Does anyone else make spritz cookies for Christmas?
Spritz cookies are a German cookie, called Spritzgebäck (the German verb spritzen means “to squirt,” which makes sense as you’ll see).
They are a delicate, somewhat dry cookie, have a rich, buttery flavor, and are full of wonderful memories of my childhood. (If you don’t get flashbacks of my childhood when you eat one, you probably made it wrong.)
These simple ingredients: butter, egg, sugar, flour, and vanilla create the dough, but after that you’re on your own.
We tried for a number of years to make Spritz cookies but they just don’t come out right. By that I mean, I remember making them with my mom all through my childhood. We’d put the cookie dough in a metal press, push the dough through the design onto the baking sheet, and yay! A little Christmas tree, or wreath, or a heart, or a Mercedes-Benz emblem, and a few others I still can’t identify.
Then my brother and I would help decorate them with red and green sprinkle sugar, jimmies, those tiny jawbreakers, some kind of gummy candy, and cinnamon red hots, which were always the last ones eaten, begging the question: why did we even use those?
And if my wife ever tells you that my brother and I decorated the cookies with weird shit like sunflowers seeds and such, don’t believe her. We only did it that one time as a experiment. I swear.
The process seemed so easy. Press. Lift. Cookie. Sure, even my mom had all few flubs where the dough wouldn’t release from the design disk, but they were few and far between.
My wife and I tried making them ourselves and I don’t know if we were doing something wrong or if something in the ingredients was changed over the years, but the whole process was one big frustration.
The cookies rarely stayed on the baking sheet when we lifted the press, forcing us to peel them off, thus distorting or totally ruining the shape. The dough was not only difficult to work with, but it destroyed a couple cookie presses. A plastic one and an metal one, both using a trigger to push the dough. Only it didn’t push the dough. Instead the dough destroyed the ratchet gear mechanism in both.
Thus, for the time being anyway, we have stopped making Spritz cookies. At least until we can figure out what we were doing wrong.
Which makes me sad, because those were my favorite cookies. They were as much anyway part of Christmas as eggnog, decorating the tree, and gift giving.
What makes me sadder is I can’t even find them in the stores. I can find Spritz-lookalikes. Some come in tins. Some are called an Italian cookie or whatever. They look like a Spritz cookie but one bite and you know its a poser. It’s a cheap imitation made of shortbread.
If I wanted shortbread, I’d have asked for shortbread! Such asked disappointment.
Do you make Spritz cookies? What’s your secret?
And can you send me a Spritz Cookie Care Package?
Happy baking. Happier eating.
Basic Spritz Cookies Recipe
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup soft butter, 1/2 lb
3/4 cup sifted sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla (I believe my mother used almond)
Have baking sheets ready–do not grease. Start oven 10 min before baking; set to moderately hot (400 deg F). Sift flour and measure. Cream butter until shiny, add sugar gradually, creaming well. Beat in yolks until fluffy, then flavoring. Stir in flour in 3 or 4 portions until smooth. If dough is soft, chill an hour. Now shape dough into a cylinder and drop into cookie press, fitted with desired design plate. Press dough out onto cold baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake about 8 min or until a delicate brown. Remove from pans immediately to cake racks to cool. If difficult to remove from pans, return to oven a minute. Cool thoroughly. 4-1/2 dozen medium cookies.