Spritz cookies are not something I grew up making. However, I’ve certainly had them a lot growing up – in plates of cookies given to my family over the holidays and at friends’ houses. I never thought twice about them – they were simply, tasty, crumbly cookies, sometimes with colored sugar decorations. I never thought about how they were made, or that I would even ever make them.
And then two years ago, I inherited my grandmother’s cookie press. I had no idea what to do with it – it came with its original “recipe booklet” which I was more fascinated in as a historical object than as a useful tool to help me learn how to use this thing that came with metal disks shaped like trees, camels, and flowers. No idea that is until I asked my friends for their favorite cookie recipes, my friend M sent over her family’s spritz cookie recipe. Suddenly I realized it was time to give this thing a turn (literally).
It wasn’t easy – the dough never stuck to the cookie sheet so I couldn’t actually press things out. I gave up and did several batches of cookies as blobs on the sheet. And then I decided to go on YouTube (yup, it’s become one of my g0-to sources when I don’t know what else to do). The recipes I was reading said to put the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, and the videos all said you “don’t need to grease the pan.” However, I’d been doing what I always do when I bake cookies: even when recipes say to just plop cookies directly on the sheet, I always put down parchment paper. Well, what the recipes and videos should be saying is not that you don’t need this, but that you shouldn’t do it. Don’t do it! Press directly on the cookie sheet. Only this way will the cookie batter stick to the sheet and come off the press. There is enough butter that the cookies won’t stick to your cookie sheet. Also, do not put this dough in the refrigerator – use it at room temperature.
Now, without further ado, here is the recipe my friend shared with me. She said her mom got it from a traditional American cookbook like Better Homes and Gardens or Betty Crocker, she couldn’t remember where.
1 cup butter or margarine, softened (I used butter)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla (I used anise)
1. Preheat your oven to 400F. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until they appear white. Add the egg and extract and blend in briefly. Add the flour and salt and continue to mix with the hand mixer until the batter is uniform.
2. If you wish, you can portion out the recipe and add food coloring to different batches. People often do this to make the green trees. I didn’t, because I don’t care much for food coloring, but if you do it do it in this step. Be sure to use the hand mixer and not your fingers, because they will get stained.
3. Put the batter into your cookie press and squeeze onto the (unlined, ungreased!) cookie sheet. You don’t need to space them too far apart because they will not expand. Switch out shapes as you like, and decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles if you like.
4. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 6-9 minutes, until set but not browned. Cool on the cookie sheet, then transfer to an air-tight container.