16 December 2012

His & Her Butter Horn Cookies

When it comes to cookies, the hubs and I each have certain things that we go for.  I love any cookie with nuts, good texture or almond extract.  The hubs loves anything with chocolate.  Therefore, every year I add chocolate to one of my favorites to make a his & her set of Christmas cookies.  Last year it was chocolate stuffed Russian teacakes.  This year, it was chocolate glazed butter horn cookies.  

Traditional butter horns have pretty much everything I love in a cookie.  They are flaky and light, with a sweet and subtle almond flavor and walnut meringue filling, sealed with a sweet milk glaze.  Yum.  This year, I made them extra Christmas-y by swapping out milk for low-fat eggnog, adding a extra little oomph of nutty, spicy and egg-noggy goodness.  I am now obsessed with eggnog glaze, BTW.  

These lovely little rolls are divine at the holidays.  With the overabundance of sweet foods rolling around, these flaky cookies have a more buttery, savory quality that is a relief to your palate.  The cookie itself is slightly reminiscent of pie crust, along with the cookie-making process.  You roll a quarter of the dough out on a surface lightly dusted with powdered sugar until it's just a bit thicker than you would roll a pie crust.  You then spread the walnut meringue filling over the top and cut into little wedges.  For bite-size butter horns you can cut into 16 wedges, or for slightly larger cookies 10 wedges.  

Those are Her butter horns.  Now we turn Hers into His. 

As I stated, it's pretty easy to make my favorite cookies into something the hubs loves too.  Just add chocolate.  Here a nice chocolate drizzle does the trick.  I did it over the eggnog glaze, but you could nix the glaze all together and just go with chocolate.  When you add the chocolate, the end result is a cookie that tastes very much like an eclair, just with a little less filling.

You can also make this cookie non-seasonal by swapping milk for the eggnog.  So his, hers or theirs, enjoy your butter horn cookies this Christmas.

Butter Horn Cookies 
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (about 1/2 packet)
  • 2 tbs warm water
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 c sour cream (we used fat free)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 c eggnog or milk
  • 1 c confectioners sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips (we used semi-sweet)
Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the baking powder and salt, then stir to combine.  Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until it is an even, crumbly consistency.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast.  Let sit for a minute or two until the yeast foams up, then add the egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla (save the whites for later).  Whisk together until well combined, then add to the flour mixture.  Mix together until a smooth dough forms, then cover and refrigerate for an hour.  

When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.  In a small bowl, beat the eggs whites with an electric mixer until foamy, then add the sugar and beat until stiff.  Add the almond extract, 1 teaspoon of eggnog (or milk) and the chopped nuts.  Gently fold into the filling to finish the meringue.  

Divide the dough into 4 parts.  Dust a rolling surface generously with confectioners sugar.  Roll one of the dough parts into a large circle, about 1/8 inch thick (slightly thicker than a pie crust).  Spread the meringue in an even layer over the top of the rolled dough, stopping about 1/4 inch before outside edge.  Cut the dough into 10-16 equal sized wedges depending on how large you would like the cookies.  Roll the cookies, beginning at the wide edge, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden on top.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine 1 cup of confections sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of eggnog.  Whisk until smooth.  Top each cookie with the glaze, letting it run down the sides and drip under the wire rack.  For the chocolate drizzle, melt the chocolate in the microwave then transfer to a small Ziplock bag.  Snip off the tip of one of the bottom corners, then maneuver chocolate into the corner.  Squeeze out of the baggie to drizzle across the cookies.  Let sit out until chocolate and/or glaze hardens, then store in an air-tight container.

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