Last fall, as some of you might remember, I did a little tiny bit of book-touring from November through mid-December and then February through March of this year, just like 28 cities or so in total of us hanging out, no big deal. Okay, it was kind of a big deal, and so many cool things happened over the course of those trips, I never got around to telling you about them maybe because the whole thing was so surreal to me it didn’t seem easily digested in 500-word snippets?
Nevertheless, I really owe you a story about the day I was in Boston and was invited to visit the America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated offices and kitchens, which are exactly as awesome as you’d imagine them, and yet cozier. The whole place feels like a giant house on different floors and people are incredibly friendly and warm. Did you know that CI has the largest privately owned cookbook collection in the world? Just 4,000 or so — who wants to move in there with me? The kitchens are amazing as you’d expect, busy with clusters of cooks testing out different recipes. When a recipe needs to be tested, a call is placed over the speaker that pipes through the offices and people are encouraged to stop what they’re doing and take part in blind tastings, because obviously this is the best place to work in the whole world. While I was there, we were encouraged to try steamed fish, and I really was about to, I was, but then over in the corner, I spied someone testing picnic fried chicken and the next thing I knew, I was maybe-possibly begging for my own personal unscheduled tasting and no doubt ensuring that I’ll never be invited back again. It was totally worth it. That stuff was amazing, and while the cook was emphatic in telling me they were just getting started with the testing, that it wasn’t ready yet, I snuck another piece. I’m not sorry.
What does this have to do with pretzels? Having witnessed even a particle-sized segment of how serious they take their recipe testing, it should be no surprise that the way to figure out how to make pretzel-shaped cookies that actually taste excellent was to turn to CI. The recipe is from an old article about perfecting the French butter cookie known as a sable. They found that two things helped them nail the hallmark sandiness of the cookie, dialing back the butter a bit, and using an egg yolk that had already been hard-cookied. I went one step further in tweaking this; I have an ongoing fixation with Swedish rye cookies and couldn’t resist replacing one-third of the flour with rye flour. The resulting cookie looks straight out of one of those Danish butter cookie tins, you know, if they were made with whole-grain flours and real vanilla, and they’re really fun to make with a truck-aproned assistant.
Cookie Week! This week is all about the cookies. Yesterday, we talked about Cigarettes Russes (Piroulines). Stay tuned for more as the week goes on.
More Cookies: There are over 85 cookie recipes in the archives. My favorite holiday-ish ones, as in, get these away from me or I’ll eat them all, are Austrian Raspberry Shortbread, Crescent Jam and Cheese Cookies, Grasshopper Brownies, Seven-Layer Cookies, Tiny Pecan Sandies, Nutmeg-Maple Butter Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies. For a cookie ideal for gingerbread men, “ninja”-bread men or gingerbread
tenements houses, try these Spicy Gingerbread Cookies. [All The Smitten Kitchen Cookies]
Signed Smitten Kitchen Cookbooks: I have an ongoing arrangement with the wonderful independent bookstore in Soho, McNally-Jackson, in which copies of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook can be ordered with custom inscriptions — i.e. not just the usual signature but anything you’d like, be it Merry Christmas! or Congratulations on your engagement! (Now bake me some cookies.) or No matter what anyone else tells you, you’re my favorite reader. No seriously. It’s you. all of which have happened because you guys really are that funny and awesome. This year, we have a hard deadline for Christmas shipping (i.e. you’d pay standard and not rushed shipping and the book will reach you by Christmas) of this Saturday, December 14th. Thank you! [Order Custom Inscribed Smitten Kitchen Cookbooks from McNally Jackson]
Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Adapted, barely, from Cook’s Illustrated
I love the rye flour in here; it gives the cookies an earthier flavor and depth, while the hard-boiled egg yolk gives the cookies a perfect sandiness that holds up even days later. You can use an equal amount of all-purpose flour (1/2 cup) if you don’t wish to make these with rye flour.
80, eh, in hindsight, I think this estimate from CI is too high (and commenters agree), I’d say 48 tops and 36 safely. Apologies for any trouble.
1 large egg, hard-boiled and cooled
10 tablespoons (140 grams or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (this is halved from the original)
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams) rye flour (medium or white will work)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado or clear sanding sugar
Place butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; add white to your next sandwich or egg salad. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer and into mixer bowl with other ingredients. Beat mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with spatula as needed. Add vanilla, mix until combined. Add flours and mix at low speed until just combined. Using rubber spatula or your hands, reach into bowl and knead dough a few times into a cohesive mass.
Divide dough in half; place each half on a square of parchment paper. Form each into a log about 6 inches long (it will be about 1 3/4 inches in diameter) and wrap tightly with parchment, twisting ends to seal. Chill logs for 30 minutes, until semi-firm. (If you chill them longer, you’ll want to warm them up a bit or it’s difficult to work them into pretzel shapes.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice 1/4-inch off first chilled log and roll slice into a ball in the palm of your hands; this softens the dough. On a counter, roll ball into a 6-inch rope. Pick up each end of rope and fold turn it into the center, pressing it into a pretzel shape. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies one inch apart on prepared sheets.
Brush each pretzel cookie with egg white wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake cookies until they have golden brown edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven but let firm up on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to cooling racks.
Do ahead: Cookies stored in an airtight container between sheets of waxed or parchment paper will keep for at least one week.
132 comments on sugared pretzel cookies
Hip hip hooray for Cookie Week! I’m baking cookies on Friday for my student’s piano recital and these are officially on the list!I’m looking forward to the rest of the options! Perfect timing and thank you!
Also, I’m totally up for moving to CI with you – a place that beckons me to stop “working” and come eat food while I’m on the clock? Yes please.
First piroulines and now these – Deb, if you weren’t my hero before, you certainly are now. Cookie week is awesome!
So, you’re awesome. These were always the cookies I’d pick out of those blue tins first (what are they called? We just called them butter cookies.) And seeing as how I have four egg whites, one regular egg, and one hardboiled egg in my fridge, you have basically set me up for a day of making these and the cigarettes russes. Because I’m being efficient and using up random ingredients! Or that’s how I justify it, at least. Do you think barley flour would make a good sub for the rye?
Ooh, I went to a cookbook signing at the CI test kitchen years ago. That’s as close to a crazy screaming fangirl as I’ve ever gotten! If only they would recruit outside volunteers as tasters.
I hope you’ll leave the typo in about the hard-cookied egg yolk ’cause it’s so fitting. Also, your child looks exactly like you. Which I guess means I’m calling you adorable. Happy holidays!!
Whaaat, I can’t believe the cooked egg yolk thing. Must try these! I just came across your chocolate pretzel cookie recipe the other day, but I can’t wait to try these instead.
Yes, people do throw cookie baking parties, at least I do. I’m planning a really big one for this summer to prepare the cookie table for my wedding. And these delightful-looking cookie-pretzels, are now on the list of recipes to test out for said cookie table. Yum.
I think you have hit the jackpot with these! I have never thought to turn pretzels into cookies before.
Deb – filed under “ice cream sandwich cookies” http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/07/good-enough-for-me/
is a wonderful molasses-spice cookie recipe – also from CI. and 2 more ( chocolate sugar and chocolate chip ) . Don’t they deserve some index-y love???
Ed — Sadly, the only reason that they are not indexed is due to a limitation of the way my index is built — it’s done from post titles. So, posts that contain more than one recipe, but the title would be too long if it listed all of them, get stiffed. I realized that early on, but of course that post is from my very first month on SK! Nevertheless, we’re looking at a light redesign in the next six months and hopefully that will fix some of the archive stupidity. ;)
Sarah — It is Meant To Be. I haven’t made cookies with barley flour, only cakes, so while I suspect you’ll be fine, I can’t say it with 100% confidence. Let us know how it goes if you try it. Thanks.
These could NOT be more perfect for my mom! She adores pretzels and there is a cookie-cracker that she snacks on endlessly, so I know she would love these. I’m definitely winning for best daughter! ;)
So I realize that clear sugar is traditional, but I have a 3.5 yr old at home who is crazy for her Christmas sprinkles. I think we’ll make these and top them with the red or green sanding sugars we have.
You have melded two of my favorite things in the world. I can’t wait to make these! Thank you Deb!
Seriously you’re awesome!
I dream about going to America’s Test Kitchen every Saturday when I watch the show! The way you described it is even better than I ever imagined! The hard boiled egg trick is interesting and I’ll have to give that a try. Thanks!
I’ve been following, and loving, your pretzel obsession for years now and I am a-okay with another pretzel-like recipe from you! Pretzel cookies are so cute! But you’re right, a lot of them (especially chocolate ones) taste so dry and bland to me as well. I can’t wait to try out this recipe!
These look so yummy!
That may be a large cookbook library but Nigella Lawson has around 4000 too if I remember correctly. I am always amazed at those numbers!
I just made this cookie dough last night in preparation for Christmas, now I know what I am making for Bible study snack tonight (wasn’t inspired to bring my standby brownies). And, I have three little helpers to make quick work of it.
Those blue tins of Danish cookies have a special place in my heart and the pretzel shape was my favorite. This is likely much better. Thank you – this makes me smile!
In my youth, I would sit in my grammie’s kitchen and watch one of her helpers, who hailed from the former Yugoslavia, make a cookie dough in mammoth proportions, and using no written recipe. I loved them, and up to this point had never come across another recipe, like hers that used hard boiled egg yolk (hers used 9!) I eventually watched her closely and wrote the ingredient amounts down on a slip of paper. Thanks for reminding me of those delicious cookies.
These pretzel cookies remind me of the cookies I baked this weekend: Norweigian cookies called kringla (can be shaped into a pretzel or a twist). They’re far more bread-like and super soft, which I love in a cookie, and they’re not overly sweet. I imagine you could do something amazing with such a simple and traditional basic cookie.
The hardboiled egg yolk thing is actually a key-ingredient in a lot of traditional, Norwegian (and probably Danish and Swedish) Christmas cookies. :D Particulary a cookie type called Berlinerkrans, which loosely translates to Berliner Wreath. :) You should check it out! Us Scandinavians have LONG traditions when it comes to Christmas cookies, and it’s customary to bake seven different kinds(!) for the holidays. :D
Great idea! I need to start baking more and get in the holiday spirit. These look unique and unexpected. Thanks.
Yeah for cookie week! Love this!
I love this! Growing up those sables were one of my favorites. I can’t wait to try these!
These are my favorite in the tin! To make them without the rye, replace the amount with AP by weight?
can’t wait to add these to my holiday cookie baking! have you tried freezing them?
Mmmm . . . yum! I love pretzels and I love cookies — this combo looks like a home run hit!
For those of us who snatched up seasonal deals on all-purpose flour, do you think these cookies would likely hold their shape if all-purpose flour alone were used in place of your rye flour / all purpose combo? I *get* that they wouldn’t have the same flavor as you got, but I need to clear out the overstock of all-purpose flour!
I have made cookies with barley flour and love them. The recipe is from the Real Food Daily cookbook, made by a vegan restaurant in LA. It combines barley, rice and out flours and is delicious. I am a meat lover, I just loved their food before they remodeled and got fancy with high prices and a drop in food quality.
There was a honey cookie rolled and cut that used cooked egg yolks. I wish I could find it because I can’t eat cane sugar anymore.
In the honey cookie zone, Russian honey cookies with half rye and half wheat are wonderful. There are many variations, but I love the hard thin dunking kind which are almost more of a cracker. Sometimes spices are added and sometimes not. I like cardamom in them.
The trip to the America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated offices and kitchens – WOW. What I wouldn’t give! Seriously that is like better than going on a trip to Paris or something like that :) I mean honestly, I would love love love to go one day! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes info. Love it!
Is it bad to admit that I used to eat these kind of cookies out of tin Christmas cookie tins, and they were probably at least 3 mos old by the time I got to them? But I loved them anyway. pinned
I’m not a Scandinavian but my husbands late parents, both, were first generation Americans of Norwegen descent. That said, I have learned many old country recipes and have been charged with keeping them alive in the family (no daughters, both sons not interested actually in baking, only eating, baked goods) I am happy to do so! As a few others have mentioned, many Scandinavian baked goods contain cooked egg yolk. I’m not sure if it’s the reason the cookies are sandier other than there is less moisture in the dough but most of the recipes that I learned had finely ground almonds replacing part of the flour so I attributed it to that. The yolks did contribute to the missing richness and better color than that of an egg free shortbread. They also used a lot of rye flour in breads and rusks (similar to biscotti). Can’t wait to try this recipe as I love baking with rye flour.
What’s the yield on this recipe? I’m supposed to bring eight dozen (!!) cookies to a cookies swap, so your week-o-cookies is perfectly timed! Also, huge fan. Without fail, whenever I make one of your recipes to bring to an event (apple honey challah? cranberry orange sweet buns?), I am hounded for the recipe. Every time! Apparently my family are all huge fans of yours, too!
Does the flavor of the cooked egg yolk show up in the finished cookie at all? I can’t stand the taste or smell of boiled eggs, either the yolks or the whites– they end up tasting of nothing but sulfur to me, and that’s not a note I would want to detect in a butter cookie.
Alissa — Good to know! I’ll check hers out too. This is my usual go to — they have a good snap, as well.
Ellen — I don’t think so, or certainly not to me.
Cookie yield — 80, theoretically. I think I may have gotten less but I also might have cut my slices a bit more than 1/4-inch thick.
Nicole — Thank you.
Picnic Fried Chicken — I got a nice note from CI that they’ve dropped the paywall from the Picnic Fried Chicken recipe for the next week if you use the link (now updated) above. Print it up!
Susan — Thanks for sharing. I adore rusks. I have a bag right now that I was supposed to use for a tomato and feta salad this summer. I wonder if they can wait. ;)
Sharon — Yes, you can definitely replace the rye with the same amount of regular flour.
I actually just baked these, following the directions verbatim. Then, I baked Martha Stewart’s sable recipe, replacing half of the tsp of vanilla with almond extract (http://www.marthastewart.com/856759/sable-cookies). I have to tell you, in my kitchen, the Martha Stewart sables were the winner! The textures were similar, but Martha’s recipe was a bit less finicky (if you forget about all the rolling, then chilling, then cutting, then chilling, then baking).
I also tend to like the sables on the thicker side. I think my new go-to sable recipe will be Martha’s version, with half tsp vanilla, half tsp almond extract, rolled like the America’s Test Kitchen recipe (because the pretty scalloped edges aren’t worth an additional hour of prep) , and cut into 3/4 in cookies.
I missed something. How did you go from wanting pretzel cookies to looking at a recipe for butter cookies? Or is a pretzel cookie a type of butter cookie that I’m unaware of?
AG — I meant I wanted to make a pretzel butter cookie, i.e. like these. Not a cookie with a pretzel in it (though: yum). I probably didn’t make that clear.
Oh I remember that tin! I may need to add this to my cookie list for this weekend…
Ooh, little softie pretzels! You and your cookies, Deb- you’re on a roll! Do you think spelt flour/whole wheat flour/something like that would be OK in place of the rye?
Or, to follow up on Shayley, how about a gluten free flour? Would cup4cup work okay in place here? I love all the SK recipes but since ditching wheat I just don’t find many I can bake any longer.
I’m betting these will go over big here at my place!
I totally tried to make these a couple weeks ago! And failed! Maybe my dough was too chilled when I tried to form the pretzels, but it was a disaster. The dough kept breaking when I tried to roll it. Plus, to make 80 cookies, the cookies would have been tiny! And I would have had to individually form 80 pretzels, which wasn’t happening since I could hardly get one to look decent.
So I ended up mixing chocolate into half the dough and spiraling it with the plain half. The dough is still in my freezer, waiting to be sliced and baked. Clearly your pretzels are much cuter than my spirals will be, but hopefully mine taste just as good!
Bridget — I found them a little tricky to roll, but the more I just warmed and softened them up, the easier it got. I had left mine in the fridge overnight thinking it would be no big deal — it took forever to get them soft.
DPR — With a cake or muffin, I always say go for it, especially with C4C. However, since this cookie is all about structure, I’m more nervous to recommend it without having tried it. If you’ve been successful in using it for other structured cookies — shortbread or roll-outs — I definitely think you can be confident enough to try it here too.
Yum – these remind me of German spritz cookies (with the hardboiled egg) – my favorite holiday cookie ever. Their tender, sandy texture is just the best. The pretzel shape is super cute.
Super awesome idea… love that its sugared!
Yum! I love cookie week already! :)
those are similar to my favorite Norwegian xmas cookie–berliner kranser–interesting twist will have to give them a try!!
True story: years ago when my parents thought it was en vogue to give hostess gifts of those blue tins of Danish cookies, I secretly hoarded all those inside that we’re pretzel-shaped. Somehow I thought they tasted better than the others, though that might have had something to do with how I ate them. ATK is a magical place, isn’t it?
The jar of caraway seeds in the ingredients picture intrigues me…did you audition an extra-rye version?
Teresa — Whoops! Forgot to mention that I really really wanted to grind a 1/4 teaspoon of seeds to a powder and add it because I think it would be intriguing here. However, I was voted down by 2 out of the 3 members of this household and while I don’t always listen to them, I didn’t think it would be good if they didn’t help me eat the cookies. So, try it out if you’re curious; I think it could be tasty. Maybe don’t ask people for their opinion about it first. :)
Love it! I too have had pretzels on the brain and recently made a pretzel bread that turned out deliciously! I’ve never thought to bring together a pretzel and cookie though, will definitely have to attempt this soon. Thanks!
So I maded yesterday’s cookies yesterday–the cigarette ones. I thought they were perfectly nice but my normally reserved about cookies husband and daughter are in LOvE with them. So thanks for the recipe!
Oh and I melted a bunch of chocolate on the double boiler an basically dipped everything in the kitchen in chocolate while each batch baked (only five min per batch in my oven even lowered to 340) the dipping kept me from getting too voted baking so many batches.
hey deb , these sound delicious! However i only have bleached AP flour around! Do you see any reason why i couldn’t use that ? =) Thank you!
HI, I’m just wondering (as a cookie-making dummy), can I roll basically most of the shortbread cookie dough into pretzel shape?
Hi Deb – I’m a long time reader and a big fan of your recipes. Just wanted to point out re – the cookbook collection at CI. 4.000 books is a lot, but recently deceased Dutch culinary writer Johannes van Dam had about 60.000 (sixty thousand) books in his collection, housed in his tiny appartment in the centre of Amsterdam!
Yum. I am in the midst of pre-christmas deadlines and am waking up early to finish things off but i thought, wait, my tree looks sooo beautiful and I am worrying about getting others’ houses right, let’s just take a 4:00 a.m. moment to savor that quiet and beauty. Then sat down to my coffee and ipad. And up popped my saved recipes and I thought “hey, what is happening at Smitten Kitchen?’ While I am too tired this week to actually do my own Cookie Week, your inspiration has started my day off right and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll try the piroulines tonight after my chauffeuring kid gig! Thank you !
Butter cookies in a pretzel shape. Sounds really far far far too good. Is it terribly fiddly making the pretzel shape, though?
These cookies are a great opportunity to combine salty and sweet by mixing a little fleur de sel in with the granulated sugar sprinkle. The texture, thickness and shade of light brown of these looks amazing! (My favorite sugar cookies in the world also use hard boiled eggs.)
Deb, you are blowing my mind today. 1) It’s holiday cookie week. Love it. 2) CI Test Kitchen – I didn’t know mere mortals can visit. This is a Foodies version of the Willy Wonka factory. 3) Those chicken wings – I would’ve done exactly what you did, sharp detour to “test” chicken wings. They would’ve kicked me outta that Willy Wonka Factory aka Test Kitchen. 4) Hard boiled eggs in cookies? Gotta try it. With a last name like Caraway, you’d think I’d be baking breads/cookies this season, but I’m on a baking sabbatical right now (lol). Looking forward to the next cookie installments.
These cookies are out of this world!! Loving the flavour :)
You’ve likely been asked this but is there any way to include a picture of the item with the printed version of the recipe? It helps me find things quickly…plus I’m a visual person! :)
Thanks for the test kitchen tour. I’m a big fan of the magazines and TV shows that originate from there and often use their recipes as a jumping-off point when I’m testing my own. It’s nice to hear a story from the inside.
Maybe it’s because it’s a pretzel cookie, but there has got to be a way to incorporate a salted caramel flavor here. Might overwhelm the rye, though, and that would be sad (plus everything I’m saying is sacrilege.)
Hi DEB and smitten followers who’ve made this recipe-
I am one of those lucky adults with braces on uppers and lowers and have a child with this, too. Are these soft, or are they harder/firmer?
I was thinking of adding these to my holiday cookie repertoire, but the texture is an important factor.
Well, now I’m going to spend the rest of my day fantastizing about breaking into the CI house, eating a bucket of picnic fried chicken and then falling asleep on a pile of 4,000 cookbooks. #myideaofheaven
i have GOT to try these for my holiday office party coming up, or maybe for some treat bags. thanks for sharing!
Before I read the post, I just looked at the pictures and I said to myself I needed to tell you that you should try the Norwegian “Berlinerkranser”, which are essentially sugared pretzels. They are a part of the 7 different christmas cookies each housewife should make for Christmas (or so the saying go). I’m still planning to make them for Christmas, but since I just started blogging, I’m still backlogged with recipes. I found a Scandinavian food site where you can read more about them in the meantime.
Deb, do you think these would hold up enough if I tried to dip them in melted chocolate once they had cooled? And then sprinkled them with sprinkles? :)
Mary — I think they’d be fine.
Julie — Sadly, they’re firm.
jiejie — No, not at this time, unless you want to copy and paste it to a doc and then print.
Debbbbbb you are a blessed woman! Can’t believe you were at CI headquarters. It’s my favorite magazine, and i’m always amazed how they test out these recipes. Too funny how they announce the testing over the loudspeaker. And these pretzel cookies make me feel nostalgic, i love them. Will have to make them at home. How interesting, a boiled egg yolk!
I’ll have to make these for my husband. My mother-in-law used to buy him a blue tin of Danish butter cookies every year for Christmas. He LOVES Danish butter cookies. A couple of weeks ago, we were standing in the check-out line at our neighborhood grocery, and he spotted the familiar blue tin and placed it in our cart. When we got home he proceeded to eat 40 out of the 45 cookies. Despite his incredible sweet tooth, he’s skinny.
I love this cookie recipe. For a truly beautiful cookie, I made your barely sweet chocolate sables and this recipe – I added rainbow colors to the white dough and pinwheeled them together. It was adorable for a rainbow themed bday party in March and will be repeated for holiday cookies in a week or so.
I am definitely trying these –minus the rye flour and plus sesame seeds.
I have to admit I got sidetracked thinking of something witty for you to write in the cookbook I have just ordered for my sister and have only just got around to reading the recipe. I usually make a cake for shabbat but am now thinking a tin of biscuits would be much more satisfying! thank you.
These look amazing! I’ve definitely never made cookies with hardboiled egg yolk, but I’m down for trying anything for a good cookie!
My 2nd sheet of cookies is in the oven, and a few from the 1st have already been devoured. They are delicious, and not cloyingly sweet! I love a little rye in my baked goods.
Just a note/question on yield: with 2 6″ logs & 1/4″ slices, my brain is saying it’s only possible (if your logs & slices were perfect) to yield 48 cookies. I squeezed a few more out, as one of my logs was longer & skinnier (though my other half was also eating dough while I was forming, so we may have come in right at 4 dozen). Thoughts on where ATK got their number? Please tell me if my logic is fuzzy here.
Jenny — You’re totally right and that sounds much closer to my yield. I’ll update. Glad they were a hit.
These are beautiful! And they sound divine! I must make these for my 12,465th Christmas party! :)
Gry — Thanks for the link. They look a lot alike, but these have a higher proportion of butter (Typical, Deb!) and don’t have those two whole eggs, so the Norwegian ones are probably a lot more sturdy. Now I’m fascinated by the 7 Scandinavian Christmas Cookies. I must try them all! Someone mentioned these yesterday because the Cigarettes Russes do indeed look like the krumkake.
I love these cookies! I saw them on Cooked Illustrated and debated about making them! I think I will make your version!! I love it!!! Thank you so much!
Deb! (weep…) you skipped my question! Is it ok that I roll other shortbread cookie dough into pretzel shape and they’ll work? sorry…
Mandy — Sorry I missed it. Always ask again if I do — you did the right thing! However, I can’t answer for sure. Not all doughs will work the same, and you want something with a little stretch and flexibility in the dough. So, basically I made you wait an extra day to say, “I dunno.” :(
The best, pretzel shaped “cookie” is the Kringle – also spelled Cringle, Cringla, and Kringla. My grandmother, of Norwegian descent, made them every year at Christmas. Their recipe is very different – sour cream, buttermilk, butter, white flour, white sugar, vanilla, baking powder, and no eggs. I loved the no egg part when my kids were little because it meant they could “help” and still get to lick their fingers and eats lots of raw dough.
A question on the rye flour–I just realized that the bag I have is “dark” rye. I’m still going to try these cookies, but any clue what kind of difference this would make with the flavor? Just more rye-y?
Perhaps it’s because I have it on the brain, but CI sounds suspiciously like the way I imagine the North Pole. Or maybe Heaven.
I’m so excited about this. I stumbled on the older recipe for the chocolate pretzel cookies and thought they’d be perfect for my work cookie exchange, until I read your review of them. So, how great that this is now an option!
Regarding the cookbook collection: I am a cookbook collector myself and I have friends that are as well. Several of them have way more than 4000 cookbooks, so I am not sure how CI got the reputation of having the largest privately held cookbook collection. I think Paula Wolfert has more than 4000, as well as Nigella Lawson.
I made these last night and it only made 26 small cookies. I’m not sure how you can get 80 out of this recipe. Anyway, they are delicious!
I used a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour instead of rye and had to add another 1.5 Tbs of butter. They turned out yummy. :) I only got 2 dozen cookies out of this recipe… maybe I made my cookies bigger than yours? That estimation of 80 still seems pretty high.
Deb, can you taste the cooked egg yolk? I have a pathological aversion to eggs, especially hard-cooked, and so I’ve always avoided sables because of the hard-cooked egg yolk. But maybe once it’s baked it doesn’t taste like it anymore?
I made half the recipe and got a dozen cookies, thinking 80 would be too much. I see others have had the same issue. They taste good though.
These are super! I got a yield of 48 cookies.
Made these this morning….awesome cookies…going to make a double batch before our Christmas gathering….thanks so much
I made these this weekend, and they turned out delightfully. But, you know what i did? I poached the egg yolk!! The idea started when I had just one egg in my refrigerator. And it worked! I did drip a tiny bit of vinegar in the poaching water, just to be safe. I separated the yolk and the white, and just poached the yolk and set the white aside for my wash later. It was brilliant, if i do say so myself. Thanks for cookie week! I loved it!
I thought I’d share some tips for those of us baking at high altitude/high desert areas…moistened my hands with a little bit of water to keep the rolls from crumbling, pre-pretzel–it really helped!
thanks for the fantastic recipes!
I tried to make these and I couldn’t get the dough to come together, it was super sandy and wouldn’t stick :(
Huh…I only went to school for 6 years a mile from Brookline Village, where America’s Test Kitchen is located, and NEVER knew it was there. My husband even worked there for a couple years. Gosh, I wish they did tours. I can’t find it on their website! Hook me up!
Joanna — It is so completely anonymous, I would have never found it on my own. Don’t even think there was a company name on the door, just looks like a regular townhouse or office building.
Anyway, I can’t believe I forgot to mention this in the post (okay, perhaps because it doesn’t specifically relate) but I had lunch that day at what was, hands down, the best sandwich shop I have ever eaten at in my entire life. We tried almost the whole menu. Not a bite of it was bad. I heard a rumor that several America’s Test Kitchen chefs have or do work there too. The place is called Cutty’s, it’s in Brookline, and I beg, no implore, anyone that will be in that area to try it. If they moved to NYC, I’d probably move in. That is all.
I had the pleasure of going to America’s Test Kitchen over the summer and it was SO amazing. They let me just sit in their library and read to my heart’s content after I was shown around. I decided that whenever the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m holing myself up there. When I go down, I want to it to be a with a belly full of delicious food, surrounded by cookbooks and Le Creusets stacked four high.
Oops I got my portion sizes off. Mine look like little dinner rolls. Smell amazing!
I made these for a book club meeting (We Were the Mulvaneys, one of my favorites!) They were delicious, not a one remained! My only complaint was that they were a bit labor intensive, so I did end up with bigger and bigger pretzel cookies by the end of the shaping process! I also used rye flour-based bread mix and it was delicious! The bread mix had some caraway seeds in it too, which really added to the whole cookie experience. Thanks for the recipe!
Can I form the dough into a log and cut round cookies instead? I’m thinking about about taking these into work for a holiday party but the thought of making these all by hand on a weeknight before leaving for home seems a bit daunting.
I just wanted to say that I made a second batch of these, cut the logs the way you said but cut those disks in half again to roll out into little pretzels. I got ~4 dozen and they’re adorable & delicious (just like the little butter cookies in those blue tins). Both batches I used milk instead of egg yolk before I sprinkled on the sugar. Works well!
How do you go from the crumbly mess in photo on the parchment to the nice rolled out strands below? My dough was all crumbly and after being in the fridge was still too crumbly to form into strands. I just added a little water, reformed into a log and stuck it back in the fridge but I’m not hopeful that I’m going to be able to form pretty pretzles.
Hi Alex — Sorry that it gave you trouble. I just rolled them into balls until they warmed up (as I mention in the recipe) and then gently rolled them into strands. Some broke! But eventually I got the hang of it. If an extra teaspoon of water or milk helps, however, feel free to use it. Not too much, however, or the pretzels will lose their shape when they bake.
these. are. amazing.
I made this with all AP flour (thanks for the quick answer). The dough came together beautifully, and rolled out like a charm. I got 20 cookies from half the dough. They tasted like the best possible version of the tin cookies. Thanks a million!
I was hoping for more rye flavor. These are a great shortbread cookie, slice and bake. I did make a few pretzel shaped ones, but I’m not patient enough and I realized that they’re probably too delicate to send in the mail. Thanks!
Just took a batch of these out of the oven – fantastic! I got 38 cookies, and they really do taste just like those Danish butter cookies that come in the blue tin. I’m not getting a ton of rye flavour but it adds good texture. Definitely a keeper recipe!
i had a lot of trouble with the strands breaking so that i couldn’t make the pretzel shapes. instead, i rolled the dough out thin (about an eighth of an inch) and used a small star shaped cookie cutter (about an inch in diameter) to make little cookies. they’re delicious and were a bit hit at our office cookie exchange today.
I dug out my copy of the issue in which these appeared, and they give the yield as 40 cookies, not 80 . . . I’m so glad you published this, though, because I had no memory of the recipe and I am planning to bake some this weekend!
Yield — Sorry about the confusion. It’s now fixed, but as I thought I was losing my mind, I looked it up online again (where I do most of my CI browsing; I had the print sub for years but it didn’t at the time give me online access so I decided to just use the online and have access to everything, not that anyone asked for a detailed explanation!) and they do indeed say 80. But it’s clearly not correct.
Mine spread and lost their distinct pretzel shape sadly–you could see the crossed strands, but only in a vague bas relief. Might try the Norwegian cookies with more egg yolk and less butter next time. These are tasty enough, but I did want them to look like pretzels. They’re also very delicate.
Yum! I was so excited to make these because I had leftover rye flour that I wanted to use. Realized it was dark rye but went for it anyway, and I have to say they are great. I used 1/4 cup rye and 1 1/4 cup ap flour because I was worried about them being too dense, which was probably a good call. Thank you for the recipe Deb!
To JanetB, comment 94:
I have a HUGE aversion to hard boiled eggs, and I made this recipe, hoping that Cooks Illustrated and Deb would not do me wrong, and sure enough, they were delicious!! You can’t taste a distinct egg flavor at all. They’re just rich and buttery.
I have these in the oven right now. The dough came together very easily. I didn’t roll it into logs to chill, but instead spread it into a rough rectangle wrapped in saran wrap, then placed on a plate and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. I then cut 10 gram pieces and rolled into ropes. They needed the lightest dusting of flour on the counter, and the rolled out really easily. Now waiting to taste them. Thank you!
OK, just tasted one, and they’re sandy like you wouldn’t believe, and so, so much better that the blue tin ones! I got got 38 out of one batch.
I made the dough for these a couple days ago and baked them today. They’re a little more work to shape than a standard drop or roll-out cookie, but they turned out great. I love the subtle rye flavor and the sandy texture. I got about three dozen small cookies. Next time I would probably multiply the recipe by 1.5 and make bigger ones.
Okay, I must have done something wrong and I can’t put my finger on it. I had made the dough the night before (even with rye flour, which really did add a beautiful flavor), let the dough warm a bit before rolling, but it was so crumbly! I couldn’t roll it out into a rope and then fold, each time the poor little pretzel arms broke. Super sad, since I created pretzel monsters in my family after making the amazing soft pretzel recipe earlier this fall. I ended up slicing them and sprinkling with sugar, still tasty, but not pretzels. I’ll have to find another way to hold back the pretzel monsters!
I made these and the world peace cookies yesterday, and I am officially obsessed with these. They were easy and fun to make (unlike the other ones, which were super crumbly and frustrating, sorry!), and they are DELICIOUS. I didn’t chill them quite as long, and it didn’t seem to matter. Pro tip: mix a little sea salt into the sanding sugar sprinkled on top. The tiny salty hit with the sweetness is amazing.
Oh! Also, I don’t have a real small mesh strainer, so I pushed the egg yolk through a tea strainer, which I’m feeling pretty smart about. Worked great.
Can I roll out and cut these into small rounds, then sprinkle with sanding sugar? (I’m Imagining the Danish cookies that come in the blue tin.)
I’d think so!
I didn’t have rye flour on hand, so I used barley flour, and they were delicious! I made a double batch and got 102 cookies out of it. I did roll them to six inches, but they were probably a little thinner, accounting for the discrepancy in output. The texture and flavour are wonderful, and they are so pretty! I didn’t find them crumbly. I’m not sure if it was the flour swap…
I finally found it again! When I was 21, I found your site and adored your Snickerdoodles (seriously, other recipes don’t hold up), and I distinctly remember reading about cookies made with a grated egg yolk. It was these.
I’m so keen to make them.
I don’t know what I’ve done wrong. I made these a long time ago and loved them. This time, I weighed the ingredients and somehow ended up with 24 cookies that started to burn at around 7 minutes. I used all white flour but I did the same thing last time. Anyone have any ideas?
I’ve been making my Bubby’s pretzel cookies forever! She was from Austria & made them sweet (egg not hard boiled) & salty with “onion tsibbella pletzel” & this is the closest I’ve seen to our fave! Thank you:)
I notice that this cookie never shows up in your annual cookie round-ups, and I’m guessing that is at least partly because they are super annoyingly fiddly to shape. BUT! I’d like to advocate for them. These cookies have become one of the two I make every single year. The rye flour adds a subtle complexity that makes them so delicious, and they only get better after sitting for a few days. They still shine long after the more delicate cookies have gone stale. This year I finally tried just baking them as slices off the log, and it worked perfectly, thus getting rid of the difficult shaping part. I made disks about 2.5 inches across and maybe just under 1/4 in. thick, but would recommend trying 1.5-2 inch diameter instead, just to have more cookies to share. Egg washed and sugared just as in the pretzel version. A+ highly recommend!!