December 16, 2009

The Nemesis Subdued: NaCoBakMo, Day 18.

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:10 pm by the Green-Eyed Siren

All right. A very brief post here as I’m still recovering from the personal catharsis of unleashing my Lucia obsession upon the world yesterday. I also have a truly alarming amount of pre-Christmas “work” to do: rehearsals yesterday and Thursday, singing on Friday, doing the program layout for that event, getting all the shopping completed before school lets out on Friday, quilting a massively large stage backdrop of the stable for the Sunday School Christmas pageant this Sunday. I’m also not eating properly or sleeping well, and Mr. Unfocused is out of town again. Yes, I’m on the precipice called insanity, and making this a proper blog post will cause me to tumble headfirst.

So, in brief: Spritz cookies are a major hassle. They have bedeviled me in the past. They are super duper fussy: the dough never works the way you want it to, and it’s impossible to get the pressure consistent on a cookie press. As a result, I’ve avoided them for some time.

When I first decided to do National Cookie Baking Month, I knew I’d have to face up to them. I decided to put them later in the month, when I’d have a lot of cookies under my belt already—but before school was out, because I didn’t want the children to hear me cursing with such enthusiasm. Monday (Day 18), was the designated day, and I approached it with significant apprehension.

I made ready with my supplies, including a new Wilton cookie press my mom had given me some years back following my last bout with spritz. I had not had the courage to try it out as yet, but now it was time. I checked a few recipes from my reliable sources and did a search on the internet just to be fully informed before going in, and I settled on my formula. A few minutes to mix up the dough, then a few more to take apart and wash the cookie press, then a few more still to figure out how to put it back together again. I loaded the dough into the press, turned my eyes heavenward and took a deep breath, and off I went.

It was totally amazing: that new cookie press made a world of difference. It seems that there have been significant technological improvements since my mother’s cookie press (probably her mother’s, actually) came off the assembly line. Those cookies just popped right out of the press, one by one, as perfect as could be. So if you are ever in your life going to make spritz cookies, by all means run out and get yourself a new-fangled cookie press like this one (mine is a generation behind, but still leaps and bounds ahead of the 1940s press) and wave it at the dough, saying, “You are not the boss of me!” It will be terrorized into submission.

Spritz Cookies
with appreciation to What’s Cooking America.net (I highly recommend checking their site for preparation advice. It’s very complete.)

2 cups butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, well beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract OR pure almond extract (best with almond)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

food coloring and sprinkles, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Refrigerate UNGREASED cookie sheets until ready to use.

In a large bowl, mix butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar; cream until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well; stir in vanilla extract and food coloring, if using. Gradually add flour to mixture, beating well after each addition.

Pack the dough into a Cookie Press (disks can include wreath shapes, stars, crescents, etc). Begin cranking and twisting (if you use an automatic cookie press follow manufacturer’s instructions) the cookie dough through cookie press, forming desired shapes, onto chilled ungreased cookie sheets about 1-inch apart. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time, or until light brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet until just warm, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Using a thin, wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire cooling racks and cool to room temperature.

When cookies are completely cool, store airtight at room temperature for up to several days. Freeze for longer storage in airtight bags. These cookies will pick up moisture from the air; on a damp day it takes only six hours to turn crisp cookies into soft cookies.

Yields 6 dozen cookies.

UP NEXT: Against my principles I enter a Macy’s department store in quest of a good cookie.

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3 Comments »

  1. chel said,

    Maybe I’ll give them another shot. I too have had a fear of the press….. maybe I should have only been fearing MY press.

  2. Lass said,

    True story: One of the first times I heard my mom utter a curse word was when I was helping her make spritz cookies, ca. 1970.

  3. bb said,

    so how did people make spritz cookies before the cookie press?

    it seems that the “spritz” refers to the forcing of the dough through a tube onto the tray.

    would they have used paper tubes? their fists?

    or would it have required hand molding, using perhaps hand motion akin to twisting one’s hair up with gel to make it stick up all spikey-like?

    sorry you’ve got more important things to worry about.
    like procuring an appropriate gift for me me me.
    oddly, cookies will work.


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