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FRENCH MACARONS: French macaron cookies are made by piping the batter through a piping bag.
LADYFINGERS: Known in Italy as "Savoiardi", Ladyfingers are sweet, little, fairly dry, tongue depressor-shaped Genoise Cakes, but are they can also be referred to as cookies. Ladyfingers are used to make charlottes, tiramisu, and other desserts or filled and eaten as is. They rely heavily upon eggs for their characteristics; separately beaten eggs and egg whites are folded in with flour and sugar. Try our Ladyfingers Recipe.
SPRITZ: Cookies are made by pressing dough through a disc with a pattern, resulting in a shaped cookie. 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. Try our Spritz Cookies Recipe.
SARAH SAYS: 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.
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 marachino cherry half before baking.
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS - SPRITZ COOKIES
Several problems can occur when pressing the cookie dough. The cookie dough should stick to the cookie sheet and show distinct impressions. When baked, the cookies should be tender and crispy, but not burnt, with clear impressions. Chill dough and/or adjust baking time if required.
Question: My dough is too stiff and hard to work with and the impressions do not come out whole. Do you have any suggestions?
SARAH SAYS: The dough is too cold. Let the filled cookie press sit at room temperature for a few minutes and test again.
Question: After pressing, the impression does not come out whole. How can I fix this?
SARAH SAYS: There are possible air holes in the dough. See notes "Before you press". The dough can be too cold. Let the filled cookie press sit at room temperature for a few minutes and test again.
Question: I notice that after I bake the dough, the impressions are not distinct. How can I make them show-up more?
SARAH SAYS: The dough is too warm or so is the cookie sheet. Chill the cookie sheet until cold and the cookie dough in the press is stiffer. You may be pressing out too much cookie dough; try a little less.
Question: Please help! The dough won't adhere to the cookie sheet at all.
SARAH SAYS: Make sure the press is absolutely upright in relation the the sheet, with the "legs" resting flat on the surface; if it's tilted, the dough won't come off. There is a fine line between pressing out the exact amount of dough; too little, and it stays on the press. Too much, and the design of the cookie gets lost after baking. It will take a little practice to press just the right amount. I've been making press cookies for a lot of holiday seasons, and each year, it's taken just a few test presses to get the feel of it again.
The cookie sheet you are using could be coated with a non-stick surface. As a result, the dough won't stick. Cover the sheet with aluminum foil (not waxed paper) and try again. You should have better luck. Temporary "glue" it to the cookie sheet while you press the cookies - apply a thin coating of water to the cookie sheet and press the foil onto the sheet - it should stick like glue. Then, press the cookies onto the foil. I hold the foil down on both sides of the press with one finger, then lift the press up. The dough will stick to the foil, and may cause it to pucker slightly when the press is lifted up, but that doesn't affect the cookies in the least. Replace the foil after baking each sheet of cookies on a cold cookie sheet.
Also, the dough and/or the cookie sheet could be too cold. Let either sit at room temperature for a few minutes and test again.
Question: I have seen spritz cookies made with a star shape with a cherry in the middle; I don't know which disk to use. I have three cookie presses and none of them seem to come out that way. Should I use a decorator tube and which one?
SARAH SAYS: Usually cookie presses have a plate that looks like an "*". If you don't have that plate, you can "press" cookies using a piping bag fitted with a large, 1/2-inch or larger open star tube.
Question: I made the recipe for spritz cookies. The cookies were pretty good, except they were hard. They were crunchy, but not crumbly/melt-in-your-mouth. Could I possibly have done something wrong?
SARAH SAYS: This is a common problem. I have a feeling that the culprit is adding too much flour to the recipe and overmixing the dough. Even handling the cookie dough too much when placing it in the cookie press can cause "hard" cookies.
Measure the flour using the "spoon and sweep" method or fluff up the flour in its container and spoon it into the measuring cup. Level it to the rim. Add the flour slowly to the recipe until you get a pliable dough, even if you have a few tablespoons of flour or even 1/4 cup left over at the end, don't add it -- leave it out. Your cookies will be melt-in-your mouth and better if you do. Sometimes you have to mix recipes by "feel" and experience rather than what the recipe says. This concept may sound confusing, but when you touch the dough "it should feel right."
Question: I have heard I can use a pastry bag for forming Spritz cookies. How does that work?
SARAH SAYS: Scoop the dough into large pastry bag, filling about half fill, fitted with a No. 6 (1/2-inch diameter) large star pastry tube to pipe rosettes or stars about 1 3/4 inches in diameter onto the cookie sheets, about an inch apart. To pipe the cookie dough, hold the bag so that the tube is straight up. Make sure the toothed edge just barely touching the cookie sheet. Squeeze the bag firmly without moving it until the shape is as wide as you desire. Stop squeezing and push the tube down slightly. Lift the tube straight up and away.