Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spritz Cookies 3 Ways: Espresso, Chocolate & Vanilla

I am IN LOVE with this recipe because of its ease to handle and amazing texture. It is tender and oh-so-buttery. It holds its shape wonderfully thus producing the most perfectly-shaped cookies. Most recipes call for an egg to hold it together, but I find that the egg makes the cookies a little too tough and not quite crumbly enough. This recipe is egg-free and the end result is a lot like shortbread. Feel free to add food coloring for a festive touch or play around with flavorings and extracts.

The three variations I have included here make both a nice display of dark, golden and pale cookies with flavors that also pair well together - coffee, chocolate and vanilla.

Spritz cookies are traditional Scandanavian Christmas cookies. They are delicate, simple butter cookies, shaped by putting the dough through a cookie press. They are small in comparison to the monster-sized cookies we see these days, measuring only about 1 1/2" in diameter. I think they are just adorable and so retro. Cookie presses these days are cheap. If you haven't inherited one from your mom, you can get one like this Wilton Comfort Grip on Amazon for $11.35! They're so affordable and cute that I will probably be giving a few of these along with a pretty bag of assorted Spritz cookies to some of my friends this Christmas.

However, even if you don't own a Cookie Press you can still make these cookies. Just use a large star piping tip to pipe the dough into little rosettes or squiggles or lines.

Spritz cookies are not as simple as they may appear. It took me a few batches of ugly cookies to get the hang of it.

Here are some tips to making perfect Cookie-Press Cookies:

- The dough must be room temperature. If it's too cold, it won't stick to the cookie sheet. It's best if your butter is very soft to begin with.
- Non-stick cookie sheets do not work, because the dough won't adhere to it. Shiny aluminum is best, and it too must be room temperature, ungreased and not lined with parchment paper. If the metal sheet is warm, the dough won't stick.
- Make sure the press is absolutely upright in relation the the sheet, with the base resting flat on the surface.
- It takes practice to press out just the right amount of dough. Too little and it sticks to the press. Too much, and the design of the cookie gets lost after baking.
- Spritz dough does not freeze well. If you want to freeze these cookies, do so AFTER they are baked, in airtight containers.
- If you are baking chocolate spritz it can be hard to tell when they are done. Therefore, put at least one vanilla (light colored) cookie on the tray so you can use it to gauge color for doneness.

Spritz Butter Cookies (3 ways)
Makes 3 dozen | adapted from Canadian Living, Dec. 2010
Basic Recipe:
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Do NOT grease pans but do use heavy-duty shiny pans to avoid overbrowning the bottoms.
2. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment combine butter and powdered sugar, mixing until light and creamy. Add in vanilla and salt. Mix to incorporate. With the mixer off, add flour. Mix until combined and sticks together to form one mass of dough. Do NOT chill or it will be too firm to press or pipe onto the cookie sheet. [At this point you can refrigerate the cookies on the sheets to be baked later].
3. Fill your cookie press or piping bag (use a large star tip). Pipe or press onto the ungreased cookie sheet. These do not spread, so you can put them quite close together.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes (or less) until edges are just golden and tops are still pale. Cool fully and store airtight.

Espresso variation: Dissolve 2 tsp instant espresso powder (or 1 tbsp instant coffee powder) into the vanilla before adding vanilla to the mixture in step 3.

Chocolate variation: Substitute 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for 1/3 cup flour.


Jennifer @ Jennifer's Treasured Recipes said...

I've tried a few Spritz recipes in the past, but they've all been a little too tough for me. Though now that I think about it, all those recipes used eggs! I'll definitely have to give this recipe a shot and see if I like it better!

Bergamot said...

The cookies look great... beautiful shapes

Smitten Sugar said...

These look delicious! I got a spritz cookie thing last christmas and now I want to run home and make these cookies!

Natalie said...

I love Spritz cookies. My grandma's been making them every Christmas as long as I can remember! I never thought to use a piping bag to make them. I'll have to try that!

Jess said...

Ever since I inherited a spritz maker several years ago, I've been obsessed with finding the perfect dough recipe - I can't wait to try this one, especially the espresso version!

Danielle said...

I already loved your pics and just reading the first line of your description had me SOLD! YUMMMMM!

Jennifurla said...

Great job, although all the tips make it intimidating! thanks for sharing.

Mary said...

I love spritz cookies, and usually make them every year. I'll have to check whether my recipe has eggs or not. One great thing about them, besides the taste and texture, is that you can make a lot of cookies fast, once you get the hang of it.

HollyL said...

These are SO CUTE Tia! Love em :)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Sounds like a great type of biscuit to conquer! They look really fantastic; such unique shapes. Thanks for the tips.

scrambledhenfruit said...

This was THE Christmas cookie at my house when I was growing up, and my mom still makes them with the old-fashioned Mirro cookie press. We always liked the trees best. :) I've never tried any flavor other than the plain shortbread- these variations look good!

Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer said...

Oh I am excited to try these after your description. I have yet to find a go-to spritz recipe.

Katrina said...

I just bought a cookie press last week and have always wanted one. Today I made chocolate and vanilla spritz cookies.

Jess said...

We made espresso and eggnog (using eggnog extract with a little vanilla) spritz today - delicious! And the dough is very easy to work with.

Jennifer @ Jennifer's Treasured Recipes said...

I finally got around to making these cookies right before Christmas. I used the recipe that you posted and I added the insides of one vanilla bean. And boy, were these cookies awesome! They are SO much better than any other Spritz cookies that I've ever had. So buttery and tender! These are definitely going to be a yearly tradition for me now!

Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

Anonymous said...

I made these last year and they came out great but for some reason the dough did not come together as well this time around. It was very sticky and there was no way I could shape it enough to feed through a cookie press I had to add about 1/2 + more of flour and it still didn't form a mass that would work through a press. I'm not sure what went wrong but am disappointed.