Hojicha Viennese Whirls
It's cookie season!
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Hello there! To kick off the month of December I wanted to share a festive little treat with you: Hojicha Viennese Whirls. Piped biscuits feel extra jolly to me, probably because I only make them around the holidays. I don’t know why, as they are a perfect anytime treat — melt-in-your-mouth, not too sweet, and an ideal accompaniment to your hot beverage of choice.
Hojicha powder, which is made from roasted green tea leaves, gives these cookies a hint of smokiness. Compared to matcha, hojicha is more naturally sweet and less bitter, with woodsy cocoa notes. I used Hojicha Co. brand (unfortunately it looks like they are out of small packages at this moment) but there are many varieties available online (also check your local Asian supermarket or specialty food store). You could also replace the hojicha with matcha or leave it out completely, adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.
For extra flair, I like dipping the whirls in some white chocolate followed with a flurry of sprinkles. But if you don’t want to bother with chocolate, you could make a simple glaze from icing sugar + milk or water for dipping or drizzling, or simply dust with icing sugar.
Tips for success:
My number one tip is that the butter should be a very soft, spreadable texture (softer than you’d normally use for a creamed butter and sugar recipe) so that the dough will be easy to pipe. The French call this texture “beurre pommade” — literally butter ointment.
This recipe is easily doubled, but I would only put half the dough in the piping bag at a time for workability.
More festive treats
Hojicha Viennese Whirls
Makes about 12
For the biscuits:
95g unsalted butter, very soft
3.5g (~1 1/4 tsp) hojicha powder
1g (1/4 tsp) kosher salt
40g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
15g egg white, at room temperature
100g all-purpose flour
100g white chocolate, tempered
Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, use a handheld mixer to beat the butter, hojicha powder, and salt on medium speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes. Add the icing sugar and beat on medium for another minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the egg white and beat to combine (it will look lumpy and gross but don’t worry, it’ll come together when you add the dries in).
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and beat on low just until a dough forms. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip (I used Ateco 825). Pipe the dough as desired — I did ~1.75” rounds and got about a dozen cookies, but you could pipe small rosettes or squiggles or what have you. Just try to make all the cookies about the same size so they bake evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until matte and firm to the touch and just starting to think about browning. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate the cookies, temper the white chocolate using your method of choice (I’m a big fan of using cocoa butter silk or the microwave, especially for small amounts of chocolate) and transfer to a small, deep container just wide enough to dip the cookies. Dip the cookies one at a time, letting the excess drip back into the container before placing on a parchment or silicone-lined mat. Add sprinkles immediately before the chocolate sets, if desired.
Let the chocolate set completely before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to a week.