Spritz Cookies

A long, long time ago when I was growing up, my mother made all sorts of Christmas Cookies. In fact, Christmas just wasn’t Christmas without Spritz Cookies.

Somehow, for the past three years I’ve managed to go on wild cookie-baking sprees, making upwards of a thousand cookies each season, and still never managed to make Spritz. It occurred to me that this is a horrible mistake, one that must be rectified immediately.

Unfortunately, my mother’s cookie book is lost to the ravages of time (this is totally my fault) but I remembered the recipe being from a Betty Crocker cookbook. So it was easy enough to find the recipe I’m pretty sure she used: Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Spritz Recipe.

Spritz cookies are fun because instead of rolling or dropping the dough, it’s pressed into a cookie mold. I’ve used both kinds of presses (the modern press-button kind) and an older style (in which the dough is pushed out corkscrew style by turning the handle). For these, nostalgia took over. I had to use the turn-style handle with the same shapes I grew up with.

Spritz

Some tips for working with Spritz dough:

1. Softened butter at room temperature is key for the dough to be the right softness and stickiness.

2. No parchment paper. As much as I love baking on parchment, these cookies must be pressed down right onto the cookie sheet.

3. Practice makes perfect. It took me a while to get the hang of using the press to make consistent cookies. Be willing to toss unpretty cookies back into the dough bowl and try it again. Too much dough makes a fat, strange looking-cookie. Too little and it won’t stick. Experiment with your press until you find the sweet spot: mine was just shy of 1/3 turn.

4. Getting the press started is trickier than keeping it going. Don’t give up if the first few don’t turn out, one you get the rhythm it’s easy to fill up the rest of the cookie sheet.

5. Don’t overbake! These are essentially butter cookies that should be baked until set but not brown.

6. You can go absolutely wild decorating these cookies. The dough can be flavored and colored. They can be topped with anything you can get to stick to cookie dough (sprinkles, sugars, nuts, and currants should be added before baking). A little searching can lead you to recipes for peanut butter spritz, chocolate spritz, peppermint spritz, whatever you can come up with. I choose plain (I like to think of it as classic) because I wanted something simple.

7. These cookies freeze well, making them perfect for a pre-holiday baking spree. I flash froze mine on baking sheets and transfered to a bag. Once I’m elbow-deep in baking cookies that don’t freeze well, I’ll be so glad that this batch is already taken care of.

Are you planning on baking some nostalgia cookies this year?

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