It’s that time of year again, when I break out the sifter and the cookie sheets, buy butter by the pounds and dig all my cookie tins out of storage.
It’s probably one of the only times of year I make cookies. If I made them during the year, my husband and I would have to eat them — and there goes the diet. But, at the holidays, cookies are a must. A platter of colorful, buttery, nutty confections are a necessity — and not just for the youngsters. Cookies make kids of us all again.
I love butter cookies and Spritz cookies are a great choice. I didn’t attempt these pressed cookies until I was an adult. They always seemed like too much trouble. Then, one year, my mother got me an electric cookie gun. “Well, that will sit in the back of a corner cabinet in the kitchen,” I thought.
But, one cold, rainy weekend, I gave it a try and it’s so easy that I make pressed cookies every year now. They really jazz up the cookie platter. The cookie gun will press them into a variety of shapes (stars, reindeer, trees, logs) and they can be decorated with sprinkles or silver dragees. Tint the dough yellow for stars or green for trees and put a tiny piece of maraschino cherry on top. You can tint the dough any color you want.
Plus, it’s easy to make the dough ahead, refrigerate it and then make the cookies when you have the time and can enjoy the decorating process. You just have to bring the dough back to room temperature, because if the dough is too cold the cookie gun will stall.
Classic Spritz Cookies
Makes 6 to 7 dozen
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup su
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Colored sugar or sprinkles (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer about 3 minutes or until creamy, scraping down sides as necessary. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add flour; mix on low speed just until blended, scraping down sides as necessary. (Dough will be soft; do not refrigerate.)
Fit cookie press with desired disk; fill with dough.* Press dough onto baking sheet 1 inch apart. Decorate cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool cookies 2 minutes on baking sheet; remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough.
If you don’t have a gun, chill the dough and drop spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Flatten them with clay cookie discs or flatten slightly with a glass dipped in sugar before baking.
Chocolate Spritz Cookies: Increase sugar to 1 1/4 cups. Decrease flour to 3 cups. Combine flour and 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder; blend well. Proceed as recipe directs.
* NOTE: If you don’t have a press, place teaspoons of dough on the baking sheet a couple of inches apart and press slightly with a cookie press (I have a bunch of clay ones with different patterns on them) or press a pecan half into each cookie before baking.
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