Happy December Dear Reader! These Viennese Whirls will get you into the Christmas spirit in the most delicious way. A beautifully buttery, melt in the mouth shortbread biscuit is imbued with fragrant Christmas spices before being dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled in pistachios. These are a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Viennese Whirls are actually not from Vienna or Austria (who have their own strong Christmas cookie tradition). Then are actually British and named this way because they resemble Austrian pastries. Typically Viennese Whirls are piped in a circle and joined together using jam. I saw these on Sally from Simmer & Boyle's Instagram and wanted to make them for Christmas using Christmas spices. The recipe below makes 12 large Viennese Whirls. I made regular vanilla Viennese Whirls and as well as a spiced version using cinnamon, cloves and vanilla and I preferred the Christmas version.
10 Tips on How To Make PERFECT Viennese Whirls!
1 - There are only a few ingredients in these cookies and the flavour of the butter really shines through so use the best butter you have as you will taste it along with the spices that you use to flavour these. I experimented with two types: vanilla Viennese Whirls and a Christmas spice flavoured Viennese Whirl.
2 - I am putting weights against this as opposed to cup measurements because you want the quantities exact.
3 - The butter must be very soft. I take it out of the fridge the night before, especially if it is a cold day.
4 - Some biscuits or cookies benefit from refrigeration beforehand. I tested these with and without refrigeration and it made no difference and the beautiful pattern showed up distinctly and perfectly. But it doesn't hurt to refrigerate these for 15-30 minutes before baking if you have time.
Using a petal tip #125 for a different result
5 - I piped these Viennese Whirls using two piping tips: a Large Star Tip or #867 and a Petal Tip #125. The Petal tip has the smoother finish and you can get a few more cookies with the petal tip as it produces a thinner cookie (also bake these for 1 minute less).
#867 large star tip (left), #125 large petal tip (right)
6 - A little warning: these cookies can be hard on your hands to pipe. If you can convince someone with strong hands to do this, do (unfortunately Mr NQN was on meetings all day so I piped these). If you make little round Viennese Whirls then it is much easier to pipe them but I must admit I was lured by this beautiful shape. Use both hands to pipe the dough onto the parchment. I place a damp tea towel under the baking tray so that it doesn't move while I pipe it. If you have an automatic cookie gun this might work well too.
7 - I would recommend using a strong piping bag to pipe the Viennese Whirls. A cloth one is ideal. I went through 6 biodegradable piping bags to make this batch below as the cookie dough can be quite firm to pipe.
8 - These cookies spread a little so pipe them an inch apart (just in case, they don't spread that much but there's nothing more disappointing when your cookies "join hands").
9 - Bake these Viennese Whirls until golden around the edge and yet still pale golden in the centre. They will firm up upon cooling.
10 - Dip these in your favourite chocolate and nut combination! I used pistachios because the pink and green reminds me of Christmas
Although we both loved these cookies, I gave the whole lot away to Valentina. You see we've been going on a mad spree giving things away and clearing the apartment in anticipation of moving house. I just wanted to say thank you for all the lovely words of encouragement on my post telling you about our new house. It has been so long coming that it feels surreal and like it almost won't happen. Although it's two months away we need to sort through a lot of junk and we have a very busy couple of months coming up ahead (and honestly, I can't even deal with the Omicron variant and what it may do to Christmas plans). I don't think I could go through lockdown again le sigh...
Mr NQN is a massive hoarder and I was all set for an emotional confrontation with him about the stuff we were clearing out because he tends to get attached to things whereas I love the feeling of discarding things and freeing myself of baggage. But rather surprisingly, he was very mature about it discarding junk easily as we filled up garbage box after box with things to be given away or discarded.
"I don't know if you have noticed this but I am throwing a lot out," he said pointedly, his bottom lip pouting slightly. We only stopped when it looked like there wouldn't be much room in the common bins for our neighbour's rubbish. We even came across a mysterious find in our cleaning. In the corner of one room behind a whole lot of wooden backgrounds there was the shell of a hard boiled egg. There was no egg, just the crushed shell. I can't even imagine who would have done this or when it would have been. When I told Laura she asked, "Have you guys been doing voodoo?". I mean I haven't but then again I can't account for Mr NQN or Teddy...
So tell me Dear Reader, do you have any tips for packing or moving? And does the new Omicron variant worry you? And do you ever find random, unexplainable things in your house?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 3 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes per batch
- 230g/8.1ozs. butter, very soft
- 80g/2.8ozs. icing or powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 260g/9.1ozs. plain all purpose flour
- 40g/1.4ozs cornflour/fine cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 200g/7ozs. chocolate
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
- You will also need a #867 large star or #125 large petal tips and piping bags
Very soft butter
Mixing in the flour into the butter
Step 1 - Line 3-4 trays with baking paper. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and sift in the icing sugar. Beat for 5 minutes on high scraping down the sides 2-3 times. You want the butter to become pale and white in colour. Whisk the two flours, spices and salt together and then add to the butter mix. Mix in with a strong spatula until combined.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 170C/338F. Scoop the cookie dough into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice. Pipe cookies going back and forth trying not to stop or pause while piping a cookie (you can always put the bag down between cookies to stretch your hands). You can also pop these in the fridge for 10 minutes before baking or bake them straight away. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the trays around and bake for another 7-8 minutes. You want these to be evenly golden around the edge. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes then place on a baking rack.
Step 3 - Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave and dip the cooled cookies into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and place on a parchment lined tray. Allow the chocolate to set.