When I heard about Food Blogga's Eat Christmas Cookies from Around the World food blog event, I knew I had to bring Spritz to the party. They are everything Christmas cookies should be - delicious, traditional and they've got a story. If you are in the mood to bake some cookies of your own, head over to the party at Food Blogga's and discover some new cookies to try this Christmas!
Well, it is the Christmas season, which has always meant that is time to bake Spritz. They are truly my favorite cookie - light, crisp, buttery, simply perfect. My family is Swedish, which meant that for Christmas we baked Spritz Cookies. Isn't it interesting how people pick and choose their traditions? We always have Spritz, but we never make Ginger Snaps, or Lutfisk for that matter. But I guess if you are going to keep only one tradition, keeping the Spritz instead of the Lutfisk was probably at good decision. My Grandmother used to bake them by the tons and mail them to us from Iowa, packed in a Rice Crispie Box. Hers were always squiggly "wreaths" sprinkled with green and red sugar. As I've grown older, Spritz making has become my job, but not really my favorite one. I love the finished product, but the process leaves a little to be desired. In fact, these wonderful bits of buttery heaven are often referred to as (Pardon my lack of Christmas spirit here) as Goddamn Spritz. The problem arises from the Cookie Press, as Spritz are cookies that need to be pressed or piped onto the cookie sheet. Has anyone made a cookie press that is strong enough to pipe anything thicker than whipped cream? It always starts out innocently enough, with the press working fine, making cute little wreaths and trees, and then the end pops off and the dough oozes out. Then the battle is on, me trying to pipe cookies, the press fighting me every inch of the way. This eventually ends with me shouting "ALL I WANT IS TO FINISH THIS PAN OF COOKIES, FOR GOD'S SAKE!" I own more cookie presses than I can count, and have thrown away a dozen more, all in the endless pursuit of a press than can make Spritz. (Please enjoy the picture of a few of my presses)
My Grandmother used to pipe her Spritz with this "Primitive" icing thing. Hers had a blister inducing gap in the round part that your thumb is supposed to go into. She was clearly a better woman than I am. I have tried this method and the cookies aren't worth the pain.
But this is all over now, as I have found a Spritz recipe that makes a dough that is not hard as rock and since I have learned that a pastry bag is the perfect cookie piping instrument. No more cursing and gnashing of teeth. Hooray! Christmas Spirit is restored! Simply beautiful crisp little cookies to be enjoyed with a glass of milk. I might even make another batch. Enjoy them!
from Visions of Sugarplums by Mimi Sheraton
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 1/4 cups of sifted flour, approximately
Let butter soften slightly at room temperature, then cream with sugar and salt until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and blend thoroughly. Stir in enough flour to make a soft, workable dough. Fill a pastry bag with the dough and pipe onto baking sheets into any shape you like. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for about 7 minutes until the edges of your cookies are light golden brown. Makes about 5 dozen.