Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2000 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variations: Chocolate Spritz Cookies; Lemon, Orange or Almond Sritz Cookies; Glazed Spritz Cookies; Easy Spritz Cookie Recipe; Chocolate-dipped Spritz Cookies
What holiday cookie assortment would be complete without Spritz? They are traditional Christmas cookies in Scandinavian countries and in many American homes and are especially popular at Christmastime. My mother made these every Christmas since I was little, and I make them now! My children both love these little butter cookies with milk! Be sure to use real and fresh butter, as this recipe depends on it for its flavor. We use this recipe to make our Spritz Cookie Trees.
The name "spritz" comes from "spritzen," which is German for "to squirt or spray" and possibly originated in Germany. Spritz cookies are called that because they are made by dough being "pushed" or "squirted" from a cookie press. You'll notice that spritz cookie dough does not include leaveners, such as baking powder and baking soda or beaten egg whites. This is so cookie won't puff much or spread during baking. That's so the impressions that are made through the cookie press stay when the cookies are baked. A Norwegian tradition is to make them in shapes of S's and O's. Today, spritz cookies are formed into a variety of shapes still using a cookie press. Use the Christmas tree, dog, flower or star shaped disc and top each with a maraschino cherry half before baking.
If you have trouble pressing cookies, see Pressed Cookies: Problems with Solutions.
COOKIE RECIPE HELP
When pressing the dough through the cookie press, it needs to stick to a cookie sheet for it to come off the press nicely and make a good impression. Spritz cookie dough will stick better on chilled and UNGREASED sheets. If you have to reuse baking sheets, always let the baking sheet cool to room temperature and chill it in the refrigerator before placing more cookie dough on it. If placed on a warm cookie sheet, the butter in the dough immediately begins to melt causing the cookies to lose their shape.
Always BAKE A TEST BATCH: At the beginning of a new recipe batch, press out 3 or 4 cookies (no more) onto one sheet (cover remaining dough tightly and let stand at room temperature or refrigerate if the room is warm. These will be your "test" cookies.
Resume making the cookies and/or adjust baking time if required.
2 1/2 cups bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter; can be cold from refrigerator
2/3 cup granulated or vanilla scented sugar
3 large egg yolks; can be cold from refrigerator
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Gel paste food coloring, if using; I added about 4 drops of Americolor green gel paste food coloring to color these cookies.
Decorations: glace cherries, colored sanding sugars or dragees.
SARAH SAYS: After separating the eggs and using only the yolks, you will have left-over whites. They will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, tightly covered with plastic wrap, or frozen for 1 to 2 months. To freeze, place egg whites in a Pyrex custard cup, tightly covered. Some freeze one egg white per ice cube cavity in an ice cube tray, and then transfer them to a plastic, airtight bag. One large egg can be substituted for 2 large egg whites.
NOTES: There are several types of cookie presses. One comes with a trigger mechanism, which I prefer.
For this tutorial, I am using the Wilton cookie press pictured below.
Another type is where you turn the top and the cookie dough comes out.
I do not recommend mailing some spritz cookie designs, as they are fragile and prone to breaking. If you must, pack them carefully.
1. Position two oven racks: one of them 1/3 of the way from the bottom and the top rack 1/3 of the way from the top of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
You’ll need at least two, preferably four UNGREASED non-insulated cookie sheets or sheet pans; do not grease them. Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator until you need them.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on low speed with a paddle attachment until softened. Add the granulated sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until creamy, light in color and aerated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl often.
4. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks, one at a time, and vanilla, blending well after each.
SARAH SAYS: I find it helpful to keep the separated egg yolks in one bowl. Then, as the mixer runs, I drop each yolk one by one into the mixing bowl at the side.
NOTE: Add gel paste food coloring here, if using.
5. Remove the mixer bowl from the mixer. Add the flour mixture in three equal portions, and fold after each with a large rubber spatula until just incorporated; do not overmix. The last addition is hard to incorporate because the dough is thick, so add it and put the bowl back in the mixer for 5 seconds on low to incorporate.
SARAH SAYS: You can add the flour and dry ingredients in this ste using the stand mixer. However, the key is not to overmix the dough when you do. Add the flour and dry ingredients continuously, one heaping tablespoon with the mixer on low, taking only 15 seconds in total to add all. Afterwards, let the mixer run for a FEW seconds until the flour and dry ingredients are incorporated. Immediately turn off the mixer. Do not overmix.
The finished dough should be stiff, but not dry or sticky and pliable.
6. Press the cookie dough:
A. Fill the cookie press fitted with a template with dough: form a log of dough a little smaller than the inside diameter of the cookie press (measure with a rule from inside edge to inside edge) and as long as the barrel of the press. Form the log by pressing the dough together with your fingertips, taking care not to knead the dough or letting it get greasy. Drop into the body of the press. If necessary, use a rubber spatula or small metal spoon to help you. Return the remainder of the dough to the refrigerator.
SARAH SAYS: Right after mixing, the cookie dough can be sticky and may be hard to form into a log. Chilling the dough in the mixing bowl helps to firm the dough making it easier to work with.
B. Chill the dough in the press for about 10 to 20 minutes or until it is firm enough to hold its shape when pressed.
C. Before you press: The cookie press will work best when the dough is evenly distributed in the tube, and there are no air holes. When the dough is fully in the cookie press, place the disk on the cookie press and adjust the plunger to compress the dough. Each time you fill the cookie press with new dough, push the dough down by pressing the cookie press so it actually comes out the other end - the pressure pushes it down enough so there aren't any more air holes or unevenness in the tube of batter. I then scrape off the dough that comes out the end and put it back in the bowl of remaining dough. Otherwise, the first few cookies don't always come out uniformly.
D. To press cookies: Hold the press so it is straight up with the front end of the cookie gun (disk edge) is barely touching the cookie sheet. Pump the lever to press out the dough until it appears at the edge of the mold. Press the lever firmly so the dough comes out slowly with even pressure. Do not move the cookie gun.
After pressing the dough, then let the press stand in place for just a second or two. Lift the cookie press straight up and away. The cookie dough should leave distinct impressions and it should stick to the sheet.
SARAH SAYS: The first one or two sometimes are hard to start, but then it gets easier as you go.
Continue to press the cookie dough until the sheet pan is full, spacing the cookies about 1-inch apart as the cookie dough will not spread much. Decorate with optional glace cherries, colored sanding sugars or dragees. Bake right away or if the dough is warm, place the cookie sheet uncovered in the freezer for a few minutes, and then bake.
NOTE: You can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sprinkles, or you can individually place them on the cookie if you like. I find that a tweezer helps when you want to have more control of where you place the decorations. Place the dragees, or pearls on the cookie with tweezers, then GENTLY press them into place.
7. Bake the cookies for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. The finished cookie should be lightly browned on the bottom, the edges just barely showing a little brown color, and the edges are firm. The cookies should have clear impressions. Remove from the oven.
Cool the cookies in their pan for 1 to 2 minutes. (This allows the cookies to firm up and not fall apart when you remove them from the cookie sheet.) Then, transfer cookies with a metal spatula to a wire cake rack to cool completely. If baked on parchment paper, cookies can be cooled right on its surface. Slide the paper with the cookies on top to a wire cake rack to cool. Remove cookies when cooled.
Cool cookies completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature or several months frozen.
The dough can be refrigerated for about 2 to 3 days before using.
Chocolate Spritz Cookies
Substitute 1/2 cup bleached all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder powder. Sift both ingredients with the salt together after measuring.
Lemon, Orange or Almond Spritz Cookies
Follow the Buttery Spritz Cookie Recipe Instructions above. Except:
Add in: Step #4 -
1/2 teaspoon orange, lemon or almond extract (in addition to the vanilla extract) or 1/4 teaspoon orange or lemon candy oil (optional) - I do not add in citrus peel because it can cause misshapen cookies when pressing them; the peel can get caught in the discs.
Glazed Spritz Cookies
Follow the Buttery Spritz Cookie Recipe Instructions above. Except:
Make in advance of Step #1 and cover with a damp kitchen towel (for long term storage, additionally cover with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band). Stir before using:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter -- softened
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla, almond or rum extract
In small bowl stir together powdered sugar, butter, water, and rum extract until smooth. Drizzle over warm cookies.
Easy Spritz Cookies
Buy sugar cookie mix or already prepared dough. Follow Step #6 to press cookies and then Step #7, except bake in oven temperature according to package instructions.
Sugar Cookie Mix: Prepare dough according to the directions on packaged mix instructions. Add around 1/8 to 1/4 cup of flour (add your flour a little at a time, you don't want it too stiff) and play with the dough until it's pliable.
Already Prepared Dough: Break up into small chunks in a mixer bowl. Add 1 tablespoon flour with the mixer on low until the dough becomes pliable.
Chocolate-dipped Spritz Cookies
Melt some chocolate chips with a small amount of shortening, Dip cooled cookies into the melted chocolate and let cool on a wire cake rack.