The Shopper Kitchen: Buttery spritz cookies a Christmas classic

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By Angela McRae, Special to The Shopper

If you’ve been in any stores lately, you’ve no doubt passed by boxes of chocolate-covered cherries, plastic containers full of candy canes, and tins of those ubiquitous butter cookies. I’m always up for an old-fashioned butter cookie, and Christmas cookies are also tops on my list of homemade treats to make at the holidays.

I usually start baking cookies by mid-November, preparing a different batch each weekend until Christmas. When Christmas week arrives, I have a nice variety of cookies to share and enjoy.

Some years ago, I received a cookie press as a gift, and I was delighted to learn how quick and easy it was to use. I mixed up a simple dough for Classic Spritz Cookies, and soon I was squirting perfectly shaped bits of dough onto my cookie sheets.

Have you ever wondered why they’re called “spritz” cookies? According to whatscookingamerica.net “The name comes from the German word spritzen, meaning ‘to squirt,’ because the soft dough is squirted or pushed through a cookie press to make fancy designs.”

Occasionally, I see old aluminum cookie presses from the early thirties in antique malls, and while I wouldn’t mind having one of those purely for nostalgia, I love my modern cookie press with its easy-to-use trigger and clear barrel, which lets me know when I need to refill the cookie press with more dough. I pity the poor spritzers of yesteryear who were about to pull the trigger on a perfect cookie only to realize they were out of dough since they couldn’t see through their clunky aluminum gadget.

If you don’t yet have a cookie press, you can find them at lots of places at this time of year, from housewares stores and department stores to grocery stores, for around twenty dollars or so. A cookie press is quite affordable and can be used for many years—and not just at Christmas.

While you can make chocolate-flavored spritz cookies, savory spritz cookies, and other variations, I prefer a classic butter recipe, perhaps embellished with sparkly sugar crystals in red or green. My favorite discs are in the shapes of flowers and Christmas trees, and these classic cookies turn out great no matter which shape you fancy.

So if you’re a spritzer—or perhaps an aspiring spritzer in search of a good butter cookie recipe—happy baking and Merry Christmas!

Classic Spritz Cookies
1-1/2 cups butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar, then add egg, milk, and extracts. Beat well. Combine the flour and baking powder, then add them to the creamed mixture until a smooth dough forms. Do not chill. Place the dough in a cookie press and spritz dough onto greased cookie sheets. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire rack. Yields 7-8 dozen cookies.

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