CRANBERRY VIENNESE SANDWICH CREAMS
The crochet side-pate is from Dishes Only.
THEY ARE THE COOKIE-VERSION OF A FEEL-GOOD MOVIE, EMOTIONALLY EQUIVALENT TO A BOX OF GOLDEN TWIN-PUPPIES EACH HUGGING A HAPPY GIGGLE.
This is what I’ve been busy with for the past 7 days, recreating Mark & Spencer’s Viennese raspberry sandwich creams. What does that say about me, spending 84 hours scrutinizing a processed junk-food from a super chainstore, I don’t know. But I had to make it.
If you ever had childhood experience of reaching into a tin-box, and sneaking one of those buttery nuggets of vanilla cookies into your mouth as your first memory of pure foodgasm, then I guess, you can sort of understand. But this, this is better, upgraded. You can either go to your nearest M&S to see for yourself, or you can stay here and do it at home. But how I got here, however unexpectedly long it took, was no vanilla road. Checking out all the trusted recipes that were already out there, which, affirmingly, were all very similar to one another, let’s just say that I thought it was gonna be easy. If they all agreed on it, it must work fine, right? Humppphhh…
I made my first batch last weekend. Well, it did work fine… how do I put it… wonderfully just okay I guess. Wonderful in the sense that, flavor-wise, it was exactly what Viennese cookies are supposed to taste like, fireworks of buttery crumbs exploding in a vanilla sky. No doubt about that. But just okay because, and maybe I was being obsessively anal about it but still, I had a major textural issue with them. It was one thing to have cookies with so much butter that they “melt in my mouth”, but it was something else entirely when they could barely hold themselves together even under the slightest pressure of a finger. Like, I was scared to touch them… like literally, they eroded on my fingers. I mean, if that sounds like a “dat a problem?” to you, then great, but I might add that they also had a paste-like and almost glue-ish texture in the mouth that… I just couldn’t quite get over.
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But the struggle didn’t stop there. Can we also talk about my unhealthy fixation on that pinkish raspberry filling, too? First I tried mixing raspberry jam with powdered sugar… NOPE, unless a gloppy syrup without a trace of raspberry flavour is what you like. Then I tried the good-old boring white frosting with a layer of raspberry jam, as how it was mostly accomplished by the norm but… Still NOPE, because, obviously, duh, that was just cheating. I want it all-in-one! I want that vibrant pink! I want that berry-flavour! But how do I induce a prominent amount of berry-ness into a butter frosting without compromising its texture?
So, I tested again (and then again… and possibly again), slightly reducing the butter-ratio in the cookies and adding just a small, but significant, tablespoon of creme fraiche to act as a textural scaffold. As for the frostings, I realised that the answer so conveniently corresponding with the season approaching was, all along, finely ground dried cranberries. Or dried raspberries if you can find them but you know, I’m going to cut myself some slack. It makes for the most gorgeously thick, pink-hued frosting with a glossy sheen. OH right, and then salt, yes salt, in the cookies and also sprinkled on top and in the frosting as well. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why a lot of the other recipes didn’t include it. Major difference.
And there, I have it. Fifty-plus whirls of tiny vanilla heaven with delicate and buttery crumbs, sandwiching an oozy layer of tart and sweet frosting smiling with a blush. They are the cookie-version of a feel-good movie, emotionally equivalent to a box of golden twin-puppies each hugging a big giggle. I would almost sell you on the whole, perfect-holiday-season-gift-that-will-forever-put-you-on-the-guest-list potential of it, but I’m not gonna. Because truth is, you probably wouldn’t want to part with them. You’ll probably feel a bit attached. It’s OK. If anybody could, I understand, as I’m trying to fish out the crumbs that are now falling in between my keyboard.
I should probably stop. Talking to you that is.
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Viennese whirls recipe adapted generously from BBC Food
- 1 cup (125 grams) dried cranberries
- 3 tbsp (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tbsp (51 grams) creme fraiche
- 1 1/2 cup (180 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup (220 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp (16 grams) creme fraiche
- 2 cups (248 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (67 grams) potato starch or cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 + 1/8 tsp salt
- Flakey sea salt to dust
- TO MAKE THE CRANBERRY BUTTER FROSTING: In a food-processor, pulse dried cranberries for about 2 min until it comes into a paste-like consistency. Add the unsalted butter and run until the mixture is evenly blended. You should NOT be able to see bits of butter in the mixture. Add the creme fraiche and run again until smooth, then add the powdered sugar and salt and run until evenly mixed (you may have to scrape the sides/bottom a few times). Transfer into a bowl and set aside.
- TO MAKE THE VIENNESE WHIRLS: Preheat the oven on 350 F/175 C. Rinse the food-processor bowl and blade under hot tap-water until clean, then dry with a clean towel. Add the unsalted butter and powdered sugar, then run the machine for 3~4 min, scraping the sides/bottom a few times in between, until the butter is extremely soft and silky. It should be in a consistency where it does not clump up at the side of the food-processor bowl, but is able to move fluidly in the motion of the blade. Now add the creme fraiche and run just until evenly mixed, then add flour, potato starch (or cornstarch), vanilla extract and salt. Pulse a few times in the beginning to get it going, scraping the sides/bottom a few times, then run continuously for about 30 seconds until the cookie-paste is very smoothly blended.
- Transfer the cookie-paste into a piping bag attached with a small star-shaped tip (if you don't have a star-shaped tip, just a round hole will do fine). I find it much easier to pipe when the bag is only filled half-way, then refill later. Squeeze and knead the cookie-paste inside the piping-bag as you push it towards the tip. This softens the paste further, making it easier to pipe, and also eliminates air-bubbles and makes it a smoother paste. Rub a bit of vegetable oil on a baking-sheet then line with parchment paper (the oil sticks the parchment so it doesn't move, which makes the piping a lot easier). Pipe the cookie-paste into small rounds about 1 1/4" (3 cm) in diameter, with about 2" (5 cm) of space in between.
- Sprinkle a few specks of sea salt on each, then bake in the oven for 16~18 min until the edges are slightly browned. Let cool on the sheet for 5 min, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the rest of the cookie-paste.
- TO SANDWICH THE COOKIE: Place a generous nub, about 1heaping tsp of the cranberry butter frosting between 2 cookies, then gently press them together until the filling extend to the edge. Try not to eat them faster than you can make them, as you finish with the rest.
ToriNovember 4, 2015 at 6:42 PM
These look incredible! As a fellow mad scientist in the kitchen and majorly anal recipe tester I really appreciate that you took the time to get these right. And 7 days, wow! Now that’s true commitment.
I’ve noticed the same thing with common copycat recipes. It seems the copycats never mind copying each other since they’re already in the business of borrowing ideas.
This is definitely a recipe I’d like to try, especially knowing that it’s been thoroghly tested. Thanks for sharing!
Hannah | The Swirling SpoonNovember 4, 2015 at 6:54 PM
Something about these makes the perfectionist in me sooo happy… <3
AriannaNovember 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM
This is just incredible! Congratulations!!! They all look so tasty and the pictures are just great!
Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's TableNovember 4, 2015 at 7:37 PM
I have to say I admire your tenacity. I don’t know a lot of people who would invest 80+ hours into cookies…. But then again, when the results are that beautiful (and undoubtedly tasty!), it all seems somehow worth it. Thank you for these beauties, and for your dedication to the craft!
SynnøveNovember 4, 2015 at 8:07 PM
Wow, these look amazing!
NatalieNovember 4, 2015 at 8:15 PM
I love the dedication because I know well the expat longing for weird processed home-foods. However, these may have started out as Marks & Spencer inspired, but now they look glorious!
JessicaNovember 4, 2015 at 8:26 PM
I love how well thought out all of your recipes are!! This looks beautiful and delicious. Who needs M&S anymore?!
Ursula @ LilVienna.comNovember 4, 2015 at 9:53 PM
Beautiful combo! I like the cranberries approach ;-)
Cheers, a Viennese girl
KatrinaNovember 4, 2015 at 10:03 PM
So gorgeous!! And that filling sounds amazing!
ElisavetNovember 5, 2015 at 12:25 AM
Supposing that some would survive after assembling..how should one store them if one wants to give them as a gift? and for how long? I am asking due to the presence of creme fraiche.. they look fantastic!
ChrisNovember 5, 2015 at 6:45 AM
I’m certain the unfilled biscuits would freeze perfectly. That’s what I would do anyway; then I’d make the filling and assemble them shortly before I gave them.
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 5, 2015 at 2:50 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Chris! On top of that, because of the high sugar content in the frosting, I would be comfortable to leave them in an air-tight container at room-temp for up to 4 days.
rebecca | DisplacedHousewifeNovember 5, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Love the creme fraiche in the frosting — these are gorgeous!! xx
ChrisNovember 5, 2015 at 6:47 AM
These look wonderful and they are on my weekend baking list as of right…now. When you were experimenting with the raspberry filling, did you consider using freeze-dried raspberry powder? There is a company in NZ (they’re called ‘Fresh As’) who produce an amazing range of powders and whole fruits. I’m totally addicted to their freeze dried feijoa slices.
Kara | Sorghum and StarchNovember 5, 2015 at 7:26 AM
Mandy, these look amazing! And I love that you’re using cranberries. I feel like cranberries are seriously underutilized.
TammyNovember 5, 2015 at 11:31 PM
These look amazing. I’m assuming you can’t use fresh cranberries due to the amount of liquid they would create in the filling?
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 5, 2015 at 11:54 PM
Tammy, yes exactly!
June @ How to Philosophize with CakeNovember 6, 2015 at 2:34 AM
What adorable little cookies! Love the pink cranberry filling, sounds like the perfect accompaniment to the cookie base :)
KatieNovember 7, 2015 at 1:19 AM
Wow this looks amazing. I am so bad in baking but they look so delicious I will have to try again!!! We have very similar one in Switzerland called Luxemburgerli and they are so good :)
For a great fruit salad recipe to go please visit me on http://www.whatskatieupto.com I would really appreciate it :)
SabrinaNovember 8, 2015 at 5:15 AM
These look amazing! Love the cranberry filling!
JuneNovember 9, 2015 at 10:58 PM
Just made these cookies and wow… These are melt-in-your-mouth delicious!! Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Mandy!
Jill-AnnNovember 11, 2015 at 10:48 PM
Happy Diwali Mandy from Mumbai. Have just made this for my Diwali sweet platter along with other sweets. Thank you.
Mindy XuNovember 12, 2015 at 12:20 PM
Hi Mandy this is Mindy^U^! Your cranberry cream looks absolutely amazing! I understand what you mean by getting the color and the taste, many times I get food (especially sweets/ cakes/ ice-creams) with bright, attractive colors but tastes so artificial, and food that taste great but doesn’t look so appealing without artificial colors, like homemade pistachio ice-cream, a boring shade of greyish green.
I also love your passion for food and dedication toward perfecting! I grew up in a family of food lovers, we go out and eat basically every single week, but no one in my family really knows how to cooking, my mom couldn’t even cook rice properly using a rice cooker. So I taught myself how to cook trying out recipes from reliable sources, like from your astonishingly creative blogs.
What I want to ask is have you ever tried making a dessert with jasmine tea？ I know mcdonalds has a jasmine green tea ice cream in China是叫茉绿还是什么, but thats not what i’m talking about. I had Jasmine sorbet twice at my favorite dessert place on the whole planet, Chikalicious. And I just can’t get over it! It comes back to me in sweet dreams! That smooth sorbet(or Gelato?) infused with sweet floral scent of jasmine and refreshing green tea….
I want to to recreate it, I know I must- but I have no idea how! Could you help me? I also heard a British pastry chef mentioning a jasmine tea creme brulee filling for Chocolate Pyramid in BBC’s Patisserie, that sound’s mouth-watering also!
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 13, 2015 at 12:34 AM
Mindy, first of all, you’ll need a spice grinder! Grinder jasmine tea leaves until powderized, then use it in your ice cream or sorbet mix like macha 抹茶!
Mindy XuNovember 14, 2015 at 8:39 AM
Why didn’t I think of that! Thanks soooo much for the advice!
KellyNovember 25, 2015 at 6:46 AM
I specifically sought out a recipe for crime fraiche because I wanted to try these cookies, and then made my first batch of it yesterday. Mine came out a thinner, pourable cream that is thicker than the heavy cream I started with but isn’t the custard-like consistency that was shown in the video I watched to learn to make it. Will this work in this recipe? Or will I need to try again and be more patient with it?
KellyNovember 25, 2015 at 6:48 AM
*creme fraiche* sorry… The auto correct on my tablet is too American for these pretty French words…
mandy@ladyandpupsNovember 25, 2015 at 12:26 PM
Kelly, I assume that you’re talking about the filling right? It might be that your creme fraiche is slightly thinner than mine (the one I used was like really thick). You can either reduce the creme fraiche, or just omit it entirely. Hope you have better luck next time!
JuliaDecember 4, 2015 at 1:58 PM
Hi!! I’m gonna try making these cookies to give our as Christmas presents this year, because they just look SOOOOOO pretty AND delicious!!
Could you advise what size star tip you’ve used for this recipe? Thanks!!
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 4, 2015 at 2:03 PM
Julia, I think the tip I used was medium-sized. I don’t have it with me now so I can’t measure it, but probably something you would use for frosting on top of a cupcake.
LeeMay 11, 2016 at 5:19 PM
The cookies looks delish. However you recipe calls for it to be blended in a food processor. Could it be done in a mixer too?
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 11, 2016 at 11:33 PM
Lee, are you talking about the dough or the filling? The filling needs food processor to purée, and the dough can be made with mixer
KarenOctober 29, 2016 at 6:37 PM
I made these and they were not only delicious, but gorgeous! Thanks for a fabulous recipe!
LarryJanuary 10, 2017 at 7:48 AM
I made these for our cooking group’s cookie swap for the second year in a row. Just as wonderful this time. Awesome! I love your blog.
RachDecember 17, 2017 at 11:22 AM
Hi Mandy, how do you pipe these cookies? The dough is pretty stiff and I’ve not been having any luck piping them in one full circle and my hands hurt! Would appreciate any tips. Thank you!
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 17, 2017 at 12:16 PM
Rach, it could be because the dough is too cold?
Alexandra PengOctober 29, 2018 at 8:17 PM
Hi Mandy, I had the same problem piping the dough. Could it be that I over-mixed? How should you mix the flour & butter?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 30, 2018 at 1:40 AM
Alexandra, I have a feeling that it’s because the dough is too cold. Whip the butter until it’s completely room-temperature before adding the flour.
NicoleSeptember 4, 2018 at 4:50 PM
Can the filling be made by pounding the cranberries in a pestle and mortar to puree then combined in a mixer with the other ingredients?
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 4, 2018 at 5:47 PM
Nicole, theoretically I guess so, but I’ve never done that and dunno how effective the mortar can be :)