These cookies are my nemesis. They are so light and crumbly, they are incredibly difficult to make, and incredibly prone to breaking.
Part of that is because – in true prideful perfectionist Norwegian form – my foremothers (Mom, Grandma and Aunt Tanis) taught me that they should be in the shape of a bow, and a mere twist is what you settle for if your baking skills aren’t up to par.
The image at right was the only one I could find of a bow. But even this isn’t a true “bow” because there are no tails dangling.
But I tell ya, making cookies in true bow shapes with dangling tails is incredibly difficult. So either settle for twists; or else do your best with the tips I’ve included at the end of this recipe for decreasing the frustration.
You’ll need a total of 4 eggs for this recipe – 2 of which you’ll hard boil and use only the yolks. The two remaining eggs you’ll separate and use both yolks, but only one white. So you’ll have leftover 1 raw egg white you can use for an omelette or something, and 2 hard-cooked egg whites for snacking.
Makes 4-5 dozen
2 cooked egg yolks, from hard-boiled* eggs (don’t try separating the eggs and cooking just the yolks – the yolks have to be a certain consistency, which you can only get from hard-boiling them)
2 raw egg yolks
1 c sugar
2 – 2 1/2 c flour
1 c softened butter
1 egg white, whipped with a fork until frothy
* Martha Stewart’s method for perfect hard-cooked eggs: Bring a pot of water to a boil, deep enough to cover your eggs by at least an inch. (If you’re doing a bunch of eggs, make it 2 or 3 inches) Turn off the heat and put your eggs into the hot water. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Your eggs will be perfect!
Crumble the two hard-cooked egg yolks. Add the 2 raw yolks and the sugar and beat WELL, at least 4-5 minutes. You don’t want to have even the tiniest grain of sugar not incorporated. You should have something like an egg paste when you’re done.
Add the butter and flour in alternating amounts. Use as little flour as you can to make a non-sticky dough.
Roll it in a ball and refrigerate an hour or two.
When the dough is firm but not rock-solid, roll it into bow shapes. Do this by taking a piece of dough about the size of a grape and roll it into a thin, even “worm” about 5-6 inches long. then flip the ends over each other, forming a bow (and hope your worm doesn’t break in the process).
If you’ve managed to fold your worm into a bow and you’re pretty proud of yourself thinking, “This isn’t so hard, Julia!” — just wait for the next step.
Whip your remaining egg white into a froth. Dip your bow into it, then in sugar, then put on a well-greased cookie sheet.
Does your bow still have 2 tails attached? Yeah, I didn’t think so. If you’re still determined to make bows and not mere twists, see the tips below for getting cookies that don’t break.
Oh and by the way – make sure you’re just dipping your cookies in the egg white, not submerging them entirely. Egg white on the bottoms of your cookies will burn every time.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 325°. When done, they will not be brown, but will take on a crispy, airy, “done” appearance.
Let them cool a minute on the cookie sheets, then remove to a cooling rack with a metal spatula. And if you had any bows that were still intact at this point, you probably just broke most of them. Seriously, just quit and go have a drink.
To get cookies that don’t break:
The ones in this picture, for instance, would never have passed muster in our house when I was a kid. The worms are so fat, the twists are practically solid. But I promise you none of them broke!
Another tip is to put your bows (or even twists) back into the fridge after you’ve rolled them. If they’re stiff when you dip them into your egg white and sugar, there’s less chance of breakage. It’s also easier to make sure it’s only the tops of the cookies that are getting in the egg white. But if you do refrigerate them, don’t do it for long. The dough dries out quickly.
Use a non-stick cookie sheet. Even a very well-greased regular one can cause these cookies to break when you try to lift them off with a spatula.