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberries or raspberries, powdered
2 tablespoons cocoa*
Red food color, optional**
Sanding Sugar or granulated sugar as needed
*Any cocoa will due but there are color variations. Black cocoa is what I used and it gives the darkest color of all the cocoas. Dutch cocoa would be next and natural cocoa gives the lightest brown. For a deeper understanding of the types of cocoa, please see Cocoa Fundamentals Natural vs. Dutched.
** The use of red food coloring is optional but the cookies will look drab without it.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer. Beat just to combine. Add the egg and mix until blended.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until everything is incorporated.
Divide the dough into 3 parts about 270 grams or about 9 1/2 ounces each. Return one batch to the mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of strawberry powder. After the powder is mixed in add red food color to get a vibrant red. (Some of it will bake out so it needs to be darker going into the oven.) Remove to a bowl.
Wipe the mixer out with a paper towel if needed. If a bowl scraper is used to remove the dough, it should be clean enough to continue.
Place a second portion of dough in the mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder. Blend in completely.
It is easiest to scoop one flavor all at once then put them together. Wash the disher/scooper in between.
Using a #100 disher/scooper, or about 2 teaspoons each, scoop each of the doughs and line them up on a baking sheet. Cover each batch with film as you go along so they don’t dry out.
Place one of each color before you.Gently push them together so they are one. Roll them between the palms of your hands to form a ball.
Roll the ball in the sugar and place on a baking sheet.
These cookies will spread considerably so place about 3 across and 4 to 5 down on a baking sheet. Below is an unbaked cookie next to the baked cookie.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. The white part will barely be brown and they will be slightly soft in the middle. Do not over bake.
I’m not sure why this is necessary, but as the cookies come from the oven, bang the pan on a counter to flatten them. I did with one pan and I didn’t with the other – it didn’t make a big difference.
Yield: About 26 Neapolitan Butter Cookies. Store in a covered container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.
If you enjoyed these other cookies:
These Mincemeat tarts concentrates on finishes for minature tarts as well as a delightful cookie filled with mincemeat.
This Mincemeat is nothing like the original combination of minced meat, dried fruits, suet and tons of spices born out of the necessity to preserve meat, without salting, curing, smoking or drying it in days long gone by.
A Brief History of Mince Pies
According to Walker’s Shortbread History of Mince Pies, “As with many traditional recipes, especially the ones we make and enjoy around big holidays or life events, mince pies are steeped with tradition and customs. Mincemeat would often be made on stir-up Sunday along with the Christmas pudding, the last Sunday before Advent. Stirring the mincemeat was quite an event, and English tradition dictates that it should only be stirred clockwise. Stirring the mincemeat anti-clockwise would lead to bad luck and poor fortune in the coming 12 months.
To spread the joy, it was tradition in England that each member of the family gave the mixture a stir, while making a wish. And if you wanted to be ensure good health and happiness in the upcoming year, you should eat one mince pie every day for the Twelve Days of Christmas, from Christmas Eve until the 5th of January.”
Today’s modern Mincemeat is a boozy, sweet, fruit filling for tarts and pies as well as a variety of other desserts. While mincemeat often plays a supporting role in an American apple pie, the English mincemeat pie is a two bite pie and in keeping with that tradition, I have made small tarts with different finishes including one topped with chocolate ganache and one finished with a cookie.
I found a small tartlet tin that is perfect for the size of Mincemeat tarts I wanted to make. They worked beautifully as you can see. I have no idea why they are called egg tart pans. However, these have to be washed by hand or they turn a funny brownish color. I use an easy press in dough for the shells. This same dough will make perfect shrink proof crusts when baked empty.
Because I made my mincemeat in February, I added brandy or rum from time to time to keep it moist. Well, by the time I was ready to use it, it was a pretty heady mixture for sure. So to tame it, I combined it with apple juice and brown sugar and cooked it until the liquid left was syrupy. I particularly like the mixture because it doesn’t boil up over the top of the tarts when baked.
If you’re new to mincemeat or a seasoned pro, there’s plenty here to pick from. So make one or make all and start your own Christmas tradition.
Be sure to watch for Part 2 this week which is a Cheese and Mincemeat Danish. If making this Danish, reserve 1/2 cup mincemeat.
Mincemeat Tart Filling
1 batch mincemeat
1/2 cup apple juice
Brown sugar to taste, optional
In a medium saucepan, combine the mincemeat and apple juice. Add brown sugar to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is syrupy. Cool completely before using.
This can be done days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature to use.
Pastry for Mincemeat Tarts
For how-to photos, please go here.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (175 grams or 6 ounces)
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon cake flour (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
In a processor fitted with the steel blade, place the flours, sugar, and baking powder. Pulse several times to mix.
Cut the cold butter into small pieces and place in a circle over the dry ingredients. Process for 20 to 30 seconds until the butter in indistinguishable in the mixture.
In a small bowl, mix the egg, egg yolk, vanilla. and water together with a fork. Pour this over the ingredients in the processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds until the pastry forms a ball.
Spray 25 – 2 1/2” tart shells lightly with a non-stick baking release. Drop a #70 disher/scooper or 1 slightly rounded tablespoons of pastry into three or four shells at a time. Flatten them evenly to cover the bottom of the shell. Press the pastry up the sides of the tins
slightly over the top edge.
Flatten the pastry with the heel of your hand even with the top of the tin.
Last, square off the bottom edge of the pastry by pressing it evenly against the tin.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the shells on a half sheet pan. 24 will fit on a pan if they are staggered.
Using a #40 disher/scooper or a scant 2 tablespoons, fill each pastry shell, spreading the filling evenly just below the top of the shell.
Top with crumbs or pipe a Viennese Whirl on top or leave plain. If you are finishing these several ways, reduce the amount of crumbs or dark satin ganache.
To Top with Crumbs
Go here for the recipe. Cover lavishly with crumbs, pressing them into the filling lightly.
Viennese Whirl Topped Mincemeat Tarts
Fill the tartlet shells with the mincemeat filling.
Make the Viennese Whirls below.
Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2” open star tip. Fill the pastry bag and pipe a whirl of batter directly onto the tartlet to within 1/4” of the edge. See piping instructions below with the recipe.
If Finishing with Ganache or Whipped Cream
Fill the shells as directed. Do not finish the tops i any way.
Baking the Tartlets
Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until the pastry shells, crumbs or Whirls are a medium brown.
Cool in their tins and release by turning upside down. I turned them out in my hand. Make sure you press the crumb side down firmly in the palm of your hand to keep them in place.
Viennese Whirl Cookies
These are a perfect butter cookie. Just a few ingredients and so very easy to make. The flavoring can be changed by substituting others for the vanilla. Additionally, a grated lemon or orange zest can be added to the dough.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened* (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (65 grams or 2 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup cake flour (225 grams or 8 ounces)
*The butter shoud be very soft for this recipe. More so than usual.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy. If using citrus zest, add it with the butter and sugar. Mix in the vanilla or alternate flavoring.
Add the flour, beating on low to mix.
To Shape and Bake Cookies
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Draw a template on parchment paper using a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter spacing them about 1″ apart. Place a second piece of parchment on top. Fit a piping bag with a 3/8″ open star.
If the batter is too stiff to pipe, place only as much as you can pipe at once in a microwave bowl. Microwave very briefly, 5 to 8 seconds max. Pipe the cookies to within about 1/8″ of the circles.
Remove the template and chill or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes.
Double pan and bake the cookies for about 13 to 15 minutes, turning them half way through if browning unevenly. They should be a light medium brown. Cool completely.
Mincemeat filled Viennese Whirls Sandwiches
Pair the cookies up as to size. Puree 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the mincemeat filling in a food processor. Fill the sandwiches as desired. Top with a second cookie.
Dark Satin Ganache
For how to pictures, go here
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)
Heat the cream, butter, and corn syrup until very hot, but do not boil. Submerge he chocolate under the cream for several minutes. Whisk very gently until smooth. Do not be too enthusiastic or air bubbles will form.
Spoon a scant tablespoon of ganache over each of the plain baked mincemeat tartlets. Rotate the tarts to fill the top or use an offset spatula to spread the ganache. Refrigerate to set. Serve at room temperature.
Whipped Cream Topping
This is not pictured above.
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1/3 cup powdered sugar (40 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium until it thickens and then beat on high until stiff.
Pipe onto tartlets with a 1/2” B tip several hours before serving. Refrigerate but serve at room temperature.
If you haven’t made mincemeat tarts this is the perfect time to start a new Christmas tradition in your house. And there’s no better way than to start with your very own mincemeat.
To Store and Serve:
The Crumb Topped Mincemeat Tarts should be lightly dusted with powdered sugar before serving.
These tarts can sit at room temperature for several days.
To Make in Advance: Bake the tarts as called for. Finish them with crumbs the Viennese Cookie or glaze them with the ganache after they are baked. Freeze them. Thaw in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
These Cookie Tips come during cookie baking season to help you get your best cookies ever but they are good all year long. These are things I’ve thought of while making cookies myself. Some are old, some new but I hope you will find a few that will help. These Peppermint Ravoli Cookies are an ideal example of a perfect cookie with a surprise inside. Continue reading
Breakfast cookies were huge in the ‘70’s. They were also called ranger cookies. Basically, the cookies were loaded with fruit, wheat, oats, and nuts providing protein and fiber to keep you going and filled up for a while. Continue reading