Thursday, December 2, 2010
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
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.