- Course: Dessert
- Skill Level: Challenging
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 11 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
This is a freestanding version of this classic cookie. The dough is piped out onto flat pans, rather than baked in a mold. I learned to make these in the early seventies when I was working at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club with pastry chef Alexandre Frolla. Though these cookies are delicate and fragile, the same batter makes very good Christmas tree decorations. Just use a smaller tube to pipe it out into letters, numbers, and geometric shapes.
1. Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer.
2. Combine the eggs, salt, extract, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer but use a hand whisk to mix smooth. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is lukewarm, about 100 degrees, all in all about 1 minute.
3. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the mixture has cooled and increased in volume. This will be in about 5 or 6 minutes. Stop the mixer and try to draw a line about 3 inches long and ¼ inch deep in the egg foam with a fingertip; if it holds its shape, it’s ready.
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and in three or four additions sift over and fold in the flour with a rubber spatula.
5. Fit a pastry bag with a ½-inch plain tube (Ateco #806). Pipe the batter dough onto the prepared pans in 2½ to 3-inch fingers, leaving about an inch all around. After all the cookies are piped, cover one row of piped fingers with granulated sugar. Shake the sugar toward you until all the fingers are coated. Remember to hold down the corners of the paper with your thumbs, or the paper with the cookies attached will slide off the pan. Shake the excess sugar off the pan onto a sheet of wax paper and reuse for the next batch. Let the cookies dry, uncovered, for at least 4 hours at room temperature—overnight is best, so that the sugar coating adheres.
6. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.
7. Bake the cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are firm and light golden color.
8. Slide the papers from the pans onto racks.
9. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment or wax paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.
ANISE DISKS: This old-fashioned Alsatian and Swiss cookie deserves to be better known. To make them, substitute 2 teaspoons anise extract for the vanilla extract. Pipe the cookies as 1½-inch disks. Sugar them the same way as the champagne fingers or not, as you wish. Let the cookies dry, uncovered, at room temperature for 24 hours before baking them. They are very delicate.
Serving size is 1 cookie.