Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gadget Lover makes Christmas Cookies

At some point in the distant past my Grandmother must have received a cookie press from some relative, and a family tradition was born. A delectable shortbread like cookie known as "Spritz" shaped by extruding it from a tube like adhesive from a caulk gun. A perfect blend of handyman skills and fine baking!

The cookies are a simple recipe, I use butter but my mother swears by margarine for optimal stability during handling. Note - if you use margarine it must be the full fat variety, even a high percent will make gummy cookies.
Cream together 1 cup butter and 2/3 sugar. Add 1 egg (the original recipe called for 3 egg yolks, but with new views on cholesterol and the larger modern egg this is the best substitution). 1 tsp flavoring (almond or vanilla, even a few cubes of melted chocolate works).
2 1/2 cups flour, start mixing with a machine but finish with your hands, not quite in a kneading motion but close. You want a fairly firm dough.
The press is a simple mechanism. We own several as my mother always grabs them at estate sales so we have spare parts. Each comes with little metal dies that make different shapes. Some make better looking and better baking cookies, the little dog ends up looking more like a fat horse. Some shapes are just traditional in the family. Most of our batch was made with the single star shaped hole, made into wreath-like circles.
The dough is put into the tube and the ratcheting handle squeezes it out. A cold cookie sheet is important for getting the dough to stick so it pulls off the press neatly. One also must be careful not to squeeze out too much as really big cookies don't cook well.

Here's our pile of cooking happiness. The trees were dyed green, one could flavor them also if you desired. Mom and I like to add lots of sprinkles sparkles and red hots (the little cinnamon dots) but there are a few scrooge-y purist in the family who prefer them totally plain, we even keep them in a seperate tin to avoid contamination by goodness... ^.^

There you are, what better thing to do on a cold snowy December afternoon... too bad it was clear sunny and almost 60! Winter in Colorado is a fickle thing.

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