Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Viennese Butter Cookies also known as Viennese Whirls. Chocolaty, buttery melt in your mouth cookies.
Viennese whirls or Viennese butter cookies are a must make during the holidays. Buttery, tender, melt in your mouth and only take a few ingredients. I have been eating these since I was a kid and making them as an adult. And eating them too.
What is a Viennese Whirl?
There are many interpretations of this cookie. The British made this popular thanks to Mary Berry of Great British Bake Off fame with her Viennese whirls sandwich cookies. A buttery vanilla cookie sandwiched with jam and cream. The British took inspiration from Viennese pastry chefs dating back hundreds of years for many of their cookies aka biscuits
Jammie Dodgers, a popular British cookie/biscuit. Those are the same as Spitzbuben. A sandwich cookie similar to Linzer cookies but without ground nuts in the dough. Just a shortbread dough - Mürbetig dough, that is the base shortbread pastry recipe used in many German and Austrian tarts and cookies.
In the book I inherited from my grandmother, The Art of Viennese Pastry, there is a few pages at the beginning of Austrian pastry history dating back hundreds of years that talks about how their basic shortbread and shortcrust pastry dough has turned into the base recipe for many cookie recipes all over the world.
These cookies might not be 100% Austrian, but they have Austrian origins and I took a recipe from the book with a few tiny adaptations - cocoa powder, egg whites instead of yolks - to make these melt in your mouth and easy to pipe.
A friend of mine went to Vienna a few years ago and sent me photos of all the goodies at the Christmas market and a squiggle cookie like these was in almost every photo. I had to make them!!
Instead of classic round shape created by the British, I went with a squiggle, dipped in dark chocolate and added some festive sprinkles. Viennese whirls can be made as a sandwich cookie with jam or cream filling or as a single cookie. Left plain or dipped in chocolate.
For these cookies I substituted some of the all purpose flour with a rich, high fat cocoa powder and dipped in chocolate. Barry extra brute is my go-to cocoa powder.
I love piped cookies, they are so fun to make and a nice change from drop cookies or roll out cookies. These don't have to be crazy difficult to squeeze out either. I learned a trick from the Viennese pastry book to make the dough squeezable but still hold their shape.
The trick for easy to pipe cookie dough:
Whipped egg whites get folded into the batter. Beat egg whites to soft peaks, fold in, add to piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle then pipe! The dough will still have a nice firm texture but pipe super easy. No more hand cramps while making Viennese butter cookies.
You can leave the cookies as is, because they are so good as is. Dunked in tea or coffee or even hot cocoa - SO yum! OR, you can dip in melted chocolate and add sprinkles like I did.
I used dark chocolate for these - 70% cacao. You can use any percentage you like. I tend to go for darker than lighter chocolate, I like the bitter notes rather than super sweet chocolate.
I use a double boiler method to melt the chocolate, it keeps the chocolate melted for longer and easier to re-melt if it gets to cool for dipping. I am not a fan of microwaving chocolate to melt it.
How to temper chocolate:
- Heat an inch or so of water in a sauce pan to a simmer and have a bowl on top of the pan making sure the bottom isn't touching the water. I use a 2-3 quart pan for this and a glass bowl. A stainless bowl would work well too.
- Chop the chocolate, I don't suggest using chocolate chips for this, chopped works better. Place the chocolate in the bowl and using a rubber or silicon spatula, stir occasionally until chocolate is melted.
- You can turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the pan of hot water and dip cookies that way or remove the bowl. If the chocolate gets too cool and starts to firm up just heat the water back up and remelt the chocolate the same way.
- Add more chopped chocolate and melt as needed for your recipe if you run out.
As soon as you dip the cookies, let the excess drip off into the bowl of melted chocolate then place the cookies on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
You can dip a few cookies at a time and not worry about the chocolate cooling before adding sprinkles. I usually dip 6 at a time, add sprinkles then dip 6 more or however many fit on the baking sheet Im using.
Once the sheet is full of cookies I will pop in the freezer to quickly harden the chocolate to be able to transfer the cookies to a storage tub and keep working with the rest of the cookies.
How do you make Viennese butter cookies?
- Make the dough - which consists of flour, confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, butter, salt and a little cornstarch as well as egg whites. No yolks used in these cookies.
- The dough doesn't need chilling since you need it to stay soft for piping.
- Use a large star nozzle in a pastry piping bag - I used a Wilton 1A piping tip - and a cloth piping bag that can be washed. You can use a disposable one as well
- Work quickly to pipe the cookies in whatever shape you like you can make viennese whirls in squiggles like I did, circles or sticks also called Viennese fingers. These are also known as Viennese biscuits.
- You don't want to have the head from your hands heat up the cookie dough during piping. As soon as they are piped they are baked. No need to chill the dough.
Another tip for perfect Viennese biscuits or cookies ( and any baking recipe really):
Food scale. A food scale is a must own item for any baker. Scooping ingredients, or spooning and leveling into a measuring cup ( especially flour) will result in cookies with too much flour.
It doesn't have to be an expensive one. I have an old OXO that I paid about $20 for that has lasted me for years. Your baking recipes will come out perfectly every time. I promise.
You can use any sprinkles you like for these cookies. I went with Christmas colored non-pareils because apparently I wanted to be cleaning them up for the rest of my life since they seem to fly everywhere and are insanely hard clean up.
You would think I would have learned my lesson after the time I covered an entire cake in them, but apparently not. I think I am still finding sprinkles from that cake years later. Non-pareils are the baking equivalent of glitter.
A few more Christmas Cookie recipes you might also enjoy making and eating:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (250 grams) very soft
- ¾ cup confectioners sugar (100 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour (260 grams)
- ¼ cup high fat cocoa powder (30 grams)
- 3 ¼ tablespoons cornstarch (25 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg white (30 grams)
- 12-14 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate ( bars, not chips) roughly chopped (350-400 grams)
- 1 cup sprinkles of choice
Heat oven to 350 Deg F (176 C). Set out baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Fit a large open star piping tip in a piping bag.
In a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. About 5-6 minutes. Add in the vanilla and whip for another minute. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt in a separate bowl then add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined. If using a stand mixer, scrape all the dough off of the beater and remove the bowl form the mixer.
In a separate bowl whip the egg white until it reaches soft peaks. This is when you lift the beater and the peaks fold back over on themselves.
Fold the egg white into the cookie dough with a rubber or silicone spatula until it's completely combined.
Fill the piping bag with a third of the dough and pipe squiggles onto the prepared baking sheets. I made mine with three squiggles you can do how many you like, pipe sticks or circles.
Baked for 10 minutes or until the tops look dry and set. Don’t overtake these.
Let cool for one minute on the baking sheet then carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When ready to dip in chocolate, set out baking sheets with wax paper. Make space in your freezer or refrigerator for a tray to set up the chocolate quickly.
Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler ( preferred method) or microwave. Chop the chocolate, place in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted and smooth. This can be done while the cookies are cooling.
Dip half a cookie in the chocolate one at a time. Let excess drip off then set the cookie onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with a few more cookies before adding sprinkles. Once you have a tray full of dipped and sprinkled cookies, set the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up the chocolate. Repeat with remaining cookies until all are dipped and decorated.
Store cookies in an airtight container either at room temperature or in your refrigerator or freezer.
The yield of these cookies completely varies depending on the size and shape of cookies you pipe out. With the large squiggles I made I got about 30 cookies. Smaller shapes will yield more.
If it’s your first time making this recipe then make sure you read all of the information in the main post as it includes lots of additional tips, as well as the answers to some common questions.
If you have any further questions then do let me know in the comments and or email me [email protected] and I’ll do my best to help.
If you choose to make substitutions to the recipe that I have not tested yet please do so at your own risk. I cannot guarantee the same results if you change a lot of the ingredients or method. However, if any of your changes are successful I would love to hear about it and will add to my recipe notes for other readers to try as well.
Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Viennese Butter Cookies (Viennese Whirls).